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Wedding, part 3: The hall, the reception and the aftermath

By the time we got back to the hall, cocktail hour was over and the guests were just finishing seating themselves. Sadly, nobody had saved any of the cocktail goodies for us, so I never even saw what they looked like :(. Once we were sure that everyone was seated and settled, the DJ introduced us (including both sets of parents) into the hall in pairs to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger". This was the first time I got to get a good look at the reception hall.

Hall d├ęcor
Paul's family is very arts-and-crafty, so most of the decor came from them. I absolutely adore the centerpieces, which Paul's mom provided. They were so much more original than just vases of flowers like at most weddings! She bought the plain black frames, with LED "candles" that flickered like real ones when lit (since we weren't allowed real ones), then decorated them and included small blue ribbons as an accent. She also provided the blue fabric squares to make the plain white table more interesting.

Paul's mom had also provided the ring cushion, which she handmade using leftover material from one of Paul's sisters' wedding dress (she had made both his sisters' dresses). Everyone was amazed by how good it looked, and it was better than anything I'd seen in the bridal stores.

Another thing provided by Paul's parents was the incredible gift box for all the cards, meant to look like a book. His father made it and his mother painted it. Not only is it useful for keeping all the cards in but it's also a wonderful keepsake.

And the cake...the cake. How awesome is that?? I had requested a white cake with white icing, and I knew that Paul's sister had also asked about the type/colour of flowers we were using, but I'd had no idea what to expect until we stepped into the hall and I saw it for the first time. I mean, holy crap! It looks professionally done! And it's fondant-free! Everyone was crazy-impressed by it, to the point where most people didn't believe us when we said it was Paul's sister who had made it and not a professional bakery. We could not thank her enough for it. The cake toppers looked amazing as well. Angie had shown me a photo online of the topper she was ordering for me to make sure that I liked it (I did!!), and she added the little veil onto it. The groom topper, bought only that morning, had apparently been a blond, but his hair had been quickly painted dark so that he would look more like Paul. Crazy attention to detail!!

The dinner reception
When I got into the hall I noticed that the table numbers had come out somewhat backwards from the way that I'd planned them, so that the bride and groom's parties were sitting at opposite ends from the bride and groom's guests. Oh well, no biggie. We took our places...and I have to say that after this I don't have much memory of dinner.

It was a buffet, and the food that I tried was good, but I could barely eat anything. This wasn't because I was nervous or not hungry, but because my dress was so tight that my stomach had no room to expand. I literally could barely eat anything, but at least what I did have was good! Aside from that, although our party got our food first, everyone who got in the buffet line passed by our table. Because we hadn't had a receiving line (I find those awkward and they take forever), everyone was taking that opportunity to talk to us. By the time I ate, my food was a bit cold. Everyone was saying how much they liked the food, though, which was good. Despite our caterer herself seeming rather distracted and disorganized (and not present because she had a bigger wedding on the same night where her presence was required), her staff was efficient and did a good job.

At some point after my train had driven me fully crazy, I got Kel to tie it up so I wouldn't have to keep holding it and/or stepping on it. However, tying it up created something of a bustle in the back of the dress, which made a gigantic cushion when I tried to sit down. I felt like I was just floating in a sea of fabric without really feeling the chair beneath me, and of course I couldn't lean back because the bustier was keeping me sitting straight up. Suffering to be beautiful...

The best man's and maid of honour's speeches were during dinner, and both of them were so well done. Alex went first, and although he got a detail wrong about my and Paul's meeting (he spoke of a Transformers necklace when it was actually a T-shirt), the speech was fantastic and got me sniffly for the first time that day. When it was Kel's turn, she also spoke of our meeting (although she had that detail right, heh...both of them had included it independently of each other). She hates public speaking, so this was harder for her than it was for Alex...she had her speech written down and I could see her hand shaking like crazy as she read it. And then she reached a part about Granny, wherein she quoted something from Granny's wedding photo album, and my heart was so touched that I almost went to pieces. Desperately trying to dab away tears before they ruined my makeup, I couldn't participate in Paul's little thank-you speech to the guests because I wasn't able to talk yet ;_;. The links to the speeches are here and here in case anyone is interested. They're both really sweet.

