In my last post – a happy birthday to my niece, Natalie – I included a few pictures from my wedding. She was my flower girl. She had just turned five, two days before the wedding.
So that makes today my wedding anniversary.
Hard to believe it's ten years. Thirteen, if you go by the year we met and started dating.
I don't even know what I want to write as I'm typing this.
Bill is looking through our wedding album with the kids. Earlier, before Bill and Alex were up, Julia and I were looking through it, and she got to one picture and made a face.
"But…who said to do that???"
"The man who performed the ceremony said 'You may kiss the bride' and that's why."
She continued to look horrified. In fact, right now she's looking for the picture so she can show Alex the strange and frightening sight.
She found it.
"Alex! It's so disgusting!" He ran over, took a look, agreed, and ran off.
They're so funny.
Natalie, my niece, my flower girl, was just five then. A year younger than Julia is now.
Calvin, my nephew, my ring bearer, was seven, a few months shy of eight. A little younger than Alex is now.
Other thoughts that I always have while looking through the album and thinking of that day…
The pictures start at my parents' house, the house I moved into as a newborn and moved out of after college.
That morning, "my side" of the wedding party began to assemble at the house. The day was kind of gray and comfortable…sort of like it is today, actually. My kind of weather.
My sister was my matron of honor (though I still prefer the term "maid of honor" even though yes, she was married. Though married, she was, and is, far from matronly.
My little niece, Natalie, as I've already said, was my flower girl.
Bill's brother, Bob, dropped off Lisa, his daughter, my soon-to-be niece, and my junior bridesmaid. She was fourteen.
Lisa walked down the street with me to the florist's to pick up the little wreath for Natalie's hair, and the stephanotis flowers for my hair, and probably some other bits and pieces. The rest of the flowers – our bouquets – would be delivered later that day, and the flowers for the groom and his gang would be brought to the wedding and reception site. In case you wondered.
The rest of my attendants trickled in. I went a slightly non-traditional route. I remember after Bill and I became engaged, and I was trying to decide who to include, at first I thought I needed to include everyone I could from Bill's side of the family. There was Lisa, of course, and I thought about including my two future sisters-in-law, since my sister's husband was going to be one of the groomsmen…but it didn't feel right. They were both wonderful women, and I was glad to be joining their ranks, but they hadn't really been a part of my life for very long, in the grand scheme of things, and it felt…off.
So I thought, and thought, and thought, and finally I just asked myself, who are my very best friends? Who do I really want to share this day with?
And I came up with four (my sister was already assigned her spot) friends who ranged from all different parts of my life.
My oldest friend, Dolores. We became friends in kindergarten, and she and I lived on the same block, our houses diagonally opposite each other. We were tomboys. We, along with my sister, built obstacle courses in the back yard, and we created a club – The WRIFCDs (later amended to The WRIFDs) – which stood for the Wakefield, RI Female Cycling Daredevils. We eliminated the "cycling" part because we considered ourselves daredevils across the board. Dolores and I were senior members, and my sister and her friend, Beth, were junior members. I remember one of the club rules was that you don't cry when you're hurt. As I remember, we didn't do anything reeeeeeeeeeeally dangerous. But in our minds, we could, and would, if called upon.
My friend Ralph. He and I met in college and we hit it off immediately. He was that really annoying older brother I thought I'd always wanted. Only sillier and more tolerant of me. We've been up to visit him at his home in Maine a couple of times, most recently this past February. The kids call him Uncle Ralph. He's one of the kindest people I know, and extraordinarily tolerant of me and my annoying correction of his spelling mistakes. There are so many Ralph stories, if I start going into them the whole theme of this post will change, so I'll refrain. He's currently working on his PhD in some sort of Psychology-related thing. Probably Abnormal Psych, and I'm his primary case study. Hahahaha.
My friend Marianne. She and I met working at Barnes & Noble. Our initial meeting consisted of me showing coworkers a picture of my little nephew, Calvin. He was my "first" baby, and I was totally enamored of him. Marianne, who, I think, had just started working there not too long before, saw the picture and said something like "Oh, what cute little brown cookie!" And apparently I shot her a rather dangerous look warning her that the "brown cookie" term damn well better be benign, and that bad things would happen if anything derogatory was meant. I don't really remember thinking all that, and I probably didn't think it at all – it was just a very protective reflex. And she quickly pulled out a picture of her son, another cute little brown cookie – "I have one, too!" – and we were instant friends. She is one of the smartest people I know. I remember my brain always felt slow and sluggish in her presence. But in a good, kick-in-the-pants kind of way. I remember, too, she did a tarot card reading the day of my birthday thirteen years ago, when Bill and I were not yet dating but for some reason (which I don't remember) he was invited to dinner. The reading basically said that all the bad stuff was behind me, and the good stuff was beginning that day. (I know it was said differently, and better, but that's the gist of it.)
