Friday, July 1, 2011

Wedding Recap - The Ceremony

Sit back, grab a cold one, this is going to be looooooong.

Before I get into the ceremony I need to mention how phenomenal Mississippi Studios was as a venue.  They were so nice to work with and the space was perfect for our ceremony.  It was warm and inviting, the florist did a beautiful job with the candles and lemons on the stage, and the Christmas lights we bought were hung perfectly around the balcony.  Because it was a music venue it seemed that the sound quality was good and that everyone could easily hear the ceremony without resorting to microphones and because we were on stage everyone could also easily see the ceremony.  The hot stage lights were a little tough on the guys in their tuxes but we loved that space and felt so grateful that they do weddings there.  People also seemed to enjoy being able to imbibe during the ceremony.

Words won't begin to say how truly special this day was for us.  I know there are a million emotions and little things that I could say about the whole ceremony but this is way long as it is.  I might not convey it properly here but it was a day that overflowed with love and joy.   Here are my thoughts and run down of the ceremony.

So it is time to begin.  The best man has the sound guy lower the music and then Michelle, my dear friend from junior high, gets up to start the ring warming.  The ring warming was one of the first components of the ceremony we settled on last summer.  Having all your family and friends hold our rings and put their good vibes, ju-ju or blessing on these two pieces of metal was an important symbolic gesture for us.  We looked at some of the more traditional ones: unity candle, sand ceremony, wine ceremony but those didn't feel right for us.
So Michelle says a few words about what people need to do with the rings and then the specially chosen, very moving, very appropriate to the occasion ring warming song is supposed to start as the rings begin being passed through the guests.  But it doesn't.  In fact, it doesn't for over a minute causing me to almost have a Bridezilla moment (and Kevin, a Groomszilla moment).  Remember folks, the stress level is high and this is yet another thing that hasn't gone according to plan in a very short period of time.  The day is falling apart (or so it feels). The best man finally gets the sound guy to get his head out of his ass and the music finally starts:  The Finn Brothers "Won't Give In." The song delay is one of those mistakes that sticks with us and will forever annoy us about the wedding. 
Besides infusing the rings with good ju-ju we also thought that a ring warming would allow those in attendance who are of a religious persuasion a chance to feel involved in the ceremony by getting a chance to say a prayer while holding the rings.  Since we are atheists and would be having no God or prayers or religious mentions in the ceremony it allowed them to feel a part of the ceremony without having to compromise our beliefs.  It also reflected how much every single person we invited meant to us and how much we valued their love and friendship.

While the rings were passed they apparently fell to the floor twice (I just found that out last week).  The ribbon that I had carefully tied them with came undone.  No harm, no foul though.  Michelle was watching them like a hawk to make sure they got back up to the front of the room in time for the ring part of the ceremony.  When I look at my ring now I am not only reminded of my love for Kevin and his love for me but of the love of everyone in that room.  As the Finn Brothers sing:  "everyone I love is here."  Our rings are infinitely more special and priceless to us because of the ring warming. I am so glad we incorporated it into our wedding.

After the ring warming song we decided to have a little fun and play some snippets of "rejected processional songs".   We took the beginning to "Let's Go Crazy", "White Wedding", "White Trash Wedding", "The Wedding March" and a few others along with a quote from the wedding scene of Princess Bride and put radio tuning noise in between.   The effect was supposed to be a little lighthearted "we are trying to find our perfect processional song and these just won't do and just aren't right" but it pretty much ended up just confusing people I guess.  We enjoyed it and we had fun putting it together so it was still worth it. 

The rejected processional song montage ended with our real processional song:  "The Story" by Brandi Carlile. 

I knew I wanted this song somewhere in the wedding and we considered it for a first dance for about two seconds. We quickly realized it was totally undanceable and we also didn't want to do the junior high school swaying thing. The processional was the perfect place for it.  It is beautiful, powerful, real, emotional and not a cheesy love song.  We both can't listen to it now without getting the nervous butterfly feeling we had before the ceremony and without tearing up or crying. 

The processional started after Kevin had to shoo the wedding party into starting because my bridesdude didn't remember the cue to start.  The officiant and the wedding party walked up the aisle got on stage and we waited out of sight next to the bar.  I have never been so nervous in my life.  Heart pounding, stomach churning, crazy kind of nervous.  Not about getting married but about being up in front of all those people, saying things I don't usually say in front of people, worrying I'll melt into a puddle of tears, worried how the rest of the day will go and just feeling the stress from months of planning and all the hard work and it has come down to what you are always told is the biggest moment of your life. My nervousness was never about Kevin or marriage but rather everything I just mentioned.  It is a little terrifying.  Luckily we had each other.

We walked in right when Brandi gets all screamy and headed down the aisle.  Even when my father was alive I never intended on being "given away".  I feel like this is a commitment both of us are making and that we should walk down the aisle together since we are going on this adventure together.  That philosophy worked well because I can't imagine all those people staring at just me.  Ugh!  It was comforting to have his hand to hold on to.   

