July 08, 2022

The Amazingly Wonderful, Incredibly Exhausting and Exceptionally Memorable Wedding Weekend!

On a warm and sunny summer afternoon over the Fourth of July weekend, our son, Ryan, and his long-time girlfriend, Anya, were married.  The date was exactly one month following the ninth anniversary of their first date.  Anyone who knew these two young people in their early years of dating knew that it wasn’t a matter of if they would get married; it was simply a matter of when.  The when was 4:30 p.m. last Saturday afternoon.  You’re invited to come along and share the joy with us, if you’re so inclined.

It’s way too soon to have any photos back from the official wedding photographer, and I was without my camera until we got to the reception.  So thanks to family members and friends who passed along a number of photos that I’ve shared here in this post.  I couldn't have pulled this off without them.  Note that I didn’t request permission to use these specific photos.  If any of them are replaced in a day or two with pics of flowers or clouds, you’ll know that I should have.

It was a dark and stormy night.  No, really, it was.  Despite a sunny and sweltering day on Friday - the day of the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner - it poured almost all night long following a rain-free evening.  On Saturday morning, the weather forecast looked somewhat promising, with the chance of rain diminishing hour by hour as the day went on.  There were many fingers crossed on Saturday prior to the wedding ceremony, which made it awfully difficult to knot the boys’ ties and tie the sashes on the girls’ gowns.  (Yup, it’s definitely boys and girls throughout the post; the words ladies and gentlemen are way too formal for this crowd.)

If you’re thinking that this missive is all about the wedding and has absolutely nothing to do with camping, you’re wrong.  As it turned out, the small rural “barn venue” that Ryan and Anya chose for their wedding is less than ten miles from a State Park with a lovely little campground.  Alan and I (remember, introverts) chose to camp there as opposed to taking rooms at the hotel where the wedding party and guests would be staying.  I’m sure that some of our fellow campers were wondering if our formal attire was typical of all of our camping trips.  If they knew I would have been much more comfortable in my shorts and Merrells, I’m sure that would have put their minds at ease.  The campground was just about equidistant from the venue and the hotel, which made running around quite easy – and there was a lot of running around, believe me.

It's a good thing we brought two vehicles with us!

We arrived at the campground late Thursday afternoon in anticipation of the weekend festivities.  Friday morning, Alan picked up his rental duds in a nearby city and we skipped on over to the venue for rehearsal.  Due to the timing of another wedding scheduled at the venue on Friday evening, the rehearsal was accomplished mid-day on Friday under the very hot sun with cool drinks in hand.  (The ceremony was to be held in the vineyard; the cocktail hour on the lawn; and the reception in the barn.)  The forecast for the day of the wedding was for partly cloudy skies in the afternoon and temps that were warm but a little less so than Friday - for which everyone was grateful.  Ryan and Anya preferred a rehearsal dinner rather than a luncheon, so the wedding party gathered again on Friday evening for a delightful meal at a local steakhouse with an excellent reputation.  It appeared that a good meal and a good time were had by all.

Rehearsal dinner shenanigans

On Saturday morning, I drove over to the hotel to have my breakfast and coffee with the girls, since former colleagues of Kyra’s (our daughter) had been engaged to do the girls' hair and makeup.  Anya offered to include me, and we both laughed when I graciously declined.  My future daughter-in-law knows me well.  Kyra (currently a barber and formerly a cosmetologist) had already cut my hair a couple of weeks earlier and my idea of glam is slapping on a little eyeliner and mascara.  Done.  What you see is what you get.  However, I do appreciate the fact that Anya offered.  She is such a sweetheart!

Almost our daughter-in-law!

When I arrived at the hotel for breakfast on Saturday, the girls were prepping and lounging with not one bad case of jitters in sight.  At some point, there was a knock on the door of their hotel room.  When I asked for the secret password, Anya’s Mom, Kim, responded, “Mother of the Bride.”  You bet I opened that door pretty quickly.  That title brings all kinds of privileges with it, especially on the day of the wedding.  Just so you know, Alan and I have always gotten along wonderfully with Anya’s parents, Kim and Brandon.  We’re all regular folk, none of us are big socializers and we enjoy many of the same outdoor activities.  Alan and I adore Anya, and Kim and Brandon love Ryan.  Good family relationships extend to the siblings, as well.  Kyra and Anya get along well, and we all like Anya’s brother, Trevor, and his fiancΓ©e, Lysandra.  In fact, Trevor and Kyra were paired as groomsman and bridesmaid, which I thought was rather sweet.  Since the two of them share a sense of adventure, none of us were surprised when they cooked up a plan for their grand entrance to the reception.  More on that later.  Right now, I'm trying to figure out why I have no photos of Kim and Brandon.  I'll get right on that.

