October 17, 2012 by Julia
We have a bunch of weddings to attend this month, which has been the source of joy, anxiety, and lots of preparation on our parts – we are either part of the bridal party or traveling for each one. I keep looking forward to that moment when the bride first steps out and all the stress melts away (for me, anyway, including on my own wedding day.)
And then, after the tears during the vows, and whoops while the bride and groom take their first married kiss…comes the wine. I love that first glass of wine at a wedding. You can feel everyone exhaling. The deed has been done, and well. Time to party, people.
First up: Christina and Phil!
The bride is a dear cousin. My siblings and I played with her and her big brother as kids, and I still count her as a friend. Christina is caring, and genuine, and funny and loyal, and always asks lots of questions about your life, always shows up for bridal showers and baby showers and kids’ birthdays (I owe her BIG time). Her groom is Phil, an upstanding and also funny guy who has been to many family events and proven himself a worthy husband-to-be by fitting in with the family quirkiness, and demonstrating that he will shower our dear Christina with love.
She told me that she wanted the wedding to be funky, bright and modern – or at least that was the impression I got when she was talking about it months ago. Fiona had been melting down in the background about not wanting to try on her flower girl dress, so I can’t remember her exact words. But I thought that the whole theme sounded refreshing and fun.
And that’s what the wedding was. The ceremony, held on a brick dock overlooking an urban skyline, was surrounded by charm and liveliness; I literally saw a man ride by on an old-fashioned bicycle. The sun had come out just in time, and the wind was whipping around us. It was beautiful.
As flower girl, Fiona was beyond excited. I was so relieved, because as I’ve mentioned before, you never know what mood Fiona might be in, especially if something specific or important is required of her. But she tolerated the hair curler and stockings, and even maintained a celebratory air. When we arrived, she went on a search behind the scenes for Christina – I think she wanted to congratulate her. Fiona was like a dazzled moth to her bridal flame, coming back to her again and again all night.
The ceremony was sweet and simple, with down-to-earth vows written by Christina and Phil themselves. They were emotional. She looked truly stunning in her dress – I kept noticing how perfectly it fit her. And then, hurrah! They were married. Hugs to the couple!
Fiona got to carry a giant pink balloon down the aisle instead of flowers – a nice touch that she also enjoyed after the ceremony, as you can see.
We left Jack with Dennis’ parents, and what a relief that we did, because he probably would have run right off the ledge and straight into the water the second we let go of his hand. I was sad that out-of-town family wouldn’t get to see him, but it was nice to not have to be on our game to the nth degree all night.
During the hors d’oeuvres, Fiona and Colin, the ring bearer (another cousin’s son – I have no idea what relation to Fiona that makes him), warmed up to each other and began playing some elaborate game with a car. I love it when she gloms onto a new kid at an event, and just wants to be by their side the entire time. I remember that feeling from when I was her age.
Meanwhile, I mingled with family members from my mom’s side, took pictures, ate anything that passed me by, and tried to get tipsy. It didn’t take too long.
I wish I had a picture of my sister-in-law Destinee’s shoes. They were total showstoppers – mustard yellow velvet weirdly curvy super-high platforms. I did manage to sneak this gorgeous snapshot of her, though, which was a total fluke, because she avoids other people’s cameras like the plague. (She is an amazing professional photographer herself.)
I also came up with the brilliant idea to have Mom take a picture of the “kids.” We all agreed it has been at least ten years since a picture of just us siblings was taken. I am the oldest at 33, Lisa is 31, Ben is 28 or something, and Tyler is 25 or something, I suppose? Weird.
We went inside the restaurant next to the ceremony for the reception. After the spirited introduction of the bridal party onto the dance floor, Fiona was raring to dance, even if it was by herself. She did manage to con Colin into “dancing” with her by bringing the car toy onto the stage. I think he thought it was more of a race/game situation.
The food and scenery were lovely. The sun was setting, and everywhere we looked were views out the wall-to-wall windows. When Christina and Phil had their first dance, I got a little teary and had to kiss Dennis, remembering our first dance and how happy I was in that moment. It looked like these two were probably feeling the same things.
And then Christina danced with her dad. Two words: adorableness personified. They did some sort of bouncy, kooky jive with each other to “The Birds and the Bees,” (I think sung by Dean Martin), and it was never sappy for a second. It was totally comfortable and fun to watch. It was totally them.
We were all getting pretty full on hors d’oeuvres. Another cousin, Hannah, who said she was too full to eat, decided to mix her mashed potatoes and crab cake and green beans into a gelatinous mess, topped by her steak, which she staked with her upright fork. A server came to ask if she wanted a box for that, and Hannah mumbled “No…” with an incredulous face. A minute later another server asked if she wanted it to go. At this point I had the giggles. Finally they just took her masterpiece away, maybe because they felt it was mocking them.
It was time to dance. I’d had three glasses of wine and I still didn’t feel un-self-conscious enough, but I’d been looking forward to it all night. I didn’t even try to get Dennis to come with me, of course. Even Fiona rejected me – she only wanted to dance with the ring bearer Colin, or the bride Christina. Total social climber. So I went to recruit Ben and Destinee. They donated Destinee’s sister’s cocktail to me and then accompanied me up to the dance floor. Then my siblings and their significant others and I bobbed around and took turns doing idiotic, mocking dance moves in the corner. Lisa and I attempted a sisters’ dance-off with Destinee and Arielle. It’s probably safe to say they won. My parents were doing their signature moves – my mom energetic and my dad “avante garde.” I never quite achieved that total loss of caring about how foolish I looked, which is always my goal on the dance floor. It’s not like I’m ever actually going to look good dancing, so I might as well just commune with my fellow dancers and stop giving a fig about appearances. Because dancing without inhibition, feeling the music and people, is one of the best things ever in life.
The floor was packed, and bouncing. Christina and Phil were working the crowd. Finally, I agreed it was time to go after we stuffed our faces with delicious, delicious desserts and then a cupcake that was theoretically split between Dennis and I, but the divide was more like 9/10 in my favor. He always eats less on purpose, in order to guilt-trip me about my own gluttony. Not really. But it does feel that way, mid-binge.
Fiona was wildly careening between laughing and crying at this point, her mouth an open hole of chewed up mint Oreos, the egg-free alternative I always bring to replace cake for her. Yup, time to go. But we did get to say goodbye to Christina, and to thank her for everything. I loved seeing her so happy. I remember well that relief and joy and amazement at all the people there to witness it.
Dennis and Fiona and I walked out and in the chilly quiet we looked at the reflection of lamppost lights along the water walkway. It was a moment. I had this feeling of being out on a date with both my daughter and husband. Like she was someone we could hang out with, and not only take care of. I think it will be a special memory for the three of us.
Much love and congratulations to Christina and Phil! And enjoy your honeymoon – you earned it, after pulling off that awesome wedding.