Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wedding Weekend - Saturday, May 28

Saturday morning after we woke up and started getting ready, Jeff and I mostly focused on getting the wedding party gifts all together and wrapped. While we were doing this, Jeff’s whole family arrived to help clean and set-up for the BBQ, which was really nice.

This is also when I realized one of the planning hiccups. Jeff and I had ordered a bunch of things from earlier in the week – not only gifts for the wedding party, but things for the wedding – like rolling garment racks for getting the dresses to and from City Hall. They were supposed to arrive on Friday and they hadn’t. I checked the tracking info in the morning and saw that they actually all had been delivered on Friday – to our apartment in DC. Ugh. So some things we just printed pictures to give people in the meantime, some gifts we re-thought, and some items we asked people to pick up at the store.

When we finished wrapping gifts, Jeff went upstairs to help set-up, and Katie put together my outfit and make-up. She lent me a really cute dress to wear. Then I helped with the last bit of set-up and started chatting with the family that had already arrived. The vans, which brought over about 30 people from the Hotel Minneapolis, showed up around 11:45pm or so, and from then on things were pretty busy. My dad and Grandpa Ray manned the grill for most (maybe all) of the BBQ. People wandered upstairs and downstairs and spent a lot of time out in the back yard laying in the grass and near the pool.

More than 80 people had RSVPed to the BBQ, and it really seemed like they all made it out – and I know at least a couple people who didn’t think they would make it were there too. It was sooo fun to see the all of the extended family members from both families, as well as our friends from Minnesota, Boston, DC, and Baltimore, and everywhere else all meeting and talking to each other. People were getting along so well, and everyone was so friendly – every time I started to make an introduction, I’d learn that the people had already been chatting earlier!

I really couldn’t have been happier with the way the BBQ went – the weather was beautiful, the house was beautiful, there was plenty of food, and people seemed to have a really great time. And I got to chat with people and see lots of friends and family that were in town to celebrate.

We did a bit of clean-up after the BBQ, but mostly we just changed, packed our bags (not coming back home ‘til we’re married!), loaded up the car, and headed out to the Hotel Minneapolis to check in. Then we went straight to City Hall for the rehearsal. We were there at about 4:40pm, so we’d have time to set up the tulle on the chairs. The one hiccup was that the security guard hadn’t been told that there was going to be a wedding rehearsal, and he wasn’t particularly happy about having 50 random people wandering around inside after the building was closed.

Luckily he let us in anyway, and we were able to get the tulle set-up and to run through the rehearsal. Emily and Brian and Dan had the music stuff all set-up when I got there, which was awesome. Gwin arrived, and we arranged everyone on the stairs in the order they would be standing (something I hadn’t totally thought through before), and then we ran through the processional.

The musicians practiced the music so we could get the timing right, and even though it was just the rehearsal, when they started playing the bridal processional and my dad started walking me down the stairs, I started crying – it suddenly felt very real. Apparently I raced down the stairs – I wasn’t thinking about speed at all, so I’m not surprised.

Gwin ran though the various aspects of the wedding program, so we’d be prepared. It took a while, because there were things we needed to discuss and plan – like who would have the wine glass, and how it should be laid down, and things like that. Then we practiced the recessional.

After that we did one more practice of the processional and recessional to make sure we had them right – only teared up a bit this time, and managed to walk slower. My dad suggested we take two steps on each stair – i.e. step down, step together, step down, step together, etc. – which forced me not to go to fast. We figured out where to meet for the reception line and how and when to have the parents stand up and leave.

After that, I told people they could start heading Heartland for the rehearsal dinner. The musicians wanted to do some more practicing, so they stayed even longer than I did.

I rode over to Heartland with Jeff and a bunch of our Baltimore friends in the van. Most people were there, so after just a bit more waiting, we put in our orders and started dinner. The musicans got their later, but before anything had been served. When everyone was there, we handed out the personalized wine glasses we’d gotten. They say “Mariel & Jeff May 29, 2011.” We thought the people at the wedding party would be the ones who might actually like that kind of keepsake. People did seem to enjoy them!

The food was really, really good! It’s farm to table Midwestern cuisine, with a set-menu meat or vegetarian option. Jeff and I shared both, so I know everything was good (or at least I thought so!).

After everyone had gotten their main course, Jeff and I gave out gifts. We wanted to have something tangible for people, but we also wanted them to have a gift that they actually wanted, so we got each person a $50 gift certificate to a store or restaurant we thought they’d really like/ use, and a small gift to go with it – we tried to make that something personal or related to our friendship. It seemed like people really liked them. Jeff and I wanted to spend some time thinking of stories to tell about each person, but we didn’t get time to do as much planning as we wanted, so we had to wing it with the basic outlines we’d put together.

After dinner, we all headed back to the Hotel Minneapolis. I hung out in my suite with my female bridesmaids for just a little while before going to sleep. Katie stayed over, but everyone else headed out before midnight.

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