A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part V: The Reception

Ahh, the reception. Maybe not the most important part of a wedding, but definitely the most fun part. It was when we allowed the outside world to break into our twosome, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

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Shortly after the ceremony, when Dave and I finished hugging everyone who came, we headed up to the outdoor patio for cocktail hour .I was busy mingling with friends and family, and my friend Nicole was awesome at bringing me drinks every time I got low. I probably wouldn’t have gotten any otherwise.

10-01-10 (467) We also had an amazing selection of hor’s douevres being passed around which was great since I’d hardly eaten anything at that point.

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However, after only a few noshes, the non-related photographer whisked me away upstairs and started taking a billion and one pictures of me. My mouth hurt so much from smiling, I felt like a hanger had been forced into it. I have to say that was my least favorite part of the day: I love having all those pictures now, but I didn’t like being torn away from the fun. I don’t even look like myself in some of the pictures.

10-01-10 (309)Who’s that girl? Definitely not me. Dave joined in for some photos at the end, so I felt a little better.

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We were having so much fun during cocktail hour that Dave and I needed a little push to get everyone inside for dinner.

10-01-10 (509)I made name cards so everyone could choose their own seats, and we began with salads at the tables.

10-01-10 (515)Dave thanked everyone for coming, and we toasted with Dona Sol red wine. My new father-in-law Barry gave a heartwarming toast.

10-01-10 (543)My dad said a few words. And Dave’s sister gave her “Best Man” speech which was both hilarious and heartwarming. My maid of honor and sister Emily elected not to say anything, but her love spoke through my dress.

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There was a buffet set up in an adjoining room with all the delicious food: roast pork, bourbon chicken, brown sugar carrots, red potatoes, and rolls. I noticed that a couple of the menu changes we requested hadn’t been done, but Dave didn’t, and it wasn’t a huge deal. Since there were only 40 people, the buffet line went very smoothly. I hardly remember anything about dinner, except that it was delicious.

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After everyone was satisfied, we headed into the adjoining room for dancing. We started with our first dance as husband and wife to “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes, followed by the father-daughter dance, then the mother-son dance, and then Solace set up to play.

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What we did not do: a bridal party entrance or dance, a garter toss, a flower toss, or any games involving toilet paper. I think every couple is entitled to the wedding they want, and none of those things were on our must-do list. I still have nightmares about the time my cousin got married and her new husband was blindfolded and had to grab the garter off my grandma’s leg with his teeth (thinking it was his new wife). *shudders*

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What we did do: laughed, talked, mingled, drank, DANCED! I know I’m biased because my brother and two of my best friends comprise the band, but they are so good. They can rock any cover song, and their original songs are amazing. Keep your eye out for Solace, folks! I was having so much fun, I didn’t want it to end. I kept sporadically checking the clock to see how quickly the fun was counting down. It was over much, much too soon (meaning we wanted the party to last and ended up at some horrible bar followed by Denny’s, which I wish I didn’t remember).

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On the drive back to the hotel, Dave and I both decided we wanted a re-enactment of our wedding day. It was wonderful.

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A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part IV: The Ceremony

There were several things I was absolutely adamant on for our ceremony. The first, that we have a judge marry us. The second, that Dave walk down the aisle right before or after me with just as much pomp and circumstance. After all, it was our big day, not my big day.

The third, that both my parents walk me down the aisle. The fourth, that my father not be asked to give me away. The fifth, that the judge say “husband and wife” not “man and wife.”

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But you have to pick your battles.

So when my mom said she didn’t want to walk me down the aisle, I said okay. And when my dad started tearing up minutes before the ceremony because he reaaaally wanted to give me away, I said okay. And when the wedding coordinator said Dave should take the short way down the aisle and I should take the long way down the aisle because people really only cared about seeing the bride, I said okay.

