The day finally came and is now firmly entrenched in the memories-of-a-lifetime category. As godparents, we enjoyed it without having to endure all of the amazing hard work and planning (not to mention costs!) that the actual parents undertook. Since the result was perfect (in every way), the heartiest of thanks and congratulations go to the parents of the bride, our dear friends, Bob and Sally! Bravo!
On Saturday, I wrote a shortish (for me) post on how we spent Friday and early Saturday. What was special about the Jamestown trip (beyond the normal wonders of learning about history) was that it was the perfect way to introduce a group of strangers (many of whom were about to become related to each other) in an interesting and relaxed manner. Kudos to the father of the bride for having the idea, and executing it so well!
As noted in that post, we had a fantastic meal and fellowship together at the rehearsal dinner on Friday night. For that, we thank the father of the groom, for putting together such a splendid evening!
The festivities and preparations were ongoing throughout the big day. There were lots of details to be taken care of as well as the typical female primping. Smartly, I avoided all of it. Since Lois was involved to an extent, and the hubbub was happening in the rooms all around ours, I was peripherally aware of some of the activities. Here’s a single example of some primping:
The wedding was called for 5pm at the Wren Chapel at William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. You can read the storied history of the Wren Chapel, but here’s the opening paragraph from that link to give you a flavor of the magic of the place:
The Sir Christopher Wren Building is the oldest college building in the United States and the oldest of the restored public buildings in Williamsburg. It was constructed between 1695 and 1699, before the city was founded, when the capital of the colony of Virginia was still located at Jamestown, and the tract of land which was to become Williamsburg was populated by simple timber buildings and known as “Middle Plantation.”
They hired a limousine to shuttle the wedding party and out-of-town guests from the hotel to the chapel. It’s a short trip, so the limo was to make continuous trips back-and-forth starting at 4pm. I got to the lobby at 4:28pm and didn’t see anyone I knew. When I stepped outside, something akin to an Airport Shuttle Bus pulled up. I asked if he was heading to the Wren Chapel, and he said he was. When I stepped inside, I saw that it was as plush as you could imagine (no hint from the outside), including two flat-screen TVs (they were off). A limo indeed!
After waiting five minutes, I was shuttled alone to the chapel. I felt a bit cramped in the back of a vehicle that could comfortably seat 16-18 people, but I made do.
Lois saved me a seat near the front of the chapel, so getting there a little later didn’t cost me. You can see from the stock photo that the place is gorgeous, but in addition to how beautiful and well-preserved the place is, it has a very wonderful feel to it as well. To my left was a great friend of the bride, and for a couple of years now a great friend of ours as well, playing the harp. She was awesome, as was the organist (playing in the balcony) who was her teacher when she was at William and Mary herself. They serenaded us as people arrived.
Here’s the harpist, with her harp. This photo is from the rehearsal since Lois didn’t get any good shots of the harp on the wedding day:
At 5pm sharp, the electricity was in the air, as the music shifted and the guests hushed. The procession began. The Wren Chapel is set up perfectly to enjoy exactly this kind of event, because the pews face the center aisle. No neck-craning required to see all of the attendants and the main attraction. I purposely avoided the wedding rehearsal (but cleverly, not the rehearsal dinner!) so I got to soak it all in without knowing how it would play out.
When the beaming bride walked down the aisle on her father’s arm, it was truly a joyous site to behold. They were fortunate enough to have the minister from their church in Williamsburg (who therefore knew the couple well) preside over the ceremony. He was amazing. His wit, wisdom and spirituality were deeply inspiring.
The bride’s uncle is a Pastor as well, and he read a moving passage and added some inspirational words of his own. Mirroring that, a close friend of the groom’s family read a moving passage as well. On every level, the ceremony was just wonderful. On the most important level, the joining of the happy couple, it was heart-warming (and mesmerizing) to see their eyes locked on each other, with deep love and anticipation for their future together. There was no nervousness at the altar.
One grainy photo of the married couple:
When Laura (the bride) was younger, she had the honor of being a Junior Bridesmaid at her cousin’s wedding. Laura is very close to her cousin and to her cousin’s children. She had the pleasure of honoring her cousin’s oldest child by including her as a Junior Bridesmaid this time around (full circle!). Here is a photo of the Minister calling on her and the final groomsman to close the procession:
When the ceremony was over, we were all asked to gather as quickly as possible outside for a group photo. The cause for the rush was the impending storm. Luckily, aside from a very few drops, the clouds held it together for what will hopefully be a really great shot from a balcony above us.
We hitched a ride with a couple that we’re deeply fond of and rarely get to spend quality time with, so that turned into a surprise pleasure. One minute after we got into the reception area (a wonderful air-conditioned tent on the veranda of a beautiful country club in the outskirts of Williamsburg) it started to pour. We were very lucky. Others needed umbrellas to make their own luck.
Appetizers and drinks were served while people selected which table to sit at. We gathered with a group of Richmond-based friends and the merriment began immediately.
