Our Wedding

Authored By Brian

Caution: I’m sitting in a house in Maui. Jennifer and I are on a week-long vacation with the Sariches and today is our one-year anniversary. A year ago I sat down after our wedding and recorded all of the details that made our wedding wonderful. Even by Brian standards, this is an incredibly long post, and likely one only we and our close family will appreciate. Our first year together has had ups and downs but re-reading our vows this morning recalls the same feelings we felt a year ago and that is all I want on my anniversary. Thanks again to everyone who was a part of our big day – we love you all.

April 25, 2009

Today I type on my computer and although I don’t look at the keyboard when I type, I can’t help but notice the shiny ring on my left hand as my hands move across the keys. Yesterday was our wedding and after six years of dating, Jennifer Barrett became “Mrs. Ghidinelli”. That is going to take some time getting used to!

People always say that the wedding day is a blur so Jennifer and I took great care to pause and savor the moments so that we would have strong memories of what will likely be the biggest party we ever throw in our own honor.

The run up to the wedding itself was mostly stress free. We had over a year to plan since I proposed last January and we had mostly everything locked down before we took the Wednesday and Thursday off from work this week. Between Deana from Caridywn and Brooke from Nestldown, we were practically hand held through the entire experience and given expert feedback on all the things we knew nothing about. Jennifer’s brother Haven and his family stayed with us fresh from Colorado on Wednesday night and Thursday we had our rehearsal and dinner.

Our main worry in the week before had been weather and the chance of rain (or the surprise heat wave of earlier that week) but on Thursday it was sunny and 70F, a pretty much archetypal California spring day. What makes Nestldown so beautiful are the tall Redwood trees and forested surroundings and the afternoon light angling through the branches into the ceremony grove was a preview of how wonderful our day was going to be. Most weddings at Nestldown usually look towards the pond and away from the trees. This lets the bride walk down the staircase through the trees for an incredible photo opportunity and grand entrance. We wanted to do it a little differently and have the ceremony at the forested end of the grove with the pond behind the crowd so that we would be smack dab in the trees with a backdrop of hundred-foot Redwoods and a hillside covered in ferns and other small growth. We weren’t giving up the grand entrance though – we decided we would spare the twisting and turning that is required when a bride walks up the aisle by having the entire bridal party come down the stairs, facing the crowd in plain sight. This looked great in the rehearsal and we wrapped things up and left for our casual rehearsal dinner at Willow Street Pizza in Campbell.

Jason commented during the rehearsal how calm we looked and people kept asking if I was nervous about the big day. In my mind, the hard part was over a year ago: making the decision to commit to Jennifer for the rest of my life and propose. Everything since then has been about execution: planning, budgeting and compromising. We were both excited to finish the planning and get on with the party!

Jennifer and I had decided long ago to write our own vows to reflect our personal feelings and emotions. I had been running a little harried at work trying to wrap up things before the wedding preparations really got into full swing but with family in town, even those two days of “relaxing” didn’t afford me much time to finish the outline that I had started. I stayed my final night of bachelordom at my best man’s house along with another groomsmen where we watched an episode of South Park (guys will be guys after all) before I retired to my room to finish my vows. What followed was pretty much a rewrite of everything between the first and last paragraphs I had composed and when I read them out loud and to my guys in the morning, everyone felt they were spot on.

At the guys house, we started with breakfast at a diner nearby and then came back to get partially ready before our photographer Tanja Lippert was going to come by to shoot some prep photos as part of our day. In addition they brought along Jennifer’s wedding gift for me to open. Now, let me say that for the last 12 months I have been saying that I wanted exactly one thing: the most bad-ass virtual racing simulator to prepare for an eventual world championship. And for the last 12 months, Jennifer has been telling me there is no way in hell I was going to get that, after all, “Where would we put it in our tiny apartment???” she asked (note, this never seems to stop her from cramming yet another pair of shoes into her chock-full shoe box but I digress…) Tanja pulled me aside into a private room for me to open my present. I pulled it out of the bag and it was a book, what looked like a photo album. I was totally dumbfounded, as I had no idea what it was. I opened the cover and the inside was a pretty felt pattern. My only guess was that it was some kind of album from our around-the-world trip but I thought that was kind of a strange wedding gift. Then I opened it to the second page… and I started to tear up and cry.

