The wedding of the year is now over, and it was spectacular (even though I do say so myself!), although there were times when I was unsure we were going to actually turn up at all, let alone 'on time!'
Apart from the main event, a Bachelorette party had been arranged for Thursday. Holly, Samantha's maid of honour, had planned an afternoon and evening of fun, fun, fun. However, being in England, she had sought the help of those who were Stateside, as well as Steph, who had been employed for her organisational skills. We were going to have high tea, at my house, followed by dinner, at an undisclosed location. (Holly was frantically researching for somewhere 'special') As Samantha and Edward had actually been married for two years, and the tradition of 'not seeing the bride/groom', held no particular relevance, along with the fact that there were several people visiting from 'out of town', the gals were going to meet the guys, downtown, at around 10pm. As the time neared, Steph (my daughter in-law) suggested (thankfully) that rather than have the tea at my house, it may be easier, and perhaps more party like to 'go out'. It was my job to find somewhere to have afternoon tea. After spending a considerable amount of time researching, I had found one venue in Austin that catered for such events on a daily basis. The Four Seasons Hotel. The reviews were mainly good, but it was rather pricey and I did not want to subject Samantha's 'working mum' friends to more than they would normally pay for dinner. Dana came to the rescue and said he would 'treat' the ladies to their extravaganza as an extra wedding present. However, when I called on Monday to confirm my tentative booking, I was told that due to the bike races at COTA, during the weekend, all 'lobby' activities had been cancelled. This was a disaster! I had been given one job, and I was on the way to failing miserably! Not expecting a positive reply, I asked the very apologetic event planner if there was anywhere else that she could recommend. 'Have you tried "The Full English"? I believe they do a tea'. At less than half the price, 'The Full English', were happy to accommodate, and booked me in for Thursday at 2pm. My reputation had been saved, and I could hold my head high when Holly reached American Shores.
Around 7pm on Monday night, the British Invasion landed in my living room. They had taken the 'new' straight through flight from London, and been victims of our city's rather small airport's inability to deal with a transatlantic arrival. Samantha had waited for nearly two hours for them to emerge through the gates. Due to the extensive delay in leaving the terminal, most of the hire cars had been claimed and Rick and Steph were subjected to a luxurious upgrade! They drove up to my house in a Lincoln, which I explained was the creme de la creme. Samantha came in with Holly, and Andrea, my high school friend. Suddenly, after months of planning, we were less than a week away.
It was not until Wednesday afternoon that the niggle at the back of my mind made its way to the forefront. I had to do something and it was not on any of my lists, but I knew it was important. With the 'no stress' venue staff taking care of all major details, and the wedding party kitted out, I had completely forgotten that my dress was about nine inches too long! Panic hit at 5pm, when Samantha suggested I try it with a pair of silver, and a pair of gold shoes, to see which made a better match. My attempt at shortening the dress was nothing more than pathetic! I did not have time to go and find another outfit, and there was no guarantee that it would fit properly. I told Samantha not to worry, and that I would somehow make it right. My attempt to hide my horror and anxiety was nothing more than pathetic! Dana came to the rescue, again. After spending much of Wednesday night emailing 'emergency' tailors, he received a reply from one about a mile away from home.
Thursday did not start out the way I had planned, but the trip to the dressmakers did prove to be beneficial. I was delighted that the dress, even as ill-fitting as it was, received the 'wow' factor from the alterations' lady. She was very polite, and patient, ensuring me that she understood that I needed it before Saturday, and she did understand that the wedding was on Saturday, and she knew that I was in a hurry and had to have it back before Saturday. To say that she shooed me out of the door is not much of an exaggeration.
Cori, the mother of Samantha's Page Boy and Flower Girl, was another member of the 'Batchelorette planning committee'. She had not only made the dinner arrangements, but had put her husband in charge of Edwards Bachelor's party, which up until Tuesday, had been non-existent. I had been in communication with one of Edward's friends, who told me he would be happy to help, but when Samantha had emailed to confirm, he told her that he assumed he would only be attending, not organising! Trent was the saviour, and had informed Edward that he would be collecting him at 7pm, for a 'boys night out'. Cori brought Samantha and Holly to my house, and the 'surprise' began. Samantha knew there was going to be a 'tea'. Unfortunately, those who could not come, had not realised it was a 'surprise', and many had sent her messages to 'enjoy', the afternoon. I had let the 'cat out of the bag', when I received a message from my friend to say she was arriving on the Monday. 'She will be able to come to the tea', I commented, one Saturday on the way to the grocery store! Not talking to my daughter for the next three weeks was the only way I managed to keep everything else a secret! However, I digress. Cori arrived at my house, and Samantha was suitably 'surprised'. The kitchen was empty. The kitchen table was empty and the lounge was empty. Not a cake in sight! I was the only one (apart from Samantha) who had been to the cafe, and therefore, I was the only one who knew where we were going! As soon as I gave the address to Cori, however, Samantha shouted, 'I know where we are going!'
