Wedding

The Southern Wedding

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One of the major events in being a godparent is seeing your godchild get married. Nearly three years ago we got our first taste when Laura married Chris (captured in this post). This past Saturday, her brother (David) completed this stage by marrying the most wonderful woman (Rebecca) we could have imagined for him.

We arrived in Birmingham, AL late Monday. The festivities began in earnest on Tuesday morning, when we helped David’s parents move the remaining belongings from his apartment to his bride-to-be’s home. The ladies packed and scrubbed, the men hauled and drove. The next morning we sat in the new home waiting for the cable guy (he was only five minutes late, but that was five minutes after the full allotted time). In other words, a zesty start. Winking smile

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings we had wonderful meals with the groom, his parents and his future in-laws. That’s more like it! Smile

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(All photos in the post can be clicked on for larger versions that will open in a separate tab/window. A few of them are courtesy of another wedding guest, Maggie, who took great shots with a better camera. I didn’t ask permission before snagging them, so I hope Maggie is OK with it, or doesn’t see this blog…) Winking smile

Thursday became more wedding-y. I picked up my tux (yes, it was a big deal, those of you who know me, are either smiling or shaking your head in disbelief while reading that). Not just a tux, one with tails!

After that, it was off to the bachelor party. If you’re easily offended, you might want to skip ahead now. Just kidding! David is a devout Christian, as was everyone in the entire wedding party, so no one needed to worry about any possible debauchery with this crowd. One of those times that the bride could concentrate on her night out with the gals, without wondering what was happening across town.

We started off the evening with bowling. If you know me, you know that’s right up my alley (I know, but I couldn’t resist, sorry!). Eight of us bowled two games each.

AboutToBowl

Not to brag, but to remember this years later, I started off my second game with four consecutive strikes. It devolved from there, but I still ended up with a 185. The photo below shows the name Bob next to that score. Bob left after the first game to pick up another reveler and asked me to bowl for him. When he returned, I had just finished up the fourth frame. He took over my game on the second lane and kindly let me play out his.

Bowl185

We then headed over to Buffalo Wild Wings, picking up a few more people who couldn’t make it over in time for bowling. We watched ACC Basketball while drinking some beer (that’s as wild as it got) and enjoying an excellent meal (my first time at a BWW, I’d happily return).

After that we headed back to the hotel and played poker for a couple of hours in the breakfast area. We got to greet more wedding guests as they arrived late into the night. Speaking of late arrivals, the groom’s sister and her husband were delayed getting out of NYC and arrived after 3am!

Anyone that wasn’t part of the bachelor or bachelorette night out was invited for a meal at the bride’s parents’ home. On Friday, the bride’s father called the groom’s father and told him to bring people over for leftovers (the gals were having a bride and bridesmaids tea). I knew that the bride’s mom was an excellent cook and baker already (we’ve had quite a number of meals there), but her leftover chicken salad (with red grapes in it) still took me completely by surprise (straight out of the fridge). Wow!

QuiteTheSpread

Here are some photos from the tea:

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We were supposed to be at the church at 5pm for the rehearsal. I have come to trust my GPS. It rarely lets me down. It didn’t this time either. It took me exactly where I told it to. Unfortunately, I punched in the wrong address (a different church). Oops, operator error. Still, even after fighting traffic from the wrong church to the correct one, we walked in the door at precisely 5pm. Whew.

One example of the lighthearted spirit during the rehearsal. When they were practicing placing the rings, there was more fumbling than exchanging. The Pastor, Dr. Dennis W. Foust (who is the doppleganger for Bill Engvall, in my opinion) said to David: “It feels like this is your first time”. Perfect! Smile

The bride’s family is very large (she has four siblings, three of whom are married, each with at least two children). Most of the kids (ages 2+) were part of the ceremony (ring bearers, flower girls, junior bridesmaid). During the rehearsal, one of the two-year-old boys was told to go up the stairs and stand in a certain position. He declared, loudly, that he didn’t want to go up there, because he didn’t want to get married! Winking smile

On to the rehearsal dinner. At some weddings this is a very small gathering, restricted to the wedding party only. Even if this one were restricted to that subset, it would have been a large party. Since everyone on the groom’s side was an out-of-towner, with his family hailing from Richmond, VA and Lincoln, NE, The Preserve (the very special place where the rehearsal dinner was hosted) was at capacity, 100 people!

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Everything about the dinner was fantastic (the food, prepared by “Chef Bob”), the wine (brought by the groom’s dad from Richmond) and the company. After the meal, they projected a slide show with music. The photos were of David and Rebecca from babies all the way through to couple-hood. The families submitted the photos. The presentation was put together by Laura (David’s sister) and her husband Chris.

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Laura selected perfect songs to accompany every stage of each of David and Rebecca’s lives. This culminated in a huge surprise for us when we heard the song she picked for David and Rebecca coming together (photos of the two of them over the past 18 months). Our own Ian Axel’s We Are. Here are a few of the lyrics, to give you a sense of why I think her choice was perfect:

I’ll believe in you if you believe in me

We are the lucky ones

I won’t let you down (repeated 16 times!)

Sounds just about right to me. If every married couple took those three lines to heart there would be no divorce!

After that, speeches from some of the bridesmaids and groomsmen (including the dad, who was also the Best Man!). With each speech came humor, love, celebration and some added understanding of how/why both David and Rebecca are so special (individually and as a couple).

That was followed by Rebecca and David giving speeches of their own, both extremely moving. The Dad led us in a toast and we called the night before the big day over.

The week started out with horrible weather: heavy rain (and cold) punctuating Tuesday and Wednesday. In fact, on Wednesday evening, the rain was so hard, it felt like a portent of end-of-days to me (or at least the return of the need for an Ark). Thursday was dry but cold. Friday was very nice, but still a tad on the chilly side.

Saturday, the big day, was extraordinary. Low 70’s, sunny, crisp, perfect. Someone was smiling on our happy couple!

After gathering for breakfast in the hotel, various groups of people went off to explore the city (Botanical Gardens, Vulcan Park, Civil Rights Museum). The boys (lots of ‘em) went to the park and burned off their nervous energy.

Breakfast

Lois and I met up with them and most of their wives for lunch, at one of my favorite BBQ places, Jim ‘N Nicks (this was my fourth location, many more to try). Not including babies (at least three), there were 18 of us at lunch. Another winning meal in a week full of them.

