Thursday, October 18, 2007

Life - The Wedding

Ultimately, my goal, and the missus's (now I can say this instead of "future missus") goal, was to have a fun celebration. Yes, we got married, and yes, it was emotional, but really, what took place October 6 was a way of announcing that "Hey, we love each other!" to our family and closest of friends.

We were married at the Friends Meeting House in Wilton, CT. Although we're not necessarily religious, the Meeting House had some special meaning for me - I went to nursery school there, my nephew is now going there (and my nursery school teacher was still teaching when he started although she passed away recently), and my mom's memorial was held there. I hadn't been there in forever (except for my mom's memorial where I wasn't exactly in the mood to explore), so when I went, I discovered that my favorite playground toy, the merry go round, was still there. I remember sitting on it and spinning like mad until I was ill with dizziness. Even back then I was experimenting with rotating weight and moment of inertia - I found that if I went fast on the perimeter and then scooted to the middle, somehow the merry go round would accelerate. That was great because then I'd be even dizzier.

Incredible what four year olds think about.

We had our rehearsal Friday evening. Things went pretty well and a bunch of my family spent some time arranging and rearranging things in the Meeting Room. Our sound system was primitive (laptop + subwoofer equipped speakers) and my little brother was assigned DJ duties (my other brother's wife was extremely pregnant and my sister is only slightly less so which made me reluctant to ask them for anything).

We then went over to the Tuscan Oven in Norwalk for some dinner. They set aside a room for us, it was tastefully decorated, they'd prepared a custom menu (with our names on it and everything). Great food, great time, highly recommended.

Most everyone left but my best man, his wife, the groomsman, and my younger brother were sort of hanging out afterwards. A while back I'd talked what I wanted to do but due to various logistical problems, no one had made any plans. After asking a waitress if she knew any "clubs" in the area (she knew of one), she went and got another guy who happened to know of another ("I, uh, haven't been there in a while but there's a club...". The waitress remembered it - she lives nearby - and gave us detailed directions on how to get there. So we set off on a caravan to this joint.

I won't go into details but I'll say that my little brother, for all his rather extreme music and all that, had never been in one of those clubs. And my Best Man's wife hadn't either. So it was fun because it's fun to go with someone who hadn't gone before and see their reactions to what they see. We were there till some reasonably late hour and left after the scene started getting stale.

Saturday morning, after our late night out, I woke up five hours later at something like 7 in the morning, feeling somewhat zoned-out. I could barely eat, I felt almost numb, and I struggled to get anything done. It surprised me because I thought I had dealt with (or was dealing with) any stress or anxiety - but I realize now that the morning of the wedding I was pretty stressed. Usually I'm grumbly when I'm stressed but fortunately that day I was just frozen like a deer in headlights.

In my normal life I have all sorts of lists and time schedules and stuff - but that day I had a hard time figuring out if 11:30 was too early to shower (or eat or something) for a 1:30 wedding. I'm actually surprised I wasn't sitting frozen in the kitchen till 1:15.

Somehow, I started getting ready (including publishing the post 95 minutes before the wedding), and then time accelerated uncomfortably fast. It's like sitting in a long (for me) 30 lap race and zoning out and suddenly it's 5 to go and there's a break 30 seconds up the road. I started to stress - I had this vague feeling that I should have been at the Meeting House at 12:30 - and it was about 12:30. So I told everyone I'd go on ahead to open up the House and meet them there.

Obviously I arrived there a bit late - about 1 - and there were perhaps half a dozen cars parked already. I opened up the Meeting House doors (I had the keys), and then sat in my fiancee's car (which I'd driven there), AC on high, to try and cool off. It was in the 80s, a bit high for an early October weekend, and combined with what stress or nerves I wasn't officially feeling, it felt pretty hot.

Mike, one of my two tux-suited support friends, was already there - apparently he'd arrived a couple hours before to tailgate with whoever showed up. Unfortunately no one else got there till about when I got there.

As the cyclist friends arrived, most of them commented on the accessory sitting on the roof - my bike.

"Only Aki would bring his bike to his wedding."

Well, the thought did cross my mind that leaving it on the roof unattended at the reception site might be bad (although it's in a town that you probably never need to lock your doors). Plus I really wanted to drive that particular car (it has good AC and I really, really needed it) and I didn't know where else to put the bike that was already sitting on top of it.