One of the shoots that Tanja offers is a boudoir session for wives to give to their husbands. I had suggested, nay, requested, no, more like begged for one of these but Jennifer had adamantly refused. In fact the topic had come up just a couple of days prior and I was pretty irked that she would not even consider it! But here it was, sitting in my hands, an album of gorgeous photos from the love of my life intended only for my eyes and one that had been planned months ago. It’s one thing to know someone will do anything for you because they love you and it’s another when you see it done. With the proof in front of me and tears running down my cheeks, I knew the rest of the day was going to be a battle to keep it together.

The next couple of hours were routine pre-wedding countdown – finish getting ready, make sure we have everything and my brother and I drove to Nestldown for our pre-ceremony family pictures. When we arrived we went to the barn to wait. The gardeners were putting in a few last blooming flowers while the caterer was unloading. Everything was swept clean and it was incredibly sunny. There really aren’t many places like Nestldown anywhere, let alone 20 minutes from the urban bay area, and it had come together perfectly.

Jennifer and I have approached this from day one as a party so we decided early on that we would see each other before the ceremony and take the family pictures so we could get to the cocktail hour and socialize. Tanja brought Jennifer from our apartment where stylist-extraordinaire Tia Reagan was doing hair and makeup for the girls as well as our mothers. She arranged for us to have a few private moments for a first encounter. We walked towards each other from opposite ends of the grounds and seeing her for the first time was a shock. Jennifer had originally wanted a lacy dress with shoulders but she was walking towards me with her hair up and curly in an incredible strapless mermaid-style silk organza gown (details provided by Jennifer – to me it looked like it was “twisted” and it fit her like a glove!) The short length of her hair instantly reminded me of our RTW trip but this dress was unlike anything that we wore while traveling around the globe! It was a bit surreal to see her in a wedding dress… she was beaming and walking towards me in short steps to avoid tripping on her dress. Her bouquet was a beautiful mix of orange and yellow that looked like it belonged at Nestldown. I managed to mumble something about her looking incredible but I’m sure my facial expression said what I was thinking. I started to tell Jennifer how amazing her gift was but she was already tearing up and then I started getting choked up and it was a mess! She had asked me to cry for her for our wedding and she was getting exactly what she asked for – see – I was already an obedient husband before we were married! :)

We got ourselves under control and then Tanja started our photos. Here Jennifer is in this long dress and high heels and we are following Tanja through high, wet grass and into a tree orchard! There are bugs and rocks on her dress and I’ve got sticker weeds on my suit legs but we politely follow Tanja to wherever the best photo opp is. It isn’t until Jennifer was confronted with a mud puddle that she demanded an alternate path. I think we were good troopers! Also in tow were Luke Goodman and his partner Jessica who were filming our event in Super 8mm. This is one of many ways that we were so lucky with our wedding – Luke was putting together a demo reel and he made us a very generous offer to shoot our wedding. It was like being a celebrity with four people taking spot meter readings, reloading cameras and directing us. I can see why famous people tire of the paparazzi but us normal folk were having a blast!

Slowly our families started arriving in time for photos so we transitioned to family photos. We opted for a less formal set of photos so we were positioned at various places around the pond and gardens to create different shots. We made a mistake with our list of desired photos because we ran through some photos where it was either Jennifer or I with our respective families but we wound up with only a few shots where both Jennifer AND I were in the family pictures together! Managing 25 or 30 people and 4 kids for photos was a bit stressful (the phrase, “herding cats” comes to mind) and I think this helped remind us to slow down and more deliberately savor the day.

Our families left to be seated and Jenny Bugna and Quiana Bailey were running a few minutes late in arriving from their hair and makeup. About five minutes after 3 we were all assembled and Brooke gathered us at the top of the hill with Father Josh to prepare for us to walk. Father Josh and I shared our interests in Italy when we first met and he began to talk to me in Italian. I reminded him that I could basically only say, “eo non capisco” (I don’t speak Italian) but that didn’t stop him from finishing his thoughts in Italian! I’m sure he said something nice, whatever it was. :)