My friend Pete. Pete and I met when I worked for a moving company. He's a bunch of years younger than me, and had worked there longer. I started out as an assistant to the department. We came to realize we had a very similar sense of humor, and it was really fun to work with him. It was like play. My first day back at work after Bill asked me to marry him, I called Pete (he was working in a different building at that point) and asked him if he'd be my flower girl. This had been a running joke for a while. Asking him to be one of my attendants (sans flowers or pouffy dress) was kind of a no-brainer. He is now married, with two beautiful daughters. The funny thing is, his date to my wedding is the woman he eventually married. And I did a reading at their wedding. Kind of a nice little side note.
And so those fabulous people made up the rest of wedding posse.
One by one they arrived.
And you know what? It was one of the most fun mornings ever. We just talked, and laughed, and hung out. What a brilliant, sharp, hysterically funny group we were. Sometimes I wish I could do that morning again.
At some point all us females went go get our hair done. I think Natalie went, too. Maybe her wreath of baby's breath was pinned in place, or her hair was prepped for it. I remember a lot, but I don't remember everything. My hair was pinned and twisted in place, and the stephanotis blossoms were stabbed into my skull (okay, not really, but I think it felt like it a couple times).
A friend of mine from work came over to the house at some point to do our makeup. Even the guys got some powder applied, to get rid of any July-weather-related shine.
The florist brought our flowers. More family, in a way, as this florist shop (Pleasantries Flower Shop, in Wakefield, RI) has "done" the flowers for so many occasions, happy and sad, in our family. We've known the owners for ever. And the flowers were beautiful.
The photographer showed up at some point, too, and started taking pictures…candids and then some formal group shots in the back yard.
Then the limo arrived and whisked us away. The driver either had the directions wrong, or he wasn't paying attention, but I remember we had to tell him to turn around, and I worried about being late. I'm obsessively punctual, and a fifteen-minutes-late grand entrance was NOT on my to-do list that day.
We arrived in plenty of time, actually, and my posse and I hung out in one of the little rooms inside, out of site. There was a large window that looked out on the parking lot, so we could watch people arriving.
My nephew, Calvin, arrived with his father, and they looked handsome in their tuxes.
I was watching, mainly, to see Bill arrive. We'd gone the traditional route and had not seen each other since the non-rehearsal rehearsal dinner at his mom's house the evening before. He and John, his best friend, would be getting professional shaves at a barbershop that morning, and would arrive together that evening. Bill later said he was kind of bored that day – he had nothing to do and no one really to hang out with.
And as the wedding hour approached, he and John still weren't there. My mental clock was ticking loudly. Bill is very punctual, too. John, however, wasn't. Not back then. So I was kind of wondering what was going on, and where they were.
And then the car pulled in and parked somewhere off to my right, and I suddenly saw Bill walking swiftly across the parking lot.
I actually gasped, and grabbed Marianne's arm. He looked so handsome…black tux, bow tie, tails.
I have never gasped and felt such a dizzying absense of oxygen like that before or since. I almost cried then, and I'm feeling the familiar prickling behind the eyes now.
Handsome fisherman minstrel prince.
Anyway, I remember the man who orchestrated things had all my attendants assemble across the lawn (it was an outdoor wedding), in order of their walk down the aisle.
I made the little basket for Natalie to carry her rose petals, and I made the ring bearer pillow for Calvin to carry.
There are some fabulous candid shots of the group of them standing there together, talking and laughing. All these people, these dear friends and family members, some of whom hadn't met before the previous day, completely relaxed and happy. Except Natalie. She looked a little worried. After all, there were a whole bunch of people and she had a big important job to do.
I remember my dad and I had to go out some other door, creep around part of the building in between big bushes, in order to get to where the limo was parked. Then the driver basically drove us around the building, the Meadowbrook Inn, actually, since I haven't mentioned that before, so that I could make a sort of grand entrance. Like I'd been somewhere else and I was just arriving now. My father and I had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of that.
It was windy. There are some pictures of my veil blowing all over the place, like a big cloud around my head.
And then the procession. One by one, Lisa, Pete, Marianne, Ralph, and Dolores. Then, I think, Calvin, and then Natalie, and then my sister. Natalie was supposed to scatter the petals as she went, but in the intimidating grandness of the event, she forgot. The photographer got a picture of her coming down the aisle, a rather worried expresson on her tiny face. Once she got to the front, and joined her mother and everyone else on that side of the ceremony area, she stage-whispered "Now is it time to do the petals?" Mere said yes, and in the picture you can see a whole mess of pink and red petals mainly in front of Natalie. I love that little snippet.
We were married by a Justice of the Peace, and he liked to have all the participants face the guests, rather than stand with our backs to everyone. It felt a little weird, but it's kind of nice, too, because it made the whole thing more intimate. More of a gathering. Sure, we were all dressed up and fancy, but it felt a bit more like a gathering in someone's back yard rather than a really formal occasion.
There's a wonderful picture from our wedding of me laughing, my sister looking like she wants to both laugh and shake her head, and Bill rolling his eyes. It had been my turn to repeat the vows after the JP. "…in sickness and in health…as long as we both shall live." I'd done fine, I think I was audible to most of the guests, so that part was in the bag.