Kim and Brandon - thanks to one of my photo contributors!

After having breakfast with the girls, I returned to the campground to dress for the wedding.  Alan was asked to meet the rest of the boys at the hotel by 1:00 p.m.  “The rest of the boys” would be Brandon, Trevor and Ryan’s best friend and best man, Jeff.  Jeff deserves the credit for bringing us all together for this momentous occasion - he's the one who introduced Ryan and Anya all those years ago.  Ryan had asked Alan to be a groomsman which, although unusual, wasn’t surprising since the two of them have always been close.  I was a stay at home mom when the kids were young, and Ryan would drop me like a hot potato as soon as Daddy walked in the door each day.  Lucky for this crowd that we waited until we were in our late 30’s to have kids.  As it turns out, Alan was the oldest of the boys and the only one of the group who actually knew how to knot a tie.  While Alan was handling all the boys’ ties, I was rolling up their sleeves to the “Anya specified length.”  Meanwhile, the bride and groom’s photographer was busy documenting much of the boys’ prep work.  Once her work with the guys was done, she asked for the wedding rings.  Her intent was to move along to the girls’ room to document all the prep going on there, and to take some photos there with the rings.  Poor Jeff!  He was taking his best man duties very seriously, and it was obvious that he really didn’t want to let those rings out of his sight.  It was a real treat for me to hang out with the boys, but Mother of the Groom comes with certain privileges, too.  I decided to wander over to the girls’ room for a visit.  When I promised Jeff that I’d keep an eye on the rings and bring them back to him, he was somewhat relieved.  Only somewhat, though.  Once I returned the rings to him, I don’t think he let go of the bag until it was time for the rings to go in his pocket at the ceremony.

Best man Jeff supervises as Alan knots Ryan's tie

Our bride, her maid of honor and bridesmaids and the mother of the bride were all looking fabulous!  After a while, I returned to the boys’ room to await our departure time.  I had drawn the privilege of driving the groom, his best man and the fathers of the bride and groom to the venue.  Trevor, our remaining groomsman, had been assigned to transport Ryan’s car and a couple of other passengers there, as well.  Kim, our mother of the bride, was in charge of getting the bride to the venue on time.  We all were taking our duties as seriously as best man Jeff was taking his.  I’m including the photo below especially for Joe over at Easin’ Along since he had requested a pic of my new-to-me Tahoe.  If y’all saw how much wedding-related paraphernalia we transported in that Tahoe over the course of the entire weekend, you’d be amazed.

You can stuff a lot of stuff in my Tahoe - and that's not including the boys!

We had staggered our arrivals at the wedding venue so that Ryan wouldn’t catch a glimpse of Anya until it was time for the “First Look.”  This tradition was new to Alan and me.  It involves the groom seeing the bride for the first time before the ceremony when the two of them have a private moment alone.  Our arrival was timed perfectly, even though the girls had forgotten to let us know that they had left the hotel.  Brandon texted me after he spotted them leaving while he was waiting outside.  At about the same time, Kyra texted a response to my question, “How goes the battle?”  “We already left!  Didn’t anyone text you?!”  That would be a no.  Nevertheless, we leaped into action, and Ryan arrived in time to be whisked off to the location of the First Look.  While I sincerely understand why this tradition would appeal to the bride and groom, I will say that, as the mother of the groom, I would have loved to see the look on Ryan’s face when he first saw his precious Anya in her gorgeous wedding gown.  A special moment for the two of them though, that’s for sure.

Anya and Ryan being whisked off for photos after the First Look but before the ceremony

This wedding and the reception that followed it were way more than just a ceremony and a party.  It was a true celebration of the sanctity of marriage and the deep commitment reflected in the eyes and the hearts of these two young people.  Making this ceremony even more special than it already was, the officiant was Ryan’s cousin, Geo (Alan’s nephew), who is a battalion chief in an urban fire department and an ordained minister.  Sharing a delightful sense of humor with the bride and groom, he ensured that the exchanging of vows was both poignant and charming.  He conducted the ceremony with dignity, grace and a touch of whimsy.  Just.  So.  Perfect.