So there we were, standing at the top of the hill, sun is beaming down, we’re standing amongst giant Redwood trees and it’s down to Brooke, Father Josh, my future wife and I and our six groomsmen and bridesmaids. I had my nerves under control at this point and I was excited about our grand entrance. Brooke led us down a few steps, called our DJ Alan Waltz on her cell phone to tell him to start the music and we began! Father Josh walked first with me following and my guys behind. We had to remind ourselves to look up as we descended so that every picture wasn’t of the top of our heads! When I reached the sixth step from the bottom, my Mom came to meet me from a side path and I escorted her to her seat and gave her a big hug. It was too many steps for her to come in from the top so we started close to the bottom. My mom and her parents sat in the front row and my dad and his parents were sitting in the second row. Jennifer’s family was seated opposite in the first two rows.

I took my position next to Father Josh and we all turned our backs to the crowd and looked up the stairs to watch the bridesmaids walk down slowly. First Quiana, then Hillary and then Jenny. We all walked in to “Claire de Lune” which is the song that plays at the end of Ocean’s Eleven in front of the Bellagio. It was a perfect match for the ambiance of Nestldown. Then the music faded out and a Vitamin Quartet cover of “You look beautiful tonight” began playing. Jennifer and her dad began slowly walking down the stairs and it looked absolutely perfect. I had some butterflies in my stomach, thinking about our meeting earlier, and her gift, and everything that this moment meant. I had to catch myself and think about something technical every few moments, like what the videographer was doing, to keep myself from breaking down before we even got started.

Bob escorted Jennifer to me, shook my hand and gave Jennifer a big hug. He then put our hands together and took his seat and Father Josh began the ceremony. To be honest, I read the ceremony a few times in advance of the wedding but I didn’t hear everything he said. I was taking my time to look at the guests, see the bridesmaids and especially stare at Jennifer. I really looked at her in a way that I haven’t for a long time. It seemed like something that would be uncomfortable, to just stare at each other, but I was really taking her in – like the “dots” she has in her left eye around the cornea – the little details that make her unique. The sun was bright but filtered through the trees highlighting little insects flying overhead.

We wanted our ceremony to be personal and reflect our beliefs and tastes. One of the core parts was Father Josh belonging to the White Robed Monks. They are “less stuffy Catholics” who will perform outdoors weddings and prioritize spirituality over tradition. Our ceremony was a mix of religious components like blessings and saying the Our Father with non-religious parts like Quiana reading a Maya Angelou poem for our first reading and our close friends Kevin and Natalie Baillie giving us some advice that they wrote for us on our wedding for our second reading. Quiana’s poem was meaningful for Jennifer because she feels it’s a perfect description for her, coming from loneliness to love:

Touched By an Angel – Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into light

Love arrives
and in its train comes ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain
yet if we are bold
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls

We are weaned from our timidity
in the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
and suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be
yet it is love
which sets us free

Kevin and Natalie spoke next, giving us advice that they wrote. It had me choked up because of how well they know us and their advice to seek adventure in life is representative not only of how we try to live but also why the four of us are friends:

K: Hi everyone! I’m Kevin.

N: And I’m Natalie. Brian and Jennifer, we’re here to celebrate your marriage and be at your side as you enter the world as newlyweds.

K: Over the years that we’ve been friends, we feel like you’ve given us a lot. Now we’d like to return the favor and let you in on a philosophy that we think has helped us to grow closer and closer as husband and wife every day.

N: See, Kevin has this favorite quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that ended up on the soundtrack for Romeo and Juliet. The song is called Everybody’s Free…and the line is this:

K: “Do one thing everyday that scares you”.

N: Oddly enough, he used this line on me during our first date and I kissed him on the spot.

K: People laugh every time they hear that story because I think they associate being scared with something negative. But to us “do one thing everyday that scares you” means never be afraid to push your limits, take risks and even fall flat on your faces! We never know where the future will take us but we challenge ourselves to make the most out of what each day puts in front of us.

N: One day we jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. Another we found ourselves holding hands 60 feet under the ocean surface. We’ve even splurged months worth of savings on a 9 course meal at one of the worlds best restaurants. Conquering these adventures and fears together has helped us grow together along the same path and we’ve ended up closer than we thought we ever could.