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Even with those small concessions, our ceremony was everything I hoped it would be. Our wedding day was on a Friday, and I woke up early to go work on the flowers in Dave’s parent’s garage. My mom was confident the three of us (including my Aunt Dina) could get it all done with plenty of time to spare. Well….not so much. It was a nice morning and we had a fun time doing the flowers, but I ended up staying until I simply had to leave to get ready with my mom still working away.

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I know absolutely nothing about doing hair, so my sister Moriah willingly agreed to do so. My hair was relatively short at the time, and I told her I wanted it half up, half down, with just a little bit of curl. After she was done, I went back to my hotel room to do my makeup.

10-01-10 (312)My hands were shaking so hard, I kept dropping my makeup containers and brushes and was breathing in an out like there was a paper bag in front of my mouth. I kept picturing the guy from The Sandlot in my mirror saying “For…ev….ehr.” Forever? Who can agree to forever?

When Dave picked me up to head over to the mansion, I was noticably antsy. “For…ev…ehr. For…ev…ehr.” I alternated between silence and prattling about nothingness in the car. At one point, Dave said, “You know, I’m getting a little irritated that you keep flipping out,” and I stared out the window, trying not to cry, as we pulled up to the mansion. Now I know why couples don’t see each other before the wedding.

Deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths, as I put on my wedding dress. Then wedding party arrived, and I relaxed. We went outside to take a bajillion pictures, and I looked at the man I was about to marry and realized just how much I loved him and how much work I would put into making this last forever. After all, this was more than a wedding: it was a marriage.

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There wasn’t much surprise beforehand at how we looked: Dave and I were both mingling with our guests as they arrived before the ceremony took place. We got a call that our friend J.D. who was supposed to be running the iPod had a flat tire and wouldn’t be able to make it to the ceremony. I asked our friend Bill if he could do it and he agreed, though he was nervous since he wasn’t really familiar with Ipods. Then my cousin Jake showed up and took over as music player and camera man. Mini crisis averted.

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It was such a beautiful day, unusually warm for October, but very breezy. My Dad looked very somber as he walked me down the aisle, and I just kept smiling and looking at all my friends and family, desperately trying not to trip on my dress. All those people in the crowd, people who drove from another state, people who took a Friday off work to be there, people who didn’t complain once about having to shell out money for a hotel room….they were all my favorite people, and I loved them, and I loved them for being there, and I loved that they were there to see me marry Dave.

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Once I started my walk down the aisle, all my worries melted, and I was cool as a cucumber. This was good, this was right, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I had practiced my vows so many times that I didn’t even have to look at them to read them to Dave. Meanwhile, Dave’s calm demeanor had flipped the opposite way.

Right as he began reading, he pulled out a handkerchief and struggled to make it through his vows. There was hardly a dry eye in the crowd. When he said all the things every person wants to hear, I didn’t freeze like I did when he proposed. I let them wash over me and wondered how long I had to wait to kiss him. It seemed unfair to wait until the judge said “husband and wife” when I just couldn’t contain the love I was feeling for him.

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After our vows, our friends read some poetry and book excerpts, which were just perfect, and soon, we were pronounced husband and wife. Dave kept stepping on my dress as we walked back down the aisle, and I couldn’t stop smiling as we walked back down the aisle to “All You Need is Love.”

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A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part III: The Planning

The Guest Book

Dave and I didn’t really care about a traditional guest book, but I did want to remember everyone who was there on our special day. While searching Etsy, I found an awesome idea for a sliced log that was signed then varnished to seal in the names of the guests.

I had my Dad find and cut a piece for us, and then Dave and I used a woodburning tool to etch in a tree of life with a Celtic knot as well as our names and wedding date.

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We had the guests sign with Sharpie paint markers, which I later went over with a regular Sharpie as they started to fade before we could seal the log correctly. Our guest book is now a cool piece of artwork that hangs in our living room, and I absolutely love it.

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The Guest List

This was the most difficult part of our wedding, hands down. Dave and I wanted (and could only afford) a small and intimate wedding, so we decided on only immediate family (parents, siblings, grandparents) and close friends. There are several members of my family I consider immediate family, and I invited them as well.

