"He lost his ring where?" One of my cousins asked as we arrived at the restaurant. After hearing horror stories from other brides that regretted not picking food they actually wanted, Matt and I decided on one of our favourites; Rodizio Grill, a Brazillian steakhouse that was all you can eat.
"In the gutter at the cemetery," I laughed.
"Did he find it?" She asked.
"Of course, but we had to dig through a couple feet of snow. It's seriously luck that he found it cause it fell somewhere we weren't even looking." The ordeal didn't last more than five minutes, but by the time we got back in the car, our fingers were frozen and Matt decided to wear his wedding ring on a different finger, at least until we got it resized.
Family began to pour into the restaurant just as we were about to walk in ourselves. I stood outside a few minutes longer to show off my sneakers to several of my cousins who'd just arrived.
"Exactly how to you expect to eat steak in that dress?" One of my aunts asked. "Can you even sit down in it?"
She had a point. The hoop skirt I wore caused my dress to poof up anytime I sat down. I'd never get it to fit under the table. So I did what any other girl would do. Or at least, any other girl with no shame would do. I backed myself into a corner, unzipped the back of my dress until I could feel the ribbon the held the hoop skirt in place, and then gave it a good tug before zipping my dress back up. The hoop skirt fell to the ground and I stepped out of it, picked it up and hung it on the coat rack.
Half of my family looked away horrified, the other half applauded my genius.
The restaurant was packed. Despite not having many members of my family with me at the temple, many had shown up for the luncheon, so the room we had reserved was overflowing and needed extra tables added.
Every so often someone would walk by and ask if we'd like some grilled vegetables. After the fourth time we said no, Matt looked up and firmly stated, "If it didn't once have a face, we don't want to eat it."
On my fourth or fifth turkey wrapped in bacon I realised that if I was ever to eat my wedding cake, I'd need to slow down on the food. So I backed off a bit, amazed that my dress was still white, and began visiting with my family, most notably my Dad who'd shown up with my step-mother and little brothers.
"I can't believe you're wearing a suit," I commented.
The only time I'd ever seen my father dress up, was for a Valentine's Day Daddy-Daughter dance he took me to when I was seven. Even then he'd worn his hair down and looked more like someone from a hair band than someone's dad. But now, at my wedding, he wore a suit and had his hair pulled back into a pony tail. Every male on my father's side of the family begins losing their hair in their early twenties, so most family photos are filled with top heavy women and men wearing baseball caps.
The fact that he didn't wear a hat, really said something.
"If you don't mind, I'm going to change before I go to the reception," he told me, clearly uncomfortable in the monkey suit.
"That's fine," I laughed. "Honestly, you looking all fancy is kinda creeping me out."
A few more rounds of steak and everyone pitched in their share of the ticket before we all headed back to the cars and to the Church where the reception was being held. I was exhausted, nearly falling asleep in the car and my curls were completely flat. Most of my makeup had been washed off by the snow, and what remained looked half done.
"Still pretty?" I asked Matt as we drove to the Church.
"Pretty as ever," he smiled back at me.
When we walked into the Church, a guest book had been placed in front of the doors on a table next to a large glass bowl that had tiny blue pieces of paper wrapped up with white ribbon. Once opened, I realised that a friend of our family, Jenny, had made them for us in place of sending out Thank You notes (which was good because we completely forgot to send any).
Once inside, I took my place as hostess and didn't sit down for more than a minute at a time. Though I did take several minutes to escape to the bathroom in order to fix my hair and makeup. I was followed by my two oldest nieces.
"Aunt Jessi, can I try your hair thing?" Sami asked and then a few seconds later Bell echoed.
For a few moments of peace, I was able to spend time with my little nieces, away from the gathering crowd. There were many hugs that needed to be given, congratulations that needed to be heard, and traditions that needed to be acted out. But right there, it was quiet and calm and reminded me of the peace I'd felt earlier in the day inside the temple.
It was an interesting feeling, having two families suddenly become one, especially considering how different the families were. Matt's family consisted of conservative Mormons, a tight knit family that consisted of a mother, a father and the kids (and of course Matt's aunt who came all the way from Michigan). While my family consisted of several parents, though not the typical mother and father pair. I had aunts and uncles, a dad and a step mother, half brothers and sisters who were actually cousins. I had cousins, cousins and more cousins, and when those cousins had all filed in I had second and third cousins. Few dressed up for the occasion, which was just how I wanted it to be. Nothing fancy, just like us.
"Time to cut the cake!" Debbie yelled. Since we hadn't hired a DJ, I asked Debbie to help conduct things to move the party along. While I loved my family, I was beyond tired from the day and was looking forward to a nice restful sleep.
Everyone gathered in front of the wedding cake that was made by a baker friend I knew from work. He promised the prettiest cake, though gave no mention to taste, which became painfully evident after the first bite. I've had issues eating fondant ever since.