Ryan with his cousin Geo

We four parents all fully expected to be crying during the ceremony, and one of the venue’s wedding coordinators had discreetly slipped a small pack of tissues to Kim, our mother of the bride, early on.  The biggest surprise of all was our groom’s little sister.  Kyra cried freely as Ryan and Anya exchanged their vows.  It was a true and honest indication that the relationship between our two kids runs much deeper than the teasing and pranks that often accompany our family get-togethers.  I will admit that my eyes filled once, when Anya broke down a bit as she recited her vow to Ryan.  How I stayed tear-free throughout the day, I’ll never know.

Bridesmaids Kyra, Kasie & Emily with maid of honor Justyna

Now, back to the siblings of the bride and groom - Trevor and Kyra.  I have no doubt that you’ll be surprised to learn that Anya’s brother, Trevor, was the flower “girl.”  Yes, it’s true!  And you may be surprised to learn that he did an absolutely fabulous job!  If anyone could pull this off, we knew Trevor could – and did!  With just enough humor to break any tension that may have existed, the bride’s older brother happily flung rose petals in the air in advance of the bride’s arrival.  What a big brother won’t do for his little sister . . . When it came time for Trevor and Kyra to enter the reception, the two of them came LEAPING in, pulling rose petals from Trevor’s fanny packs and winging them through the air across the dance floor.  It was an amazing and memorable entrance.  So very typical of these two adventurous spirits.

Kyra & Trevor making their grand entrance

When Alan and I were introduced at the reception, we stopped part way in, briskly rubbed our hands together as if to say, “Well, THAT’s done!” and gave each other a thumbs up.  Of course, Ryan and Anya were waiting outside the barn and had no clue.  When we told them about it a couple of days later, both of them laughed appreciatively and agreed that it was a great entrance.

This is SO not us - but we clean up nicely, don't you think?!

The reception was tastefully done and extremely enjoyable.  The food was delicious, the wedding coordinators attentive and the good times rolled on for hours.  Anya was both adorable and gorgeous all day long, Ryan was grinning from ear-to-ear almost every time I looked at him, and I really felt like their wedding guests were celebrating as much as the bride and groom were.  The newlyweds’ first dance was priceless.  The dance lessons had helped a lot but not quite enough.

Love, love, love the fact that the bride and groom are so darn happy!

Without a doubt, one of the highlights for me was the mother-son dance.  Ryan and I chose together “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts.  Initially, I thought I’d be in tears throughout, but the joy in my heart overruled any waterworks my tear ducts had been planning.  Afterward, one of Anya’s co-workers approached me to comment on what a wonderful young man Ryan was, and how it was obvious that we were a close and loving family.  So sweet!

A treasured moment in time and now a happy memory!

Additional highlights included witnessing Brandon and Anya’s father-daughter dance, watching siblings Ryan and Kyra out on the dance floor together, seeing Alan and Kyra dancing to a Bon Jovi song (a shared favorite) and slow dancing with Alan to our requested song, “Something That We Do” by Clint Black.  (For those of you who are not familiar with it, the song begins, “I remember well the day we wed; I can see that picture in my head.  I still believe those words we said forever will ring true.”)  When I glanced around the dance floor, I saw Ryan dancing with Anya, and he was singing the words to her.  The teardrops never actually fell from my eyes, but it was a close call.  While I wasn’t particularly fond of the “First Look” tradition, I did like the “Last Dance.”  DJ Brian kicked everyone out at the end of the evening so that the bride and groom could have the last dance to themselves.  What a magnificent ending to the most magical day of their lives.

Anya with Trevor, Ryan & Jeff - Alan was probably off flirting with the bridesmaids.

Sunday morning rolled around, a blue sky day to cap off this very special weekend.  I returned the boys’ rental duds, and picked up the groomsmen’s gifts (which had arrived too late to distribute before the wedding).  The wedding party checked out of the hotel, and some headed over to the venue to pick up the newlyweds’ personal decorations.  We all went to Ryan and Anya’s house for a send-off BBQ late in the afternoon.  The next day, the Fourth of July, Alan and I took Ryan, Anya and Kyra out for dinner and we all had a blast recounting our various adventures throughout the weekend.  On Tuesday morning, Alan and I packed up and headed for home.  We had been up way past our bedtime for four nights in a row and it was showing.  We closed the book on the amazingly wonderful, incredibly exhausting and exceptionally memorable wedding weekend - and we deemed it a smashing success!

So, what’s up next for the newlyweds?  I'm betting on Happily Ever After.

Indeed!
 
 


 



18 comments:

  1. Awwwww! Many congratulations to all! And YES, you clean up beautifully!!!!!

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    1. Says one who would COMPLETELY understand my desire to appear in shorts and Merrells - thanks, Tessa!