LastBachelorLunchJimNNicks

Barely time to clean up and get dressed for the wedding party to get to the church for photos. For the groomsmen and ushers (and me), it was mostly a game of hurry up and wait. The Duke game was on. David and a number of his groomsmen are Duke graduates. Tim (a groomsman and brother of the bride) performed yeoman’s duty and got a PC in the music room hooked up to a giant screen and streamed the game on ESPN3.com. Yay! Duke won (of course!).

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Lois snuck some photos of her own, before we gathered for the professional photo shoot:

DavidDadsChrisLauraHadarTim

Since there were very few posed photos of the groomsmen, I won’t have trouble selecting one:

Groomsmen

After the photo session people started streaming in. As I mentioned, the bride has a very big family. Also, since she was getting married in the church that the family has been attending for decades, the guest list was very large. When everyone was seated it was time for the seating of the Grandparents and Parents. As godparents, we were the first to walk down the aisle (hence my wearing of the tails!). After us came the parents, followed by Rebecca’s one remaining grandmother.

LoisHadarGrandmotherRebecca

I mentioned above that Rebecca is one of five siblings. Actually, she is one of six, but the eldest daughter, Elizabeth, passed away nearly 21 years ago. In an extremely moving tribute to her loving memory, one of Rebecca’s sisters walked down the aisle, up the stairs in the center and lit a candle next to a bouquet of flowers. Amazing Grace was played on the horn to commemorate her short time on earth.

Everyone in Rebecca’s family plays a brass instrument (amazingly well). Including the parents, there are two trumpet players and five horn players (that’s the politically correct name for what used to be called the French Horn). To honor the love of brass instruments, there were two brass quintets, one on each side of the church (10 brass instruments in all, for those of you who didn’t feel like doing the math yourselves). Rebecca’s brother Tim (of the Duke fame above) performed double duty. He played the horn with the quintet on the left and also stood for the ceremony as one of the groomsmen (very busy day for Tim!).

The brass quintets were awesome in playing Canzona Per Sonare No. 2 by Giovanni Gabrieli as the Processional began.

The Bridal Processional was equally incredible. First, because she’s a stunning woman (not just a stunning bride), judge for yourself from the accompanying photos. Second, because the quintets continued to impress with Canzon Duodecimi Toni also by Gabrieli.

When the entire wedding party was in place the Reverend (Dr. Foust) greeted them and the congregation. After that, there were two Scripture Readings, one by Rebecca’s sister-in-law and the other by Laura.

The Marriage Vows were led by Dr. Foust. The Exchange of Rings was led by David’s uncle, a Reverend from Richmond, Dr. James Colvin. David and Rebecca then lit the Unity Candle.

DrFoustRebeccaDavidDrColvin

Reverend Colvin led us all in prayer followed by both Reverends simultaneously pronouncing David and Rebecca husband and wife, instructing them: “You may now Kiss your Spouse!” (that was a new one for me, I like it!). Since we were first in, we were last out in the Recessional.

The wedding party and families stayed at the church for additional photos while everyone else proceeded to the reception. We joined them all for a terrific celebration.

GroomsFamilyWeddingParty

For those of you who know us, you know that Lois and I attend a wee bit more than our fair share of live music. Over the years, we’ve dragged many guests along with us (some kicking and screaming), including our godchildren and their spouses. When we heard that Laura chose one of Ian Axel’s songs (someone we introduced her to) it was obviously gratifying.

Apparently, we had a musical effect on David as well. For the mother/son dance, he selected a song by another of our favorite artists, Vienna Teng. They danced to Harbor, another perfect choice (in my opinion). A few select lyrics (in case you require proof!): Winking smile

The light in me will guide you home

All I want is to be your harbor

You’ve got a journey to make

There’s your horizon to chase

So go far beyond where we stand

No matter the distance I’m holding your hand

Seriously, can a mother say anything more beautiful and meaningful to her son on the day she’s letting him go? I didn’t think so!

The father/daughter dance was to Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman. Another perfect choice. Unfortunately, we can’t take credit for that one. Winking smile

Both of those dances were serious affairs. When David and Rebecca danced their first dance (Feels Like Home by Chantal Kreviazuk), a much more lighthearted moment was created. Prancing on to the dance floor was a 2.5-year-old from Richmond, who just wanted to dance with the happy couple. The first photo shows them noticing something low, approaching them. Then David appears to be high fiving her in the second photo, before she was coaxed back to her parents. Precious!

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The rest of the evening was filled with music by a jazz quartet. The female sax player was incredible as was the electric guitarist.

JazzQuartet

There were two absolutely incredible cakes, one for the bride and one for the groom. That made for two cake-cutting photo ops. Since the cakes were on opposite sides of the room, it enhanced the chance that guests would catch at least one. I caught both.

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I also caught the photo op (Lois didn’t, so I don’t have a photo to attach) with the person who introduced David and Rebecca. If she ever stops wanting to be a doctor (at least I believe she is), she can probably make a living as a matchmaker!

In a shocking turn of events, while the cakes were being cut, a group of hoodlums were vandalizing the couple’s car outside. It turns out that some good samaritans caught it all on camera, so the police shouldn’t have too much trouble bringing them to justice! Smile

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Hoodlums

We all lined up outside to send the happy couple off on their well-deserved honeymoon. May they enjoy it at least a drop as much as the rest of us enjoyed sharing the last few days with them!

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A few straggler photos:

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Jess and Jesse Terry Wedding

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Yesterday’s post ended with: “Congratulations to Jesse and Jess as your new life together begins in a few hours!”

This is the sequel to that post, sharing some memories from an absolutely gorgeous wedding ceremony that we were honored to be invited to.

WeddingProgram

Just like the night before, things weren’t exactly hitch-less as far as timing is concerned. This time, traffic wasn’t to blame. Someone (I don’t know who, so I’m not just protecting the guilty party) Winking smile accidentally left the video camera in the hotel room. So, even though everyone was gathered, the ceremony was delayed until the camera was retrieved. We were sitting with three friends, so the time passed very quickly.

