So the wedding went off well enough.
As pretty much the outsider (though I'm footing part of the bill :-) ) it was easy enough to take the detached view. My wife was totally unable to distance herself and see it in anything like the proper perspective. *shrug*
The wedding itself took place at Hart Prarie Lodge, Snowbowl, Arizona[^] and when I say it took place there I mean the whole kit and caboodle. Wedding out on the decking looking toward sunset and the reception a mere 25 metres away inside the lodge. That's the civilised way to do it! My wife and I did pretty much the same thing when we got married in Melbourne; ceremony at the registry office and lunch with friends across the road.
Don't you just hate it when the wedding ceremony takes place somewhere and the reception is elsewhere? You have to find the reception location while the bridal party are whisked off to somewhere photogenic. Then you get to stand around like a bunch of spare parts waiting for the bridal party to arrive.
We'd booked accomodations at The Ski Lift Lodge[^], 25 or so cabins arranged in a semi-circle at the foot of the mountain. It worked pretty well for socialising between the brides folks and the grooms and I think a good time was had by all.
By the time I got to Flagstaff the rehearsal had been done and everyone was down at the lodge relaxing over a beer. Given that I'd either never met most of them or had met them just once at a family reunion at Lake Tahoe two years ago I think I, and they, did a good job at recognising each other. My hair probably helped though I note that my wife's older brother Ed has hair just as long as mine, but I don't have the grey beard!
We had guests flying in from all over the country; cousins living in Tennessee, Texas, Massachussets, Illinois and California. Shelby's biological father lives in Alaska and was born in New Zealand. His family from Australia and New Zealand had come for the wedding.
This was the first time I'd met Kevin (biological father aforementioned). We hit it off right away when he called me Skippy! 'Yeah, ya Kiwi bastard!' I replied. Laughs from we two and puzzled looks from the yanks. So we explained[^].
My wife was extremely nervous an hour or two before the ceremony. Somehow it didn't help when I pointed out that if we had Bride, Groom, Marriage license and Celebrant we were ok. All the rest is icing on the cake. Well, I really didn't imagine it would help but one has to try!
I had no role as such in the ceremony though I was to be seated in the front row next to my wife and Bill, Shelby's adopted father. Yep, it's complicated. Just go with the flow. They were just disappearing to their places when I suddenly realised I had no idea when I was supposed to be seated. With the other guests who had no role other than audience? Or was I supposed to strut down the aisle? *shrug* I've never been involved in such a complex logistical exercise before. A quick yell to attract my wifes attention revealed that I just follow the other guests.
Seated we waited expectantly. Sun sitting on the tops of the pine trees to the west and the insects rising into the twilight. Matt and his best man standing nonchalantly. Matt looked so calm I was sure he was on valium :-)
I've never seen bridesmaids walk so fast or look quite so nervous. I understand. The pitch of nerves changes the perception of time and they (as revealed in later questions) thought they were walking at about the right speed.
My wife looked incredibly happy and not at all nervous as Andrew escorted her down the aisle.
Shelby, when she appeared, looked gorgeous. She's a pretty girl at the best of times you understand so we're merely talking about gilding a lily. Wedding dress of slightly off-white cream over an underlay of crimson. It looked great! She was extremely nervous, as well she might be with 150 people watching. I could see her gasping for breath (and at 9,000 feet above sea level a lungful isn't quite as satisfying as it might have been down in Phoenix) but she retained her composure.
My wife and Denise, Matts mother, were to light a couple of candles and of course there was just enough breeze that the lighters supplied weren't up to the task. My wife came over and took my ciggy lighter. Candles finally lit she came back to sit beside me, leaving the lighter behind!
When it came time for the marriage vows themselves (following the sermon) I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I know I had to choke back a tear or two as Matt almost lost his composure. Well, it's a pretty emotional time and I know no one feels any shame at a bit of honest crying at a time like that.
Then came the reception. Not a lot to say about that. We had the usual angry flareups between people who've gone through an extremely chaotic time, fuelled by perhaps a drop too much alcohol; anger that is probably already forgotten.
Andrew! Cheeky bastard had the privilege of escorting two bridesmaids away from the ceremony and again, a little later during the entrance of the bridal group to the reception. I record that he had a grin that stretched from ear to ear all the way! An hour later we discovered him chatting up not one but two young ladies and half an hour after that he was dancing with them. He has much to learn; one has to separate one young lady from the others! :-)
I got my cigarette lighter back!