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  2. I love weddings that contain a lot of personality and personal touches! Everyone looks happy and all "cleaned up." What a wonderful day you must have had. Congrats, M-o-t-G!

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    1. It was an absolutely delightful day, Janis! I think partly because Ryan and Anya are such a good fit that family, friends and co-workers were just thrilled for them. With all the sad news being reported in today's world, it was like we all found a little nugget of happiness and held on to it for dear life. I liked the way you described some weddings as having a lot of personality - that's an excellent way to describe the vibe!

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  3. Thank you for the all the wedding info, and the charming pictures. What fun, as well as a beautiful wedding. I can see I missed a lot, but will enjoy the pictures and stories here. Congratulations - I call that one down, one to go! πŸ’œπŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ§‘πŸ’— You didn't lose a son, you gained another daughter - of course I know that started a LONG time ago!

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    1. Since Kyra's five years younger, if she follows the same time line as Ryan, we'll have a while to recover from this one. I think Alan and I are getting way too old to stay up past our bedtime for four nights in a row. We've always considered Anya our "bonus kid," and we're pleased as punch to now officially call her our daughter-in-law. She gifted me with a lovely handkerchief with a poem printed on it for "My New Mother." It was so touching. She's a keeper, that's for sure!

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  4. Thank you, Mary, for sharing this beautiful wedding story. What a wonderful and love-filled time for all!
    The photos are great!

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    1. Thank you! I honestly believe that this was not just a celebration of a marriage, but also a celebration of friendship, family, laughter, joy and commitment. These two young people - and we, their families and friends - are truly blessed!

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  5. Thank you, Mary, for the beautiful recounting of a very special day. How wonderful to see the love you have given your family blossom exponentially. Best wishes to all!

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    1. Thank you, Janet! Not only do Alan and I love our kids (and bonus kid!), but we really enjoy spending time with them, too. As far as shared adventures go, this one was extraordinarily special!

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  6. What a lovely and joyful celebration! The love you all have for one another really shines through in your writing. A huge bonus is how much fun you all have together. The bride's brother as the flower girl is absolutely hilarious, LOL. And yes, you do 'clean up' very nicely. A beautiful family, indeed!

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Laurel! Everyone in our immediate family and Anya's has a good sense of humor and we all get along so well that, aside from a few emotional moments for the parents, the atmosphere really was one of fun, happiness and celebration. By the time Sunday night rolled around, though, many of us were looking a little worse for wear!

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  7. What a great introduction to your blog and to your family. Loved the post and the photos. Congratulations to all!! And now that I see the focus of your blog, I completely understand your response to my comment on Bob's blog about friendships that "travel well." Makes perfect sense given your lifestyle. I look forward to reading more.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment, Galen! Alan and I loved raising our kids and, now that they're adults, we still enjoy their company tremendously. So this really was an exciting and joyful event for our family. The fact that our daughter and our new daughter-in-law get along famously is yet another blessing. As for travel, whenever possible, we try to schedule visits with friends and family members during our road trips. Some years back we met friends who live in Colorado at a steakhouse in Nebraska when we were all on the road, but heading in different directions. I'm thinking that lends a whole new meaning to the phrase "friendship that travels well." Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

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  8. Mary, thanks for sharing this we me. Sounds like you had a beautiful wedding weekend. I’m sure the pictures don’t do them justice, they look gorgeous. And I think you and Alan look as happy as the bride and groom! Congratulations to all!

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    1. My pleasure! It was such a happy, heartwarming occasion that I can't help but share the joy! And our new daughter-in-law is a real sweetheart which makes it all the better!

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  9. How did I miss this post--one of such incredible importance!? Congratulations to all on so many kinds of new beginnings! (I must confess, however, that Sandy, of course, is head over heels about this post. I, on the other hand, am among those troglodyte males who, with great reluctance, endure all the pomp and circumstance in order to get to the well, you know what.) Yes, one can be erudite and boorish at the same time. Busted!

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    1. Thank you, Mike, for your kind words of congratulations! I'm happy to hear that you and Sandy enjoyed reading about the kids' momentous occasion. I do believe that Sandy would have given high marks to this whole wedding planning process. Ryan is as easy-going as Alan, and spoke up only when a particular detail really mattered to him. So, Anya was free to plan the wedding of her dreams, and she did a wonderful job. It really was a lovely and uniquely personal event, and I know they were both thrilled with how it turned out.

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