I don't recall spending much of dinnertime actually at the table. At one point the photographers asked us to come out into the window/mirror room for family photos, and once that was done the two of us had some photos taken over at the piano. I was asked to "pretend" to play, to which I said that I didn't need to pretend to, heh. One of the photographers loved it when I played the Portal song, although it turned out that that was the only video game music she knew. Unfortunately the piano was old, horribly out of tune, and some of the keys were losing their plating. I'm surprised I didn't cut my finger when I caught it on a broken edge, so I stopped playing. And just in time too, because Ma had noticed I was playing and had the nerve to go tell the DJ to stop the music because I was playing out there and everyone should listen! Blah...I have nowhere near the talent necessary for performing anymore, especially not when one of my old friends (who I was better than when we were fourteen, but who is now a music teacher and loads better than me) was there. So we re-entered the main hall and got the DJ to put the music back on.

After that I sort of recall drifting around between tables, trying to say hi to as many people as possible, although there were some I barely got the chance to say two words to all night. I made sure to get a photo with my niece, though. She'd spent the ceremony at her grandparents' place so that there would be no interruptions during that, but my brother retrieved her during cocktail hour because I really wanted her to be there and be in photos. She certainly kept my friends and family at her table entertained. ^_^

I really did hate having to cut that cake and effectively destroy it, although Angie made sure that the top layer was saved so that it could be frozen and eaten on our first anniversary (apparently a tradition in Paul's family). I am kind of irritated about that, because I couldn't even finish the piece I had that night, and I would really liked to have had a real piece when I was out of that dress and able to eat again! It was delicious, and I heard that some people went back for seconds, and more than seconds :P.

Eventually it was first dance time, and our chosen song was Believe (the original Savatage version, not the slower, raspier-voiced TSO version). A couple of weeks previously I had spent a couple of hours very carefully editing that 5.5-minute long song down to 3.5 minutes so that we wouldn't be up there forever, and had sent the cut song to the DJ, but that must have gotten lost along with the other stuff because the long version started. We were able to fade it out during the guitar solo, but all my work had gone to waste. Oh, well.

Da and I did our dance to "The Way You Look Tonight" by Maroon 5, which was his pick. Strangely, he liked that version better than the one by Sinatra or anyone else more of his time period. I wish we'd rehearsed, because he kept trying to actually dance with me, and although I have good rhythm and dance well by myself, I haven't the first clue how to follow any steps or guidance in a couples dance. This looks like us laughing at my general incompetence as he attempts a move once again.

Paul had originally chosen the Glee version of "I'll Stand By You" for the mother-son dance, and then a couple of days before had switched their choice to a Kenny Rogers song. Unfortunately the DJ forgot and played the Glee song. Instead of protesting, they started to dance anyway, and by the time I got to the DJ to tell him it was already thirty seconds into the song and too late to switch. We were the only ones who knew there had been a mistake, but Paul and his mom were probably rather disappointed.

So once all of those formalities were done, it was party time!! After being annoyed by my veil pulling on my hair all day, I finally took it off and replaced it with a big white bow barrette (a commission made by one of our crafty students). I also removed the spaghetti straps from the dress because they were starting to hurt my shoulders. That dress was so tight that it wasn't going anywhere anyway!

We danced and danced, and Jess and I did a semi-choreographed dance to Time Warp which was a load of fun (she's the one who's in that show...I've never done the dance before but apparently I was good enough at following along and learning the choreography quickly that people thought I'd practiced it XD). It was around that time that the "party" guests showed up...about 20 extra profs and students who I unfortunately didn't have the space or money to include in the dinner but who I wanted there to party with me! Being students, many of them went straight to the bar, as they'd heard that it was open bar until the booze was gone, which of course means to get as many drinks as you can right away. So certain students got pretty wasted pretty fast, heh.