The Full English certainly did us proud. The tiny sandwiches were perfect, and although small triangles (with the crusts cut off), they were plentiful. The plate of scones, with jam and cream, would have been enough to complete the afternoon meal. The tiered cake stand, full of the most amazing goodies received tremendous 'oooh's and 'ahhh's from everyone, who found room for at least one pretty pink cake and cookie. It was perfect. (I still have not experienced the Four Seasons but I can without a doubt recommend The Full English.) Apparently, I 'did good!' After plenty of laughter, and a huge intake of sugar, we departed, with take out boxes, and the six ladies (ladies for the afternoon, as we had just enjoyed afternoon tea!) went our separate ways, in two cars, so that we could get ready for dinner, hoping that we would at least have a small appetite, after gorging ourselves!
Edward's sister, Pam, and brother-in-law, Chip, had arrived from North Carolina Thursday morning. Both serving police officers in their respective state, they had been on night duty and needed to take a nap before the evening's soiree. Pam had told me that she would not be able to join us for tea, but would like to come for dinner, and meet up with her husband and the rest of the menfolk afterwards. I had offered to collect her to go to the restaurant. As we had never met, I did not want to be late, and left my house with a lot of time to spare. Steph drove downtown, to pick up Richard and his dad, as they had lunched together, and was going to take them to Edward, so that they could venture to their adventure together. She could then take Samantha and whomever was at her home to the restaurant. Due to Steph being with child she had opted to be the other designated driver, for which Cori, the whomever, who was at Samantha's home, was most grateful! I left my house, with Andrea, and we took my mini to the office, where I exchanged it for Dana's larger, four door, vehicle. Since inheriting the cutesy ride from Samantha, I have not had time to have it valeted, and as Samantha's car was an extension of her bedroom (although I am delighted that her new car does not resemble the mad professor's laboratory) I did not want my first meeting with Pam to involve her climbing into something resembling a building site! I had told Samantha that when Pam reported the events of the weekend back to her mother, she would be reporting the events back to Samantha's mother-in-law! No matter how much Edward's parents adore my daughter, I think I would be hard pressed not to think, 'Oh my!', or words to that effect! Pam was a delight! We recognised each other immediately, and after initial hugs, and 'nice to meet you's', we left for dinner.
Dinner at the Oasis was a great choice. Set on several tiers, the restaurant offers the most amazing view of the river and hill area, along with the most spectacular sunset. Had I not been driving I may have been tempted to try one of the enormous cocktails that the other ladies (although by the second one, the term ladies is a used a little more loosely!) enjoyed! The raucous laughter was a sign that all were enjoying themselves. By now, we were a party of 8, and ready to hit the town! Jamie, mother of Samantha's youngest bridesmaid, Jaylen, had to bid us farewell, before we hit 6th Street, but assured us that she would be at the Page House on Saturday, daughter in tow, bright and early!
There was a moment of sadness as we drove into our old office parking lot. Apart from many happy memories, we were no longer privy to free parking, and had to put our money in the machine like all other 'visitors'. The advantage was that it is located at the 'wrong' end of the road, and normally only found by accident, so the parking spaces were plentiful. However, old habits die hard, and we pulled into our usual spots. As we walked along the outside of our old office, I spotted my friend Beverly, and her daughter, Samantha's fourth bridesmaid, and lifelong friend, Jodi, with her fiance, Will. Like schoolgirls, we all (apart from Will) screamed and jumped with joy, as they ran across the road, and we hugged heartily, before introductions were made. This was Beverly's first visit to Texas, although Jodi had come once before, for the weekend! Arriving last time on Thursday, as like this time, she had planned to stay for three weeks, but my dad passed away on the Sunday night, and her visit was cut short. Unbeknown to me, Jodi and Will were taking off on Monday to Boston, to visit Will's brother, so she would not spend more than a weekend in Texas, once again! After some deliberation as to where, we met up with the guys. Apparently, they had been to a men's club. They were all highly underwhelmed, and Richard announced that the only 'tip' he had given was to the man in the restroom, for opening the door! Chip told Pam that he had been sitting next to Richard and his father, and it was like being out with his father-in-law, so the experience was somewhat daunting. The other guys commented that Thursday was 'runner-up' night, but the meal was okay! Us ladies all found this to be highly amusing!
