09 June 2015

The Wedding: Part Four

For those with some morbid curiosity, but mostly for myself when I want to remember the details, our wedding in five parts.

Part Four: The Reception

C and I walked down the steps of the church together. I was mentally and C was verbally listing things that needed to be done. Bridesmaids called a cab to go pick up our cakes (yes, cakes). My family stood together as my aunt called a cab for their group. Some of C's Chicago family (now my family, I thought distantly) lounged on the steps, exuding calm that I lacked entirely. We then seemed to see our photographer at the same time and talked to him briefly about payment and transferring files. Cabs began to arrive and my family (which included C; I still couldn't get over that) piled into the bright orange car once again.

C and I were dropped off at our hotel while my family left to their own hotel to change. We didn't have a lot of time at this point, as the reception was to start in maybe ten minutes, so C didn't change (probably for the best: I don't think we got all the wrinkles out of the shirt. Haha.). He did look around the room in appreciation while I tried to find somewhere to set my bouquet and hung up the shining lace jacket I had worn throughout the wedding (I really didn't want to try to navigate Philly streets in that attire). In the flurry of activity, I was surprised when I turned around and he was standing right in front of me. He smiled down at me and addressed me as his wife. It was one of the special moments where everything slows down and the goodness of the moment entirely fills you up.

But of course, those moments can't last forever, and are easier to part with when there is more good to look forward to. I grabbed my purse and we hurried out of the room, down to the lobby and out the door. We walked side by side through Center City and I couldn't help grinning like a fool again, thinking about how nice he looked. He was probably oblivious to my ogling since he kept checking the time. As we weaved around other people and hurried across crosswalks we received a few congratulations. At one point we were waiting at a stop light and a car of women stopped (they had the green light) and called out, “Did you guys just get married??” When we responded in the affirmative, the driver drew all sorts of attention by honking a good seven times and they all shouted, “Congratulaaaations!” and sped through the light while the car behind them got stuck on the red. It was hilarious. “This guy is so mad,” C said of the second car as we walked past, laughing.

Somehow he always looks good.

One more block and we were to the pub our reception was at. I paid the rest of the balance on second floor while C went up to the third floor to see who had arrived. Not many people were there yet (the Mass did start a bit late and go longer, so everyone was probably still commuting or finding parking). I walked in to see our priest sitting at the bar with C's father (really, what more awesome an image?). C's aunt was at a table with groomsman P, I think groomsman T was there, also. My focus was too narrow at that moment. First order of business: a glass of water. I hadn't had anything to drink for nearly four hours. Second order of business: figure out the status of everyone else. My aunt, uncle and cousin arrived soon after, as did one of C's uncles and his wife. My bridesmaids were en route. Soon I got a message that my family was coming back from their hotel. I finally stashed my phone in my purse and returned to the bar where C was looking handsome (still. I mean, how does he do that constantly?) and Father encouraged me to join him in a whiskey. After a second glass of water with orange (unusual, but good), I conceded, and we stood around talking and waiting for more people. My family showed up at a good time because Prince was playing (my mom introduced me to Prince I don't know how long ago and I wanted her to be there whenever he came on). My step-dad was happily out of his suit, which made me laugh.

Soon, my bridesmaids arrived with four cakes in tow and set them at a small table. I joined my aunt, uncle and cousin to talk as well. My uncle liked the music, which made me feel pretty good about deciding to make a playlist. More people were arriving and C grabbed me from my table, walking us out to the landing at the top of the stairs. Father then announced us officially for the first time in public as Mr. and Mrs. We walked in to cheers and clapping and C stopped me in front of everyone to kiss me. More cheers. Weddings are awesome that way: when else can you kiss your husband and people just applaud and encourage it? Father then blessed the food we would have and a line started up. We had Italian food served buffet style (pretty much anything that made this the most casual and easy-going was the way we did things). Caesar salad, bread, antipasto (hello to one of my favorite foods, olives), two types of pasta, sausage and peppers... I grabbed a glass of red wine to go with the meal too and sat down again with my aunt and uncle. C joined me after he talked to a few people.

Awake from her nap and ready to party.