The wedding and reception were held at Tomes-Higgins House in Greenwich, CT. There was a grand piano in the corner (eventually played beautifully by Justin Coutu), but the majority of the music in the wedding came from an iPod, sitting in a speaker dock, sitting on top of that piano.

JustinCoutuiPodDock

The first song played was Over the Sun We’ll Fly, written by Jesse Terry as his engagement/proposal song for Jess (Jessica Groom). Here is a YouTube video of him singing it for her (and proposing in front of the audience!) at the Bluebird Café in Nashville:

Jesse Terry performing Over the Sun We’ll Fly at the Bluebird Cafe

After that song, they played Moon River, while the wedding party came down the aisle. The flower girl and ring bearer stole the show (a few times).

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Officiating was the Reverend Andrew Williams (Drew), Senior Pastor at Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT. In these Internet-crazed days, most people associate WWW with World Wide Web. Yesterday, it was Pastor Drew’s: Wisdom, Warmth and Wit. All three were in full bloom and moved Lois and I throughout the ceremony.

PastorAndrewWilliams

I hesitate to share his first humorous statement, because I know it won’t come across with the warmth that was obvious in context. When Jess and Jesse settled in before him, he said that their entire lives were destined to bring them together on this day. “Both families prayed for this to happen. Looking at Jess, clearly, Jesse’s family prayed a bit harder.” Winking smile

JessTerryGreetingTheBrideToBe

There was a spontaneous roar and any worries that this would be a stiff ceremony were dispelled immediately.

The Pastor led us in prayer and song. Jesse’s grandfather read from First Corinthians 13 and his mother read A Prayer of St. Francis.

GrandfatherReadingFirstCorinthians13MotherReadingAPrayerOfStFrancis

The Pastor gave a number of inspirational talks and blessings. The one that overwhelmingly got to Lois was a message to the couple to go through life learning to dance together (poor paraphrase by me). He spoke about the various stages of learning to dance and the feelings people experience. He related them to his family (wife and kids) in a beautiful way, giving a more practical sense to a theoretical topic. The dance manual? The Bible, of course!

PastorAndrewWilliamsWeddingMessage

After the ceremony, Lois bolted straight to the Pastor and asked him whether he would be willing to give her a copy of his message so we could post it on the blog. He told her that he would email it to her. If/when he does, I’ll update the post and include it here.

Update: The Pastor emailed Lois today! I include the wonderful Dance Instructions in their entirety, unedited, at the bottom of this post!

I already mentioned the flower girl and ring bearer. The flower girl’s enthusiasm was literally bursting at the seams. When the Pastor asked for the rings, the tiny ring bearer jumped up and announced: “I have them!”. The entire room started giggling.

The Pastor was not the only one to crack a joke. Right after the ceremony concluded, our friend leaned over and said: “Not every bride is also a groom!”. If you don’t get it, check back to see Jess’ maiden name in the parens above. Smile

When the ceremony was over, all of the chairs were removed from the two rooms and tables were rolled in as the food was brought out. It was very nice not to have to run from one location to another to shift from the ceremony to the reception. As the wedding party took photos, the rest of the guests started the other kind of party, celebrating the happy couple’s nuptials.

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Jess and Jesse Terry are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Sharing this joyous occasion with them and their loved ones was truly an honor. We wish them a life full of love and happiness and hope to share some of it with them along the way!

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Pastor Drew Williams’ Dance Instructions:

1.  Dancing Lessons

As you stand at the threshold of your marriage, I believe that the Lord would have me give you some dancing lessons.

Let me explain:

Your marriage is God’s gift to you both.

Not happenstance.

Not the outworking of a random series of events.

Your marriage is God’s gift to you both.

God has chosen you and He has chosen you for each other.

This gift is given in love and is part of God’s plan to enable you both to be all The Lord created you to be.

His desire for your marriage is that it should be a place where:

  • all your gifts
  • all that makes you both fully alive

all of this should have its fullest expression.

But for this happen – you are going to have to let the Lord teach you to how to dance.

‘A time to dance’ Ecclesiastes 3:4

Irony here is that I am of an age where according to my children I dance just like my father!

I would like to show you how to dance with your Heavenly Father.

In doing this I want to look at:

  • theory,
  • practical dance tips
  • and then an invitation.

Let’s look at some theory first.

2. Dance Theory

2.1 Following the Manual

There is a dance manual!

In the beginning it was the word of God that created.

God spoke and chaos became choreography.

Make this dance manual a living part of your marriage.

Read it together.

Work at it together.

Pray through it together.

2.2 Following Emmanuel

So there is a manual and there is ‘Emmanuel’ – God is with us.

Dance that is truly inspired always contains something that is extemporary.

The wind blows wherever it pleases.

You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.

So it is with everyone who is born of the Holy Spirit.

Let The Holy Spirit lead you

and you can be sure that you won’t have a ready answer for those who want to know your next move

but there will be moments in His leading when it will feel that you have been lifted off the dance floor altogether.

And here is where you find eternal perspective.

So there is some dance theory.

  • Embrace The Word of God.
  • Embrace the Holy Spirit.

What about some practical tips?

I had a list here of twenty five practical tips.

I have narrowed it down to two.

3. Practical Dance tips

What we have here in Jess and Jesse are two solo routines that now have to be re-cast by the Lord so as to be one amazing salsa partnership.

3.1 Practice

So the first practical tip is exactly that.

You need to Practice.

In the Old Testament David was a terrific dancer – he had all the moves.

But when he married he took a year out from the Battle field where David and his wife joined the Lord on the dance floor and worked out some new steps.

So take plenty of time in the next year to put in some practice;

push back the furniture,

roll back the carpet

and enjoy the music!

Tell your family and friends that you can’t come out – you are having some dancing lessons.

They will understand!

When we were first married my wife and I had some ballroom dancing lessons.

We learned a lot about each other in those evenings.

We learned that:

  • I had very poor rhythm but I could remember the next move.
  • We learned that my wife was great at keeping time but could not always remember what came next.

So we hurtled around the dance floor – her shouting out the rhythm in my left ear and me shouting out the next move and trying to avoid her feet.

Sometimes I was leading and sometimes there was really only the appearance that I was leading.

I see now that Lord was teaching us something that would serve us well.

A good dance partnership is clearly all about just that ‘partnership’ –

but there will be times when it will be your responsibility – Jesse(y) – to discern in God the next move – and take a strong lead.