We got a lot of heat about our small guest list, and some people were downright mean about it. Even my parents were a little miffed that I did not invite some of their siblings. It was one of the biggest stressors when planning the wedding, and Dave handled it much better than I did.

However, in the end, we got to speak to every single guest at our wedding, which was exactly what we wanted. I have never begrudged any relatives or friends for having a small wedding to which I am not invited, and I know those who love me best understood why we wanted to keep it small.

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What I learned: no matter how big your guest list is, there will always be someone upset that they weren’t invited. Do what you want. And who knows, even if you haven’t invited someone, they might show up anyway! (Happened to us. No further comment).

The Music

I just happen to know this really great band that consists of my brother and two of my best friends, John and J.D.

Though two of them were in the wedding party, we desperately wanted Solace to play the dancing tunes and asked if we could go back and forth between them and Ipod music so they would still have time to enjoy themselves. They agreed to learn a few new songs, which have now become some of my favorites, like “Ballroom Blitz.”

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I paid each of the band members $75, which was much less than they deserved. However, they were friends (and family) and probably would have done it for free. Still, I wanted to compensate them for having to haul all their musical equipment to a new state as well as set up and take down.

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Dave and I used an Ipod to play our music during the ceremony. We didn’t want any of the traditional wedding songs (surprise, surprise) and finally decided on:

“All I Want is You” by Barry Loius Polisar (from Juno) for the bridal parties entrance. This was such a fun choice and perfect for the mood we wanted to set.

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“The Blood of Cuchulainn” by Jeff and Michael Danna (Boondock Saints theme) for the groom and bride’s entrance. (Dave walked up after the bridal party with his parents, followed by me with my dad). I love this song, and I get even more sentimental at the beginning of The Boondock Saints.

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“All You Need is Love” by The Beatles for the exit.  Dave doesn’t love The Beatles as much as I do, but we both adore the movie Love Actually where this song is showcased during a wedding. Perfect way to leave.

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First dance: “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes

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Father-Daughter Dance: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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Mother-Son Dance: “Always, In All Way”s by Kenny Loggins

The Food

Standard wedding fare in Wisconsin is fried chicken, beef tips, mashed potatoes, corn, and rolls. Dave and I agreed wholeheartedly that none of this food was going to be served at our wedding. Foodies through and through, we decided to have a pig roast.

10-01-10 (485)The pig was roasted outside during cocktail hour, then shredded and served by the kitchen staff along with the rest of the food including: salad, bourbon chicken, roasted dill potatoes, candied carrots, and rolls. We asked for a few changes: an extra veggie dish for our vegetarian guests and for a different sauce for the carrots (I loathe candied carrots and they offered a different sauce on the menu). There was also chef’s choice of mixed hors d’ouevres served during cocktail hour.

The Drinks

When Dave and I were living with his parents, we decided to open a bottle of their wine one night and felt really guilty as soon as we did. The wine was so good, we were sure it was an expensive bottle. His parents laughed and told us it was cheap wine, $4 or $5 a bottle. We enjoyed it so much that Dave’s parents bought a bunch and we served the Dona Sol during dinner.

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Open bar? Yes.

The Cake

We didn’t have one. Dave and I like cake but didn’t love it well enough to shell out hundreds of dollars on one. Instead, we requested assorted desserts be served alongside coffee, and to this day, I regret the fact that I didn’t get to taste any of the delicious desserts that were there. Chocolate covered what? I miss you!

The Vows

Since the ceremony is the main event, I didn’t want it to be too short. Dave and I decided to do two sets of vows at the judge’s suggestion: we would each read our own vows to each other, then do the traditional vows.

I wrote my vows months in advance and constantly reread and tweaked them. Dave wrote his a few weeks before the wedding and stole the show.

