Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another Fall Morning

I was grateful to have gotten about five hours of sleep. The room was rather comfortable for being a Super 8. I woke up and decided to take a walk around the north side of Hanover, PA. Unlike the previous few days which had been hot and humid, September 23, 1995 was cloudy and cool. I got back and found my friend John awake. We met up with a couple other guys and had breakfast at Shoney's.

It seemed so surreal. As I went back to the hotel and climbed into my tux, I wasn't completely sure this day had arrived. After all, everything I'd been doing for the last several months had been leading to this day. And here it was.

I met Ed and we climbed in my car. We'd been best friends since childhood, and he'd gotten married the previous year. John rode over with Ed's wife. In driving to the church, I actually made a wrong turn and started heading westbound out of Hanover. But I quickly realized my error and turned around.

It was when I saw the church that I got nervous. It's.Really.Gonna.Happen. We headed into the sacristy and met with my uncle, a Catholic deacon who would officiate the ceremony within the Mass. I got over my last bundle of nerves.

It was time. We walked out to the top of the aisle. And there she was, standing with her dad, behind all her bridesmaids. She was more beautiful than ever. On the videotape, I'm clearly heard to say "Oh, my. . . she's gorgeous."

I was almost in a trance as she walked up to me. She had her glasses on because she said she wanted to see me there. I made her dad give me a hug; he's not really into that sort of thing.

During the Mass, we either stood or knelt. Fortunately, no one put "HELP ME" or anything like that on my shoes. Sandy's aunt cried as she read our first reading. Our good friend Vince read the second. Then the Gospel, preceded by the worst version of the "Celtic Alleluia" anyone has ever heard; I was miked up and my voice trembled more than the San Andreas Fault. Nik, our ringbearer, couldn't sit still either. Either my brother or John were ready to clock him.

Then the homily, given by my uncle. His most memorable words: "Sandy, we're praying for you." Followed by, "I've contacted Rome for dispensation to have you declared a living saint." Everyone laughed.

As we exchanged the vows, you can clearly see my mother-in-law's shoulders relax. No, Mom, I wasn't going to bail out. Neither of us messed up the vows. And we said them so that people could hear us. Ed's got the rings. Very good.

Then we did something completely different: we read a "prayer of the couple" that we had found written in a workbook for the ceremony. It said just what we wanted it to. To Sandy's surprise, we weren't invited to kiss yet. I whispered, "Not yet, give it time."

The only time I cried was when Sandy made her devotion to the Blessed Mother after the Eucharist, and Art (our cantor and, ironically, her former prom date) sang "Ave Maria."

We finally got to kiss. Only then did I really get to see who all had come, nearly 200 people. Wow. I high-fived some of them on the way out.

Pictures, lots of pictures. I was relieved and excited. Then the limo ride to the reception. Ed nearly crashed my car heading out of the parking lot.

We entered the hall to the tune of the Liberty Bell March, also known as the theme to "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Ed gave a nice toast. We got lobster for dinner. :-9

I excused myself briefly to go to the restroom. When I came back, I stood for a minute at the back of the hall. That's not some other couple up there this time, I thought. That's my fiancee wife and me. Wow.

Our first dance was to "The Meeting", a song by Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe. We had two different expressions saying the same thing. She had a grin from ear to ear. I was looking deep into her eyes, my expression more serious.

The reception was a blast. We did the traditional dances with our 'rents to the tune of "Love Can Build A Bridge." There was the Chicken Dance, the Magic Circle, and a dance we started at a prior reception: to the tune of "I Can't Dance", we walked like the Genesis members do in the video, and everyone followed along. While we were out of the room for more pictures, the DJ sneaked in "YMCA," which we didn't want played.

We celebrated the anniversary of our friends Thom and Doreen, making them dance to the Anniversary Waltz. He threatened me with bodily harm. We also gave Sandy's matron of honor and her husband the first dance song that they never got at their reception, which was in the same room. (Sadly, he would leave her and her kids seven years later, and he hasn't been seen since.) Finally, we didn't embarrass the couple catching the garter and bouquet (much); we had them do a dance together. Each got married within a couple years.

We went upstairs to change into our casual clothes. It was the first time I'd ever seen my fiancee wife au naturel, or she me. Almost didn't want to come back down! Our final dance was "Keeper of the Stars" by Tracy Byrd.

Mercifully, my friends had spared my Plymouth Acclaim from decoration. Maybe they felt sorry for it. But they took one of the disposable cameras for a tour of the shopping center where the hall was located. In this photo, they must not have had enough to eat at the reception.

Tired but still excited, we headed to Willow Valley for the next couple nights. Then we flew to Key Largo, and returned in time for the Mass with Pope John Paul II at Camden Yards.

All this is just a long way of saying: Happy 11th anniversary, love. And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

*smooch* *repeat*


Silvergirl said...

What a lovely tribute! Love seeing the pics.

Congratulations on 11 years and best wishes for many more together.

DearAbby said...

Here's to 11 more years, and 11 more after that, and 11 more, and on and on! Your DW should consider herself lucky.