There will be other times when you – Jess– will sense the Lord’s timing and you are going to have to help Jesse take that strong lead.

And all of this takes practice.

Sometimes it may feel to you that the Lord is using your marriage to slow you down.

Actually this is all about timing.

Don’t underestimate the deep significance of what God is doing through these slow tempo seasons.

And for later – the Lord would have you both remember Isaiah 40:11 ‘The Lord gently leads those that have little ones.’

3.2 Physical Touch

Practically speaking, there is something very Latin about the way the Lord dances.

‘When I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go.’ Song of Songs 3:4

This is a dance that you have to feel; to have and to hold.

I want to give you something – very precious.

My wife gave this to me on my wedding day.

It is one of the most precious things

I have and I had to ask her if it was OK for me to give it to you.

Can you feel that? On our wedding day, as we said our vows my wife held my hand and said that.

Can you feel what is being said here?

And in the days that have followed – during the birth of our children, in the moments before I was ordained, during times of great joy and in times of sorrow – she has held my hand and this is what she says to me.

And this is what I say back.

And nobody else knows except us and the Lord.

Find the same secret language – you are very welcome to borrow from our vocabulary – but find this physical language and use it.

Don’t let today be the last time you kiss your wife in public.

Be indiscreet on public transport and hold hands for goodness sake!

Physical touch is essential language in a great dance partnership.

So you have some theory and some practical tips and now I want to extend to you both an invitation.

4. Take hold my right hand

There is a clear warning in the Bible that the dance floor may be strewn with the occasional obstacle.

The apostle Peter, talks about many kinds of trial.

But even in that warning there is an incredible encouragement hidden in the cadence of the language.

The Greek word Peter chooses to describe these ‘many trials’ is ‘poikilos’, which literally means many or multi- coloured.

Peter uses that word only one other time and that is to describe the love of God ‘in its many colours.’ (1 Peter 4:10.)

His point is this.

Along the way, our troubles may be multi- coloured but so too is the Father’s love.

There is no colour in the human situation which the love of the Father cannot match.

‘For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.’ Isaiah 41:13

Take hold His right hand.

Dance with the Father.

Finally

How might I conclude?

In just a moment you are going to move from two solo dance routines to dance with one another.

It will last the rest of your life.

So then finally this:

Live every day of your long, happy and healthy marriage as if it were – the last dance.

Amen.

Wonderful Weekend Wedding

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Heretofore, whenever I saw the letters WWW, I inevitably thought World Wide Web. From now on, when I see WWW, I’ll think Wonderful Weekend Wedding!

We have incredible godchildren who’ve brought many blessings into our lives. Among these is the wide circle of wonderful people attracted to them, who’ve become life-long friends of theirs. We’ve had the privilege and pleasure of meeting many of their friends, and in a number of cases, becoming their life-long friends independent of our godchildren.

One of the very special people who came into our lives this way is our godson’s college roommate. When he graduated, he moved to NYC and has been here for more than five years now. Let’s call him Neal.

On January 18th, 2009, we had a lovely lunch with him at our favorite Mexican restaurant, for the express purpose of meeting someone very special to him. We’ll call her Maggie. We loved her immediately, as everyone who ever meets her has and will.

(All photos in this blog can be clicked on to see a larger version.)

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In the summer, they told us that we should leave 10/17/2009 open for a possible wedding date. We were thrilled, and would have made any date they picked, but I turned to Lois and I said, “Man, if only they had picked 10/10/2009, it would be a tad more convenient for our crazy travel schedule up and down I95.” Of course, we never said anything to them.

A few weeks later, they wrote to say that the date was going to be 10/10/2009, and they hoped that the change wouldn’t be a problem for us. Sweet! 🙂

Aside from the scheduling convenience, 10/10 is such an auspicious day in our lives for weddings. Lois’ parents were married on 10/10. Both of her mom’s siblings (a brother and sister) were married on 10/10 (different years for all three). The CEO of our first portfolio company, who we are still close friends with all these years later, was also married on 10/10. All of those marriages were strong and long, as this one is sure to be!

We were also invited to the rehearsal on Friday afternoon, the rehearsal dinner Friday evening, and a breakfast send-off on Sunday morning, hence the appropriate WWW moniker for this wedding!

One last pre-wedding story. In June, we brought 17 people to join us at a Girlyman concert at the Highline Ballroom. I blogged about that night here, and ended with the following two paragraphs:

I have to conclude with an incredible small world story. One of the couples that attended last night was married last year on 08/08/08 (I blogged about that wedding too). Another couple that attended last night is getting married this year, on 10/10. They had never met before last night.

In introducing themselves, and getting to know each other a bit, they discovered that the pastor that married the 08/08/08 couple will be marrying the 10/10/09 couple as well. That this tidbit is true is strange and cool enough. That they would separately be invited by us, chat to each other, and figure that out so quickly is a little other-worldly to me. 🙂

The wedding was held in Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ (where Maggie’s parents live). The rehearsal was wonderful, lighthearted and informative. Their minister is a very special man, and while he kept everyone focused on the task at hand, it was done lovingly, with good humor.

TrinityChurchPrincetonOutsideTrinityChurchPrinceton BestMan NealBridesmaidsRehearsal GroomsmenRehearsal HighFive Organ

The flower girl practiced her glide down the aisle in a red wagon, pulled by the maid of honor:

FlowerGirlRehearsal

Before settling on that, other configurations were tried. Here’s one that was scrubbed after a test run down the aisle:

FailedFlowerBoyConcept

Afterward, we attended the rehearsal dinner with roughly 40 people, in a private room at a local Chinese restaurant, Sunny Garden. We sat at four round tables for 10, with a large Lazy Susan in the center of each, making it easy and fun to share a wonderful meal, with excellent company all around.

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We met a number of Neal and Maggie’s friends and family at the rehearsal and got to meet more at the dinner. It was as warm and inviting an atmosphere as one could hope for, and the circle of friends got wider, quickly. Inevitable given how we all love Neal and Maggie!

