In honor of our second wedding anniversary, I’m reposting some of the journaling I did in the days directly following out wedding. Below are my immediate impressions and memories from our incredible wedding day — despite any stress or worry I felt in the days leading up to the actual ceremony (including our dear, sweet eldery pug passing the night before our rehearsal dinner) — the day of our wedding was a beautiful, perfect day and I love rereading this, looking at the pictures, and remembering how deeply loved I felt that day, by my sweet husband, and by all of our friends and family. Enjoy!
SATURDAY, October 19, 2013
It’s Your Wedding Day, Girl
I BARELY SLEPT. I was convinced I’d sleep like a rock because I was so tired and so emotional the night before, but NOPE NOPE NOPE. I laid there and laid there, drifting off, nearing sleep – but then would jerk awake, thinking, OH SHIT GOTTA DO THE THING and then I’d drift off and then OH SHIT THE OTHER THING. Over and over and over, all night.
I woke up completely, in the morning, to Mom whispering in my ear, Well, it’s kinda cold and rainy but it’s going to clear up.
SO, OFF TO A GOOD START.
Luckily, after at least a little bit of sleep, I was in a WAY better mood than I had been the night before. I think I just felt better about finally being able to do the work I had been anticipating for so long. For months, I had been planning this wedding, making lists, piling up decorations — and I couldn’t actually complete that tasks. It felt like it weighed over me, and we were going to be on a time crunch since we couldn’t decorate until the actual morning of the wedding. So once I was able to actually make progress, that went a long way to making me feel more prepared, less behind schedule.
The girls and I got up and puttered around, slowly waking up, eating some fruit and packing up the car. We went down to the winery and LORD HAVE MERCY, it was cold – no warmer than 50 degrees. All along, as we planned this wedding, as people said, well, wait if it rains? – I held to this sense of certainty that it would not rain. That no matter what, the weather would be fine by the time of the ceremony. I told Mom and the girls that morning, either it will clear up, which it WILL, or it won’t, and when it comes time that we HAVE to decide, we will. Until then – let’s plan on an outside ceremony.
It drizzled at first, but after an hour, even the sprinkles faded, and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Setting up went well; Jeannie, Erin and Maggie worked on the ceremony site that had frustrated me on the day of the rehearsal, while Lauren and I worked on décor inside. Mom and her best friend, my godmother whom we have called Tootie since I was a little girl, came and checked in, then ran errands for us. Later, Travis and Emily the Sister arrived to help, and then Jess.
This morning set up was some of my favourite of the day – we had music playing the whole time, of course, we’d break into dancing, doing choreography from our last adult dance class. People worked quietly with irons and steamers on the tablecloths, moving chairs or hanging up lanterns. A little kitty who lives at the winery kept running in to attack the decorations and we shooed her away, again and again. The girls left every 45 minutes to get their hair done at the salon, and we finished up around 11 AM, with time for me to say goodbye to Shaun before heading to the salon myself. The sun started to really shine, and slowly but surely, the day was turning into a pretty one.
The time at the hairdresser was nice, I knew both girls doing my make-up and my hair, I felt more at ease, less formal and stiff. Sherri airbrushed my make-up, which I had never done before. It felt odd, but also nice – just a soft breeze on my cheeks. Better yet – she did perfectly. I told her I wanted dewy, fresh-faced, maidenly, light but noticeable. She absolutely captured what I wanted. Before, I had thought that the airbrushed make-up would be a waste of money, an extravagance; but when I look back on wedding pictures, instead of thinking, God, my make-up was running, after wearing it for hours and hours – I look at pictures and think, damn, my make-up looks good! Then Lindsey did my hair. The salon emptied out, and grew much quieter, the sunshine pouring in through the big windows while we listened to music. Jody and Jeannie stuck around with me so we could ride together, and they worked on their make-up as Lindsey finished up with me. I just got to relax and breathe for what felt like the first time all week. The set-up was done, my make-up was done, and as soon as my hair was finished, we would be heading back to the house to be with all of the girls.