For the first time in ten years, both living in Austin, and officing off 6th Street, I actually entered a bar, at night! The Bat Bar was featuring a live group, the members of whom were all highly talented with their own instruments. Unfortunately the name eludes me, as I could not hear over the noise, but our party gravitated to the back, and danced until nearly 1am. Before leaving, I thanked Holly for arranging a great evening, but she refused to take all the credit, giving equal amounts to Steph and Cori, and to me. I backed away from an equal share, as I had hit the jackpot by default! My arrival back at home in the early hours, was marked rather loudly by Frank, who barked excitedly when I entered my bedroom. Dana did not wake!
Friday morning started very early. Dana went into work before 6am, and the dog decided that I had slept for long enough, and no doubt as punishment for being a 'stop out', made it quite clear that it was time for me to take him out for a walk. After preparing my kitchen for cake baking, I had breakfast with Richard and Steph, and then Samantha, Holly and I went to Costco to get some dessert for afters on Saturday. We dropped Andrea off at the mall, and headed to the warehouse. Perhaps I did overbuy when it came to appetisers, and pudding but I was rather anxious. We piled Samantha's car full of antipasto, cheese, cheesecake and apple pies, along with enough dips and chips to feed an army! There was just enough time for me to help unload the car before I had to head out to the mall to collect Andrea, and we then made a trip to the Dollar Tree to get some platters and bowls. My kitchen resembled the back of the mini by the time I returned, but I had received a call from the tailor (yes, I had forgotten about the dress....again) to let me know that my alterations had been completed. They had, and the dress fitted splendidly!
Cake baking is Samantha's forte. Clearing up is not! I set to at the sink, and followed the girls (Samantha and Holly) around the kitchen, collecting utensils and bowls. As soon as one lot of washing up was done, another was collected. Finally it was time to assemble the sponges. Samantha had laid out several small mason jars on the table and started to layer them. A layer of cream cheese frosting, then a round of red velvet; a layer of cream cheese frosting, then a round of blue velvet. Finally a layer of frosting and some red, white and blue sprinkles, before screwing on the lid. After about three cakes, she realised this was going to take much longer than she anticipated. Holly made the suggestion that the all the jars should be filled with frosting, and then add the first layer of cake, before adding the second layer of frosting, and so on and so forth. Steph said she would sprinkle the sprinkles when they were ready, and Richard could put on the tops. The assembly line was formed. Samantha frosted, I cut and added the cake rounds, Holly moved the jars as each layer was completed and passed them round to the 'next' person. Before long the whole process was completed and we had over 70 cakes in jars, ready to head out to the venue. We cleaned the kitchen and by the time Dana came home, the kitchen was virtually back to normal. Those who were not staying with me left for their beds, and those who were staying with me ate pizza and went to bed!
Saturday finally arrived and after washing my kitchen floor, (the only aspect of regular housework that I had achieved all week,) I headed for the shower, and then packed up everything that we needed to take. Bouquets had been wrapped. Bride's over sized flower had been 'bouquet'd', and dresses were hung away from the food. I am not sure how four bodies managed to fit into the car, but Samantha drove us and all our belongings, singing show tunes at the top of our voices, along the Interstate to the venue, where we met up with Edward, his groomsmen, and Samantha's dad. Unfortunately, Samantha's dad was somewhat disappointed with the surrounds, as it was not what he was expecting. As diplomatically as I could, I reminded him that we were 'not in Kansas anymore', and 'welcome to Texas y'all'. This was not as formal as it would have been in England. He agreed that if this was our daughter's choice, then it was alright by him, and that he would not let her know of his dissatisfaction. However, by the time we were through with the rehearsal, where Edward had to be given lessons on 'how' to 'kiss the bride', he was starting to see why she was so smitten!
The photographer was due to arrive at 3pm, to take photo's of us getting ready. I was nowhere near that stage! Chara, Dana's daughter, had arrived at 2pm, and after the initial introductions, headed upstairs, and took charge of the steamer as the rest of us could not come to grips with the machine. Holly had tried, but was anxious about getting the dress 'dirty'. I was extremely grateful, as she stepped in and took away mounting tension. Steph and Cori arrived within a few minutes of each other and set to work on Samantha. My talented daughter in law, the beautician, worked on the front, whilst Cori, the talented hair stylist, worked from behind. I was running up and down the stairs, arranging appetiser platters and dips. Holly, who's main function was the bride's assistant, took me in hand and with a metaphorical slap, pulled me into shape! It was when Samantha walked into the room (where I was being reprimanded,) did I get emotional. My daughter, who wears her hair in a pony tail, and to whom make up is abhorrent, was transformed into a work of art. Obviously, whilst I am biased, and think my offspring is naturally gorgeous, as she entered the room, she took my breath away. Her make up was 'natural', and her hair was up in a bun, with jewels dotted around a tiara. Chara warned me firmly, but kindly (now where have I heard that before?) 'Don't start crying now' and reminded me that the show had not yet started!