Unfortunately it was relatively easy to stay cool since I only had my shirt, shoes, and pants on (which means that I would get service at a store at least). I forgot the tie, vest, cuff links, and jacket at the house (oops). My younger brother and sister (and their spouses - I was the last to get married) arrived with the rest of my wedding kit, and with the help of one of my finacee's in-laws Mark, I got dressed. Melissa, wife of a good friend, pinned the flower things on our lapels. (The flower things are not buccaneers but it sounds something like that).

Her husband, David, is also an avid cyclist and returning-to-competition racer - as apparent by his second place finish in a race that morning! He had been a bit concerned about the timing of it all so had actually asked me if I felt it appropriate for him to go racing that morning. I thought about it and there was nothing really to hold him back - if it were me it'd be a different story, but him, hey, the worst case scenario might be him limping a bit with Tegaderm under his suit. I gave him my blessings and -voila- he showed up all grins after a great race.

My other brother (he's younger too, just by not as much, so I call him my brother) arrived with his wife, two point nine-nine kids (she was having contractions at the wedding and had her third son three days later), and my dad arrived. Melissa quickly pinned the buccaneer things on my dad and the oldest nephew (who's four years old and designated professional ring bearer - he'd done my younger brother and my sister's weddings in his slightly-longer-than one year career) and we were set.

We had to be since the limo with the girls had arrived something like 15 minutes before that last paragraph happened. The JP was nice, gently reminded everyone to be calm, and we got on our way.

Suddenly I was feeling really warm. The pictures I've seen caught me wiping my forehead more than a few times so it wasn't an illusion.

So, with the merry go round out back somewhere, we had our ceremony. I didn't think I'd be too nervous but I started feeling a bit something as we lined up, ready to walk in. I realized that I was actually getting really nervous, worse than wondering if we'd sell the house, worse than lining up for a race. It was a different kind of nervousness - I guess at my age (hey, I can say that) nervousness manifests itself differently. My stomach started turning circles, my mind went blank, and I asked our JP what exactly we'd be doing. She reassured me and went over what I was to do.

"We're going to walk to the front of the room together."
"Okay. I can do that." I looked at her expectantly.
"That's it," she added after looking at me.
"Okay," I said, pausing to collect my thoughts. They all escaped again. I turned to the JP.
"Wait, what are we doing again?"

Alright, it wasn't that bad. But it was almost that bad. My mind went truly blank.

Then we went in and we were standing and the girls walked in and then the (still) future missus walked in and she and I think everyone else started crying.

Afterwards everyone was talking about that moment and Rich (Best Man) laughingly said to tough guy Mike (Tailgating Groomsman), "You know, I thought I heard some sniffling back there."

"Damn right, man, I didn't want to start bawling and make everyone else bawl too."

Mike's so sensitive, isn't he?

I don't remember very much other than Arianna (one of the two flower girls) looking up at me so cutely and then giving me a great, big, honest, reassuring smile in the middle of the ceremony. And my nephew, our ring bearer (in theory - the rings were really with Rich), he was sooo serious about walking up to the two angelic girls it was too cute.

My mind did go blank - while I was supposed to be repeating what the JP was saying, you know the "I, -insert name- take -insert name- to be my lawfully wedded wife". Blankness in sprints is good - it's a sort of a Zen thing - but blankness in a wedding ceremony, not good. I was struggling to repeat the lines - and as an aside, now I know why they read just one or two words at a time and then have the nervous wedded-to-be repeat after them. Within a few lines I was in trouble - I had no idea what the JP had just said.

So I looked at the JP and asked, "What was that?"

Everyone laughed and that unblanked my mind although I still didn't know what to say. Kevin, like his accurate sprint blow up prediction the day before, told me later that I was taking longer and longer to repeat things and by that fourth bit I looked to be in serious trouble and ka-blam that was the kicker.

Anyway I got through the rest of it okay. The still-future missus got through with the help of my best man (he gave her the first tissue which he had "just in case" - he was well prepared) and me (I got her tears with the stylish hankie in my breast pocket). We wrote our ceremony (which makes me blanking out even worse) and part of it asks everyone for their support in our marriage. Everyone caught on and a chorus of "We do's" resounded in the Meeting Room. And finally, at some point, we were pronounced man and wife and we kissed.

We were married.

And the future missus became missus which makes typing this blog a lot easier.

We took a nice leisurely cruise north to the reception site, the Keeler Tavern Inn. The drive was slow, steady, the driver was the epitome of perfection. We drank some of a bottle of champagne, talked and laughed, the things you do in a limo. The driver shoehorned the limo into the narrow driveway and dropped us off.

The reception itself was a casual affair catered by a wonderful person named Diane Browne - the missus had gone to a wedding (while I was training in California) and was so impressed with the caterer that we decided to use the same one - Diane. Excellent food, professional but personable, really nice crew too - they made you feel special.