We cut it close on time, but made it back to MamaSuh’s just after 1:30, which was near enough to wait we had been aiming for. When we got back to the house, it was clear it was just about WEDDING TIME. We three sisters pulled up and Mom’s driveway was full of cars, some I didn’t even recognize. All the bridesmaids were there, and the photographer and her assistants. Jess and Teegan arrived, and Teegan was so sweet in her dress and boots. The energy was so nice, the girls flitted from room to room doing hair or make-up, Jeannie did Mom’s and made her look like a model. The photographer girls, Susan and her sisters Amy and Kim, snapped pictures of the girls getting ready, but then also worked on all of these detail pictures of my dress hanging in the background with my boots and flowers, or all of our boots outside in the sunshine.
We thought we were close to running late again – although if we’d known the photographers would fly through the guys’ pics, we could have taken our time – so we hurried to get me dressed. Ali kept me company while I got my undergear on, and then she and Mom helped me get my dress on. Ali left so it was Mom and Jeannie and Jody and me and we had a sweet prayer alone in Mom’s room, Mom teared up during the prayer. Once I had the dress on — it felt like most of nerves melted away.
I came out for the first time, and oh my, this was so special – because everyone who saw me stopped and their eyes lit up and their jaw dropped and everyone said, YOU LOOK AMAZING. My two favourite compliments I got the entire day were that I looked like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Rose from Titanic – and pretty much, you can’t give me any higher praise than that.
I didn’t have anything else to do at that point, so I sat and sat and people came to take pics or touch up my hair. I read books with Teegan. From this point on, everyone treated me like a princess. I mean, they had been for weeks and weeks, but the closer it got to THE TIME, the more they treated me like a princess. I guess every time I’ve been in a wedding as a bridesmaid or helper, I’ve treated the bride the same way, but to have that concentrated attention and love showered on me was so overwhelming in the best way. Lauren and I kept giggling, playing the Tudors as she held my train and curtseyed, my lady. They gathered all of my belongings for me and helped me out to the car and folded me into the passenger seat and we all drove that one mile down to the winery.
We pulled up to the winveyard, and finally, the day was BEAUTIFUL. The weather cleared up, the sky was BLUE BLUE BLUE with little puffs of clouds floating across. The air was still quite cool but not so frigid cold as before. The girls made sure Shaun was hidden away, and then we went into the bar area to hide and wait, or so we thought. The photographers were ready for us much sooner than expected! So we did some group pictures by the bar, and then Lauren took up my train again and we went up to the vines and the grapes to do the rest of our pictures.
Doing the pictures with my girls was so fun, we could not stop being ourselves, even though we were all dolled up. (My girls looked so good, in their purple dresses with the lace accents, the open back, all their different boots. Everyone incorporated a braid in the hair, somehow, so we all had a braid. IT’S A THEME.) Susan and her sisters didn’t blink an eye, just let us play our shenanigans and snapped pictures the entire time. Some of my favourite shots were first when they had us walk down the long driveway and we all decided to hold hands on our own. After they had us turn and walk back, someone said, What are we doing with our faces? – a commong question from dance class days, meaning are we smiling, or looking dreamy and model-ish. Just because I was so giddy, I started to fake commercial laugh, outlandish and over-the-top, and then half of them followed suit. Those who didn’t started actually laughing, and I swear, that is possibly my favourite picture of all of us from the entire day – with the possible exception of when Susan told us she’d count to three and then we had to pose how we thought guys would. She’d had the boys pose like girls, and those two pictures side by side are so hysterical.
THE BEST moment was when Susan and Co. took me down by myself to do some individual shots. My lovely insane bridesmaids, being true friends of mine and therefor goofy like I am, even when I am occupied, started this weird parade. I was standing there, trying to do pretty model poses and suddenly I heard SO MANY GIGGLES. In the next row of vines, these yellow bouquets popped up into sight, and then back down again, up and down, up and down. As they got closer, I could hear them singing, Tee dum, tee de, tee diddly dum de dee! like the Lost Boys from Disney’s Peter Pan. And they were marching in a row, one hand on hip, the other raising their flowers. I laughed SO hard, and yes, Susan got pictures.
We headed back down and did family pictures and then we hid away. A few select people were allowed to sneak in to see me ahead of time. Lauren’s family came in – she had warned me her daddy was in a wheelchair pretty much full time, and it was the first time I’d seen him in a few weeks. We had been worried, all day, whether or not he would make it. The weather was so chilly, and we didn’t want him to get cold. But they made such an effort to be there, him and her mom and her grandmamma, which touched me so deeply. When I hugged him, he whispered, I love you, daughter. It is a memory I hold so close and dear to my heart these days.
