**This post is a behind the scenes tale of our wedding day from my perspective. It doesn’t include any of the video or professional photographs that were taken of the day, which will be available soon. Any pictures included are ones taken by friends and family.**
Saturday, September 28th, 2013, I woke up with the immediate feeling of nerves and prickling anticipation. I didn’t want to appear frazzled to my family, so I did my best to act calm and relaxed. I ate my normal breakfast, although I had to force it down since my stomach was doing somersaults. Then, I spent the morning with my sisters and did random last-minute tasks, such as sharpening one hundred pencils to bring with me for Sunday’s crossword puzzle, and packing essentials to have for the hotel that night. The day had an order to it, and it was just a matter of getting one thing done before the next. I went off to a salon in Salem to have my hair and makeup done. Of course, the salon ran late and I ended up barrelling through the streets of Salem and Beverly to get home and be dressed in time.
Meanwhile, it seems Alastair had a much different experience as a start to the day :)
The groom-to-be spent the day hitting golf balls and playing basketball. Ahhh, the life of a groom ;)
I rushed to get dressed and organize myself in a matter of seconds, while Alastair and his groomsmen all arrived at my mom’s house to convene and pin on their boutonnieres before heading to Lynch Park for pictures.
It was also an opportunity for Alastair and I to have a moment alone, or “first look” in our wedding clothes before all of the madness. It was great to have a minute to ourselves. Alastair looked incredibly handsome and blissfully happy. It was as private as a moment could be with a photographer and videographers standing nearby, and a whole group of familiar faces peeking around the corner at us :) Nevertheless, all of the mania of wedding details melted from my mind and I was just so happy to be holding Alastair’s hand and looking into his eyes. With him, I felt at ease and profoundly happy. That was the moment that the day transformed into an enchanted dream for me.
Everyone looked great!
The groomsmen: Andy, Dina, and Angelo with Alastair.
The bridesmaids: my sisters, Natalie, Susannah, and Lana.
Our bouquets were so pretty with the deep Fall colors and interesting textures. My sister Natalie’s mother, Angie, did an extraordinary job on them.
We all packed into cars, and I maneuvered my gown into the limo to make our way to Lynch Park for photographs. It must’ve been a popular wedding date because there were two other bridal parties there taking pictures in the rose garden. The other groups made it a bit more challenging to get the right shots, but I’m sure we did it in the end. Strangely, I noticed that I was shivering and everyone else was braced against the stiff breeze coming off the sea, but I honestly didn’t feel cold. It is amazing what adrenaline can do to your system.
After the group photos, it was time for the men to head to the church. Alastair lingered to take a few more photos with me alone, and almost got left behind! Actually, he did get left behind, but, thankfully, one of the cars turned back for him once they realized he may not be in any of the other cars. Crisis averted.
The whole process of getting photographs done went pretty smoothly and we made good time. In fact, it turned out that we had plenty of extra time. Since there wasn’t much else for us girls to do, my bridesmaids, my mom and my dad, and I headed in the limo to the church ourselves and waited until the start of the ceremony.
Notice the British and American flying outside of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Alastair says that I’m the only bride he knows that would show up to her wedding a half hour early. But, being early had its advantages. I was able to watch people arrive. It made me so happy to see all of the familiar faces enter the church one by one. I was feeling so overwhelmed with joy.
The minutes ticked by slowly but surely, and eventually it was aisle-walking time. I felt electric. I had to take several deep, calming breaths to relieve the shaking, and, before I had the chance to think too much, I was swept up in the beautiful processional music and putting one foot in front of the other. Seeing smiling faces as I passed by, and knowing that we had so many people we love and care for, in one place, to witness our marriage, made my heart swell.
The moment I reached the end of the aisle and had Alastair’s hand, I knew everything would be fine. We knew what to expect from the ceremony, since we had planned it with Pastor Coleman for months. And, we knew our vows by heart, as we had been practicing with each other tirelessly. Alastair said his perfectly, but mine took a bit longer to get out due to the crying :) The whole ceremony was lovelier than I could’ve imagined. The church looked so warm and intimate by candlelight. The readings, the music, the prayers and the words by Pastor Coleman all flowed in harmony with such profound meaning to us, and, through it all, Alastair and I were side by side. It was powerfully moving, and, though I had always decided on a short service, I wanted to linger in the moments longer and not allow it to be over too quickly. From where I was standing, the whole ceremony was perfect, and I can only hope that our guests felt the significance of their presence and the gratitude that Alastair and I had for each person being there.
