Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Wedding Part V: Let's do this thing! (Sunday)

When the music started, the processional began and I felt anxious, excited, and oddly scheduled. I knew that My Dad and I walked in right at a certain part of the song; I had rehearsed it in my head over and over, each time swelling with tears as I pictured Dan waiting for me.

“They don’t know how long it takes… waiting for a love like this” was the line in the song, but when we started walking, I could barely hear anything. I tried so hard to pause the moment, but I couldn’t. And when I finally was able to see Dan waiting for me, I was smiling from ear to ear. No tears, just a big toothy smile from a girl too excited to keep pace with the song. For those steps down the aisle, I honestly felt like I was walking alone straight to him, and I didn’t look at anyone else.

In retrospect, I wish I did look at some of the other people there, because I would have liked to see the expression on their faces, but at the time it didn’t really enter my thoughts.

I know our ceremony was beautiful, people told me… but I can’t remember a thing. Next thing I knew, we had taken the group picture and the photographer was asking me if I still wanted to do the long list of photos I had asked for.

But it was so hot, and I was dying in my dress, so I could only imagine how the guests felt after having waited outside for me for a very long time. So I said no, that we would just get pictures with our grandparents and of the wedding party. Another HUGE mistake. When all was said and done (picture wise) we didn’t even have a picture with each of our families, and I totally regret that.

Dan and I took some pictures around the fairgrounds, and then we went back to the house to get a picture with our dogs, which was #1 on my list. It was so nice to see them, and I only wish that they were well enough behaved that we could have had them at the ceremony with us. But I guess that’s pretty hard for a pair of 2 year old dogs to do… you know, behave. So we snapped our pictures at my Grandparents house and returned to the fairgrounds to make our grand entrance into the reception. This was all very funny because I was driving us around, and it was difficult to get in and out of the jeep with this huge dress I was wearing.

As we stood in the half of the Resource Center that was shut off from guests, we talked to the DJ about what songs he should play as each couple came walking out. I made the decision right then and there for our first dance to be “Then” by Brad Paisley, and based on Dan’s plea not to dance alone the whole time, I also asked him to invite others to the floor after the first chorus. Dan decided that when we walked in, we should do a spin and next thing I knew, we were on the dance floor with everyone staring at us. I can’t remember walking in, or people cheering (which they surely did). I can’t remember what song he played for our entrance or the twirl.

But I remember our dance.

I hated that everyone was staring at us, so I was glad when people followed the DJ’s advice and joined us on the floor. There was a moment when I thought Dan was crying, which caused me to choke up as well, so I buried my head in his shoulder and thought about our first kiss and when he asked me to marry him… with the song we chose, it was impossible not to think of those things. At that moment, the photographer snapped one of my favorite pictures of the entire wedding.

After our dance we rushed into the speeches, starting with my sister who had determined that she would “wing it”. Well she definitely got me laughing when she mentioned some old Windham References. Next was Joey’s best man speech which was also hilarious and heartfelt. He kicked off by saying, “fornication… For an occasion such as this…” and I think it got everyone’s attention.

But far and away the most surprisingly amazing thing that happened was Brian’s song. Dan’s cousin Brian had asked me if he could sing at the wedding. I was really into personalized weddings so I said, “why not” unsure of whether or not he could actually carry a tune. That was about a month or so after we got engaged. Gradually I learned some small details about the song, including that it was to the tune of Barry Manilow’s “Mandy”. I was excited to hear it, but I didn’t know just how much effort he really put into it. He re-wrote the entire song to be about us, and it was pure genius. He really brought the house down!

The food began to arrive as my Dad took the mic to toast us. He welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, but quickly got on with the “congrats” to us. I don’t remember his whole speech, and I think it’s because his voice was continuously cracking and I just kept sitting on the edge of my chair thinking, “ok, what will I do if he cries?” as if the man had never been allowed to show emotion in public or something. As he drew to the end, he mentioned all of the work that went into the wedding in the field that never happened. He talked about us having to compromise because of Mother Nature, and then he said, “To my daughter Mandy, and my new son-in-law Dan, I hope you never have to settle for anything ever again.” I rushed out of my chair to hug him nervous that he or I might start crying at that very sentence – that very thought, that he was my Dad and he was pissed off that I had to settle for Plan B. I tear up every time I think about it.

With the last toast complete, I finished my one and only drink that night – a glass of champagne. I asked the servers to bring our food last, so that Dan and I could get around to the tables to say hello while everyone else was eating.