All the while, the winery was functioning as an actual winery, so people were ACTUALLY SHOPPING. They’d come in to the bar area and startle, but then smile and wish us well. A few even told me I looked beautiful.
The waiting was the hardest. In moments of stillness, my nerves would get fired up – not nervous about getting married, but I was just ready to go. Ready to see Shaun. Ready to marry him. We started singing, which might seem weird to anyone who didn’t grow up as we did. We have always sang when we were nervous before dance shows, choir or band concerts, marching band shows, winter guard shows. Lauren and I started singing the National Anthem, which, again, might seem like a weird choice, I know, but I’m really solid on the alto part, and everyone else knows the soprano part. Oddly enough, Dawn, my dear choir teacher and vocal coach of many years, and her wife Barbara came walking up JUST as we were singing, and the timing was so perfect. Dawn was the one who really taught me how to sing, who taught me that very alto part I was singing, who had be blow the pitch pipe for all of chamber choir to sing the National Anthem at pep rallies or basketball games.
Then minutes ticked by, we were getting closer and closer to time to go – but not quite there. I had a touch of liquor from my bridesmaid’s gift of a Bridal Emergency kit, and we sang more of our favourites, the Sound of Music and Edelweiss. The people sitting in the bar area with us must have been having one hell of a day, overwhelmed by these young women in formal wear, singing in a capella harmony. They just kept applauding.
Then it was time to read Shaun’s card. Oh my God. The girls gave me some space and I just CRIED AND CRIED. It was PERFECT. It was everything I wanted to hear before we got married. He talked about how he was home alone and miserable without me and couldn’t wait for me to be his wife and how he couldn’t wait for our kids and how I made him feel and how excited he was for the future. I AM PARAPHRASING, BOBVIOUSLY, because it’s intimate and sweet but it was perfect and I let everyone else read it and they cried too.
And then the parents and grandparents were lining up, and we watched from our hiding spot. Then the groomsmen and Bro. Rick – he’d come to hug me and comfort me beforehand too – and we had a little bridesmaid circle, holding hands, hugging, and I told them all how much I loved them, and they all started tearing up.
(We are a very emotional group of friends.)
The girls left to get lined up in their positions, which left just Mom and me in the little room, waiting for our cue so I wouldn’t be seen until the last minute. I was honestly so glad that I had that time alone with Mom. It’s easy to get wrapped up in my girls, because they make me giggle and they make irreverent jokes to ease my nerves – but just before the big moment happened, I just wanted my mama by my side. I told her how much she meant to me, how much I loved her, and we just held each other.
(The people drinking said they were tearing up now, too.)
THEN WE WERE WALKING, I felt so breathless, I couldn’t believe the moment was finally here – I could hear the music and see my girls starting down the hill and everything felt so surreal. Lauren’s mom and dad and grandma were sitting up by the main building, out of the wind with blankets, so I got to tell them I loved them one more time. DADDY TODD STOOD OUT OF HIS WHEELCHAIR WHEN I PASSED BY and that’s honestly when I cried. It may have been the only time I actually cried all day – I teared up when I read Shaun’s card, but this was the moment that just overwhelmed me with emotion in a completely different way. The thing was – of all people – I would have never expected Daddy Todd to stand. Of all people, I would have understand if he stayed seated. The idea of him standing wasn’t even on my radar – but he stood, and he was just beaming, this beatific smile on his face, and I remembered his voice, I love you, daughter. Lauren told me, many weeks later, that this was the last time he really ever stood, and I hold that honor so close and dear to my heart.
As we made our way to our position, we could see Emi and the kids heading down the hill. My sweet boy Jack was trying so very hard to pull the wagon with his sister Nae and sweet Teegan, but it had been raining and the ground was a little damp – but I love it even more, as Emi helped him push from behind, and I had all of my sweet loved ones together, right there.
And then, Lord. Dad was finally there, I was saying thanks to Jess yet again for making everything run so smoothly – and then the music changed to Long Journey.