K: That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with just the 2 of you sitting at home cuddled up in front of the TV eating your favorite comfort food and sipping wine. Those are moments of pure comfort. As nice as those moments are, however, they come with fair warning. Too much of anything is a bad thing… if we were to spend each day just being comfortable, where would we end up? The moments of comfort are rest stops along the way, they aren’t the destination. We believe that the destination of every moment should be the growth and gratitude of life. Take huge amounts of satisfaction in the fact that you’ve pushed the limits of each day, lived your lives to their fullest and been there to support the person you love most in this world to achieve all they can.

N: …and sometimes more than they ever thought they could!

N: Jennifer and Brian, we know you’re the perfect people to use this same mantra in your lives together as husband and wife. You’re certainly no strangers to adventure – you two crazy people left the comfort of your home and family and traveled the world for months together before getting married!

K: “Do one thing every day that scares you” – after almost 10 years together, we can give that advice our official stamp of approval.

K: We hope it serves you as well as it has served us!

It was important to us that we didn’t have some standard reading that puts us to sleep (”Love is patient, love is kind, love is a bunch of other stuff, Amen!”) Especially for Kevin and Natalie who had to write their own reading, it was a big request, but they all hit a home run and were setting the bar high.

Next we said a version of the traditional vows, although in White Robed Monk fashion, there was nothing about the woman obeying the man which I appreciated (it is 2009 after all). My legs started shaking a little bit ahead of our responses and then it came time for us to recite our own vows. I asked if Jennifer wanted to go first and when she didn’t leap I took the lead. Later she said that since I spoke first in the traditional vows she thought I should go first in the personal vows – all I knew is if I didn’t go first I was going to be a crying train wreck so I started:

Jennifer, I love you because… of your sense of adventure. Together we have been great places, eaten great food and met great people. We know from hiking the Inca trail in Peru that not every adventure ends successfully but our lives are better for having attempted them together. It is your open-mindedness and willingness to try new things that has led to some of our greatest experiences and favorite stories. I know we’ve got many more stories to create.

I love you because… you encourage me to dream. When I’m having my quarterly crisis about what I’m doing or where I’m going, you convince me to have faith. You know when I need a kiss and when I need a kick in the butt and how to balance the two to keep me motivated. Best of all, you do it without me realizing it which is perhaps your greatest strength of all.

I love you because… of your thoughtfulness and compassion. You never forget a birthday card or a gift for a newborn. You campaign for causes you believe in with passion and you volunteer to help those less fortunate. You lead by example and you inspire me to do more in the world around me.

I love you because… you are patient. You’ve waited for me to be more than friends. You’ve waited for me to come back from Europe. You’ve waited for me to say I loved you and we all know how long you waited for me to propose! They like to say, “Good things come to those who wait”, but without your patience, we would not be here today and I would have missed out on the highlight of my life.

Because I love you Jennifer, I promise to always take care of your heart. I promise to give you the benefit of the doubt. I promise, though I may struggle, to listen more than I talk. Most importantly, I promise to be your teammate every day, good or bad, happy or sad, fighting together to not just survive these holy bonds of matrimony but to make them spectacular, from this day forward as your husband.

I could hear myself speaking more quickly as I neared the end to try and head off the emotions I was feeling. Then Jennifer began with her vows, her voice trembling and her eyes already filled with tears:

I love you because you’re always giving me little kisses. And you hold your arms out and squeeze your hands together over and over and over until I come to you.

I love you because when I’m with you, I am my best, true self. I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations of who they think I am, good or bad. You take me as I am and love me for me.

I love you because you make sure I get up for the gym in the morning even as I complain that I’m definitely not going this time. You set the alarm to give me a few extra minutes to “sleep in” and you fill up my water bottle before we head out the door.

I love you because your dreams for me are bigger than my own dreams for myself. You don’t doubt for a second that if I dream it, together we can both make it happen. You’ve already shown me you can make my dreams come true.

I love you because you’re determined to have the best life possible. You don’t settle for mediocrity and you don’t do things just because everyone else is doing them. I admire your tenacity and your determination to plow your own course.

I love you because you’re thoughtful and kind and gentle. And when you believe in something, you believe in it strongly.

I love you because you believe in us strongly.

Because I love you, I promise to always be by your side. At the race track, at a bus stop half a world away, at the dinner table planning the next great phase of our lives. I promise to put my heart and soul into this relationship and make it the best it can possibly be. I promise to remember these vows and never stop loving you, never stop holding your hand, never stop kissing you before we go to bed. You have my deepest respect, my enduring friendship and my true love.