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The wedding was at 2pm on Saturday. We got there early, so we could sit close up to the action. The ceremony was beautiful. Maggie underscored her exquisite taste by having elegant bridesmaid’s dresses, something I understand is unusual. 😉

Bridesmaids

While we knew the minister would be inspiring from the wedding we attended the previous year, he still managed to surprise us in a major way. The one question I never asked Neal or Maggie is how they knew the minister. Since Maggie grew up in NJ, and he’s based in NJ, I just assumed the connection was through her.

Well, I was wrong! The minister told how he met Neal when he was in high school, and how they became friends because of what an extraordinary person Neal is. No, the surprise for me wasn’t that Neal is an extraordinary person, of that, we were already sure. The surprise was how far back their relationship went, and how it began.

I’m sure (partially from experience) that the minister gives great advice to all couples who are about to be married. Still, I have a feeling that knowing Neal as well as he does, for so long, the moving speech he gave them wasn’t just a boilerplate one. It was great advice, that all married couples should heed.

Minister

No, I won’t repeat it here, because I don’t want to cut into the minister’s royalties or be sued for divulging trade secrets. 😉

We had a one in five chance of getting David as our usher. That’s exactly what happened. Here he is, about to seat us:

DavidHadar

More photos from the gorgeous ceremony:

ExchaningRings Wedding3GivingAwayTheBrideThankingFatherOfTheBrideWedding1Wedding2Organ Wedding4FlowerGirlAndParents KentuckyContingent

After the ceremony we headed back to the hotel to relax before the 5pm reception. A little while later, David called to ask if I could return to the church and shuttle some people back to the hotel. I was happy to do it, and ended up bringing back Neal’s sister (a bridesmaid herself), the maid of honor and David.

We then met David out front and headed off to the reception. The hors d’oeuvres were amazing (though I’m told I missed the best of them, which is hard to believe). I was also (virtually) forced to drink some lovely champagne, only because I noticed that they were serving them in my all-time favorite champagne glasses. 😉

FavoriteChampagneGlass

We watched a slide show of pictures of Neal and Maggie side-by-side in similar poses and outfits, from birth through high school. It was a hoot and incredibly creative. Following that were professional photos of them that were stunning. In a nice surprise, we saw that two photos that Lois took of them, one from the first time we met Maggie, and another from the concert I mentioned above, were included in the mix!

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More opportunities to meet new friends and catch up with old ones:

GroomsFatherMaggie GroomsSisterBrother HadarGroomsMother HadarKesavDavidNeal LoisMarkHadar MoneyChangingHands SharingALaugh DavidHadarNeal DavidNealMaggieLoisHadar

Then we were off to the main dining hall. Great toasts by the maid of honor and the best man. A wonderful DJ, who played an eclectic mix of music while we dined, all at an appropriate volume to permit people to converse. The mix even included Acoustic Alchemy, one of my all-time favorite groups, that we are likely going to see for the third time this coming Sunday!

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The food was incredible. The service was impeccable, yet delivered with a zesty personality. Everyone at our table bonded with our primary server. If she could have joined us as a guest at the table, we would have welcomed it!

OurServer

There were a number of babies at the reception, including two at our table, and they were the focus of some wonderful memories that will be with us forever.

ReadyToParty Sharing SistersEntertainingABabySleepingItOff

Once the meal was over, the dancing commenced, and the DJ kicked it into another gear. The youngsters danced their hearts out. I’m never surprised when women dance well, but I admit to always being surprised when I see a man dance well. Color me purple, because at least a half a dozen guys there impressed the heck out of me!

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Neal’s sister took pity on me and tried to get me to dance. I’m proud that I stood my ground, and resisted. Lois wasn’t as strong-willed as me, and she ended up dancing one dance with David. 🙂

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The traditional cake cutting:

CakeCutting

After dessert and coffee, and plenty more non-stop dancing, we all bid the happy couple good night, and left for the hotel ourselves.

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Their Just Married car, with balloons streaming in the night air from behind, passed us on the highway! We drove Neal’s brother and his girlfriend back to the hotel. The girlfriend said “I think Maggie just waved to us!”. Sure enough, she was right. The next morning Neal asked us if we saw Maggie wave. 🙂

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Simply a perfect day/evening. The next morning we joined the bride and groom for a farewell buffet breakfast that was also outstanding. Eight of us then took a nice stroll around the Princeton campus. Afterward we met the newlyweds at the train station, where they came to say goodbye to the California contingent that was boarding the train back to Newark Airport.

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LeadingTheWay

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David and his friend took off in one car, and we left in ours, with the four of us heading straight to Alexandria, VA to see a Girlyman concert that night. As exhausted as we were, it was a fitting way to top off an already perfect weekend.

Neal and Maggie, have a extraordinary life (we know you will), but make sure to share as much of it as you can with the rest of us. You are both a joy to be around individually, and even more so when you’re together.

Thanks for including us in this most wonderful of celebrations!

Lucky 8 Wedding

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We have great friends who have two wonderful sons. Last year, the younger son married a terrific woman. We were invited and acknowledged that we would attend. A few weeks later, we were invited to another wedding on the same date. We knew that bride from her birth (25 years!), and ended up going to that wedding instead. We can’t begin to describe how badly we felt missing one wedding for another, but life often presents dilemmas.

We knew a year ago that the older son was marrying an equally terrific woman on 08/08/08. We promised that only the wedding of one of our godchildren would keep us from attending. Ironically, in a surprise, our goddaughter got married on July 5th. Thankfully, she didn’t pick 08/08/08. 🙂

The Chinese consider the number eight to be very lucky. Many couples picked that date with a number of interesting news articles written about the various events surrounding those weddings.

We checked Google Maps and saw that the drive from NYC to the Church (St. Mary’s By The Sea in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ) normally takes under 90 minutes. Given weekend beach traffic, we added an hour, believing we left plenty of time. We couldn’t have been more wrong. 🙁

It took us over an hour just to get to the Lincoln Tunnel, a trip that normally takes 10 minutes! So, we blew our cushion before the trip really started. Unfortunately, it didn’t get better after that. We sat for a while on the NJ Turnpike, and then again on the Garden State, and finally, the streets were very slow in Point Pleasant Beach itself. We were sure that we would miss the entire ceremony.

