I was pretty good about taking photos before the ceremony. Here's a glimpse into my afternoon with the bride (and I must say, it was such an honor to be with her on her wedding day):
Ann had a bottle of champagne to share with Julie (now her sister-in-law), who was doing her hair and makeup, me, and her mom. But I've never actually opened a bottle of champagne before, and I couldn't get the top to pop off the way I thought it was supposed to. So I handed it over to Ann to figure out:
She's so expressive, it cracks me up. After she finished getting ready, a phone rang in the room. We all looked at each other, each of us insisting it wasn't our phone. It turned out it was Ann's. She recently purchased a new phone, and playing around with the calendar function, she put her wedding as an entry on the calendar. The phone ringing was a reminder that it was fifteen minutes until her wedding was to start. We cracked up at that. If there were any tension, that certainly broke it.
Downstairs, as we waited for the last few guests to be seated (that would be Jason and the kids who had front row seats), I grabbed a shot of Ann and her brother (her dad walked her down the aisle, but I'd already handed off the camera to Jason by then):
I have some other nice pictures, but they all involve minors, and I'm just not comfortable posting their picture to the Web, so you don't get to see a photo of me because I couldn't crop the flower girl out of them. But I looked fabulous. Just ask my kids.
Speaking of kids, right after I got to my spot on the stairs of the porch, Marcie saw me and burst into tears. I was willing Jason to remove her immediately (with my eyes, of course) because I didn't want anything to interrupt Ann's big moment and big day. I know if Marcie had come running up to me and insisted on hanging on to my leg, Ann would have been cool with it. But not me. I wouldn't have been. Fortunately, she calmed down right away, and when she started crying again later in the ceremony, Jason did step away with her. Casey didn't just let Marcie steal the show, though. He managed to announce quite loudly in the middle of the Blessing of the Hands, that he heard a train pass by. I'm hoping no one noticed but me-- that everyone else was too intently focused on what was happening between Ann and Mark to hear my kids. And if anything, the experience has reinforced my love of child-free weddings.
Don't get me wrong. Casey and Marcie feel a special connection to Ann. Ann is Casey's Godmother. She even danced with him at the wedding. And it probably would have felt strange not to have them with us. But when 8:00pm rolled around and our kids really began losing it, I was wishing we'd brought a babysitter with us so we could stay and have fun after sending our kids back to the hotel. Jason and the kids left a little after 8:00pm, and I left about an hour later, feel quite awkward about leaving the reception so early and yet also feeling odd about sticking Jason with them in the hotel. I didn't actually leave until closer to 9:45, but I said my good-byes to Ann around 9. And Casey was still awake when I got back to the room.
As for the rest of the reception, I think my toast went fine. It's been a long time since I spoke in front of 200+ people, and I forgot the one joke I was going to tell. But I think I did okay.
The kids had a blast rolling around the barn. There were a few openings that left me nervous-- behind the bar and behind the band, but for the most part the kids stayed out of trouble. Marcie managed to get a giant splinter in her hand, but Jason was able to remove it. The wine was imported from an exchange student friend of Mark's-- from Italy. And there was even a chocolate fountain to go with the fresh, fresh strawberries from a nearby farm and neighbor. Ann even thought to pack each child a kiddy bag, filled with a kid cup and a pad of paper and markers and a bottle of bubbles. My kids used the paper pads to draw on our way home the following day:
I hope Ann had a day and a night to remember. I know I did. . .