Monday, April 9, 2018

Thinking about my own wedding day & reception- thirty one years later

"Do you remember, when we met..."
Tis the season for meeting with my couples and beginning to plan out their days and evenings for their upcoming weddings. Amidst all these meetings and planning sessions, my wife and I recently celebrated our 31st Anniversary and I thought I'd expand on my memories of our day, and what still resonates three decades later.

We were young and deeply in love. I knew that I wanted to spend my life with my bride to be but there were many obstacles before we could say "I do".  First and foremost was money. We wanted a memorable day and evening spent with each other and our friends and family, but being so young, barely scraping by, we did not know how we'd accomplish the nuptials and the party. We took out a loan, around $2000 if I remember correctly, which in 1987 was about six months rent.  With that and contributions in so many ways from our families, we had a very memorable day and a blast of a party.

First we needed a church. I'm Catholic and my wife is not, so getting married at our family parish would have involved lots of classes and my wife becoming a Catholic. Young, impatient, and in love, religious education was not at the top of our to do list and it would have postponed the nuptials for a year, so we looked for other opportunities. A beautiful church sat up atop a hill. We had no clue what denomination it was or even its name but we both liked the thought of getting married there so we drove up and talked to the pastor. He was Presbyterian, very kindly, and would marry us if we met him for a few pre-marriage counseling sessions. We agreed most happily.

Then we needed a reception site. Being in San Diego, there were many options but cost was paramount. A Women's Club, big enough for our crowd and nicely situated and cost effective became our choice. It wasn't at the beach or in the mountains or at a swanky hotel, but it was nice and it'd be ours for the evening.

Flowers were taken care of by my mom. My wife's dress by her folks. Ceremony music was played wonderfully by a pianist in the family who brought along a friend to accompany her. My father paid for the DJ and my Step-mom provided huge amounts of food from the deli she worked for. Many other family members brought food, helped decorate, and put up relatives who had come in from out of state. A keg or two were purchased along with wine and champagne from Price Club, chilled, and readied at the reception site. It truly was an affair that had many contributors, and it came together perfectly.

All these years later, my memories are still crystal clear. 

The first time I saw my wife in her wedding dress is etched upon my brain. Don't underestimate this moment! I know many people favor the "First Look" prior to the wedding, and some arrive together without much thought as to that moment, but believe me, it is so worth the extra effort to stay segregated until he or she is revealed. Some photographers do an excellent job capturing that "First Look" and setting it up so it is nearly as special as seeing them first coming down the aisle, but if you can wait, wait! Seeing my client's reactions, up with the bridal party and officiant, amongst their friends and loved ones looking on, bring me right back to seeing my bride for the first time. It is something you will take to the grave, like holding your son or daughter for the first time. Priceless. Magical. Unforgettable.

It rained. Off and on that morning and afternoon, and pretty steadily during the reception. But it didn't disrupt anything. There were eaves on the outside of the reception venue, and when someone needed some air they watched and smelled the rain come down. My wife loves it when it rains. It was the first day of Spring and it rained, and she was happy. People told us an old wive's tale that a rainy wedding day equals lots of kids. Well, we have two, exactly how many we wanted, and a boy and a girl. So I'm not saying it's true, but as long as you plan for it, rain can be a blessed thing on your wedding day :)

Our first dance. Our song was "Sea of Love" by the Honeydrippers and when I hear it to this day I am transported back to those three minutes when time stood still for the two of us. The rest of the world fades out. You are aware that there are people gathered all around you but they could be paintings or bobbleheads for all you know. Your focus is on that glorious being in front of you, the music, the perfection of those 182 seconds. It seems to last for much longer, but all of a sudden it's over and people are applauding and you come back to reality. 

Getting smashed in the face by my love with delicious cake. I should have foreseen it. I call her 'Brat' quite a bit, even back then. I could give you tips like "don't go first" which is sage advice, but in reality just take one for the team. No one likes to see anyone encrusted with sugary substances, but if it does happen, let it be you using a bunch of small cake napkins to clean up...

Our bouquet and garter tosses. Pretty standard except that the gal that caught the bouquet and the guy who caught the garter ended up together and are still together, and their wedding was one of my first weddings that I deejayed :)

Dancing with almost everyone there. When it comes down to it, it was the celebration with our friends and family that meant the most to us. So many people had touched our lives and we wanted them to be a part of our happiest day. Thinking of my long deceased grandfather dancing with my wife, her dancing with her grandfather who has also since passed, dancing with our young flower girl and ring bearer who now are both past thirty with children of their own, dancing and laughing with friends we still have and those who we've lost- these are the things that I remember most.

The party was epic. My father extended the DJ at least twice. He was an older gentleman, with big boxes and amps and he played 45 records exclusively. But CD's were just starting to appear in force, and this guy knew his stuff. Constructing a mix that kept everyone on the dance floor and appealed to the various tastes in the audience, he was a true pro, and he made me think about becoming a wedding DJ. He set a very high standard for me. I strive to give that same experience to my clients- anything less is unacceptable. When you have a couple deeply in love, with fun-loving friends and family who are ready to let loose and dance, it is the best thing ever. Our DJ is probably long retired and maybe even spinning tunes in the next life, but I want him to know that I carry on in his honor.

So a little more than three decades later, it's not the food nor the party favors nor the decor that stands out- it's those special moments, it's the time spent with dear friends and family, it's the day that completely belonged to the two of us. And all these years later I still smile and tear up a bit thinking of them. May your wedding day be as joyful and may your memories be as bright and warm!
Us and our church today :)