The music was very cool too. In the stressful last week of the wedding planning, the last major planning hurdle ended up being deciding what music to play. We had some different ideas of what we like (for example, although I wouldn't play it at a wedding, I really like Linkin Park - the missus prefers John Mayer). One song which we didn't agree on was one we both liked but differed on its appropriateness at the wedding - Madness "It Must Be Love". Her choices I didn't even know most of them and hence I was hesitant to have them played (I'd want the music to reflect something in each of us I thought). In the end we decided to let the DJ pick the music - he claimed he had a tasteful mix of background type music and had offered up a subtle but nice background type of scene. He was really good, really understanding, and pulled off a great gig.

That DJ's name is Matt and he happened to be a designer in the real world - and has done such things as design a lot of what made Cipollini famous (the Peace thing, the Roman thing, Saeco's normal kit, etc) as well as the Carpe Diem Racing kit. He happens to be a pretty strong racer as well, racing as a Cat 2 for a long time.

His DJing skills are like his design ones - he knows his stuff, is fluent in his environment, and works with a quiet, confident authority. He started things off with some of the big band things that the missus liked (and everyone else apparently) but as he promised, the music was really there as a backdrop, not as a focus. His music grew a beat as the afternoon wore on, eventually culminating in some fun music. During the course of the day the missus and I ended up apart from each other as we talked with various peoples. At some point we ran into each other - just as "It Must Be Love" was playing.

"Hey, it's the song!"

We both had silly grins plastered on our faces.

Coincidentally our photog's name is Matt too. Like our DJ, he was dressed in very chic all black (he sort of resembles one of the Madness guys actually). He too was fluent in his environment, quietly secure, and exuded confidence that things were going great. He used the Keeler Tavern's garden with its various walkways and such to great effect, including a somewhat, um, hilarious shot of me and the garden's little water spout. He saw it, thought of it, and then had me replicate his pose - worth a laugh for sure.

If I ranked his photography as a cyclist might, he'd be an Elite or Cat 1 at worst. He was everywhere, cheerful, great to work with, never bossy, just excellent to work with, and to top it off he took a lot of great shots.

Yeah, like I know right?

Well, actually, I do know. He'd show us some of the shots right after he took them, but then what's a shot or two if you can't get everything? Exactly - which is probably why, before he left, he'd set up a laptop playing a slide show... of the wedding and the reception, all to music.

Incredible.

When it got to be that time we started closing shop. My various brothers and in-laws helped break things down (they had already done the same at the Meeting House) and stuffed a lot of gear in the missus's car (which one of them drove up, bike and all). My sister was excused of course as she's well into her first pregnancy (due December). We were interrupted by someone coming to check out the place for some gig (a reception?) - I don't think you could have gotten a more enthusiastic recommendation, and the two women drove off talking about booking the place now.

And that, as they say, was that.

We wrapped up the day at the Tuscan Oven bar - after the great dinner there the prior evening, we decided to go back for drinks. Us newlyweds were pretty exhausted though and called it a night sort of early on. We retreated to our room after biding everyone a good night.

We really enjoyed working with the folks that helped us celebrate our day so I'd like to give them some credit here -
AfterHours Formal Wear, Nationwide (good if your best man lives 3000 miles away)
Wilton Friends Meeting House, Wilton, CT (non-denominational weddings welcome, I'd say a 100-120 person max)
Regency Limo, Wilton, CT (they've been around about as long as I've been cycling and now I know why)
Tuscan Oven, Norwalk, CT (our dining room was for about 25 or so people, excellent service and staff)
Diane Browne at Good Food, Good Things, 203-656-1920 (no site so they get a tel#), Darien, CT
Keeler Tavern Inn, Ridgefield, CT (up to 80 or so people, you can get a guided tour for very little more)
Matthew J Wagner Photography (can't say enough about him, great photog tricks, and he has a blog)
Mary Pugh, Justice of the Peace, Norwalk, CT (for CT only; she takes some pics too, and highly recommended if you're looking for something smaller and/or non-denominational)

1 comment:

suitcaseofcourage said...

Congratulations man!! That's a great post - thanks for sharing your day with us. The comments about the merry go 'round and the "buccaneers" were priceless!!

Sorry I've been off the blogs for a bit - just catching up now. But even sorrier to hear you're sick. Must be your body finally giving in after all the craziness these past couple of months (who else would do a major move AND get married? Probably somebody who brings his bike to his own wedding...)

All the best to you and the (former future) missus!!