For those with some morbid curiosity, but mostly for myself when I want to remember the details, our wedding in five parts.
Part One: The Days Before
From years to months to days, I counted down to the wedding. Each number, though progressively smaller, did nothing to make the wedding seem closer. Putting down the deposit for the church, ordering cake and finalizing the program did not make the wedding seem closer either. If anything, it snuck up on me. One day I was stressing out over all the details, the next day was the day.
I recorded some of these thoughts in this post but I wanted to go over everything more fully. The last couple of days before the wedding were probably the most active and stressful. The Tuesday before, one of C's Chicago cousins, S, was supposed to fly in but her flight was canceled. The new flight would bring her into the city at 1.00 AM Wednesday. I know: why stay up that late to collect her instead of sleeping? Sleep didn't really matter to me at that point. Besides, sleep isn't nearly as exciting as seeing family who live far away. She would stay with us and the best man for the next week, which was fun.
I was called out of work on Wednesday, which ended up being a really good thing. I had ordered hydrangeas online which were delivered late that afternoon and I spent a good hour hydrating (and talking to) the blooms. The last load of laundry finished up and I packed my weekend bag. I'm not sure why, but I really like making packing lists and arranging everything before a trip. At the same time, I've become slightly obsessed with this capsule wardrobe thing. My closet still needs weeding (especially since I want to pack everything neatly and compactly for our cross-country move at the end of Summer). I also had to organize wedding-specific things like bridesmaid gifts and wedding shoes. With every item I crossed off my list, three new items popped up.
On Thursday, C and I both had the day off, which was absolutely necessary, otherwise nothing would have been accomplished. My order of lilies (for a Marian bouquet) arrived early in the morning, but it took me a while to drag myself out of bed (couldn't have anything to do with staying up late as I always do, could it?). The hydrangeas had really blossomed overnight and I spent a good five minutes applauding them. C and I were out the door by 11.00 AM to go to Confession at the Cathedral. I will never stop being amazed at how powerful Confession is. It also doesn't hurt that the Cathedral has some of the coolest confessionals that I've ever seen. They are great, ornately carved wooden structures with heavy curtains that sweep behind you as you kneel, enclosing you and Jesus Christ—through the priest—in the awesome Sacrament. As we left the Cathedral, the beginning sprinkles of rain fell down on us (I think it rains a good percentage of the time I go to Confession: interesante).
From the Cathedral to the bank to withdraw mucho dinero (everyone wanted to be paid in cash, no surprise) to Walmart to get a few supplies for the flowers (and a deck of cards because why not?) to the church to pick up vases and finally to home. I set to work on the flower arrangements (four for the altar, three bouquets of hydrangeas and one bouquet of lilies). As this was the first time I'd ever tried to arrange flowers properly, I was a bit nervous, but they turned out pretty good, I'm pleased to say. While I snipped stems, my first bridesmaid, H, arrived. I finished the flowers then packed our car quite full and we headed to the hotel I would stay at that night. H arrived soon as I was checking in and helped me bring everything up, which was really good, as it would have taken me several trips to do everything on my own. I was pretty impressed by the suite we had gotten. Initially, C and I had purchased a regular room for three nights (Thursday-Saturday). However, we later decided to go to the shore Saturday and exchanged the room for a suite for two nights for about the same price. The living room/kitchen entrance would provide a lot of room for everyone to get ready the morning of.
Once everything—dress, bags, flowers and the tuxedo C would wear for the reception—was put into its place, we traveled to the church for the rehearsal. At this point, the only members present were myself, C, one of three bridesmaids, two (P and T) of three groomsmen and the celebrant. It was less than ideal, since our Nuptial Mass was certainly going to be something no one had experience with, but it was largely unavoidable for all who had to travel a good distance to be there. We ran through all the logistics: how the procession would work, when people would stand and sit (“Just follow them,” Father said, pointing at me and C.), how the vows fit into the Mass. As we practiced the nuptial portion, Father said, “Now, don't respond or repeat any of this, or else we'll have a problem,” before he read out the exchange of consent, vows and exchange of rings text. I wasn't paying nearly as much attention as I should have at that point (luckily, we weren't memorizing the text, but instead repeating after Father), because, as usual, my mind was in eight different places. I made last adjustments to the flowers at the altar (the two groomsmen had brought them to the church from the house) and then we were off to the rehearsal dinner.
H and her plus one, C and I piled into the car as I texted my mother, figuring out where they were. My family had driven from Illinois starting very early that morning and I had been texting them throughout the day inquiring after their status. At this point, they were only twenty minutes or so out. After a while at the restaurant, the groomsmen showed up with S (not a bridesmaid. We broke the “rules.” Oh well.) and soon after, my sister, N, (my second bridesmaid) arrived with my parents. [My parents ended up going to the hotel to relax with my aunt, uncle and baby cousin who had also come. Probably for the best, because as soon as my mom saw me she started crying. Haha....] The dinner was good—mostly because I had been psyching myself up for a steak for the past week—and gave everyone a chance to meet each other. N and I caught up, but mostly speculated how much mom was crying at any given moment.
When the dinner was over, my sister and I went to my hotel. She would stay with me that night. I had originally planned to be alone the night before. I thought that it was somehow good symbolism for me to be alone on the last night of my being single, but I'm glad I spent time with N instead, as it gave us more time to catch up and also did not leave me alone just to get nervous about everything. The first thing I set to work on was steaming my dress and C's tuxedo shirt. My dress: success; C's shirt: not so much. I was arranging things for the next morning when my third bridesmaid, M, sent me a text saying she had landed and—surprise to me—was staying in the same hotel. Within an hour, she and her boyfriend were in the room, alternating between commenting on whatever Bravo television show was playing and suggesting more songs for the reception playlist (which was not exactly finalized at this point. Oops). Apparently Eminem's Just Lose It was not appropriate, as C vetoed that suggestion (harsh). Half of the time, I was just shaking my head at suggestions, saying I didn't know them. The other (better) half of the time, I was like, “I completely forgot about this!” and singing along to early 2000s songs. At some point, another two Chicago cousins arrived and collected the tie and cufflinks which belonged to another groomsman (O). They helped with more music suggestions, all of which I forwarded to C, who at this point was like, “Seriously? This is way too many.” Ha.
Near midnight, I had to kick everyone out, though. I drew a bath for myself and typed out this post quickly on my phone. My sister and I kept talking, but soon we could barely keep our eyes open, her out of genuine awake-for-24-hours exhaustion and me out of if-I-don't-sleep-I'll-hate-myself.