Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Weddings: Wisconsin Edition

For the past week(ish), I've been in Wisconsin. I had looked forward to this all summer long. Love me some Wisconsin.

The excuse for the trip was my cousin's wedding. But I tried to cram in as much Wisconsin goodness as I could:
  • A trip up to La Crosse to see dear college friends and their broods of children
  • Quick stop-over in Poynette to see a camp family I hadn't seen in years
  • A one-night stay at Camp Gray during a severe thunder storm that required moving children to storm shelters....and NOT having to deal with those logistics!
  • Enjoying my favorite Wisconsin brew while sitting at a table on State St. watching passersby
  • Chilling at the Memorial Union with a cone full of Babcock ice cream
  • Camp Gray alumni backyard-bbq-bash. Seeing some of my oldest camp friends, some I hadn't seen in many years!
  • Seeing my mom bawl like a little girl because she was so happy at her surprise gift: the unexpected presence of my best friend, Janelle
  • A tour of an incredible B&B in Madison, Mansion Hill Inn, that is under the general management of a good friend, Sarah. Her literal blood, sweat, and tears helped transform this building from a run-down renovation to the beautiful luxury that it is today. I'm so proud of her and regardless of the cost, I vow to spend a night in that place one day.
  • A visit to my favorite cheese shop
  • Seeing friend Tonia on a lunch stop while driving back with Nick and Claire
  • Staying overnight with friends Christa and Chappy in Wichita while driving back
Finally, the real reason for the trip, my cousin Chris' wedding.

I have 5 cousins. I've met 4 of them. The two cousins from my mom's side, Malia and Chris, are the only cousins with which I have spent any decent amount of time.

Chris' wedding was unlike any other I'd ever attended. When they got engaged last year, they decided to have the wedding in the beautifully landscaped backyard of the home they had purchased a year or two before. Chris built a beautiful pergola under which the ceremony would be conducted. The officiant was the bride's brother, who had gotten a license online. With the exception of mis-pronouncing his sister's new last name, he did pretty well. With the wedding being in a backyard in a small town, there would not be enough parking for the 80ish guests. So we all got onto a school bus at the hotel and made the half hour ride together. When we got there, everyone piled under the large tent under which many of us had enjoyed the rehearsal dinner the night before. It was 2PM and more than 90 degrees (and the sweltering humidity wasn't helping!) and we weren't going to spend one minute longer in those sun-pelted chairs than we had to. Soon, we got the word that the ceremony was about to commence, so we all moved into the chairs. It was so bright and so hot. Sweat was dripping down my body for the entirety of the event. I can only imagine what groom and groomsmen in their suits were enduring, not to mention Kim in her wedding dress. The couple's dog, Kona, was the ring bearer and he behaved incredibly well, doning his tie even! We'd all been taking bets on how short the ceremony would be (or should I say, how short we'd hoped it would be?). My bet was on 25 minutes. It went for 32. I hadn't taken into account how long the 2 songs, sung by Kim's former students, would be. Dang.

After the wedding, there was some more hang out time under that big tent while we waited for the bus to come back and get us. The bus ride back was horrible for me. More sweat and dirt brought in by wind from the open windows left me feeling nasty and definitely cranky when we got back to the hotel. While everyone else was heading for the ball room for the cocktail hour, I stormed up to the room for a cold shower.

When I emerged from my shower, I was a new person. The grumpiness had washed away and I was ready to party. I caught the end of cocktail hour and visited with my aunt and uncle which was nice. When the actual reception started, I was quite impressed. The dinner was DELICIOUS. We all ate until we were uncomfortably full. At one point, I slipped out and walked a couple laps around the place and felt much better. Instead of cake, there was wedding pie. A highlight for me was when the DJ announced that the bride and groom were going to be coming around and taking pictures with every table and that we should all scoot together around one side of the table to make this easy. The catch: this would all be done in under one minute. WHAT? How could this possibly happen? I was a doubter. But sure enough, some intense music started and they were off in a mad dash! The photographer and couple RAN from table to table! "Cheese!", flash, done. They made it around to every table with just a few seconds to spare. So impressed. Please...if you aren't married and plan on inviting me to your wedding, do this at your reception. I find it so entertaining.

Speaking of pictures, the couple had contracted for a photo booth (like the ones at malls) to be present at this reception. I'd never been to a reception with this before but it was awesome. People went into the photo, had their pictures taken, and then two copies were printed. One was glued into the guest book and the other was yours to keep. You could go in as many times as you wanted. There were so many funny pictures. I saw them online later and the bride and groom got in with a bunch of people and there were some photos with staggering amounts of people in the booth. I have no idea how much this service costs but if you are planning a wedding and have any extra money in your budget, I highly recommend looking into it. Here are some pictures from my family's trips into the booth:

While you are looking at pictures, here's one from the camp party at my friend Kelly's house:

Stay tuned for the Los Alamos Edition of Summer Weddings, coming to a blog near you in about 2 weeks.

Keep It Real!

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