I had a feeling. It was a going to be a good night. I got a little choked up as I leaned against the railing overlooking the ocean, waiting for Violet’s arrival. I thought about the journey that had brought us to that moment, finally (We’re only three sentences in and I can already tell this post is going to run long and there’s going to be some horrible cheesiness. You’ve been warned.).
Shayna shouted my name a few times, unable to get my attention.
“Didn’t you hear me?” she asked.
“You said not to turn around until Violet was here. I didn’t want to look early.”
I was only following orders. She gave me a flower thing that I pinned to my jacket and I turned back around again. The view was amazing. The sky had cleared up from the day before, the sun was out, and there was a cool breeze as the waves crashed against the rocks below. I heard shuffling behind me and knew Violet was walking down the path towards me. I don’t even remember who told me to turn around, but when I did, my nerves for the rest of the day were gone.
Violet looked amazing. I threw on a rented tux and some cool black Chucks. None of that helped much anyway. But Violet was a different story. Her look would ensure every picture we took that day with her in it would be beautiful. After the brief pause as we both saw each other for the first time we approached each other and relaxed for the first time in weeks. For a brief moment I became self-conscious of all the people staring and the constant sound of the camera shutter. It didn’t matter. The hardest part was over. Everything was ready, we were together, and it was time to have fun.
We flew through our pictures. For the most part, everyone in both families arrived when we asked, so we were able to get all of our family photos done in no time. We took a few goofy ones (are there any other type?) of just us and some fun ones with the wedding party too. Then there was a lot of waiting. It was great that everyone showed up for the pictures, but it also meant that half the wedding audience was waiting around for the ceremony to start.
Fortunately, there were some pre-game bottles of wine that a select group (the wedding party) had access to. This was especially important considering the food still hadn’t arrived and the rest of the wine was stuck in traffic on the 405. The minister was ready to go though, and we signed all our paperwork while waiting around. Our witnesses signed and we were officially married before the ceremony even started. We were tempted to start the party then, but we waited. The wine arrived in plenty of time, with minutes to spare, and then everyone was lining up into positions.
Things always run so smoothly in a rehearsal. They feel chaotic on the day of, but then you realize that nobody in the audience was at the rehearsal, so they have no idea what the final product was supposed to look like anyway. Two of the ring bearers decided they’d walk up the wrong path and nobody noticed until they were hanging out by themselves in the opposite direction. Laleanne’s face was priceless when she turned around expecting them to be there and saw them walking away: jaw dropped, eyes wide, running to grab them. It all worked out though. They found their way in the right direction, Gravy found the right song before Violet made it all the way down the aisle, and we found ourselves at the altar, with all our closest friends and family around us.
The actual ceremony went so fast. I visualized the paper copy of the words as everyone ran through it. Janiva and Eric nailed their readings, Lilia’s song was great, and then it was our turn. I knew I would get choked up, but wasn’t sure to what extent. When Violet starting sobbing as she read her vows, to the point of pausing the ceremony so she could get a tissue, I knew I was in trouble. I looked around for a place to focus, away from the tears, but all I saw was the bridesmaids crying too. The thing is, the vows sounds so simple when you read them. But when you’re in the moment, and you’re reading them, you truly feel the weight of everything you say. This isn’t someone you’re just going to live with. You’re going to have a life with them, fight with them, fight for them. My voice quivered as I said my part, and it was because of how strongly I felt about what I was saying, and my commitment to Violet.
The sentimental part finished, we kissed and got back to goofiness with a curtsy and a bow before exiting to Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”. What followed was a sequence of hugs, pictures, some more hugs, and some more pictures. The wedding party was introduced. Sam told us he was going to fall and he made it look like he tripped and completely ate it falling forward as he walked out with Janiva. It was great. Then Phil was introduced as the “Best Man” and Audrey was introduced as the “Matron of Honor”. That was funny for two reasons – one, my brother was slightly offended because I told him I hadn’t named a best man. You can even hear him on the tape saying this to Datta and Eric as it happens. Two – Audrey isn’t married. Not a big deal, but a funny moment to remember. We came out to “I Feel Loved” the Danny Tenaglia Labour of Love Mix. It’s one of the greatest remixes of a Depeche Mode song, or song in general, ever.