But they didn’t.

Our food came first so I picked at my chicken and ate a few rolls. Again, for some ungodly reason being a bride = not ever being hungry. I guess the gallons of water I was drinking to keep from overheating probably curbed my hunger as well. So I started to go to the tables… I got through 2 tables before Dan reminded me that we had to feed the dogs.

Back in the Jeep we piled, and sped off to the farmhouse with Paul in tow to feed Marty. I dropped them and drove to the Oxford House to pick up the checks for the vendors that I had foolishly left in my car. Note to brides: pay ahead of time to save yourself the trouble. It must have been quite a site for the dinner crowd at the Oxford House that night as a Bride came storming through the door in her gown and then left just as quickly.

 When we arrived back at the fairgrounds the photographer was reminding me that we still had a lot of stuff to do and not a lot of time left for them to hang around. So we started with the cake cutting… again, I can barely remember these things! But I do recall telling Dan to be sure he picked a really small piece to give me, and he had better not stuff it in my face because that was trashy. He didn't, by the way, but he did a whole lot of pretending like he was going to! As I gave him his piece nicely, he didn't stop at the cake, but decided to put my fingers in his mouth as well. Enter obscene faces in the photos.

The piece of cake we cut was the smallest slice ever known to man, I think. I could barely taste it, but I figured we could always have more later.

Immediately after the cake, we did the father-daughter dance. I had picked Randy Travis, “Deeper than the Holler”  a song that my Dad and I had spent many days singing together at our house in Willimantic, seated by the old record and tape player we had that was a wedding gift to my parents. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, I played the song a few times and would choke up as I sang along, “this is just another way of sayin’ the same thing… my love is deeper than the holler, stronger than the river, higher than the mountains growing tall up on the hill…” I think the words do a pretty good job of describing the kind of love that exists in a family. But the beat… the beat is half way between a slow dance and a fast-dance so we kind of slow danced for a few seconds before Ya-Ya (my Uncle’s 3-year old foster daughter) decided she wanted to dance with us.

Once she joined the party, I called for my Mom and sister and brother to join in on the dance circle as well. A circle does not make for good pictures… but it was a more accurate presentation of our family – there to interrupt, crowd in and laugh together, no one being more important than any other. I’m glad the photographer did get one picture of my Dad and me dancing, even if I looked a little bit sweaty in it.

Right after our dance it was Dan and Diana’s turn. She had picked out what I thought was a pretty sappy song about a mother’s relationship with her son, but the words were fairly true to form. I admit that I didn’t get to watch this because the photographer had pulled me aside to get pictures with each of my bridesmaids. But I heard it was a nice dance, and I’m sure Diana loved it.

People had already started to leave at this point in the night, which made me sad but I guess that’s how some people do things. Not everyone is a party ‘til dawn kind of person. We wrapped up our list of “to-do’s” by conducting the garter and boquet toss in that order.

Every wedding album has a picture of a bride sitting in a chair while her newly minted husband stands with his hands on his knees looking her in the eye. We have that photo too, and now I know why everyone else does: it’s the point in the reception when the bride knows that the groom has likely had a few drinks and needs some guidance on how to get the right garter. There are two garters, in case you didn’t know: one for tossing, and one for keeping. The buzzed groom has to make sure he takes the right one.

And so, in an effort to be humorous, Dan stuffed his whole head under my dress and began searching around for the garter while everyone laughed uproariously. Under my dress he realized I was wearing shorts and laughed at me for being so ridiculous. He then took off the garter and waved it around in the air as he danced along with the music. My bouquet toss wasn’t as hilarious… I gave it what I thought was a decent throw over my head backwards, but it came about 5 feet short of where all the girls were standing.

One thing is for sure, there was equal competition for both the garter and the bouquet. Ronnie broke his brother’s glasses in the hunt, and Alexis actually grabbed the arm of another girl on her mad quest to grab the flowers. Both Ronnie and Alexis held up their prizes over their heads once victory was theirs. Ronnie gave a thumbs-up to the camera as the photographer shot her last photo of the evening.

Once all of the to-do’s were out of the way, I relaxed quite a bit and went around dancing and talking and taking pictures with the guests in our photo booth. This part of the night flashed by just as fast as the others, but it felt less rushed. I tried my best to talk to the people who were still there, but many had left without my having a chance to say thanks for coming. So I took the chance to say “thank you” to everyone in a little speech. It was off the cuff, but it went something like this:

“Thank you all for coming up here, I know it’s a very long drive to make, especially on a holiday weekend where you can be stuck in traffic for hours. I hope that you’re all having a good time.”