Readings

To wanted our ceremony to have a lot of meaning specific to us, so I asked our wedding party if some of them would be willing to read some poetry. Books are some of my best friends, and I wanted them to be present. Our friend Dan read “Prayer for a Marriage” by Steven Scafaldi. Our friend Emily read “The Orange” by Wendy Cope. And our friend Saoirse read an excerpt from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

They were all absolutely perfect.

The Photographer

We just happen to know an awesome photographer…Dave’s dad. He was a professional photographer for thirty years before he became a culinary arts instructor, so he was the natural choice. Barry also had a friend come help him out to focus on reception pictures so he didn’t have to snap photos all night. Together, the two of them did a fabulous job. I don’t think Photoshop was used on any of the pictures (especially since I was handed a dvd the morning after), and we still look drop dead gorgeous. Either that, or I only hang out with really attractive people, which may just be true.

A Trip Through Our Wedding, Part I: The Proposal

Like most people, my wedding was the happiest day of my life….so far. Not only because I married a man who never fails to show much how much he loves me, but because I got to celebrate with all of my very favorite people in the world (It should be noted that I’ve added a few more “favorite” people to my collection since then).

Family & Friends. Music. Food. Poetry. Dancing. Seeing Dave’s face as he read his vows to me. I would relive it once a month if I could. Dave would like to as well, but he wants to nix the ceremony part where he cries.

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Dave proposed on a cool November night, just after Thanksgiving. At the time, we had been together just over a year. Though I knew he had bought a ring (because of the strange way he had been acting weeks before and because of my feminine intuition), it was a spontaneous proposal. I believe he actually intended to propose right before Christmas.

We were living in our first apartment together and had just put up all the holiday decorations. Neither of us is religious, but we absolutely adore the holidays and usually put up our decorations right after Thanksgiving.

100_3684We turned on the lights and lit up the tree, then lay together on the couch. Our cat Athena jumped up beside us purring and I said, “Everything is just perfect right now.” Dave pullled a box out of his pocket and said “Would it be more perfect if you were wearing this?”

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Then Dave began the speech. It was a flowery, lovely speech; the speech everyone wants to hear during a proposal. Unfortunately, I don’t remember it, because my ears were buzzing, my mouth went dry, and my heart was beating so loud, I was sure it had flown out of my chest and up into my ear canal.

“Yes,” was on the tip of my tongue, but it just wouldn’t spill out. If it had, it may have sounded like a bullfrog with a cold. Dave’s voice was a little shaky and nervous, and as I looked into the face I loved the most in the world, I kissed him, still rendered speechless.

“Does that mean yes?” he asked. “Yes, it does,” I answered.

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The ring was so beautiful and so “me.” Only Dave could have picked it out. He knew I wasn’t a huge fan of diamonds and instead got an emerald setting with tiny diamonds clustered around in waves. Dave actually didn’t know there were diamonds in the ring. He told me later that he thought they were “sparklies.”

I asked my mom to stop by my workplace a day later, because I had to show her something. When she came in, I proudly showed off my left hand and the ring and said “Dave proposed!”

She gasped, looking at the ring and asked……….”What did you say?!”

She clearly forgot that by putting the ring on your finger, then showing it off to people is a pretty clear “yes.” She then asked if her skin would turn green and warty and if she would have to wear a black pointy hat until I pointed out “That’s a witch, Mom, not a mother-in-law.” Obviously, she was in shock.

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Dave and I couldn’t decide on a date. We knew we wanted to finish college (we were in our senior year) and save up some money….but it didn’t happen. Dave was frequently in between jobs and mine just covered our bills, nothing more. We moved down to Illinois a year and a half after Dave proposed to live with his parents and search for work in a new state. And it was then, both unemployed, that we decided to finally tie the knot.

A Summer Wedding

The second longest day of the year proved to be a beautiful day for a wedding. The weather forecasters had predicted on and off thunderstorms all day, but, as is true in most cases, they were wrong. The morning and afternoon were grey and a bit cool, but there was no rain in sight for most of the day.

