This past weekend, my big brother got married to a fabulous woman. Frankly, I couldn’t be happier about it. They’re lovely together and I’m glad that my whole clan made it down for the festivities. Parker was already in Florida for his annual “Stay with my grandparents at their beach condo” summer vacation, so the Irishman and I drove down with Lexi over two days before reuniting with Parker in Orlando.
I was mildly terrified of the drive. I mean, this is a child who can freak out between here and the grocery store that is just four miles away, so I wasn’t sure how terrible 20+ hours of driving over 4 days would be. Truth be told, she did amazingly well. I went armed with Play Doh, markers, coloring books, snacks and a portable DVD player that I borrowed from a friend (since I can’t seem to find ours in the disaster that is our basement). My car is trashed, but we got there and back with our sanity in check.
Once we got to Orlando, we met up with Parker right away. We were so happy to see each other. He said, “I had a great time, but I sure did miss you!” We missed him, too. Like crazy. You know, every family member adds a certain resonance of presence to the house and when someone is missing from the equation, the house just feels difference. The added quiet is nice for a day or two, but after that, things just feel off. I’m happy to have both kids back under one roof.
Shortly after we arrived in Orlando, we headed to the church for the rehearsal. Parker was the ring bearer, Lexi was a flower girl and I was doing a reading of Corinthians in both Greek and English. I stressed about the reading big time because some of our Greek family was going to be there and I didn’t want to screw up the pronunciation of anything so I pretty much spend all of Friday (both before and after the rehearsal) practicing the reading over and over again. Have I mentioned how much I hate being the center of attention? Big time nerves.
After the church rehearsal (where thankfully I didn’t have to do the entire reading), we headed to a very cool venue for the rehearsal dinner. There was both a large wedding party and a number of out of town guests, so the rehearsal dinner was about 60 guests strong. Here are some pictures from the party.
Dean and Marissa’s rehearsal dinner cake was such a representation of who they are and what they like. So cool, right?
The cozy venue where everyone got to chat and catch up.
Cutting the cake and practicing for the big day that followed. No surprise that Parker was the first one in line for cake. Ha!
We left the rehearsal dinner at about 9pm (waaay past Lexi’s bed time) and after helping her through her inevitable meltdown, we all tucked in for the night and surprisingly, both kids slept very well considering we were in a hotel and Lexi was in a Pack and Play.
The wedding day itself was a tricky time table to manage. With a 3pm start time, we had to get Lexi down for an early nap so that she was well-rested for the big day. We headed out with some friends around 10am to a nearby lake (Hi Liv!). There was a one-mile loop around the lake and we encouraged the kids to walk the whole loop to tire them out. The lake was teeming with fish, ducks and turtles. The kids had a great time checking out the wildlife.
And then we started to walk. It was a hot day (well, a hot day for our mountain kids) so we stopped at every covered tent area. Parker was over hot and tired and I think that he’s nearing the age where his patience with my photo-taking is waning. This is not an amused face.
Lexi, on the other hand, still loves the camera. And you know what? The camera loves her, too. Such a serious face for such a little girl.
Believe it or not, our plan worked. Lexi fell asleep on the way home from the lake, while she was napping in the Pack and Play, Parker and the Irishman took a shower, got dressed and snuck out to get lunch. She woke up with just enough time to eat and get ready and we arrived at the church at 2:45pm. With only 15 minutes to spare, we were trying to keep the kids quiet in the atrium while waiting for the bridal party to arrive. I was so stressed out about the reading that I didn’t have the presence of mind to take any pictures of the children. There were, thankfully, two professional photographers there, so I will share some lovely shots of my munchkins when those pictures are released.
My reading was very early in the ceremony and it went fairly well (I counted three errors, but there were probably like 36) and then I could turn my attention to the ceremony where my big brother tied the knot. My new sister-in-law was drop dead gorgeous. Her dress was perfection and they looked stunning. Really.
The reception was an amazing party. Lexi had a babysitter upstairs and Parker stole the show with his break dancing. Who knew that all dancing at home would pay off in a public venue? It was a great night and Lexi hung in there until just after 9pm.
The next day was our marathon driving day. We let the kids sleep in until 8am, so we didn’t hit the road until about 9:30 or so. We probably stopped a total of 5 times over the next 11 hours and amazingly, the kids endured with no tears and no freak outs. I still can’t believe it. Even so, driving for that long with children is exhausting and I’m glad that we don’t have to do it again soon. It is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Well, that was our trip in a nutshell. I can’t wait to see the official wedding photos – I’ll be sure to share them when they’re out! Weddings – so fun.