When she said that I let her be her best self, I could barely see through my own blurry eyes. I’m sure the pictures are going to look like I’m having an allergic reaction because my lips were quivering and my face felt distorted as I was listening to her finish. We heard later that there was a lot of crying – even the photographers were tearing up! I heard more feedback about our vows than anything else and that means a lot to both of us. It was awkward to not come together for a kiss at the end of our vows to comfort each other in the way we have for the past six years.

Father Josh continued with the ceremony with our final blessing, a short blessing in Italian and then the final-final blessing (an error of sorts in the headings on the ceremony we put together in that there were two “final” blessings). He concluded the ceremony with the following:

As the mountains kiss the heavens wide
And the moonbeams kiss the tide
What are all these kisses worth
If thou dost not kiss thy bride?

I stepped up to Jennifer and dipped her back for a nice long kiss which we had practiced in our apartment a couple of times in street clothes. I was worried with all of the dress that I might trip up and drop her but it went perfectly to much applause. We stood up, faced the crowd and Alan started up a modified version of U2’s “Beautiful Day” which skipped the intro and began immediately with “It’s a beautiful day!…” and we strutted out. While I had spent some time really looking out into the audience while we were getting married, I saw for the first time friends like Brett Andrews and Jack Grimes who were seated further towards the back and everyone was smiling and clapping and cheering us on down the aisle.

We walked a few yards beyond the edge of the ceremony area over a small bridge where we took a moment to revel in what had just happened and the emotions that had flowed out. We were hugging and kissing and still a few tears were falling and I think Jennifer was overwhelmed by my outpouring (as was I). She had been waiting years to see me cry and here I was giving her everything she wanted but probably more than she bargained for! Jason later said that he would never get that image out of his mind of us kissing each other.

Brooke walked us around the pond over to a persimmon orchard where a table was set up with some appetizers and a bottle of champagne for us to take a couple of moments to breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy each other. Tanja and Tia came along to take some more photos with the afternoon light filtering through the fruit trees. Being the first to spend any time with us post-ceremony, Tanja and Tia congratulated us with a sip of champagne and scouted out photo locations. I always thought that models were whiny bitches complaining about how hard their jobs are but after following Tanja through the weeds, leaning against dirty trees full of ants and trying to follow her direction, it is hard! It’s hard! Oh models! You were right! Luckily, we were only part time models, so we will likely recover from our escapade. :)

Our appetizer and “moment” went on a bit longer than planned because of the photos and when we returned to the bridge to take our bridal party photos, our cocktail hour was fading away. We wrapped up a few photos of the group together, just the guys, just the girls and then we parted ways for the 1960s Austin taxi to take Jennifer and I up. Brooke or someone suggested that we enter the party on the toy train which we thought would be a lot of fun so we rode up in the taxi and transferred onto the train to enter as Mr. and Mrs. Ghidinelli for the first time. Most of our guests were outside with drink in hand cheering as Gary Mullins rang the bell announcing our arrival and the train blew its horn. It brought us to a stop in the back of the barn and I helped Jennifer get out of the train to receive some of our first congratulations from friends and family. Brooke immediately offered to get us a drink – she really was such an important part of making our day easy and fun.

Unfortunately the cocktail hour was about at an end – thank God we didn’t try to take all of our photos after the wedding or we would have never made it to the reception – so just a few minutes later the guests were ushered inside and we lined up to be introduced. While we were waiting, Jason was standing on the edge of Jennifer’s dress and she reached out with a glass of red wine in her hand to nudge him off but, yikes!, she spilled on her dress! You could have heard a pin drop in that split second as we were all looking down at the dark red liquid draining into her train. Now this could have gone two ways – Jennifer could have freaked out and gone BrideZilla or she could have gone with it and moved on. While she did the latter, it was Jason who started freaking out while our DJ, Alan, went inside to get a bottle of club soda to drown the wine. It was a funny moment because the least excited person involved was Jennifer and we simply looked at it as part of the party.