The bridesmaids had all been given a hoodie with 'Bridesmaid' glittered along the back. (Holly's read 'Maid of Honour', and Samantha's, 'Bride'). These were worn while everyone was getting ready, and enjoying a Mimosa, courtesy of Cori. (Everyone except for me, who not only was the designated driver, but whom could not stay upstairs for long enough to find a glass!) Holly's dress was red, Jaylen and Jodi's was blue. Steph, being with child had dressed in a fabulous blue maternity dress, and felt well enough to walk down the aisle. Chara had a beautiful knee length blue dress and the most stunning shoes. (Dana asked me if I had notice the shoes, and Chara replied, 'Every woman has noticed the shoes!) The bridesmaids and bride wore Converse, which had been beautifully bejewelled by Samantha, and the laces had been replaced by ribbons. The photographers gasped as they saw them. Cori's children were also shod in Converse. Jaylen, the 10 year old bridesmaid, although very excited and looking forward to the afternoon and evening, was thinking ahead, and exuberant about the fact that she would be able to walk into school the following week, wearing both hoodie and personalised shoes!
Dana arrived, with Andrea, shortly before 4pm. My anxiety about husband no. 1 meeting husband no. 2 had been reduced to a 'whatever', as the day had worn on, and if either of them misbehaved (which was highly doubtful, as both saw their main duty to be that of making sure Samantha's day was perfect), I was not going to interfere! The meeting went very smoothly! Beverly arrived and headed upstairs, to see her daughter, who was ready to precede her lifelong friend down the aisle. My dress fitted like a glove (literally, as it was rather hugging) and Steph had done wonders on my face with her make up brushes! By ten to five, we were all ready! Any fears that I had given a 'whatever' to were 'gone with the wind', as both father, and step-father of the bride were engaged in smalltalk, which was good enough!
I strutted my stuff down the aisle, on Dana's arm, to Bruno Mars singing, 'Marry You'. The Groom and groomsmen followed, and then the bridesmaids strolled along, followed by the cutest page boy and flower girl, both of whom were told to 'look for daddy', as a focus point, so they knew where they were going! Then the music tempo changed, and the song, 'Marry Me' came over the loudspeaker, and the most beautiful vision held on to her father's arm and walked down the aisle to be 'given away' to Edward. As we were asked, 'Who gives this woman to this man', Garry, father of the bride, could hardly utter, 'We do', for tears. His daughter had taken his breath away! Jerry, our process servers, who is also a Minister, led the service. It was every bit as beautiful as those who were taking part. My friend Katie, his wife, was smiling at her husband, as he announced, 'You may kiss your bride', and the usually shy, and demure Edward, did us proud!
After the bridal party, in pairs, left the center stage, the guests went to enjoy 'drinks and nibbles', while we had a variety of photographs taken, before the bride and groom were announced. The wedding was in no way traditional. The bride and groom had been married for over two years, although they both felt that with the ceremony, they now felt more wedded! The bridal bouquet was one enormous bloom (about 18 inches across) and the whole party wore tennis shoes! Dinner was barbecue, (probably the most conventional aspect, being that we were in Texas,) which was followed by the cutting of the cheesecake, and the passing out of wedding cakes in jars! The 'red, white and blue' theme was most prominent, joining England with the USA. Dancing followed dinner and I bopped the night away to a variety of line dancing, Elton John, The Proclaimers, and several other musicians, both new and old. Richard had Jerry, 'The Minister' howling with stories of his Bachelor party weekend, and everyone appeared to be having a 'good time'. Then, at 10pm, the DJ, announced that it was time for the last song, and the family (including all new in-laws) made a circle, and were surrounded by an outer circle, and danced to, 'Tonight, we own the night', which, indeed, we did! I heard my father's voice in my head, 'End with them wanting more', and we did!
Although we were not required to 'clear up', several people, including Beverly and her husband, Stanford, and the ladies helped load the cars with the 'leftovers', and table decorations. Dana had gone home early to look after the dog (which he had offered to do, as he is not a party person, an offer which Samantha had gratefully accepted. However, he did say afterwards that it was the first EVER party where he had wanted to stay!) We thanked the venue owner and all the staff for a magnificent event and left around 11:30pm.
A week has gone by and we are still reliving the day. Everything was perfect, and if it wasn't, we did not notice. Everyone who attended thought it was magnificent, and when asked how he enjoyed it, Samantha's dad gave it a 9 out of 10, which I can assure you is beyond praise! The bride was stunning, the groom handsome, and the bridesmaids beautiful.
One by one, our guests left, over the next week. However, the celebrations continued during their stay, and a good time was had by all. Introducing those who were not au fait with our state, and the town of Austin, was interesting, and one which I shall have to report in ............. another story!