Somehow, miraculously, we arrived only 30 minutes late. I’m sure we missed some moving words, but we got there in time to hear the vows that the couple wrote for each other, and to witness the actual marriage. Whew! Here’s the proof. 🙂

The Marriage

The Marriage

The Church is beautiful and the ceremony was warm and inviting. The Priest (Father Jerry) from the groom’s Church in Northern, NJ and Father C. John Thompson-Quartey, the Saint Mary’s By The Sea cleric, jointly officiated. That was an extremely nice touch as well. Here’s a photo of both of them, along with a very touching moment as the Groom and Best Man held hands across the aisle in prayer:

Hand Holding Prayer

Hand Holding Prayer

In addition to seeing the actual marriage, the ceremony lasted an additional 45 minutes after we arrived, so even though we missed the beginning, we felt lucky and blessed to experience as much as we did.

Instead of throwing rice, everyone blew bubbles toward the couple as they came back up the center aisle. They couldn’t stop laughing, partially because one person had a high-speed bubble gun, and was able to shower them with bubbles. It was great fun! This picture is way too blurry. I shouldn’t even post it, but at least you can see the bubble gun on the right side:

Bubble Gun

Bubble Gun

Another lucky thing that day was the weather. August can be particularly brutal in this part of the country. Amazingly, the high for the day was roughly 83 degrees. There was a pleasant breeze as well. The only (bad) break in that weather occurred seconds after the ceremony was over (unfortunately). As the bridal party was heading to the limo, the heavens opened up in a downpour. In a coincidence (or was it?), there was a tremendous downpour after our goddaughter’s ceremony as well, though it held off for 20 minutes that day.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a passing storm, and within 15 minutes, the skies were blue and the weather was perfect again. We waited in the Church until the storm passed before heading to the reception.

The reception was held at the Waterview Pavillion in Belmar, NJ. This is a gorgeous facility across the highway from the marina in Belmar. The setup was clever in addition to being beautiful. The main reception hall was set up with tables surrounding the dance floor. The ceiling is two stories tall, and the second floor is a wrap-around balcony (all four sides) looking down on the dance floor. We were all guided upstairs for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The spread was wonderful, with lots of choices.

I hate to single anything out (because it was all really good), but the Jumbo Shrimp and Lobster Pastries deserve a mention. 😉

Lois and I were among the first handful of people to arrive, so we ended up sitting alone at a round table. After a while, we were joined by people we hadn’t met previously, the cousin of the bride’s grandmother and her husband. We couldn’t have asked for two lovelier people to spend time with and get to know. A bit later, we were joined by friends of the groom’s parents who we met once before. They too are wonderful people who we would enjoy spending more time with than we have gotten to in the past.

Here is the couple we first met. We made sure to get her email address so I could share this link with her. Thanks for a lovely visit Joyce and John:

John Joyce

John Joyce

While we were enjoying ourselves upstairs, setup continued in the main hall. The tables were all set previously, but the appetizers (fresh strawberries) and rolls were being put out, and the DJ and Band were doing some sound checks. The band deserves a special mention, but I’ll defer that for a minute.

I mentioned earlier that the setup was clever. Here’s why. While the main hall had the tables surrounding the dance floor on three sides, not every seat has a great view of the entire dance floor. In other halls, the dance floor is at the head of the seating area, obscured from view of the majority of the tables. Because we were all upstairs, they were able to give us a very special perspective on a part of the reception that every wedding includes.

We were all asked to get up and stand at the railings on the second floor looking down on the dance floor as the wedding party was announced. First the Parents of the Bride. Then the Parents of the Groom. Then the groomsmen and bridesmaids (in pairs). Finally, the Bride and the Groom (now officially Mr. and Mrs.). Every one of us had a great view of the entire procession. Excellent!

Here are two photos of that (hopefully, you’ll get a good picture of what we all experienced). The first shows the procession all lined up making a bridge for the Bride and Groom to pass through. The second is after the Bride and Groom passed through, waving to everyone:

Awaiting the Bride and Groom

Awaiting the Bride and Groom

Welcoming the Bride and Groom

Welcoming the Bride and Groom

More special, the traditional first dances (Bride and Groom, then Father and Daughter and finally Mother and Son) were all the more special since 100% of the focus and attention was on them, with no conversation and eating going on in the hall itself. Like I said, beautiful and clever at the same time!

Immediately thereafter, we were all invited to take our seats downstairs in the main hall. At each seat, there was a half-glass of champagne already poured. There were three toasts. The first was from the Father of the Bride. Next came the best man, a Major in the Army and best friend (for roughly 20 years!) of the groom. Both were moving (and funny) speeches. Then the DJ asked us to stop for a second for a special toast from the Bride and Groom. At that moment, it was exactly 8:08pm, on 08/08/08. Another clever touch! 🙂

There were different sized tables around the hall. We were at a table for eight. All four couples were long-time friends of the parents of the groom. Lois had met one of the women last year at the shower for the younger son’s wife, but otherwise, we didn’t know the other couples. Given how much we love our friends, it was no surprise that their friends were great as well, making for a joyous and interesting evening. Without a doubt, it can be said that the friend of my friend is my friend. 🙂

One of the men at the table was 73 years old. He could definitely have passed for 58 (I certainly wouldn’t have questioned it if he was introduced as such). When we left, I shook his hand and told him that I could only hope to be just like him when I turn 73! Here’s a photo of him, along with the Major and the Father of the Groom:

The Boys

The Boys

Since we were both extremely impressed with the Major, in every respect, Lois snapped lots of photos of him. In fairness to the one above, with the Groom’s Father, here’s one with the Groom’s extremely lovely Mother:

Marybeth and the Major

Marybeth and the Major

As with our goddaughter’s wedding, the food was served buffet style, with individual tables being called up one at a time. Even though we were seated very close to the buffet, we were one of the last tables to be called up (perhaps the last). No worries, the food was still hot and plentiful, so we didn’t miss out on that either. 😉

Back to the basics, the reason we were all together to begin with! We’ve known the groom for many years. I wish I had captured the best man’s toast verbatim, because it truly captured the spirit of this fine young man. Aside from being an all-around good guy, he’s never had trouble with the ladies.