My cousin Lindsay and her new husband had their ceremony at the Green Bay Botanical Gardens, and it was one of most beautiful weddings I have ever been to. Sorry to those of you who love church weddings, but to me, nothing can beat the beauty of the great outdoors.

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Before and after the ceremony, we had a great time wandering around the gardens. So many fun photo props! And can we please talk about how cute my niece Aurelia is with her pigtails?

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The most darling little moonbeam with her mama. And her juice.

012Since there was limited seating during the ceremony, I opted to stand in the back, which I actually preferred. It was nice to be in a great spot for pictures (although I didn’t use flash and made sure I was not in the photographer’s way….that’s a huge no-no).

Here comes the groom…

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And the maid of honor, my cousin Cayla….

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And the beautiful bride escorted by Uncle Dan!

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Like most brides, Lindsay looked a bit overwhelmed by all the excitement of the day, but she held herself together beautifully. It was easy to see just how happy she was, and I don’t think I ever saw Jake stop smiling.

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Her dress was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen (besides mine of course 🙂 ).

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In lieu of candle-lighting, Lindsay and Jake did a tree planting ceremony, which I thought was a cool idea (and very practical!).

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Their family members added soil to the tree’s pot from a significant location, then the bride and groom watered the tree together and took the tree home to plant.

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The ceremony was short and sweet. Congrats to the newlyweds!

027My favorite picture of them. 🙂

After wandering around the gardens after the ceremony, we headed to Riverside Ballroom for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

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Leinie’s Red to drink.

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And a wonderful plate of nibbles including smoked salmon. Swoon.

Lindsay and Jake said each table would have to sing a word with “love” in it to see them kiss, but I couldn’t get my table to join in. Boo. The dinner was standard Wisconsin wedding fare, served family style: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, beef tips, gravy, rolls, and coleslaw. There were two kinds of cake, and I obviously opted for the chocolate one.

043My cousin Lindsay has celiac disease, so I can’t remember if the cakes were gluten free or not, but either way, it was delicious.

Time to dance!

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What a gorgeous couple.

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The drinks and laughter were flowing, and it was a great time to catch up with the Leahy family. They are so much fun!

We also had a lot of fun with the photo booth.

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I adore photo booths at weddings. The candy bar was also a welcome presence. Gummy bears!

042I even snagged a picture with the bride and maid of honor!

056My parents had their dancing shoes on last night.

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I’m very lucky that my siblings and their significant others just happen to be some of my best friends. It always means I have friends around at family events.PicMonkey Collage 4

Dave was there, too, but didn’t make it into any of the pictures! Sneaky boy.

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All in all, we had a fabulous time at the wedding. As my cousin Mark told me last night, “I skipped out on a bachelor party tonight and told my friends ‘Sorry, but Leahy weddings are way more fun.”

Well said.

Congratulations Lindsay & Jake!

What a Weekend

Being sick did not lend itself to a fantastic night’s sleep after the rehearsal. But I powered through the weekend with Dayquil, Pepto, Cough Drops, and Nyquil (note: waaaay more drugs than I usually take).

Saturday morning, the girls met bright and early at the salon for hair and makeup.

Amanda, Annie, Tricia, and the lovely bride Emily

We were scheduled to be at the salon from 9:00-11:30am so breakfast there was a necessity. Tricia brought some fruit skewers and delicious Earl Grey Tea bread with a honey cream cheese spread.

And I brought fixings for Mango-Orange Mimosas. Mango Orange juice just tastes so much better to me than regular OJ.

Fortunately, the salon staggered the order in which we got our hair done, so a couple of the girls could run and get coffee for all, as well. A morning without coffee isn’t a morning at all.

We had lots of time to chat and tell stories, which was great because I got to know the bridesmaids even better. Even though I knew them all beforehand, we are scattered across the country and don’t see each other very often at all.

Emily had the coolest wedding shoes I have ever seen. You Whovians will love this (haven’t started watching yet): Emily had a Tardis on the bottom of one of her shoes as her ‘something blue!’