"Smash it in his face!" One of my cousins yelled from the back.
I casually glanced at my mother in law who narrowed her eyes and mouthed, "Don't you dare."
It was a conversation we'd had in the past while planning the wedding. Matt's mother swore up and down that she would find someway to punish us if we started a food fight at our own wedding. Her threats made no difference. Though an extra cleaning charge for the tuxes did. Matt and I decided to play nice.
We poured some sparkling cider and handed out glasses. Matt's two best men, his brother and his best friend Joe, took turns giving toasts. My new brother in law talked about Matt and I when we were younger. How we'd met and how I became a part of their family long before anyone thought about a wedding. Joe echoed the sentiments, but also talked about how much we'd overcome. Our struggles, our hardships and how we'd beaten the odds.
Suddenly, the room turned to Tiffany, my maid of honor, who had very clearly forgotten that a maid of honor's duties, included public speaking.
"Umm . . ." She looked around the room nervously, completely unprepared. Eventually she sighed and turned to look at me, raised her glass saying, "Rock on sistah-friend!"
"Alright, all the single ladies get up here, it's time to throw the bouquet!" Debbie shouted, quickly realising that she was one of two - count them - two, single ladies. My cousin Emily being the second, stood up and narrowed her eyes at Debbie.
"You better catch it," Emily glared.
"I don't want the stupid thing, you're younger, you should get married," Debbie mumbled through clenched teeth.
"I don't want to get married!" Emily said, eyes wide.
"If either of you let my bouquet fall, you're dead to me," I added before turning around and tossing it high into the air.
Both women dove out of the way, hoping to let the other take the fall. When Emily realised that the flowers were going to hit the ground, and hard, she dove for the bouquet, catching it as the crowd erupted in applause and laughter.
"Do we at least have single men here?" Debbie asked as I sat down, ready for the garter toss.
Joe stood, not expecting to be the only one as he walked silently into the middle of the floor, completely singled out. "Are you serious?" He asked. "Can he just hand it to me then?"
"No!" I insisted. "You have to catch it. Besides, you played football, it would be embarrassing if you missed."
And he nearly did.
Just after the garter toss, I took a seat to relax. My feet were aching despite my comfortable sneakers, and I was drained from the days events. Looking at my quickly enlarging group of presents gave me what strength left I would need to keep going.
It was then I noticed that Matt was missing from the group.
Anyone seen Matt?" I asked his family.
"There he is," my sister in law pointed to the door as Matt and his brother stepped through, both looking equally uncomfortable.
"Everything okay?" I asked Matt as I approached him, watching as my new brother in law went back to his table.
"Yeah I . . . I just got the wedding night talk," Matt said, looking pale.
"Oh my gosh, that's hilarious," I laughed.
"Really wasn't," he shook his head.
"No, I think that's nice. Your brother did a really heartfelt thing. Why the heck has no one done something like that for me?" I asked and immediately stormed off to a table where my aunts had gathered with the majority of my female cousins.
"Hey, Matt's brother just gave him the wedding night talk, how come no one has done anything like that for me?" I asked them, hands on my hips.
Without blinking, one of my cousins chimed in. "Because we all assumed you knew more than we did." The hens burst into a roar of cackles.
Thankfully music began to play and I was pulled from a murderous rampage by my new husband who said it was time to dance. I was handed over to my father while Matt pulled his mom aside. By the end of the song I'd danced with my father, my husband and my father in law. Matt had his fair share of dance partners as well.
People began trickling out of the reception, saying goodbyes and congrats as they parted. I glanced over to the food where I realised that all of the cream puffs were gone and then made a mental note to have that be the first thing on my shopping list for my new home.
My new home with my husband.
A husband, which I now had.
If I had been awake enough to comprehend everything that had happened that day, I might have been overwhelmed, but I wasn't. I was teetering on the edge of exhaustion and ready for sleep. I was grateful that I'd taken the week off of work following the wedding, I was going to need the rest. It had been a long day and I wasn't the only one who was exhausted.
I stretched my arms above my head and let out a lion sized yawn.
"You're not tired yet," Matt insisted, gently tapping my face. "Wake up. You cannot be tired yet!"
"I'm tired . . . " I whined.
"Get used to hearing that," one of my aunts commented to Matt as he continued to shake me awake.
"You have to be awake. Wake up," he left me for a few seconds to gather Debbie, who had planned on driving us to our hotel where Matt's parents had bought us a room for the night. "Debbie, we have to go now. She's falling asleep."
"Okay, okay," Debbie said rolling her eyes as she ordered everyone out of the room.
Family and friends piled our presents into different cars, all planned on heading over to our apartment. Matt and I made our way to the back doors where the car would be waiting for us. That's when we saw them. At least thirty of our closest friends and relatives with piles of birdseed bawled into their fists, ready for pelting.