Receptions, reader, are a time to eat, drink and talk with absolutely everyone. I was happy as I made the rounds to find that people were enjoying themselves. I wasn't really sure how people would like our reception: it wasn't incredibly fancy or ornate. All of that had been reserved for the Mass itself. I am not a social butterfly and have trouble finding the value in food I won't like, music that will be too loud or any other thing that is typical of wedding receptions now. I probably sound like a grouch, but I would have been happy to retire to my hotel room with a cup of tea after the wedding, as I am so not a party person. But I started to see that I really liked what we had decided on, also. One of my bridesmaids walked back in with a gluten-free pizza (some women cannot live by olives alone, as I could) and I checked up on them and took a few pictures. I thought, “I should get more food,” but was too worried about everyone else eating that I just kind of ignored it. Smart. (Heads up: Eat food. Drink water. Don't worry about other people.) As I made the rounds, I informed people what the cake options were: cheesecake, lemon-filled cake and red velvet (C and I were cutting the last one: chocolate with a cream cheese filling). I finally returned to some Chicago family I hadn't had the chance to catch up with and found out what was going on in their lives while also receiving marital advice from one couple who got married maybe seven years ago. The husband said they were told, among other things, to hold hands when they argued, which, sappy as it sounds, is probably a good idea.

At around the same time, C left with a good number of the men of the group to smoke cigars in the alleyway (C didn't smoke because he detests almost nothing more than smoking, but it was a nice manly bonding thing). During that time, I just thought more about how pleased I was with how everything was going. Some of the girls working asked if they could cut cakes for people to eat and I let them except for the cake C and I would cut into. I noticed then that our time was going to run out eventually and texted C about them coming back up to start dancing if we wanted that to happen at all.

My favorite girls (mom and sister).
My weirdest guys (step-dad and uncle).

Meanwhile, outside...Way too cool for me.

I was sitting once again by my bridesmaids when the men entered and C got everyone's attention. Unbeknownst to me, he had lined up speeches. Unbeknownst to my step-dad, C planned on him going first. My step-dad is about as good with public speaking as I am and probably felt put on the spot like crazy, but he still stood up. He looked around the room and thanked everyone for being there and welcoming our family. He also said that, though he wasn't sure about C when he first came into my life, there was no one to better match and take care of me. Hello, waterworks! C then asked T, the best man, to give a speech. I'm fairly certain that C didn't prepare anyone for this plan, but T still did a good job of keeping it simple and saying cheers. It wasn't cheesy at all, but for me it was as if he spoke for all of C's family, welcoming me into their own. For that reason, I found it sentimental as well. C then began his own speech, thanking everyone for coming and thanking my family for raising me. “As some of you may know,” he continued, “Haley and I met at college where I was her TA.” I started the chorus of “Oooohs,” that filled the room. He went on: “But she has been the one teaching me ever since.” He knows how to be sweet, this one. I rose and kissed him, wiping at my eyes for the twelfth time that day.

The dancing then began. C and I danced to Matthew Barber's You and Me. It was a song we found very early on in our relationship, probably in the first month we listened to it together. It made appearances at many of our departures, for example, when he transferred to another university. We had packed his car full of his belongings and he'd taken me back to my dorm. I didn't want him to leave or want to leave the car myself and he put on this song as we said our goodbyes. Another time, I flew out to visit him for a week at Spring break. We still had a couple days left together, but I was getting prematurely glum about our impending separation. That week was the first time I remember us mentioning marriage as he put this song on and we danced together. “No matter what our first dance wedding song is,” I remember saying, “This will always really be our first dance song.” As we turned in slow circles, we caught up with each other about the day. We had probably only spent five minutes talking all day and it was nice to catch up. “Want to try a spin?” C suddenly asked. “What? We didn't practice this at all!” I fretted, thinking about all the “Practice Dancing” notes I had made to my to do list for the week that were never actually crossed off. “So?” C said, providing the carefree nature that so often balances out my stressful one. He let go of my waist and then I was spinning, and thankfully not tripping, to more claps and camera flashes. As clutzy as I am, I would advise a bit of practice for anyone else, but it turns out spins aren't too difficult, even for me. :)

Father daughter dance, photo courtesy of my sister.