And then I took a deep breath and launched into the things I really wanted to cover.

“When Dan and I decided that we wanted to get married in Maine at my Grandparents house, it was  because this is a place that is very special to my family, and I have really enjoyed being able to share that with Dan. The field that we were supposed to get married in is really beautiful, and I will be forever disappointed that we didn’t end up using it. A lot of work went into getting stuff ready for this wedding…”

I thanked all the people who had put so much effort into trying to give me the wedding I had pictured in my head. It’s hard to convey just how much work was really done, but I think people got the idea.

“I had thought that the beauty was really important, and a key reason why I wanted to get married here so badly. But as it turns out ‘Maine’ as we always called it, isn’t really about the scenic overviews. We love this place and cherish it so much because of our experiences here with our family and friends. That’s really why we all love it so much. When things started to go wrong this weekend, and it was made obvious that I wouldn’t get the wedding I had planned, people just started showing up. Friends, family, everyone just showed up and started helping us to make this place look decent. So I think you all really get what Maine is about, you get why I wanted to be married here even if this is not the location I had planned on. And I am so happy to have the love and support of all of you today, and going forward in our lives together.”
It wasn’t the speech I had planned. I didn’t mention every single thing that went wrong, because they didn’t really matter anymore. Everyone was having a great time, and so was I – that was all that really counted in the end… you don’t want people to drive 5 hours and not have fun.

So we all toasted each other and continued dancing, laughing, using the photo booth and having a ruckus of a time (some more than others). Months after the wedding my sister called it the best day of her life. And you can’t complain about that. Though it probably wasn’t the best day of my life or even Dan’s, it was up there pretty damn high.

As the DJ began to wind it all down, I could hardly believe it was all over. In December, 2009 Dan had asked me to be his wife. He said that if all he ever had was me and the dogs from now until the end of time, then he would be a happy man. Here it was nearly 2 years later, and we had everything a couple could want out of their wedding day: happy family and friends, music to dance to, pictures to relive every moment and an excess of leftover cupcakes and booze.

Our friends and some family members all stayed late to help us collapse the tables and pack up the chairs. The tyrannical rental company that had ruined everything by coming too early, wanted to pick everything back up by noon the next day, so we had to break it all down in quick fashion. Finally I saw the bonus of having so many male friends!  By midnight, we were all out of the Natural Resource Center and headed back to the Saco River Motor Lodge (Friend HQ) for the after party.

Well, almost everyone. I still had to check out of my hotel and take off the dress that had kept me sweating all night by trapping the heat underneath the skirt. “Heat tent” is what my bridesmaid Amy had called it, and boy was that accurate. In addition, something was pressing hard into my waist, and I couldn’t tell what it was, but I was anxious to get it off!

Dan and I stopped at my Nana and Papa’s house to have her help me out of the dress with her crochet hook. The glitzy buttons I had spent so much extra money on were real live buttons, and they had to be unhooked individually with a crochet hook.




One by one the buttons slowly came undone until finally, I was able to nearly jump out of that dress with excitement. I could breathe again! And as it turned out, the thing pressing into me was a bead that had fallen off of my necklace. It got indented in my stomach and actually created a bruise. On top of that, my stupid strapless bra was really killing me. I had big red marks from where it had squished my sides all night. Finally it was off, and I was able to change into some normal clothes before heading back to the hotel.

When Dan and I arrived at Friend HQ, it was to a big applause, which was awesome. We spent the next 2 hours drinking and relaxing as one friend after another hit the hay. I was so thrilled that we had forced everyone to come up to Maine, creating this kind of opportunity every night for 3 nights in a row. All of the work we had done in the fields was worth it just to be able to have these two hours after the wedding where everyone was telling us what a great time they had, how good the food was, and that they loved the goodie bags at the end of the night packed with my Dad’s pepper relish.

Around 3:30, Dan and I finally went to our apartment style hotel. Joey, Courtney and JD were in the other bedrooms and Brendan was on the pull-out couch. It was definitely an odd bridal suite, but it did allow for our dogs to be with us, which was perhaps the most normal thing about the entire weekend.

At 5:00 a.m. I was still wide awake and unable to come down from the wedding adrenaline. I must have fallen asleep for a little bit, because at 8:00 a.m. I woke up as Mrs. Daniel Sadlon.

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