Monday, July 4, 2011

Honeymoon Day 25 – June 25, 2011 – Los Gatos, CA – Janet and Dan’s Wedding!

Jeff and I slept fairly late – which is reasonable, since it was our first full night’s sleep in a real bed in almost 50 hours.

We had breakfast at the house (Jeff was feeling much better!), and then went with Neera and Shreyas to downtown Los Gatos. We visited Janet at “I Do” Hair, the salon where she was having her hair and make-up done. When she had to head off for photos, the four of us walked around town a bit and got some falafel for lunch.

After getting ready, we headed to the wedding site a bit early, because the four of us were the ushers at the wedding. The wedding venue was really beautiful – it’s called Nestldown, and it’s in the middle of a huge red wood grove. The ceremony was at the bottom of a winding stone stairway, with a lake just behind the alter. There was a grassy area to the left of a big wooden building (they called it ‘the barn,’ but it was much more clean and new looking than the name suggests), and they had the cocktail reception in that outdoor space. There was another big grassy area to the right of the barn where all of the dinner tables were arranged. Each clearing was surrounded by tall, old red wood trees. It definitely had a fairytale feel.

 We handed out the programs and directed people down the road to the ceremony area, and just before things started, we grabbed seats. We were in the last row, but that turned out to be ok, because we had a great view of Janet coming down the stone staircase with her dad. It was a beautiful entrance. (Also Janet said later that it was really nice for her that we were some of the first faces that she saw – smiling and excited!)

Janet and Dan’s ceremony was really beautiful – they had some really great personal touches. The officiant talked a fair amount about Janet and Dan’s cultural heritage – Janet being Chinese and Dan Jewish, and the history that involves. They had both the families and everyone present affirm their support for the couple (which we did too, and which I really like. It made me wonder - is this standard at weddings now? Does anyone still do ‘if anyone has a reason why these two should not be wed, speak now? It seems much nicer to have everyone affirming rather than an awkward silence of no one objecting.) At one point of the ceremony, they had both sets of parents come up and each give four of ‘eight blessings.’ This was building on the traditional seven blessings (like we had at our ceremony!), except in China, eight is a lucky number. Four of the blessings were from the Jewish tradition, and recited by Dan’s parents (in Hebrew and English), and four were Chinese proverbs and recited by Janet’s parents (in Chinese and English). I thought it was really cool that the parents were so involved, the prayers themselves were really nice, and even the overall structure (doing eight rather than seven blessings) was a melding of the two cultures. Janet and Dan each recited really sweet vows, completing the sentences, “When I’m with you, you make me…” “I knew I loved you when…” They were memorable vows – I think Dan said that Janet made him accomplish more and dream bigger and get more done, and that he knew he loved Janet when she went to Boston for the second time, and he knew his life wouldn’t be complete without her. Janet said that she knew she loved Dan when wherever she was, she didn’t feel at home unless he was there too. And of course, they broke a glass at the end, and everyone yelled ‘Mazeltov!’

After the ceremony, Neera and Shreyas, who are getting married in a month, were discussing their ceremony. They are having a traditional Indian ceremony, but after seeing Janet and Dan’s wedding, they’re trying to think of ways to make it more personal and tailored to them. Neera was telling Janet about their re-thinking at the cocktail reception, and Janet said that she and Dan had the same reaction after Jeff’s and my ceremony a month ago, and they had ended up making a bunch of changes! I thought that was so cute – the benefit of having three best friends with weddings all in a row!

The cocktail reception was in a nice open, grassy area to the left of the barn. There was an open bar and space to mill around and chat. There was also a miniature train that people could ride on, and a miniature “fantasy house” that you could visit. They had a guest book table set up with polaroids so you could snap a picture, put it in their book, and write next to it. There was plenty of time to explore the grounds, chat with friends (and Janet!), and enjoy a couple drinks.

At some point, people started making their way over to the tables for dinner. The weather was perfect for dinner outside – temperatures in the 70’s and light shade from the trees. Janet gave butterfly wine stoppers as table gifts – they were very cute and went with the butterfly theme of the day.  The food was good – Jeff and I both had steak with au gratin potatoes, which were great. Jeff and I sat by Craig and Patrick, Neera and Shreyas, Stephanie and Aaron, and John Gardner.

Also, Janet had her first costume change of the evening, and was now in a beautiful red dress, rather than the white dress she’d worn for the wedding.

There were five speeches during dinner. Dan’s mom and dad both gave speeches, and told a bunch of short stories about Dan growing up. My favorite one was from when he was about nine. He’d been sick with an undiagnosed illness for about nine months, and he told his mom he had a question. She was sure he was going to ask her when he would get better, and was trying to think of what she could possibly say. But then he asked, “Mom… do you think four kilobytes will be enough for me?”

Janet’s dad told a really cute story about Janet when she was four years old. Janet had been born in Shanghai, and then her Dad had moved to Florida to go to school. He had been away for four years when he was able to send for his family to join him. When he met them in San Francisco, four-year-old Janet was very wary of him. She wasn’t sure he was really her dad, even though that’s what the adults were saying, and he did look like the guy in the pictures. He tried everything to get her to warm up and chat with him on the plane. In the connecting airport, he said he got an idea. At that time, it was still very difficult to get icecream in China, so he asked Janet if she wanted an icecream. He bought her one, and after that it was all smiles – he said she must have figured, if this guy can get me icecream, he must be my dad! (It was very sweet when he told the story – Janet was tearing up, though she noted later that the moral of the story is maybe not the best…)

Dan’s brother, who was the best man, gave a speech that was mostly made up of stories about how smart Dan is – like how he skipped a grade, and how he took the AP Probability and Statistics exam and only got a four – because he’d never actually taken the class.

Janet’s cousin, Dorothy, gave the most tear-jerking speech – it was very sweet and really heartfelt. She talked about how she had come to the U.S. in high school and moved in with Janet’s family. Janet was really supportive of her, and always there to talk to her when she was having trouble. Janet made her really believe that she could do things she never thought possible – take harder classes, apply to better schools – and it had a huge impact on her life.

Janet and Dan also performed a Chinese tea ceremony during the dinner. They bowed to each set of parents and to each other, and then poured tea for each set of parents. And the parents gave a gift to the couple. It was a cool tradition, and fun to see. It’s nice, in general, how involved the parents were.

After dinner, we changed locations (inside the barn for dancing and cake), and Janet changed dresses (now blue instead of red). There was dancing – including the Hora. The outdoor spaces were still open, so you could grab a drink and a piece of cake (which her little sister made!) or a chocolate covered strawberry, and chat outside. Lots of people were dancing, and the reception was really fun.

Things ended at about 9:30pm, which is a bit early, but also meant that almost everyone – friends and family – could stay to the end, which was really nice. Also, since Janet and Dan had rented the huge house nearby (the Wedding Mountain Headquarters), they could invite everybody over for a big afterparty.

 Neera, Shreyas, Jeff, and I helped to pack things up and load them into the car, so we were some of the last to arrive. But when we did get there, things were going strong. The house has a large upstairs with a beautiful wrap-around with a great view, a fire pit, and a downstairs with a pool table, and ping pong. We had an awesome night back at the house, where Janet and Dan could stay up late with everyone, since they had their own suite just upstairs.

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