DISCLAIMER: This one really was going to be "from the road", but the iBook and I have yet to reach a good understanding about how free wireless access should properly work.
Anyways, the short version is the wedding went great, and we all had a good time, in spite of plumbing problems and the usual last-minute wedding craziness. The long version is after the jump, to save front-page blog real estate. I'll be posting some picture to the web later, and I may make another post here with a couple of highlight pics.
This went really well, even though we had to briefly borrow one of Christy's cousins as a stand-in bridesmaid until Cyndi got there just in time for the last walkthrough. We also had some issues with our four-year-old Flower Girl Lorraine, on account of her shyness and too many new faces, but, fortunately, she already knew Kim, the Maid of Honor, and a little hand-holding seemed to help. Also, even though the big event would be happening under the local minister at a Presbyterian church with some historical ties to Christy's family, John's aunt Teresa, a Methodist minister, would also be giving part of the service. From the rehearsal, I could tell that his aunt's presence made my friend a lot more comfortable, and that definitely helped during the actual ceremony.
Post-Rehearsal Fondue Party
Because of the sheer number of folks invovled, the decision had been made to have a big ol' fondue party in the church's fellowship hall instead of a traditional small-gathering rehearsal dinner. The event was put together by Christy's great aunt Diane ("D" to everybody), who is just as adept at hosting as her sister (and Christy's grandma) Cleo. I spent much of Thursday afternoon helping prepare chicken and pork for this event, partly because I didn't have much else to do while Christy and John met with the preacher and partly because they discovered I'm pretty good with a knife, so I got to visit with everyone over cutting boards in Cleo's kitchen. The actual party went off really well, and there was lots of good little bits to be tasted; the fondue was fun, but I think the baked potato bar they had set up was the best part for me, because I was quite hungry.
After the fondue shindig, us guys retired to our half of the duplex beachhouse to enjoy a night of male rabble-rousing, which included all three of us groomsmen, Christy's dad Steve, and the Kim's friend Adam, who had driven down with her from the U. of Richmond. There was beer, pizza, chicken wings, sodas, chips, salsa, queso, guacamole, and cake to go along with the sharing of amusing and embarrassing stories from John's past, including the always appropriate "Tale of the Flaming Taco Shells". We finished the night with a screening of "Wedding Crashers" that ended just before 2 AM, and a good time was had by all. John presented us with standard issue cuff links as gifts, as well as another gift that had been selected with each man's individual tastes in mind. I now have a set of very nice poker chips with my name engraved on the case.
For me, however, the night did not end there, as one of our toilets revealed it's clogged nature by overflowing a bit after I used it in the process fo getting ready for bed. After I frantically cleaned up as best I could with the materials at hand and hustled John off to bed at 3 AM, it was time for me to hit the streets in my rental car to see what might be open. I ended flagging down a Surf City policeman, explaining my situation to him, and asking him for suggestions; after that, I decided to return to the beachhouse and declare the bathroom off-limits until I got back from Lowe's with proper cleaning supplies and a decent plunger after they opened in a few hours. I was finally asleep at 4 AM, only to be up two hours later to get to the Lowe's when they opened. With a little advice via phone from my dad and a call to Susan (Christy's mom and signer of all rental agreements) to get the plumbers there later that day, I had everything was clean and disinfected by 9 AM.
Done with cleaning, I joined John for some breakfast of bachelor party leftovers and fresh fruit before hitting the beach with him for some quality male-bonding time. He had also drawn a big "I LOVE YOU" in the sand in front of the girl's beachhouse, which we were told Christy had seen before the women-folk departed to spend their morning at hair appointments. John and I had a good talk, and I got some good pictures of him re-writing his message in the sand to spite the advancing tide. Since the guys had to be at the church for pictures by noon, it was soon time for us to get ready. Since I was the only guy among the groomsmen who had done the tux thing before, after suiting up myself I helped John get his tux straight and I coached Fernando's wife Alex in helping him get respectable-looking. We made it to the church right on time, and Morgan, Fernando, and I spent the next couple of hours keeping John on task, on the better side of sane, and somewhat distracted to keep him from getting too nervous. Christy's aunt Jane brought us guys water and snacks to keep the blood sugar at reasonable levels, since we wouldn't be getting lunch until after 3 PM at the reception. Since I was running on nothing more than a mixture of caffeine and willpower at this point, snacks were much appreciated.
The ceremony began just a few minutes after appointed time of 2 PM, and was about 95% perfect, so I think we did pretty darned well. Having both me and his aunt Teresa up there with him helped John a lot; I'm pretty sure he was more emotional than Christy throughout the whole thing. The girls all looked great; Christy had gone with relatively simple dresses in an array of solid jewel-tone colors, and each girl had picked the one (blue, dark green, light green, or purple) that best complemented her complexion and hair color. Us guys looked almost-respectable, since our tuxes more or less fit, and I had made sure we all had our bowties on fairly straight. Of course, the show was almost stolen by Tristan, our seven-year-old Ring Bearer and Lorraine, the Flower Girl I mentioned before. In the end, John and Christy both managed to hold together through all the vows, and most of us made a graceful exit, including myself and Kim, the Maid of Honor, who had little Lorraine in tow.
Held at Porters Neck Country Club, a very upscale place that either was once or has been faithfully designed to resemble an antebellum plantation. They had decided to go with heavy hor d'oeuvre style food fare and no assigned seating, so it was much easier to move about and work the crowd. There were lots of pictures done by the professional photgrapher (he was really good) with the wedding party on the big staircase out back, and the very delicious cakes had been made by Christy's cousin Marshall, a professional chef. The bouquet toss went to Marshall's fiancee, and Christy's aim was appropriate, since those two have set a date for September. The music was provided by Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun a Berklee-trained eclectic folksy duo from the Charlottesville, VA, area who are friends with some of Christy's family. I bought a copy of their debut CD, Etopia, on account of liking their performance so much. They were a very good choice: not only is theirs the kind of music John and Christy really dig, but also they served the role of "background entertainment" quite well at a relatively low-key, dance-floor-free affair. You should have heard their folksy-arranged, fox-trot tempo version of the jazz standard "All of Me". Truly inspired.
The party mostly dispersed after Christy and John left the reception, and I gathered up John and Morgan's tuxes before Fernando, his wife Alex, and I returned to the beach house to change before joining Christy's family at her grandparents' house for Carolina-style barbecue, ice cream, and relaxation. Fernando, Alex, and I were all fatigued enough that we retired to the beach house after 10 PM on Saturday to visit for a brief while before I had to hit the hay, on account of my early flight. After taking some pictures of the sunrise over the Atlantic yesterday morning, I packed up and retrieved Rachel, one of the bridesmaids, from the girls' house so I could drop her off at her folks' hotel room on my way to the airport. Made my flights back with no trouble and with time enough to eat some dinner before watching the spectacular film "Russian Ark" at the HOP last night.
All things considered, it was a great experience, with lots of great memories, and I've got about 300 MB of pictures (~150 photos) from my own camera, plus whatever I can get from the other groomsmen and bridesmaids, to archive the event. I managed not to make an ass out of myself, nor embarrass (in a bad way; the bachelor party's goal was to embarrass the heck out of the man of the hour) the couple or their families. I made some new friends, and reconnected with some old ones, including one of the bridesmaids who is now in grad school at UW-Madison, where I'll be sure to look her up next time I make a visit to our collaborators there.