With the mess mostly cleaned up, we got back in line and Alan started making introductions. First went Jerry and Quiana, then Steven and Hillary, Jason and Jenny and then the newly minted Ghidinellis. I’ve never been the center of attention at such a large party and it was surreal to be in the middle of the room with 100-something people cheering for us. We walked to our sweetheart table and took a seat.

Just a moment or two later, Jason was at our table to begin our toasts as the best man. He and I have been friends for a long time and as he described, not entirely on purpose when our previous roommates decided to room with other people. We have many dissimilar tastes but also some very strong common interests that have made us “BFFs” since our Junior year of college. Jason toasted our shared strengths of dreaming and planning and said he knew that if we think of it, we can do it. That is exactly how I feel about us together and why I know we’re going to do great things in the future.

Now, you couldn’t have written this into a script but Jason had arrived at our table without a glass, so when he asked everyone to raise their glass, he picked up a glass of red wine from our table. When Jennifer stood up to give him a hug, her elbow hit the glass out from his hand and a second glass of red wine fell to the floor and broke, spilling wine on her dress again! Cries of “party foul” came from the rafters and a chorus of “ohhhhhh!” came from every table. Jason turned white as a ghost and looked like he was going to cry as he eeked out “Not again!” Jennifer and I both started laughing with a roll of the eyes as we repeated the dress cleaning episode from just ten minutes prior. You can’t make this stuff up.

Tradition says the groom gets up and thanks the best man so I took the mic for a few moments after we had the dress under control again. I learned long ago that the job of a toast at a wedding is to thank everyone for coming, thank the parents and say something nice about the bride. I had struggled with what to say about Jason – I could have gone on and on about why we’re friends and why so many people love him but in the end I kept it simple and honest. I thanked everyone for coming and our parents for their generosity and support and I thanked Bob and Nora for having treated me like family for so long. Finally I thanked Jennifer for redefining what marriage meant for me:

And thanks to Jennifer who changed my opinion of what marriage means. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I was the marrying type, for a variety of reasons. But I have come to understand what I think all married men learn, and that is that marriage is not about giving up your freedom but it’s about locking down a wonderful woman before she realizes what’s she’s getting herself into

There were a lot of laughs and I concluded and then introduced Jenny Bugna. I thought we might get a teary reprise of her and Jennifer’s long friendship but instead my secret Dawson’s Creek viewing was outed! Ouch! Jenny’s speech was pointed and delivered well and drew laughs and aaahs from the guests when she told how she and Jennifer met and a Vegas-esque reprise of a girls trip to Hawai’i.

I became an ad-hoc emmcee so I introduced Bob who spoke next. We found later that he ad-libbed his heartfelt review of their past and how proud of Jennifer’s success in life he felt. I know how important Bob is to Jennifer and it was an honest moment for the two of them.

Next I introduced my Dad who spoke briefly. He praised Jennifer, toasted the two of us and said he was impressed with what a catch I had landed. He also repeated something Jennifer’s brother Haven had said at our rehearsal dinner about family being the best thing in life and the combination of two families, to make them bigger, was so great. My dad and I used to butt heads when I was a teenager because we’re both stubborn but we have had a great relationship since I went off to college. I have learned a lot from him and I think of my dad as much a friend and mentor as I do a father.

That was the scheduled end of the toasts and Alan took back the mic and began playing music when my Mom appeared at our table and asked when she was going to speak! I fetched the mic from Alan for our surprise toast and my mom called Jennifer a gift to our family and how happy she was to see us finally tie the knot. I felt lucky to have such great friends and family wishing us well.

Now the music started and dinner was being served. Food was the first thing we decided on over a year ago after having tasted Rising Sun’s (now Caridwyn and Sons) local and sustainably grown, seasonal food up in St. Helena. This was what we had been looking most forward to from day one – great food! The salad we started with had butter lettuce with an avocado dressing and ruby grapefruit for a tart and savory mixture of flavors. We tried to enjoy a bit of each course and then socialize with a table or two until the next food was served. Early on we had opted for a family-style serving where the catering staff would bring around a plate of food, describe it and serve it to each table. The dinner was served in courses in a very Italian-style way for an unrushed meal.