At the end, to walk back down the aisle, as husband and wife, felt fantastic! I married my best friend and have devoted my life to him, as he has done to me. Nothing has ever been more natural than sharing my life with Alastair. We are a pair.
We exited the church to cheers and sparklers alight.
I didn’t have a care in the world, but Alastair was quite concerned about all of the sparks landing on my dress. He apparently envisioned us both going up in flames! Thankfully, none of that happened and the sparklers only added to the festivities. After a quick group photo in front of the church, party time had begun!
The Peabody Essex Museum, where we were holding the reception, was a short walk around the block from the church, so we moved down the street en masse, which was fun. Arriving at the PEM, we had the drummers greeting us at the front door. For months, I had been set on finding bucket drummers to perform outside of the reception, to no avail. At the eleventh hour, Alastair managed to track down a local drummer, originally from Senegal, to do some traditional African drumming. Many guests may not have realized that the drummers were actually there for us, but we still managed to coerce a few people into dancing to the beat of the drum before entering for the evening reception. It was a fun way to kick off the night!
The night began to fly by. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served while people mingled and chatted. Alastair and I snuck away to take a few photographs. Everything looked beautiful and everywhere I turned was a familiar face that I wanted to spend time with.
We made our formal entrance from the top floor looking out to our guests below. Arriving at the bottom, Alastair and I even managed to add the flourish of a twirl!
I gave a welcome to our guests and then Alastair’s father, Paddy, gave a blessing for the meal and dinner was served.
I wanted time to freeze because I could feel all of the minutes speeding away from me. Alastair and I went around from table to table, during dinner, to make sure we were able to greet each of our guests. It is a feeling like no other, being in a room full of people you love, that are there to celebrate a momentous occasion in your life. I felt honored and blessed.
One of my favorite parts of the reception was listening to the speeches. We had speeches by my sister and maid of honor, Lana; Alastair’s best man, Dina; groomsmen, Angelo; and Alastair himself. Each person transpired something deeply special and moving.
Alastair and I did our first dance to Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness.
Dancing in front of a crowd would normally be terrifying for me, but I was so happy that I simply enjoyed it. I can’t say for certain if anyone WATCHING us dance enjoyed it, but that’s a different story :) After our dance, we did the cake cutting. Silly as it may seem, I was giddy at the idea of cutting the big wedding cake. It is just one of those things you would never get to do on any other occasion, and I love cake!
From that point on, the dance floor was open! Our DJ, Jay Foss, was a friend from college and he was phenomenal!
There is a trend in many Latin American weddings called “la hora loca” translating literally to “the crazy hour.” It is an opportunity to kick the party up a notch and get a little wild. In the later part of the evening, we brought out silly props for people to wear, like glow-stick glasses, hats and boas, and coordinated that with some lights and music to get people out on the dance floor.
An example of La Hora Loca…
That is me dancing with a chicken hat on my head and, clearly, producing some epic dance moves (at least in my mind).
Some other examples of La Hora Loca:
That chicken hat certainly made its way around!
I could have danced all night and I certainly did my share of twirling. The last dance had us doing a circle pit around the dance floor! I didn’t want the night to end, but midnight eventually came. It was nice that, to most of our guests, we could say “see you tomorrow at the brunch” instead of having to say final goodbyes. Alastair and I were spending the night at the Hawthorne Hotel, which was just around the corner from the reception, and where we were hosting a brunch for all of our guests the next morning. We walked the short distance, under the night sky, hand in hand, feeling exhilarated.
I had an incredible time celebrating with our loved ones. For me, it was the best, best, BEST day ever. Everyone there was special to us and the love we felt from our family and friends was more than I could put into words. It was cascades of joy. Thank you to all that were involved, I will never forget our wedding day as long as I live.