Long Journey is this song I have this deep, deep emotional connection with. That entire album of Sarah Jarosz, Song Up in Her Head, was the album I played on repeat when Shaun and I first met, first started dating. It’s such an autumn album, or maybe I just listened to it in the autumn – but I had just come home from Germany, feeling a little lost, a little confused – but also like I had been called home. A few weeks later, I met Shaun, and so that song in particular, your love will guide me home, always speaks so deeply to me of meeting Shaun and falling in love with him.
Everything seemed to move so slowly and so quickly at the same time – Mom and Dad and I were walking. Everyone was staring. All these seconds ticked by SO long and SO short, I felt like I was trapped in this eternal, perfect moment. The sky was this beautiful blue and the sun was so bright, slanting in a long angle across the grass and the leaves on the ground. The breeze whistled through the leaves on the trees over head, and oh, the music and the faces, all the faces. I saw my Auntie Geri crying, tears streaming down her face. That’s one of my crispest memories from that walk – she’s such a quiet woman normally, and to see that visible outpouring of emotion stuck with me, so clearly.
And then we came down the hill and I could see Shaun and — I didn’t cry. I had thought I would, expecting to be so emotional – and I was, I was so emotional – but I was just SO HAPPY. So – relieved, almost. Finally, there was his HANDSOME FACE and he was grinning and almost-crying all at the same time and everything WAS PERFECT. I had this GIANT GRIN and I was BEAMING and I KNEW IT and I FELT LIKE I COULD FLY.
Our ceremony, as I said, was neither long nor complicated. Mom and Dad gave me away, but Dad moved to sit and I got to have this extra moment with Mama, hug her again, and we whispered I love you to each other. Bro. Rick started to read in his sonorous voice, that voice that I heard so often in my childhood, as a teenager. I kept looking in Shaun’s eyes, and nowhere else. We spoke our vows and exchanged rings, and I couldn’t see anything but him, even though I could hear the breathing and the rustling of the audience.
There were mess-ups, of course, and I DO NOT CARE. They make me laugh, now, and honestly, they made me laugh then. I had been so scared something would go wrong – but in the moment, nothing mattered but Shaun, and us getting married, and any little hiccup just made me laugh, made everyone around us laugh.
We planned to release the lantern, had placed it and the lighter in a particular place before the ceremony – but when Bro. Rick gave us the cue to do go ahead – we couldn’t find it! I looked for the spot we expected it to be, and – nope! I felt kind of flabbergasted, I knew we had placed it there that morning, but I looked at Bro. Rick and I didn’t even blink, didn’t freak out a bit. I just grinned and said, Um, it’s not here…so looks like we’re going to skip that.
Everyone laughed, and then from the back, we heard No, wait, they’ve got it! Emily the Sister and Richard had moved it over to the sound equipment because of the damp ground. Emily hurried over with it and the lighter, and I joked to the crowd, Talk among yourselves! to the crowd, they all laughed again.
So the music started and the lantern was filling up with hot air. It’s like a hot air balloon. We shake it out like you might a trash bag, to fill it up with air, and then Shaun lit the fuel patch at the bottom, and we both held the lantern together as the fuel patch burned. The air heats up over a minute or two, and it starts to tug on your hands the slightest bit as it is nearly ready to be released. People always doubt that it will work if they haven’t seen it done before, I could hear murmurs. I was also worried about the wind and the trees, but then I heard Shaun’s dad say, so clearly, It’s gonna be OK. That one phrase from him, so steady, made me feel so relieved. I just needed to hear someone say that, I was so glad he did.
So we released it and everyone ahhhhed with pleasure, but then — it bumped into a tree branch!! For about .034 seconds, I was TERRIFIED we were going to BURN THE PLACE DOWN – the crowd gasped – it bounced – another gasp – bounced off another branch – a third gasp, some alarm — but it just bounced one last time, and flipped and righted itself and floated off. Everyone cheered, and we watched it float off into the distance, the bright blue sky, until it was no more than a spec.