Then we had our first dance, to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am”. A lot of people don’t know this, but we were planning on doing a surprise dance routine a la “Rock the Reception”. We even spent a couple hours with Abe and Sonal the previous Sunday trying to learn this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYwFpiwb54Q SexyBack routine from So You Think You Can Dance. It looks a lot cooler when the Final Four from Season 2 performed it, but that video was taken down from YouTube. Needless to say, if that dancer didn’t look great doing it, there was no chance we would. We weren’t even close. With a few years of dance classes and a couple months of practice – maybe. But we only had one more day free that week. We decided to forego the dance and in retrospect I’m glad we did. With the talent show and all the other silliness it would’ve been a bit much.
Dinner was excellent and Violet and I were able to grab some drinks and walk around for a while because we ate first. It was so great to see everyone there. I only wish I had more time to catch up with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while (like Thuy Anh!). We missed the Minister by the time we walked around, but we heard he indulged in a few Phillips Screwdrivers before leaving. I disclaimered the slideshow and people seemed forgiving. Lindsay and Janiva gave very gracious speeches. Datta was the perfect combination of drunk and holding a microphone. If there’s a line people cross when someone has to go up and take the mic, Datta made sure to toe it without crossing – the entire time he was up there. Both Moms gave speeches too and the waterworks started flowing. We had the traditional father-daughter, mother-son dances and then it was time for what everyone was waiting for – the Talent Show.
There were four acts. Phil and I started it off with a Flight of the Conchords act – Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros. We forgot the words, but were able to make up our way through it. Next was “Fireside Chat with Eric Kneler”. Eric and Jerry gave a hilarious performance that included an awesome Mexican yell and Jerry in the role of Violet. Third up was “The Marenin’s Present”. That’s present as in, “tonight we present” not “they gave us a present”. It can be confusing. James had one of the greatest under the breath lines ever uttered out loud at a wedding and I nearly had my back soaked with water. Sound strange? Watch the video when I upload it. I can’t explain it. Fourth up, “We Are Family” performed by my Mom and two aunts. They had matching Chucks and costumes and actually sang into the microphones as they danced. Patsy had one of the strangest wigs I’ve ever seen, so it was no wonder she also balanced a glass of wine as she danced. Violet wrapped up the show with a rendition of “I Can Hear the Bells” from Hairspray. She was the only one of the acts with actual talent. It was a great performance and a great way to close the Talent Show.
The dance floor opened up and initially I was afraid nobody was going to dance. Violet and I were out there along with Abe and Sonal – and that was it. Then it happened: everyone slowly started dancing. Before we knew it, the dance floor was packed and everyone was into it. Sure it started as the awkward middle school circle, which, by the way, had some great individual dancers. But it eventually closed up and everyone was carefree and dancing away (even my Dad!). The lights from the photographer’s flash created a strobe effect around us. They played Depeche Mode. Then they played the Black Eyed Peas – “I Got A Feeling”. I had heard this song a couple of times, but the young ones went nuts when it started. My brother screamed, “this is my SONG!”. Lots of people say that, but judging by his excitement and performance, he really meant it. Everyone jumped up and down. It was one of those rare moments of pure joy. Lights flashing, heart pounding, surrounded by friends, family, and a new wife. Like a living slideshow it was a series of significant images wrapped into one moment that I will never forget.
The dancing had to end too soon. The energy was so high and it seemed like it was over in no time. The DJ closed strong, with “Enjoy the Silence”. Then it was time for cutting the giant cupcake and then coffee. We took even more pictures. A giant group took a Claremont Colleges picture. I hadn’t realized just how many great friends we had from school until everyone was huddled together shouting random locations from the campus as cameras flashed. A small group of us continued the party at a bar in Redondo Beach. After all the formalities of the wedding, it was great to just have a beer and relax. We finally made it back to our room around three in the morning, completely exhausted. Everyone made it an amazing experience and I couldn’t have imagined it all running more smoothly. It was perfect. It was a good night.