I was honored to be asked to introduce the wedding party upon their arrival. At roughly 6:50pm I was alerted that my duties would be discharged shortly. I waited patiently on the dance floor by the DJ, microphone in hand. At one point there was a possibility that I would also be introducing the parents of the couple, but that didn’t happen. Here’s what I would have said had the opportunity presented itself:
It is clear that the love shared between these two couples, for each other and for their wonderful children, is a model that our new couple will follow. Guided by their parents, they were destined to find each other, sharing a faith that is truly inspirational. Please join me in welcoming the proud parents of the bride and groom!
Those words didn’t get spoken that night, but they are memorialized here.
Here’s what I did say:
My name is Hadar Pedhazur, and I have two distinct privileges tonight. The first is that of being godfather to Laura, which is what allows me to enjoy the second privilege, of announcing the wedding party.
And, of course, then I announced them, followed by being the first to call the bride and groom “Mr. and Mrs.” (at least the first with a microphone in his hand!).
Here is a grainy photo of them arriving, waiting for me to call out their names:
Here is the happy couple, introduced by me as “Mr. and Mrs.”:
When I was done, the father of the bride took over. His speech was very moving, ending with everyone joining hands and being led in a wonderful blessing by him. He could have been a Minister, had he so desired!
On to the festivities. The food was served buffet style. It was the first buffet of this size that I attended that was run rationally. Each table was told when to get up so that we didn’t have wrap-around-the-block lines. It was quick and painless to fill your plate. The food was outstanding. Kudos to the kitchen staff for preparing a delectable feast.
Many people traveled great distances to attend. The groom’s family came from California. The bride had family from Nebraska and Texas. None of that matched the trip undertaken by one of the bride’s cousins (uncle to the Junior Bridesmaid above). He came from Capetown, South Africa, with his 14-month-old daughter (her first trip to the US). She had the distinction of both being the youngest guest, and the one that traveled the furthest. She was an angel in every possible respect, and was likely the best behaved person (adults included!) at the wedding and reception.
Immediately after eating, I got to catch up with a number of incredible people who we see all-too-infrequently. That was another blessing associated with this wedding, that it brought together all of the people that hold this couple and their extended families so dear. A breath of fresh air to collect so many nice and extraordinary people under one roof (OK, tent) for such a happy occasion.
Finally, the dancing. Of course, the youngsters were on the dance floor the rest of the night, non-stop. Many of the older crowd were cutting up a rug as well. Normally, you can’t pay me to get on a dance floor, but when they called up every married couple, it was hard to pretend that I wasn’t.
So, even I danced with my lovely bride:
Here is a photo of the Groom’s landlady, dancing with one of the groomsmen. He had trouble keeping up with her, I kid you not!
Of course, one of the more important dances of the night, the famous Father/Daughter dance. Unfortunately, another grainy photo (sorry folks):
One Father/Daughter picture deserves another. The father of the groom has two lovely daughters, both of whom were bridesmaids:
Since we’re showing off our pride and joy(s), we may as well complete the scene with two photos. The first is of the proud godparents (us) with the bride (our goddaughter), groom and our godson. The second is with our godson only, mostly because it’s a much clearer picture of the three of us:
There were three toasts given to the happy couple. The first by the Maid of Honor (a good friend of ours too). The second by the Matron of Honor (another good friend of ours, whose wedding we attended just last summer!). Finally, the Best Man (and father of the groom!) spoke.
All three speeches were moving and captured the spirit of the bride and groom beautifully. That said, because they were so moving, they weren’t easy to get through. Both the Maid and Matron of Honor broke down, multiple times. I was impressed that the bride kept it together as well as she did! The father of the groom kept it together a drop better, but it was a struggle for him as well, as he was bursting with pride and love for his son.
A very grainy photo of the Best Man (father of the groom) giving his toast:
After significant additional merriment, we finally said goodbye to the bride and groom, by forming two lines and giving them a Sparkler Sendoff (exactly as we did with the Matron of Honor’s wedding the year before). Last year, someone put a still-lit sparkler into the bucket of fresh (unused) sparklers, creating a gigantic blast and flame. No one made that mistake this time around.
The mother of the bride leading the sparklers farewell:
Since we hitched a ride over, we needed to hitch a ride back. We were less fortunate this time, and ended up splitting up, each taking one empty seat with people who were kind enough to put up with us.
Back at the hotel, we topped off this most extraordinary evening even more so. First, our room ended up being a temporary gathering place for most of the wedding party, as they prepared to do stuff to the couple’s car (I didn’t want to know the details). Having energetic young folk around keeps us young (at heart at least), so we both love that.
Shortly after they left, the parents of the bride stopped by our room to finally breathe a well-deserved sigh! Their son (our godson) joined as well, and the five of us just quietly basked in the glow of a perfect ending to a perfect day together.
The next morning was filled with lots of present stuffing in our car. We drove most of their presents to NY yesterday, since they’ll be living in the same building as us. We then spent the next 7.5 hours in the car, and were very happy to finally see our own bed, after being on the road for two weeks!
Congratulations Laura and Chris, we couldn’t be happier for you, and we can’t wait to see you in NYC next week as you kick off the next phase of your life together!