Okay, so the fire was really minor. Joel swiftly smothered it with another tablecloth, and not many people were even aware that it happened. The majority of the guests were heading into the tent. Still, it kind of threw me for a loop.
Me: It, oh god, the tablecloth caught on fire
Kelly: It's out now, though.
Amanda: No harm done.
They hustled me away to the spacious bathroom in the garden's education center to help me with my dress while I peed. (Should I not go there? Oh, whatever). I was both of their maids of honor in May and November of '05, and they were each other's bridesmaids. We are like a well-oiled bridal attendant machine at this point.
That said, I will have so much more insight in wedding day stress and empathy for my client brides from here on out. I think that the major transitions were probably the most stressful part of the day for me. Everything feels so much more fraught when you're the one in The Dress and everyone is taking their cues from you.
Meanwhile, the reception tent looked amazing. Andrea was more or less acting as a day-of coordinator, overseeing details and making sure the placecards were out, the kids' activity boxes picked up, the toasting glasses were at our table, etc. She set up the candy buffet, in keeping with our Hershey-inspired details and arranged boxes of Cracker Jacks (a throwback to the way Joel proposed). "You have a Cracker Jack Henge" she whispered. (It's an Eddie Izzard thing.)
We lined up and got announced with minimal flower girl drama and no mispronunciations. Joel and I went right into our first dance WITHOUT panic attacks, thankyouverymuch. Everyone jumped up to join us, at our request, and then we went straight into the horah.
Okay, so.... Let me just say that I was really looking forward to the horah. I edited together a multicultural mix of the horah and the tarantella (the "TaraNegila, if you will"), but once I was up in the chair, I was kind of terrified. I hope there are a few pictures of me smiling and laughing, because while I *think* I remember holding onto a napkin and grinning at Joel? I KNOW I spent at least part of the time screaming bloody murder.
The rest of the night just flowed (except for a minor issue where a power surge from the generator running the air conditioner knocked out the DJ's speakers- of course that happened, are you surprised? but it was managed in 15 minutes or less.) Everything I had delegated to my friends and family members happened like clockwork. (Thank you, fire ningas! The luminarias were beautiful.)
The toasts were lovely. The microbrew beer station was a hit. I had fun watching the guests realize that the picture frames adoring the centerpieces were their own wedding photos, pictures of their children, pictures of *themselves* as children and/or their pets. (Most. Time-Consuming Favor Ever). Joel and I gently fed each other wedding cake, then fed the flower girls bites of groom's cake. Gaby surprised me by feeding me a piece of candy she had in her hand, whether that was planned on her part or plain old serendipity I'll never know.
My dad and I mixed it up during our dance, alternating between silly and serious. Joel's mom got her moment in the spotlight for her dance, and later that night, our groomsman Walter danced "The Worm."
I had requested that the DJ play certain songs that I knew would resonate with our guests.... my parents' first dance song from their wedding 35 years ago, "We've Only Just Begun" by The Carpentars. The Hawaiian version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for my sister and her husband, one of the last songs they danced to before starting their honeymoon. Ditto for "Fly Me To the Moon" for Andrea and Don. The song "Someone to Fall Back On" that Matt sang to Keith at their reception. Catie Curtis' "Magnolia Street," a slow dance song from N and J's Cape Cod wedding that became the soundtrack to the early days of my relationship with Joel. "Birdhouse in Your Soul" which will forever remind me of Alissa and Todd's happiness at their wedding, even though it was just a weeks ago. "Sweet Caroline" for Kristen and Adam, and all the kids who grew up on (or near, in my case) Caroline Drive.
At the end of the evening, my sister and I were about to take a walk so I could thank her for being my Maid of Ass Pain (Everyone says being in a wedding party is an honor, but sometimes it's a pain in the ass, hence Maid of Ass Pain.) We got called back in so we could both sign the wedding license; she was my witness.
Before I knew it, everyone lined up to do sparklers. We thanked our parents. After a few spluttering false starts, matches were passed and candles were lit (Thank you, fire ninjas. You kicked ass.) I heard my mom say, "This is so beautiful, Angie" as I handed off my extinguished sparkler to my sister. Then Joel and I were holding hands and waving goodbye between two glowing lines of our friends and family. I remember Jo smiling and nodding at me and stopping to hug Andrea.
The wedding coordinator for the gardens walked us out with a flashlight. As soon as we got beyond the luminarias, I looked back at the tent and said, "Hang on a in minute. Let's just watch everyone we love lighting sparklers..." when WHAM! I remembered that the last thing I said to my big sister was not, "Thanks for everything." Not "I love you." Instead, I had said, "Here. Take my smoldering metal sparkler rod." Crap.
"It's not too late," the venue coordinator said. I kicked off my shoes and took off in the dark, running barefoot through the gardens in my wedding dress. Since we already had our grand exit, I didn't want to say all my goodbyes again. I basically hid in the bushes whispering my sister's name until she heard me. There was blubbering and crying: "The last thing I said to you was, 'Hold my smoldering metal rod!' I never thanked you!" She said, "Why are you crying? It can't be the honeymoon night; I know you're not a virgin!" Thanks, AJ. :)
That taken care of, Joel and I continued to walk across the street to the Hotel Hershey. "In about five minutes," the venue coordinator said, "fireworks are going to go off right below the Hershey Gardens. You'll have a beautiful view from the hotel." As we got to the front steps, the first of the fireworks lit up the sky. All the hotel guests had come out on their balconies to watch, including another wedding party. It was a beautiful and unplanned way to end our reception. I hope the videographer and photographer were still around to catch it, but if not, Luke, Nikki and Jill did. (Thanks, guys!)
We went inside right before the finale of the fireworks to beat the rush of guests to the elevators, ordered Gatorade from room service and... well, you know... nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?
Joel and I both loved our wedding day. It was a beautiful, because of everyone who surrounded us with love and support. Thank you all.