And then the announcement, Mr. and Mrs. Suhrheinrich-Weeks. And then for the kiss – Bro. Rick started to say, Shaun, you may kiss your bride – and I just felt giddy and silly and so happy, I did a little bounce-bounce-bounce like an excitable child – and we kissed, then we did a high five after, and then Home by Edward Sharpe started blasting, and Shaun and I skip-danced down the aisle, beaming at each other, squeezing each other’s hands, back up to the top of the hill. We hugged Lauren’s parents – her parents may have been the first people I hugged, after we were officially married – cat, and then the wedding party made it up to us, we all danced and do-si-do’d and hugged and hugged before finally making receiving line to get even more hugs and well wishes.
After the receiving line, we sent all the guests off to start eating while family and the wedding party did more pictures — full wedding, groomsmen with me, bridesmaids with Shaun, with families. Then we sent them off to eat too, and Susan took us up to take our couple pictures. I will say – I know some people really love a first look, before the ceremony – and to each their own – but for me, I loved not seeing Shaun before the ceremony. It made all the anticipation and excitement happen during the ceremony, and that first moment of seeing him as I came down the aisle was so incredible and overwhelming, in the best way. Plus – I did not feel like we took up a lot of time doing full pictures after. I know timing is a concern for a lot of couples, but we were able to send our guests in to eat, drink, and be merry, and it maybe took us fifteen minutes to do the full wedding party pictures.
Plus, honestly? Stealing away with only Shaun, and our photographers, made for a nice break. We got to be (mostly) alone, and have a moment to let this sink in, we were married, we were man and wife. We held hands and walked up to the vines, against the sunset, Susan snapping picture the entire way, and we just looked at each other. Hello, husband, I said. Hello, wife, Shaun replied. We had a small bubble of privacy before we rejoined the crowd.
Back down at our rehearsal hall, we checked out our Jenga guest book, and my girls tried to bustle me. Jeannie came out, took one look at everyone kneeling and searching for tiny hoops and tiny buttons, pinched my cheeks, and went back inside. Our friend Kasey finally ended up taking charge and finishing the job.
We were announced to the crowd, everyone clapped. Our first dance was to “It Don’t Have to Change” by John Legend – there were a lot of songs that seemed more appropriate to our personal relationship, but they were all very slow, and more poetic, and less understandable for the crowd at large. So this song, about love and family and togetherness, over time, through troubles, and love remaining the same – that seemed like a good wedding reception first dance. We swayed alone, singing to each other, at first, and then we had everyone join us, I saw Dawn and Barb together, Emi and Travis and the babies, Will and Jess. All the girls dancing together. Lauren danced with Brad and MY HEART, I was swaying and singing to Shaun, and then I looked over at her – and we sang It don’t have to change! to each other. I’ve always said Lauren and Shaun are the two halves of my heart, so to be swaying in my new husband’s arms with my best friend in the arms of her future husband next to us – that was a beautiful moment.
The reception was in full swing. We ate, briefly, Rick-Rick’s delicious BBQ, and I managed not to spill BBQ sauce OR wine on my gown. We walked around and said hello and thank you to everyone. Jack wanted cake SO BADLY. Shaun’s mom – an incredible artist of a baker – did our cake, and it was fantastic. She and Nick did such an incredible cake. I had never been a woman who set stake in how good a wedding was based on a cake – but after I saw Mom Weeks’ masterpiece, I thought, well damn. My wedding has the best cake! Shaun’s mom said Jack even came up to her and asked, Shaun’s mom? Jack have cake now? After she told me that, I couldn’t deny my boy any longer, so we cut it and gave him the first piece after ours. Literally, Shaun and I did the formal pictures, I had a bite or two, and immediately handed the rest of my piece to Jack. The cakes – because we had tons, the formal layered cake as well as sheet cakes to serve everyone – were delicious and creamy and moist, and we had a ton to take home and give away.
We kept the music going, and there was some chill but fun dancing. There was an impromptu, inexplicable kickline to Come On, Irene – when a good 2/3 of the wedding guests and wedding party are dancers, the inevitable will happen. But the aunts and uncles joined in, some parents, of course Dawn and Barb – and we had a huge kickline that sped up faster and faster.
