I talked about the wedding at length here (old blog), including all the drama, so for this party, I'm just going to talk about good times.
Just a formality, mostly so the kids could understand what to do and my dad could practice walking me down the aisle. Afterwards, we all went out to a Chinese buffet, where we passed out the bridal party gifts. I gave my women Miss A knives and "Smart Women Thirst for Knowledge" glasses, and John found out what video game his best man wanted and got that for him later (we think it was Doom 3).
It was decided that nephew J would escort me down the stairs and deliver me to his papa. He wasn't quite three yet, and walking alone in front of me was not something he was interested in. He took his responsibility seriously, and held my hand very tightly as we walked down the stairs. When we reached the bottom, I took my dad's arm, and J bolted for the front of the chapel, where his dad was waiting with a tube of mini M&Ms.
I can't remember now if he carried the bear during that part, but he had it for the rest of the ceremony. The bear was my mom's, and I just tied a chartreuse-y bow around its neck. At one point, there were some fake rings, but I don't think they lasted through the rehearsal.
Speaking of my mom - Instead of a unity candle, we had a memorial candle. The program explained that it was there for my mom and John's grandfather, who couldn't be with us.
Niece K was actually in a good mood the entire time. This picture just caught her in a blink. I knit her shawl and made the wreath out of silk flowers (she was very into dress-up at the time, and I wanted it to last).
She sprinkled silk rose petals down the aisle ahead of us, then carefully gathered them when the wedding was over. (She didn't have to do this -- she just wanted the petals.)
I left the dress up to her and her mom, and they found a cute white dress for a great price, which then served as K's Easter dress.
The Bridal Party
From left to right: Andrea, Jen and Heather were my best women. At the far right, next to John, was his best man, Tim.
Funny story about the dresses: I was all about being this offbeat, independent bride and had never wanted the traditional bridesmaid dresses. In fact, I really wasn't that worried about them matching at all; as long as they had on some shade of green. But they wanted to match. Andrea found this cute dress in a catalog and they all liked it. It wasn't expensive (< $30), washable, and didn't look remotely like a bridesmaid dress, so they could wear them again.
We wore matching tennies (white leather Ked-style) and socks from the same set (same colors, different patterns). One of the girls - I think it was Andrea - made matching headbands for the three of them.
I made all our bouquets the morning of. During all the reception prep (it was all DIY) the day before, I bought several bundles of flowers at either Costco or Sam's Club (we went to both) and arranged them on Saturday morning, following guidelines I'd downloaded in advance. I tried to find each girl's favorite flower, (it's not like the colors would clash) -- I managed to find the daisies and tiny sunflowers, but missed out on another (irises?), and wrapped them with polka-dot ribbon. I love them (we all did), and don't regret not spending a lot more for "official" flowers. My MIL didn't want a corsage, and none of the guys wanted boutonnières. After the wedding, I broke off a small lily and stuck it in my dad's lapel.
Down the aisle
As mentioned, my nephew escorted me to my dad, who was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Dad, who had one artificial leg, had practiced for weeks with a physical therapist so he could walk with just one cane. His therapist would pretend to be me, and he'd practice walking the approximate distance with her.
We made it to the end with no problems. I helped him sit down, then walked the rest of the way alone. He had no interest (thank goodness) in giving me away, and I put my foot down (with the chapel people) about the men having a handshake over the trade.
All Dad wanted, he'd said for years, was to walk me down the aisle before he died. He passed away a few weeks before our second anniversary.
Monet's gift to us was the music for the ceremony (she also got us some way cool margarita glasses, but we didn't know it until later). It was perfect.
We had to write the ceremony (PDF) because the chapel had nothing for us to preview, and there were some things I needed to make sure were included/excluded (small changes to the traditional service*). I'm thrilled with how the written ceremony turned out, and our families' participation (my goddaughter, my brother and John's sister each read something).
Interestingly enough, I wasn't nervous at all. John was the right man for me, and that was all there was to it. I got to marry my soul mate and have a party with friends and family. It was great!
About my dress & stuff
I wasn't all that concerned about having an actual wedding dress; in fact, I'm not a huge fan of white clothes in general. We went to several places, and finally ended up at my last resort for the day (long story). We'd had a little incident at David's Bridal, when Andrea asked the salesperson what brides with fat arms did (all the dresses were sleeveless). "Wear a veil," she said, and we turned around and left.
At this store (music alert), the associate understood immediately that I wouldn't bare my upper arms and she didn't think I should have to. She assured me that something could be done. Then she took me to a secret rack, where there was a dress - in my size - for $99 (it was an abandoned layaway), that fit perfectly; it was just too long. Some $80 later, my dress was the right length and had adorable, fluttering Italian ruffle sleeves. (My dream dress is a rust or deep jewel color, featuring a corset (& sleeves) and full skirt. Maybe for a vow renewal?)
Under the dress, I wore a pair of super-comfortable "kilt shorts." A friend had made them for me ages before, using swimsuit material and the pattern from the shop she worked at. I do not recommend hiking up your full skirt to show off even the most fabulous undergarments; note how it has bunched around my mid-section?
I love these rings! John designed them -- my only request was that we use my mom's diamond and that the stone not stand up above the setting. They have an acorn motif: mine has a tiny gold acorn and John's has 2 acorns cut out of the band. Mine did double duty as both an engagement and wedding band.
Jewelry: I wore my mom's pearls and her "wedding earrings," which she loaned to every bride she knew. They are matched pearls, with one at the post and another dangling , and dad got them for mom when my brother was born. (No big gifts when I was born -- they were poor.) My MIL surprised me with a charm bracelet featuring a baby picture of John. (There are almost no pictures in existence of him as a baby or young boy.)
Accessories: I ordered my freshwater pearl & peridot-color swarovski crystal headband-tiara-thingy from ebay, but the seller is no longer active. My veil (never covering my face) was from Michael's, with a coupon. I wore my glasses, because I wanted to see everything.
At the reception, we cut the cake with my dagger. I did the printed paper items (escort cards, table numbers, etc.), and SIL T decorated and made favors (envelopes of 'nip from our kitties and acorn-embellished candles (what those little boxes were for)). The food was purchased the day before and stored in refrigerators in a nearby home and the reception site. We had pizza, appetizers, veggies, hummus, cheese & desserts. There were activity bags at each kids' place. The orange cake on the left was a birthday cake for one of my cousins, who was turning 13 the next day.
*Tiny plug (for which I get zero compensation (I had to buy my own copy)): My advice (given on a bridal site) was included in the book Offbeat Bride. It's simple: if you are planning any deviations from the traditional - whatever that means in your area/family/religion - and are worried about how people are going to take it, don't tell them in advance. All you're accomplishing if you do is giving them plenty of time to get worked up into a frenzy, but if you play it cool, they probably won't notice until it's too late - if they notice. No one even realized that our ceremony didn't actually include a prayer. Instead, my brother read a poem entitled "Wedding Prayer" (see ceremony PDF link). No one noticed that I didn't say "obey," didn't throw the bouquet (or have the guests throw rice/birdseed), but if I had announced it in advance, people might have tried to insist.** If you are planning an offbeat kind of wedding, or are looking for ideas for one, I highly recommend the book.
**I was at a wedding where the bride had let it slip that they weren't having people throw rice; instead they were having guests blow bubbles. (This was over 12 years ago, before everyone was doing it.) Anyway, one of the female relatives freaked out and brought her own bag of rice, then pelted the bride with it, hard. Charming, right? She was so worried about what people would think about the lack of rice that she didn't consider how silly she would look with a big plastic bag of it, hurling handfuls of it at the lovely bride.