I then danced with my step-dad to John Mayer's Daughters. I thanked him for his speech and he said he meant it. He said a couple other things which I now forget, which either made me laugh or nearly cry again. It was all very heartfelt and I understood how big of a deal it was to my family to give me away to be married. It was a huge step and they were probably less prepared than I was. We hugged each other afterwords and I looked for less emotional conversation while C and his mother took the floor to Garth Brooks' Meet Your Mom. I watched them dance as I met Father and more cousins at the bar for another whiskey and two more waters (stay hydrated, folks). I went to the bathroom at one point and was pleasantly surprised to see all my makeup was still intact (except for lipstick, but really, who has time to worry about that?), so props to my mother and sister. In time, the other groomsmen and their mothers joined in dancing. At this time, though, we probably had half an hour left of the reception, so C and I cut the chocolate cake after his dance.

I think we got two bites into our piece before the music started up again and bridesmaid M dragged me and bridesmaid H onto the floor. “I can't dance! I don't know what I'm doing!” I told M. “I can't dance either!” H shouted. “Then why are you here?” I asked. “She made me!” H accused M, who was trying to get us to move our arms: “If you can dance in a car, you can dance out here.” “I can do the Charleston,” I remembered from a 1920s project in high school, which H and I rather lamely re-created, as I forgot immediately how to do it once I started trying. If H was going to give dancing a try, I could too. Plus, it was hard not to join in when all the other dancers were so enthusiastic about it. I don't remember how many songs I flailed about to pathetically before I broke away for another water, a glass of white wine and more cake. “Now I know why I don't dance,” I thought to myself, out of breath and sitting on a bar stool.

Father and a cousin dancing, most likely to Iggy Azalea.

Guests began to come up to me soon after to say their goodbyes and relay their plans for the rest of the weekend. Just like that, everything was ending as soon as it had begun. Men were picking up their jackets, women were telling me how good everything had been, my family was standing in a corner and I was just thinking of all the things we had to bring with us when bridesmaid M came over to me, set my wine glass back on the bar and helped me gather my things. I hugged my family goodbye and said I'd text them in the morning to plan out our day. R was not very enthusiastic about saying goodbye to me or going to the dance floor. M had my purse and my cakes, C put on his coat and we all ambled down the stairs.

It was strange to be out on the street. The last three hours, I had been in my own little wedding land and had forgotten about the rest of the world. We walked past alleyways, skirted around more people, received a few more congratulations and then got to our hotel, where M and her date put the cakes away and sat with me while I ate a leftover pastry from the morning and C made work of putting all of his things away. We made plans to go to a bar in South Philly with other members of the wedding party and some guests. We took a cab there, as it was too far away and none of us had a car nearby. The bar was pretty boring and I was still hungry at this point (again: eat whatever you want; there was so much leftover food and I didn't think to get a second plate later in the night. Mistake), but the bar wasn't serving food. Someone bought a round of drinks (green apple something?) but I lost my interest in drinks too, which would only make me more hungry.

The excitement of the day started to hit me and I managed another twenty minutes or so of talking or just sitting before C asked, “Do you want to leave soon?” Yes, I nodded, perking slightly at the idea of a Wawa run. Wawa is a convenience store, but so much more, in that they make food—sandwiches, smoothies, quesadillas—as well. We took another cab back to Center City and I got a barbeque chicken quesadilla before we headed back to the hotel. On the way, we passed the reception pub again and a man was sitting at an outside table with his German shepherd. “Look at him!” I whispered eagerly to C as we passed, “I want to pet him!” which is basically what I say any time we see a German shepherd, which is probably my favorite dog. “Why don't you ask if you can?” C suggested. It was the most obvious thing in the world but of course I wouldn't have thought of it. I got to pet the dog for a little bit, but he was more interested in my quesadilla than in me, so we continued our trip to the hotel soon after.

And that is probably where I'm going to stop the recap as far as the evening is concerned. I have one more post on the rest of the weekend and then the wedding recap posts will be done!

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