Will and Jessica had worked to put up a slide show of pictures of us outside, with a sheet covering the tractor shed. We were all drinking beer and wine, and mingling. At some point, we faked our grand exit with the sparklers. Poor Susan was sick with a terrible cold, and had been such a trouper all day, so I wanted her to go home and rest. But it was probably a good idea to go ahead and get it over with – at that point, everyone was getting tipsy, and as I said to Shaun after, man, if you give tipsy people fireworks, they are all into that! After my girls passed out the sparklers, everyone lit them up and lined the sidewalk. Shaun and I held hands and ran down the parade of people, and then back up again, and then — the sparklers were still going! So we ran down and back up and down and back, everyone was laughing and drawing designs in the air.
Everyone wanted to party more, which was fine by us – I mean, the reception already was already so FUN, everyone was talking, both sides of the family and all the friends. I was so glad – weddings can be odd, with a whole bunch of new acquaintances trying to interact, or not at all – but all of our people were so relaxed, just enjoying themselves – exactly as a wedding should be. I was already content, but after the sparklers? IT GOT SO MUCH BETTER.
A few bridesmaids kept asking me to turn off the lights in the reception hall, and at first, I was hesitant, thinking people might find that odd. But just like any dance party, lights on make everyone feel like they’re being watched. As soon as I flicked a light off, this scream went up, YESSSSSSS!!!!
WE GOT DOWN. EVERYONE. EVERYONE DANCED THEIR ASSES OFF. If you’re sitting there, reading this, thinking, Well, I couldn’t have danced – YOU’RE WRONG. My MOM danced. My mom’s best friends danced, Shaun’s aunt and uncle danced, all of the family members BOOGIED. Our caterer/good friend GIANT Rick-Rick danced. Shaun’s brother and friends WHO NEVER DANCE danced. SHAUN DANCED A LOT. In the center with me, and we were surrounded by Lauren, Brad, Ali, Erin and Lane, Jeannie, Jody, Emi and Jess and Travis and the babies as long as they could stand it until they had to go home for bed – I rocked Norah until she fell asleep in my arms, Jack collapsed on Shaun’s chest and just watched everything for a while – and DAWN AND BARB ROCKED IT OUT.
The dance party went on and on and one and on. We had made a playlist which was a good start, but DJ Brad took over and played so many good nineties songs, so many high school favourites, so many party songs. We did this MASSIVE train with me at the lead, and everyone joined in except for 3-4 people taking pictures – bless them, because I love those pictures so much. So I had close to 40 people following me, Emi behind me holding my train during the train (hahaha). I wound them through the tables and chairs, around and around. One of my favourite moments of the night was when I decided to take the train outside, and I was coming towards Shaun’s mom and dad, clapping and laughing and just smiling as they watched us. I tried to yell, I’m coming at y’all! I’m coming out the door! I’m coming your way! But they couldn’t hear me over the sound of the music, and didn’t realize what was happening until all forty of us we nearly on top of them, and then they just laughed and opened the door for me. We took the ENTIRE TRAIN out the door, under the trellis, across the porch and back in.
I can’t even remember all of the small but fantastic moments that made it such a good time. J.Gat brought me bridal Minnie Mouse ears and I wore them for the second half of the party. My dance company girls and I also did an impromptu performance of my choreography piece Zombie Prom, which, while unorthodox for a wedding reception, was a big hit. At one point, I ran up to Shaun and unexpectedly jumped on him, just full of glee, even knowing I shouldn’t. Between me and the beer, he saved the beer instead of his new wife, and just dropped me on the porch. (We laughed and laughed.) There were several keg stands, because we are classy KY folks. Will showed off and did a one handed keg stand, the jerk – but the best one was by Jess. She owed me one, after she made me do one at the adult after-party for her baby shower. (She didn’t drink — the rest of us did.) I had never, ever done one before – because I knew I would be terrible at it – and of course, I embarrassed myself, hit my head, spilled my beer. So she knew she had to do me a keg stand at our wedding.
Finally, we had to break down the set-up, just because we had to get out of the winery by 11. So people did a freak fast cleaning, just enough to take care of trash and food as the winery told us the rest could wait until morning. (The plus side of having a wedding at a small-town vineyard where half of the attendees know the owners.) While they cleaned, Emi helped me get changed. I was sad to take off my dress, it was so beautiful and I felt beautiful in it, and I didn’t want the moment to be over – but at the same time, I’d been wearing all that undergear and zipped into my fitted dress for so long, it was a relief for her to unzip me and help me peel everything off so I could slip into leggings and a giant tunic. I told Emi, I can see how you’re a good doula, she was right there holding and lifting and handing me things in the exact second I needed them.