The bride and I were the only ones who elected to get our makeup done. Since I didn’t get my hair or makeup done for my own wedding (my sister did my hair and I did my own makeup), I felt like splurging.

Emily looked absolutely gorgeous; she doesn’t wear much makeup (doesn’t need to!), and basically just looked like a more glamorous version of her usual beautiful self.

I was not nearly as happy with the way my own makeup turned out; I wanted to look just a step above natural and ended up looking way too done up for my own personal tastes. But I didn’t have the time or energy to time to fix it–we headed off to the church with just an hour to get dressed and ready.

It seemed like a perfect amount of time–until the pull broke off my zipper, and I was left standing in the bathroom half naked waiting for my mom and sister to come up with a brilliant plan to save my dress. After about forty minutes of panic, my sister finally used a corsage pin to hold my dress together. I will never again buy a dress with an invisible zipper–hate those!

We even had time for a few pictures before the ceremony began! It was a wonderful ceremony, and I couldn’t stop myself from tearing up just a little. After having had the pleasure of seeing Em and Dan’s relationship for five years, I was so incredibly happy to see them showing their commitment to the world.

Post-ceremony, we were picked up by a limo and headed to Dan’s parent’s greenhouse for some beautiful pictures among wildflowers and their vineyard. The last time I was in a limo was for junior prom in high school–this was so much better!

 

Now introducing….Mr. and Mrs. Kiefer! So weird to say that.

 

The girls bouquets held up excellently; the corsages never do: hugging does not lend itself to pretty flowers. But a sad corsage at the end of a wedding is a sign that the wearer is beloved. I think it’s a good thing.

After photos, we arrived at the reception.

 

 

A beautiful Lemon Raspberry cake greeted us.

 

Each table setting was adorned with homemade Strawberry jam for favors. A fabulous idea. Unfortunately, as I couldn’t ‘jam’ it in my purse right away (heh), I forgot mine on the table. 😦

 

Dinner at the Wellington was phenomenal. The porcini dusted walleye was fantastic and the green beans very good, but the mashed potatoes were really the star of the show. They were more like smashed potatoes; although incredibly creamy, they had bits of potato skin swirled in–my favorite way to eat mashed potatoes.

I’m really going to have to get used to ‘Emily Kiefer’ instead of ‘Emily Osby.’

Once the band came out, the dance floor was hopping.

 

 

Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

Rehearsal

The wedding rehearsal last night was a great success! I got to meet even more of Dan and Em’s family, as well as everyone involved in the couple’s big day.

 

After we ran through the wedding procession, we hung around the church for a while discussing the proper term for a flute player. Flutist? Flautist? Fluter? I like flautist, because I think it sounds fancier…but, then again, I don’t play flute. After many other discussions, we headed to one of my favorite restaurants for the rehearsal dinner: St. Brendan’s!

 

It was such a beautiful evening with a phenomenal sunset. And it was so fun to be part of a dinner where everything had been ordered in advance, so we didn’t have to break our wonderful conversation and laughter with anything. Dan and Emily looked so happy together all night–I remember that feeling of euphoria well!

The food was fantastic. We were started with a very nice salad.

Way to go, St. Brendan’s! No iceberg lettuce. 🙂 Then the main course we had ordered previous to coming was set before us. I chose the salmon….I have a weakness for it.

 

It was covered in a thick and savory cream sauce that brightened the whole dish. I rarely ever use heavy cream, so this was a real treat. But another unexpected treat came soon after…dessert!

 

Apple Crisp with Maple Nut ice cream. A perfectly sweet end to the meal. After dinner, Em and Dan graced us with unnecessary (but much appreciated) gifts–cranberry-colored cashmere scarves for the girls and engraved flasks for the boys.

 

I am so lucky to be a bridesmaid for this wonderful woman!

Now I’m off to the salon for hair and makeup…with mimosa fixings in tow, of course. 🙂

Happy Wedding Day, Dan & Emily!