When we first met the bride-to-be, a couple of years ago, we knew instantly that he would be a fool if he ever let her slip away. Clearly, he’s no fool! 😉

She is as lovely a person as you could ever want to meet. Smart, funny, fun-loving, sensitive, and, did I mention, gorgeous? If I didn’t mention it, let me say it now, she’s a knock-out. One of the many wonderful things about her is her 24×7 smile, that lights up any room she’s in. Of course, looks don’t matter whatsoever (really!), and she’s got everything else that does matter, in spades. That said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the looks too. 😉

Here are the two very happy couples (the newlyweds and us!):

Two Happy Couples

Two Happy Couples

She’s also statuesque (code word for really tall). In fact, she played basketball for Northeastern University. So, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise (and yet, it did!), that there were more statuesque women at the reception than I’ve ever been around in my life. I was mildly surprised that a pick-up game didn’t break out on the dance floor. 😉

To make the point, here is the Bride, dancing with the shortest person in the wedding party:

Tall Short Dancing

Tall Short Dancing

Both bride and groom had a ton of friends at the wedding. It was heartwarming to see them all have so much fun together, and share their common love for the newlyweds. The dance floor was buzzing all night. Here is a nice photo of a group of lovely ladies:

Lovely Ladies

Lovely Ladies

That brings me to something I deferred earlier on. The band. Perhaps that’s a slight misnomer. The live music was provided by Tropical Beat Steel Drum Band. From the website, I can see that they can provide a full range of musicians and band configurations. At this wedding, two of them were there, I believe John Hilton and Monica Moore. All I can say is that we loved every second that they played. The DJ played some background beats for them, but they supplied the calypso-style sound, perfectly. It was a light and uplifting sound throughout the evening.

Tropical Beat Steel Drum Band

Tropical Beat Steel Drum Band

When the dancing took center stage, they left, and the DJ (who performed double-duty as a superb emcee the entire night!) took over. He was great, both in personality and in his choice of music to play throughout the evening. While we could always stand (personally) to have the music be a little softer than it ever is, he was not over-the-top in volume, which was also a blessing.

Just like at our goddaughter’s wedding, we got up to dance exactly once, when they invited only the married couples onto the dance floor. Exactly as it was then, the point was to discover the couple who was married the longest. At our goddaughter’s wedding, the magic number was 46. Last night, there were two couples left on the floor after the rest of us lost. The winners were 54 and 55 years of marriage. Here is a photo of the winning couples:

Longest Married

Longest Married

The DJ asked if they had any words of wisdom for the newest couple. One of the couples offered the following:

Drink good wine, and learn to have a lot of patience

Sounds like sage advice to me! 🙂

We were driving all the way back to the house (90-120 minutes) after the wedding, so other than the sip of champagne for the toast, I didn’t drink any alcohol at all. I also wasn’t willing to leave until I had some of the wedding cake. I had two fabulous cups of coffee and a slice of the delicious cake, plus a few specialty desserts that were on a platter on each table. After that, we made our rounds of hugs, kisses and goodbyes, and drove home. It took 100 minutes (not bad at all) and we walked in the door at 12:30am.

Speaking of the cake, here it is being cut:

Cutting Cake

Cutting Cake

The happy couple is on their way (today) to Hawaii. Another sign that this marriage will last. The groom badly wanted to honeymoon in Alaska. They are both outdoors types, so the bride would normally enjoy roughing it in Alaska as well. Still, she had the sensibility of wanting a more relaxing honeymoon, and her brand-new husband appropriately compromised (by doing exactly what she wanted). 😉

Since I mentioned how badly we felt missing the other wedding last year, the least I can do is show you what a great looking couple they are as well. 🙂

Patrick Casey

Patrick Casey

I’ve mentioned my goddaughter’s wedding a number of times here. Here’s one last mention. Two weeks ago, we packed up my suit and other accessories and brought them from the house to the apartment. When I was getting dressed on Friday afternoon, I asked Lois to bring out the ties (I gave her three ties to pack so I could choose one at the last minute). Somehow, none of the ties got packed. Oh oh.

Lois called our goddaughter (who lives in the same building we do), and asked whether she could loan me one of her husband’s ties (he was at work, but she doesn’t start for another two weeks, thankfully!). She brought one up a minute later, saying “See, it was good that I got married, or I wouldn’t have had a tie in my closet!”. Amen to that! 🙂

The Tie

The Tie

Catching Up

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It’s been exactly a week since I last posted. Usually, if I take that long a break, it’s a combination of not much to say and not much time to say it in. This time, I had a number of things to say (one in particular) and plenty of time to say it. I purposely didn’t post, because I wanted The Wedding post to stay on top on the main page (without explicitly pinning it), to savor the wonderful memory, just a little longer. Alas, life goes on, and so will this blog. 🙂

So, I’ll cover a number of things in this post, trying to keep each much shorter than they might have been had they been given their own space. Hopefully, the entire thing will be reasonable in length as well. Seperately, perhaps tomorrow, I’ll write a general music catchup post, so I’ll leave music out of this one.

The one post that was hard to avoid writing last week would have appeared on Thursday morning (congratulate me on my restraint). We have really good friends that over the past few years we’ve probably seen more often in NYC than any other couple. We used to grab a meal together roughly every other trip back to NYC.

For a variety of reasons, the last time we saw them was December 2007, mostly because their lives got really complicated. He got pneumonia that lasted a month, and immediately started a new job right after that (we had no idea about either event) and she was busier than ever in a wonderful job she landed six months earlier.

Cutting to the chase, we reconnected via email a few weeks back, and the best night for them to get together was last Wednesday. We were delighted to oblige. What they had no idea about (yes, we’re sure) is that it was our Anniversary. Even without that knowledge, they insisted on picking the place and treating.

They took us to Butai, a very nice Japanese restaurant. We had a fantastic meal with wonderful company. I ordered a fancy drink (I haven’t had a fancy drink in a while) that included Prosecco (a champagne-like sparkling wine) and Pear puree (among a few other ingredients). It seemed fitting on our Anniversary. Lois ordered straight Prosecco (she didn’t realize my drink had any, and she hasn’t ordered a drink in a restaurant in nearly a year!).

Anyway, Butai is highly recommended, and we’re glad to have reconnected with great friends. Thanks guys! 🙂

I know how late I am to the party, but I simply can’t let the Jesse Jackson – Barack Obama comments go by without mention. Here’s the only thing I want to say on that subject (would have been much more if it were its own post, in a timely manner): Jesse Jackson’s apology was beyond laughable.