We still managed to sneak in a few more magical moments before we abandoned the winery for the After Party. Most people had left already, all of the family, a lot of the guests, and even those who were going to party with us some more had already headed out to the farm for the After Party. But our dear Dawn and Barb stayed so late, they closed the house down, and besides them, it was just brother Nick, Mike, Brad, Lauren, Shaun and me. Lauren and I told Dawn and Barb about singing before they arrived, and they gifted Shaun and me with one of my absolute favourite wedding gifts, and one of my favourite wedding memories – they sang a little song in harmony together, about how, despite the storms in life, we will always be partners. They gazed at each other as they sang, and you could tell how much they loved each other. I managed to video it, and put it up on Facebook, so even if I can’t find the file now, I can always rewatch that beautiful moment where all of us listened and watched, spellbound.
Of course, after that, Lauren and I asked if we could all sing the National Anthem again and we did. Everyone knew the tune, and I did the alto part, and I think Dawn took the tenor, and as weird as it might sound, singing the National Anthem in an empty winery at 11 o’clock at night – it was magical. I closed my eyes and just sang and sang, all the harmony.
We left finally and headed towards the After Party. Ali’s family farm is a place we’ve held friends get togethers for years, and we already had so many good memories before this night. But now I will always love it more, now, because of this night. The farm house is so quirky and eccentric, yet classy and beautiful, all these little touches that make it unique and full of personality.
The farm is only about fifteen minutes from the winery, and I drove Shaun, Nick and Mike out in my poor PT Cruiser overladen with presents and any decorations we could cram in.
Shaun and I walked in to applause. MY FRIENDS ARE MAGICAL. Everyone passed out champagne and the friends toasted to us, we toasted back to them in thanks, and then we all toasted to Joey, rest in peace, and then to Becky’s grandparents who got married on the same day, 56 years ago. There were plenty of snacks and drinks, half the group was already tipsy or drunk, but in the most amiable, warm-hearted way. Ray was so sleepy drunk, he’d just lean his head on Ryanne’s shoulder as Ryanne talked. It felt like everyone finally had a chance to talk – there had been such a hustle all day, before the ceremony, and then after, we had been dancing and drinking and running around wild – and now, after, everyone was pleasantly tired, and just content to talk to each other, perching here and there on chairs or couches, in small groups, catching up with one person, and then moving on to another.
Of course, a few of our favourite Summer Crew jokes made it in – ever since Jeannie’s high school graduation in 2008, Ali had brought this cardboard cut-out of Legolas to any friends gathering. It started as a one-time joke, but it was so funny, we had to keep doing it. Legolas showed up for birthday parties and bachelorette parties and Christmas dinners – and by 2013, he showed up dressed to match the occasion – this time wearing a veil and a lace dress. And of course – someone brought fake mustaches, so we all stood around, conversing very seriously about our jobs at Ford or Microsoft or Disney, but covered in big furry mustaches.
I was fading fast – I’d been up since six AM, and under a lot of strain all week. And at that point, I was gloriously, deliriously happy. I finally found a spot on a chaise lounge, and just kind of nodded and smiled at everyone. I’d drift off for a second, then wake up and try and pick up the conversation. I didn’t want the night to end – I felt so loved, I felt so surrounded by joy and appreciation and my dearest, dearest friends, my sweet husband, and I felt like a kid on Christmas – I didn’t want to go to sleep, I didn’t want to miss anything.
But by 3 AM, the third or fourth time I fell asleep, holding Shaun’s hand, he woke me up and gently told me it was time for bed. We hugged everyone at least fourteen more times, and headed upstairs. Sweet Ali saved us the best room and put rose petals on the bed and candles, with a lace doily heart reading Mr. and Mrs. Suhrheinrich-Weeks. The whole scene was so beautiful and so romantic – but we were so dead tired. We took a bath in the giant, giant bathtub and came back to the bedroom, kissed for a little while. And then – we both yawned, and yawned, and looked at each other. Blew out the candles, and snuggled into bed, man and wife.
The night had ended, but this was just the beginning of our lives together.