We got on stage, turned to the officiant and the ceremony began.  I kept hoping no one would notice that my legs were shaking.  Our officiant, Myrna, was wonderful.  Just looking at her helped calm me down.  We had worked with her a month earlier to craft a ceremony that was right for us.  We removed words (no "holy" allowed), kept a "sacred" here or there since it isn't a religious word to us, played with some other words and tweaked it to get the right feel.  She could not have been more delightful to work with and to have perform the wedding.  She did, however, get lost in the stage lights and didn't see that everyone was still standing for 10 MINUTES into the ceremony.  It really loosened the mood up in the room when she figured it out and embarassedly told everyone it was OK to sit.  Both of us were much calmer by that point. It was also at that point that it started to get fun, we started to get into the spirit of the day and we both began to enjoy ourselves.  I think I have said before that it wasn't the happiest day of my life but it sure as hell was the happiest seven and a half hours. 

We had our good friend Kathy do a reading for us of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"  by Dr. Seuss.  It was difficult to choose from all our friends and family but it came down to:  who would want to get up on stage and read in front of people and who would know how to read Seuss the best.  Not just anyone can capture the word magic of Dr. Seuss. We knew Kath would be the perfect person for the job and she nailed it.  She read it perfectly and we are grateful she did us the honor of reading at our wedding.  We had toyed with a few other readings but having someone read a love poem written in the first person seemed awkward so we kept it lighthearted and in the spirit of adventure that we feel marriage is. 

Our officiant then told our stories and what we had told her we loved about each other.  She got the majority of the details correct and we weren't going to correct her on the ones she got wrong until she mentioned that I had just completed a marathon before we got engaged.  No way I was going to let that one stand so I had to correct her on stage that is was only a half-marathon.  I won't even wear a race shirt from my half-marathons that says "marathon finisher" on it until I run my 26.2 I couldn't let something as important as a wedding ceremony be a lie.

Then it came time for our vows.  We knew we wanted to write our own but were both very nervous about doing so.  The traditional vows just seem like saying the Pledge of Allegiance or something.  They are so rote that all the meaning has been sucked out of them.  Compressing all you love about someone into a very brief few sentences and then saying these personal, private things in front of a bunch of people (on a stage no less!) we knew would be challenging.  No, not just challenging......terrifying.  We wrote our vows separately and then kind of tweaked them into a format that kind of mirrored each other.  We felt they were more cohesive this way.  We began with a declaration of love, said a bunch of things we loved about the other person, used the same line "Today I stand with you for the rest of my life", did our vows, and ended on a declaration of love.  Kevin chose to use the word "vow" and I chose the word "promise" because those words felt stronger and had more meaning to each of us. 

When I first got engaged I thought our vows should be more lighthearted.  Something along the lines of "I love you even though you believe in the single-gunman theory" and "thank you for loving me even though I am frequently more flatulent than an aged labrador retriever."  But as we progressed through the planning I realized it was a serious occasion and while levity could be in the ceremony the words we said to each other should be serious. 

We were also worried that saying them ahead of time might suck all the meaning out of the wedding moment but it didn't.  Actually, holding each others hands and saying them in private a few days before the wedding was just as powerful of a moment.  Also, it was self-preservation.  We both were worried about getting through our vows without sobbing.  Practice did help that.  In fact, on the day of the wedding we read our vows to each other while Kevin, .....having his morning constitutional.  I even cried then.  Myrna had also told us that many couples worry about crying during their vows but they always seem to get through them with emotion but no major sobbing when the time comes.  I didn't quite believe her but it turned out to be true for us.

Actually saying the vows was surprisingly easy.  We looked at each other and forgot that everyone else was there.  It was just the two of us speaking from the heart.  I started to choke up one time and then swore what was meant to be a soft "dammit" under my breath but apparently was perfectly audible to everyone.  I really wanted to get through the vows without crying.  Dammit!  I got myself back on track and then got choked up again at the same part I do everytime.  My volume was good but I know my voice was cracking with emotion as I finished them and then placed Kevin's ring on his finger.

Kevin did better about not crying during his vows to me although he definitely choked up during his as well.  He was much softer spoken but no less strong in his delivery.  He placed my ring on my finger and our vows were sealed.  We have kept a copy of our vows and read them to each other on our one week anniversary while we were in Bora Bora (I know, sorry for the nausea) and again on our one month and will read them to each other on the 14th of every month until our one year anniversary.  Then we will eat year-old cake.  We will pull them out every anniversary to remind ourselves of our commitment and of this day. 

Myrna then said a few wonderful words sending us out on this adventure and we kissed and couldn't stop smiling.  We left the stage to "That's Amore" by one of our favorite artists, Dean Martin.  We had the bartender waiting for us at the end of the aisle with a PBR tall-boy in hand for me and an IPA for Kevin and we went upstairs for the document signing.  Actually the document is just for show because we had signed the original license when we got it at the courthouse a month earlier. We snapped a few pictures, wrote a few hurried checks that we almost forgot and then hightailed it back for the party.  We were hitched!

Our guests seemed to really enjoy themselves and we got loads of comments from people about what a sincerely moving, beautiful ceremony it was.  Apparently we had people who don't usually choke up actually tear up and choke up a little.  We even had a few do that during the ring warming!  Yay!  At least we succeeded in creating a ceremony that was authentic for us, that felt a little different, and was filled with emotions that people could actually feel. 

All right folks, it's time to get on the school buses (they sent two this time) and go back to get our drinking, eating and dancing on!

P.S.  This was written in fits and starts over a week and a half so I apologize if there is a horrendous lack of continuity or is repetitive.  It was too momentous for me to tackle in one sitting.


Kath said...

One of my favorite parts of the whole ceremony was the rejected processionals with radio static... I totally got it and LOVED it. ;)

Judy said...

Totally agree with what Kath said! "Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today." :0)