The salad gave way to haute Mac and Cheese, a vegetable slaw (which was supposed to be grilled asparagus, we’re not sure what happened there), then a perfectly cooked chicken-under-a-brick followed by what is probably the best sirloin steak I will ever consume at a wedding. Jennifer and I both tasted it at the same time and our eyes rolled back into our heads as we said “mmmmmmm!” With our table on the route to the bathroom, we had frequent visitors for hugs and congratulations. We did a lot of talking with our mouths full, shame on us!

As we were socializing following our steak, Alan called us to the dance floor for our first dance. This is the one thing we didn’t practice or take lessons for and it showed – we simply high-school-prom’d it around the floor for a few minutes to “Strangers in the night” by Sinatra. There were a lot of laughs as the song started but the real story of the song is that I used to hum the first few bars of the song all the time while we were traveling in Europe together in 2004. In some strange way it became “our song” and it’s now cemented by being our first dance. The sad part is that Jennifer and her dad danced immediately after us and he totally showed me up! He was whisking her around, twirling and leading and generally having a great time with his daughter. That’ll teach me for not taking lessons! Thank god it was after we danced and not before! :) Halfway through the song, my mom and I joined them and at the end of the song the rest of the guests started to filter onto the dance area.

After that, the dance floor was opened up to the party at large. Nestldown started a fire in the fireplace which kept things nice and warm despite the cool weather and Jennifer was tearing up the dance floor for the next couple of hours.

Looking back, we are really satisfied with how we selected the things that were important to us and passed on traditions we didn’t care about. There is so much pressure to buy into everything that goes along with a wedding but I feel like we held on to the stuff that we cared about. There was no cake cutting since we had gelato, no garter or bouquet toss, no money dance or receiving line. Those things are all fine but they weren’t for us and without a cake cutting, there was never a moment where there was a kind of mass exodus of guests who use that as their measuring stick for when they can leave. When people wanted to leave, they left! And that’s the way we wanted it to be – casual but fun with our friends and family.

I spent part of my time dancing with Jennifer and part of my time trying to say hello to everyone and make sure they were having a good time. Jennifer and I “ran into each other” more than once back at our table to gobble down some of the strawberry shortcake that Rising Sun has provided with Straus Farms cream and buttermilk biscuits that we couldn’t cram enough of into our mouths. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur of socializing, dancing and eating but I recall everyone having a good time. Even Tanja and Tia were out on the dance floor having fun and mixing it up with the guests.

Alan wound things down by calling us to the dance floor for our final dance, which Jennifer had selected as the 80s song “Time of our lives”. She was belting out every verse as people circled around us. As the song finished, Alan instructed everyone to line up to form a gauntlet for us to exit. I didn’t know we were supposed to leave, we hadn’t really discussed that part so I ran over to grab my jacket, said thanks to Deana once again for a great meal and met Jennifer at the head of the line. Our guests turned our gauntlet into a tunnel and we scurried through the low overhang with camera flashes going off and people slapping us (at least me) on the ass. We ran outside and hopped into the 50s Austin taxi which ferried us to the parking lot and I helped Jennifer into my, ok, our truck for the drive back to our happily-ever-after apartment in Los Gatos.

We came home to find the babysitter still alive and in one piece with no visible bleeding. Unfortunately Haven’s son Gavin had a 102.5″F fever so we babysat the 4 kids for a half an hour until Haven and Jessica arrived and took them to their hotel. We were supposed to to meet up with our friends for an after party but instead retired to our bedroom which Jenny and Quiana had decorated with rose petals from Jason’s house and left a bottle of champagne on ice.

From our perspective the day was perfect in every way and we couldn’t have asked for a better venue, better vendors, better guests or better weather. We are sure no wedding is as great as your own, but if our guests enjoyed themselves even one fraction of what we did, then we know fond memories will follow. Thanks to everyone who made our day so wonderful!

One Response to “Our Wedding”

  1. Barbara Beck Says:

    What a beautiful description of your wedding! I am so very glad that you wrote it, and that Nestldown fit into your vision of a wonderful day when you began to plan it.
    My husband and I own Nestldown, and though it wasn’t created for weddings, we are so very glad that it is used for special days of all kinds. We wish you many, many happy days!

    Barbara Beck (p.s. I get a notice whenever a posting on Nestldown comes up so that I know what working – and we can adjust anything that is not. Thanks for the comments on Brooke; we feel really honored that she is with us to help all the way along–