And then he said "Love one another," and I echoed "Love one another," and the JP said "No, that's my part" or something, and EVERYONE burst out laughing, and then that picture was snapped. I was SO intent on not screwing up my lines, that I wasn't really hearing anything or thinking about it. I was just a parrot in an ivory dress. And I'm glad it happened. It broke any remaining tension (certainly mine) and…it's now one of our stories.
We went to Hawaii on our honeymoon, and in one of the gift shops I found a little magnet with a little pressed flowers laminated to a small bit of paper. On the paper are is the phrase "E Aloha kekahi i kekahi." Translation? "Love one another." The magnet is on our fridge.
Back to the ceremony.
Oh, the exchanging of the rings…I wore elbow-length gloves, and the seamstress who made the bridesmaids' gowns cut and closed a little hole in the ring finger of the left hand, so that when it came time to put on the wedding band, I'd just slip that finger out of the glove, rather than do a brief strip tease and remove the whole thing. Bill said it kind of threw him when I did that – "woah, she's really serious about it" or something like that went through his head.
A bit about the dresses. I picked out a pale sage dupioni (sp?) silk for the gowns, and then had each bridesmaid choose the style of her dress. That way, I figured, they could all choose a style flattering to them. I just remember being in a wedding many years ago where the color and style of the bridesmaid gowns just DID NOT work with all the different colorings and shapes of the bridesmaids. I didn't want that to happen with my wedding. So everyone looked different but similar, and I think it worked really well.
Shortly after my little parrot moment, as the JP was finishing things up, I started to feel droplets on my face and arms. We all did. We cast furtive looks at the sky, willing it to just PLEASE wait a few minutes more. And it did.
Right after we were pronounced man and wife, and we kissed, the rain came down. We hurried up the aisle, laughing and relaxed at that point, in a hurry to get into the Inn and avoid getting drenched.
There's another wonderful picture - after Bill and I made it to the top of this little hill and were standing with the limo driver (so he could take a picture of us shaing a champagne toast in front of the limo, I believe) - of the rest of the wedding party and the guests racing up the hill to get inside. John, our best man, looks extremely grim, jaw clenched, wondering where to fulfil his best-man duties and find an umbrella for us. I think the limo driver had one, because in the picture of us and our raised champagne flutes, we are under an umbrella.
We were originally going to have the cocktail hour outside, but, as you may have guessed, that didn't happen. It would have been nice, but in the end it doesn't really matter. We were there, inside and dry (no makeup was ruined), and we were married.
We did the other traditional things…the introduction of the wedding party…first dance as husband and wife ("Maybe I'm Amazed" – Paul McCartney) (No, he wasn't there, the guy in the band sang it, I think.), and I danced with my father…Bill danced with his mom…the best man gave a lovely toast…we cut the cake (and we did NOT shove cake in each other's face, fyi) (a friend of mine from culinary school made the cake, by the way. Lemon cake, with a raspberry layer and lemon buttercream – such a yummy combination. She piped on little waves around the sides of the cake, and I'd made "beach glass" out of sugar. Very simple and beautiful and "us.")…we ate dinner (swordfish or prime rib) and people danced. A couple of my favorite pictures are the one of Natalie dancing with her father (in the post right before this one), and Calvin dancing with Bill's mom. Sweet, and bittersweet.
Instead of candy or candles or whatever else people give away as favors, we gave live rosemary plants. Rosemary stands for remembrance. We cook with it. It's a plant – it would last (hopefully) long past that one day. (Although, in hindsight, a different plant might have been better. Rosemary can be really difficult to keep alive. Ah well.) I remember when my mom and I went to the nursery to pick up all the pots (two hundred? a bit less, probably), they were larger than we'd thought. I think instead of 2" pots, they were in 4" pots. They were HUGE and we had to get really creative fitting them all in the car. I think there was one flat on the floor at my feet, I had to ride to the wedding site with my knees up and pressed against the dashboard (passenger side) so as not so kill the plants below. I probably had some in my lap, and I think I held another flat in the air the whole way. I don't think we stopped laughing at the silliness of it all until we finally got to Charlestown and I could un-pretzel myself.
It poured rain that night – a torrential, endless downpour. They say rain is good luck at a wedding. We should be set for life after that monsoon. Bill's nephew – and now mine – Joe drove us to our hotel – a place near Narragansett beach, though I can't remember the name – and then I think he got lost for a while driving home. The visibility was that bad.
The next day we had no plans – it was a sort of day off in between the wedding and leaving for our honeymoon. We stopped at our little rent-a-cottage and finished packing…we stopped at my parents' house and opened cards and gifts. It was a really nice day, actually.
And the next day we flew west, eventually landing on the Big Island of Hawaii. We got our luggage, got our rental car, checked into our hotel, and then walked down the road to Huggo's On the Rocks, the outdoor bar beside Huggo's, the restaurant. We sat by the water, ordered Mai Tais and some appetizers, and gazed at the sunset.
All in all, a nice beginning to a marriage, I think.
And so what are we doing today, you might ask?
Well, if it doesn't rain, we'll be painting the second coat on the back of our house.
We'll go out for a nice dinner somewhere probably next week. But we need to take advantage of the low humidity while we can.
We'd like to finish the painting before we hit the twenty year mark. :)