My son, Jake, and his wife, Sandra, got engaged in the summer of 2011, while he was stationed in Iraq. He was scheduled to return in September, and Sandra and I happily spent the summer planning the wedding for mid-October. With three months to pull it all together, we had plenty of time to get everything we needed for a small, but beautiful ceremony at one of the sites listed in the local 2011 Tourist Guide as “Best Places to Get Married in the Gorge.”
Then Jake called and said he was coming home early. He also added that they decided to move the wedding up. It would be in 2 weeks, and there might be up to 100 guests. Oh, and they wanted to have it at our house. Would that be okay?
Oh. My. God.
Unwilling to let my boy down, I agreed and instantly launched into full-scale, mother-of-the-groom, OCD/ADHD wedding mode. My lists were in hand, and nobody was safe. My Chihuahuas scrambled for cover under the beds and weren’t coming out until the “I do’s” were done.
As I look back on that day, on their second anniversary, it occurred to me that the wedding album left out a few memories.
– The first hurdle was finding a hotel room for the newlyweds on the Big Night. Dozens of phone calls later, it appeared that every single hotel room in our little destination town had been booked for over a year. Finally, after relentless begging on my part, a desk clerk at the local historic hotel agreed to give them a broom closet on the second floor for $250 a night. She had me and she knew it. I plunked down our credit card and crossed “wedding-night room” off the list.
– Reviewing songs for the wedding playlists. First song, I started imagining the beautiful day and got a bit misty. Second song, I was getting emotional and tears were starting to roll. By the third song, I was picturing the vows and was now bawling all over my computer. Kenny was trying really hard not to laugh as he handed me a glass of wine and an econo-size box of Milk Duds. My boy was really, truly getting married. Next on the list was a bladder control pill for my tear ducts.
– Five days later, my dining room was waist-deep in 120 yards of shimmer tulle, 10 centerpieces, 80 wedding favors, 20 large silk bows, 8 spools of shimmer ribbon, 12 bags of white rose petals, 1 long white fabric runner, 7′ floral arch, iPod with song list, plates/utensils/ napkins, 8 cases of pop, 4 cases of water, and 3 bottles of wine (okay, those were mine). I tried measuring my Chihuahuas for tuxedos, but they took one look at my face and those tiny jackets, and dove back under the beds for cover. Apparently even dogs have their pride.
– Three days before the event, I woke up to a stress pimple right between my eyes, roughly the size of Brazil. Seriously??? I charged out to the kitchen to show Kenny. Without looking up from his paper, he replied, “A flaw? Before the wedding? It wouldn’t dare. Be afraid, little flaw. Be very afraid.” Best laugh I had all week.
– On Friday, houseguests and wedding party members began streaming in. By nightfall, my ex-husband was sleeping on the floor in my office, the wedding couple each took a couch in the living room, our new in-laws and their wiener dog were crashed out in the guest room, our 4-year-old grandson and both our dogs were sleeping with Kenny and me in the big bed, and God-knows-who was soundly sleeping in his car in our driveway. (I’m assuming he was with the wedding party, but by this time, I quit asking.)
– The wedding day was glorious. It was 85 degrees, and we held the ceremony outside under the giant fir trees on the lawn. The bride was stunning, and the couple looked happy and eager to start their new life together. Jake was in the process of adopting Gage, and the ceremony included the beaming 6-year-old, who at one point spontaneously hurled himself into Jake’s arms during the ceremony and said, “I love you, Daddy.” Not a dry eye in the house.
– As the evening cooled down and everyone went inside the house, it became virtually impossible to get from one end of the room to the other without trying to part the Red Sea. Kenny had a large, 4′ tall, seriously ugly vintage floor radio that I’ve always hated, and some months prior, he finally agreed to give it to Jake’s best friend, who for inexplicable reasons, thought it was “totally cool, dude.” He offered to take it home that night. Jake let out a whistle, and with admirable speed, a line of soldiers formed from the dining room to the front door, and with military precision that would make their CO proud, they picked up the heavy radio and handed it, over their heads, from one to another, all the way out the door. As the kids left, Kenny sighed, “There goes my boy. And there goes my radio.”
– By midnight, the wedding couple and all the kids were gone. The parents and grandparents, however, boogie-oogie-oogied until dawn, celebrating and polishing off the last remaining alcohol in the four coolers, the fridge, the cupboards, and finally, from the neighbor’s, who’d stopped by to say congratulations, fortuitously bringing a bottle of wine. The next day, the kids felt great, but the parents were all sitting quiiietly on the couches, wondering what the hell we were thinking. Another shining example of middle-age mob mentality gone very wrong…
And so we laughed, we cried, we danced, we ate. It was perfect. Some days, I look at the photos and remember the love and the beauty of the day. It makes me want to get married all over again. At someone else’s house.