I’m not surprised he apologized. I’m not surprised he’s still backing Obama (could you imagine him supporting McCain?). So, I’m not calling him a hypocrite for still wanting Obama elected, badly. But, could he not have injected an iota of reality into the apology? After all, he was quoted as threatening to castrate Obama (literally!). Here’s the apology I would have liked to have heard:

I sincerely apologize to Barack Obama for my comments yesterday. While I have some fundamental differences with him on a number of issues, which caused me to privately lash out, they pale in comparison to the numerous issues where I agree with him completely. Further, even in those issues where I disagree with him, I am closer to his position on those than I am to John McCain’s, so my support for Obama continues to be as strong today as it was previously.

Simple, but believable. Don’t pretend that it was all just taken out of context, and that it’s a non-stop love-fest between the two of you. It’s obvious to any thinking person that Jesse Jackson can’t stand Obama whatsoever. That’s fine, they don’t have to love each other in order to be supportive of each other. Bottom line, with friends like Jackson, Wright and Phleger, Obama certainly doesn’t need any enemies…

I’ve been good about keeping up with my exercise routine. I walked my 8+ mile jaunt in NYC three times this week, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t typically walk two days in a row (especially after taking off only one day in-between the first two walks), but the weather was perfect here this weekend, we were atypically in the city over the weekend, and they were predicting rain all day today.

In any event, I had great walks all three times. It’s helped with my weight as well, as I hit at a new low this morning since I reported on my dramatic weight gain back in this April post. I’m sure it will fluctuate up and down a bit more, but the fact that I’m at a new (interim) low, a week after a wedding where I didn’t hold back on desserts, is a good thing. 🙂

To be clear, I’m still way above my low since beginning to lose weight in 2001, but headed back in the right direction, finally!

Lastly, there aren’t any particularly insightful words I can add to the numerous praises that have been heaped on Tony Snow after his passing this weekend. Lois and I watched Tony for years and were always impressed with him. He was as geniunely a good person as one could aspire to be. He was also only one year older than me, so I know (personally) how unbelievably short his life was. Rest In Peace Tony, you well deserve it!

The Wedding

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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:

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:

Harp

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:

Married

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:

Junior Bridesmaid

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!). 😉

Hadar Introduction

Here is a grainy photo of them arriving, waiting for me to call out their names:

Wedding Party

Here is the happy couple, introduced by me as “Mr. and Mrs.”:

Happy Couple

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. 🙂

Lois Olivia

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:

Lois and Hadar Dancing

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!

Landlady Dancing

Of course, one of the more important dances of the night, the famous Father/Daughter dance. Unfortunately, another grainy photo (sorry folks):

Father Daughter Dance

One Father/Daughter picture deserves another. The father of the groom has two lovely daughters, both of whom were bridesmaids:

Father and Daughters

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:

Proud Godparents

Proud Godparents Clearer

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:

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. 🙂

Sparklers Canopy

The mother of the bride leading the sparklers farewell:

Mother of the Bride

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! 🙂

Jamestown

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The wedding weekend is upon us. In fact, the wedding itself is just over two hours away.

Yesterday was a delightful day. We’re staying in Williamsburg, VA (where the happy couple both went to school at William & Mary). At 10am, 25 of us (both sides of the family) drove the 10-15 minutes from the hotel to the Historic Jamestown site. Our host, the father of the bride, arranged for a private tour guide who took us through the settlement and did a wonderful job of bringing life in the 1600’s alive in the present. We have nothing to complain about nowadays…

After the 2.5 hour tour, we dispersed for lunch. I chose to spend the rest of the afternoon in bed (I’m exhausted). I didn’t really nap, but I definitely rested. After a shower, I joined a much larger group for the rehearsal dinner at The Blue Talon restuarant. A great meal and a great time (including a wonderful compilation of photos of the couple). I had the Lamb Shank, it was yummy.

It was raining pretty hard during dinner so Lois and I decided to skip the fireworks and head back to the hotel. We walked. The rain had stopped, but after one block, it started coming down again, accelerating into a full downpour for the last few blocks. Lois wasn’t happy with me, but I didn’t really mind bonding with nature for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, even though the room and the bed are very comfortable, I didn’t get any meaningful sleep last night. Nothing I can do about that now. After a wonderful buffet breakfast in the hotel with most of the men-folk in our group, I went back to our room to catch up with email. I didn’t turn the laptop on at all yesterday!

The hotel charges for WiFi (through Wayport). Rather than giving 24 continuous hours of access, they give access until Check-in time. So, if you start at 10am, you get only five hours of air time before having to pay again. Not interested. I overpay for the privilege of rarely using my cell phone as a high-speed modem for my laptop. I’ve been logged on for five hours in a row now, through my cell phone. I am getting nearly 800Kbps downstream, and 130Kbps up, so I have no complaints (many hotels are much slower over their shared WiFi).

I received two phone calls on my cell, and the connection to the Internet wasn’t dropped (I was flabberghasted!). My connection dropped once (the normal sound I hear when my cellphone has a weak signal that it reacquires), and one click on the Sprint Connection Manager software reconnected me. I am certainly delighted with the ease and reliability, if not with the price of my insurance policy.

I am (mostly) caught up now, and once I log off to attend the wedding, won’t be back on until tomorrow evening, since we’re heading out tomorrow morning for NY.

Update: Now that we’re home, Lois uploaded her many photos. I’ve selected a few to support my tale. 🙂

I spent most of the social time at Jamestown chatting with the groom’s grandfather. He is a fascinating man and I thoroughly enjoyed every second that I spent with him. Thanks Bill!

Hadar and Bill

Here are a few Indian Carvings of the Powhatan Tribe:

Indian Carvings Jamestown

The youngest member of our 25-person-strong brigade was a 3-year-old. I’m thinking that she didn’t think that living in a hut full-time would be all that bad. 😉

Indian Hut

Part of our group about to board the lead ship in Jamestown:

Jamestown Ship

Our littlest one learning to construct things the old-fashioned way, inside the Jamestown Fort:

Jamestown Fort

Topping off the day, here is a photo of the bride-to-be herself (now, officially married an on her honeymoon!), cutting me a slice of her world-famous apple pie! It went amazingly well with the chocolate Groom’s cake with ice cream. 🙂

Apple Pie