When it was time to throw the bouquet, I found myself without one to throw. Apparently the florist had forgotten to include a throwaway bouquet with the package, so I had to grab up one of the bridesmaids' bouquets (they couldn't really take them on their trips home anyway). I swear we had to practically drag people onto the floor. After enough coercing, we got a good crowd, though. I threw the hell out of that bouquet, but when I turned around, nobody had caught it! Apparently none of these ladies wanted to get married, so they had let the poor bouquet get half-smashed on the floor D:! However, the DJ and the other girls pointed out that Crystal had almost caught it but then had purposely let it slip through her arms. They insisted she had won, so she had to take it. Nyah on her. Finally she accepted it, and then I assume went to get more drunk XD.

I hated having to miss songs I wanted to dance to because people kept leaving and insisting on talking way too long with me before they left. Grr, I missed dancing to specific songs that I had requested be played because I was stuck like that! At one point a bunch of people from the department who never dance were all up there dancing there together, and I didn't get to see it :(.

At about 9pm I was starting to feel kind of sick. I was dancing too hard, it was too hot in the hall (we couldn't change the temperature in there), and although I hadn't had any alcohol, I definitely had not had enough water. Unfortunately while still in my dress I couldn't guzzle water like I wanted and needed to, not to mention that the boning in the bustier was digging into me. Around 9:30 I finally couldn't take it anymore, so I grabbed the nearest girl (turned out to be one of my former teammates who had just graduated) and made her help me get out of the dress (nice to have a private locked room at the hall where we could keep our stuff safe and also where I could change without having to drag my dress into the bathroom. I'd forgotten to bring the dress bag for the gown, but I didn't care. I own the thing, and it had done its duty anyway!

Man, it was such a relief to be able to breathe again. Still, I had bruises at the top and bottom edges of each of the wires in the bustier, and it actually hurt to let myself loose again after having been held so tight for so many hours. Thankfully my change of clothes was dress pants and a fashion corset, so although that corset let me breathe perfectly easily, it still held me in so that the pressure could be eased off instead of removed all at once. Dear god, I don't know how those ladies back in the day did it >_<. Also, the pointy boots were exchanged for my regular Harleys for more comfortable dancing!

I rejoined the party, but spent a lot of the time going back to the bar for more and more water. The music was great, and dancing with the (drunker and drunker) students was a blast, but the more I danced, the more exhausted I got, the more I needed to drink, and then the more my stomach started to cramp from exercising right after filling it with liquid. Later on, we requested heavier music, from Evanescence to ACDC to Blink-182 to Rammstein, and so the crowd on the dance floor changed a bit but wasn't any less crazy. Finally I could dance no more, and the party wound down around 12:30pm. We were supposed to vacate the hall by 1am, so the music ended at 12:45am, and I said goodbye to all the leftover students, who were thankfully all leaving in a van with a designated driver. Not that any of them had brought a car, but considering how some of them were slurring their speech I was glad that someone they knew was going to be driving them right to their doors.

I had to say goodbye to Mellie that night, who was going back to the hotel with her parents because they were leaving together the next morning. Same with parents were driving her back to her hotel, then taking her to her train early the next morning. Since Paul and I would be spending the night in a different hotel, I wouldn't get to see either of the girls again :(. Mellie and I really need to plan more visits, and I hope that at some point there will be occasion to get together with Phoenix again.

The end
The guys began to clean up, but I was feeling sick and utterly dehydrated, so with the tables and chairs disappearing I just sat on the floor (somehow still looking pretty good XD). With all the guests gone, the wedding party worked on gathering everything up while I sat with a giant water bottle in my hands, entirely out of it. The dress got scrunched into Kel's trunk (like I said, it had done its duty!), and all the gifts, leftover accessories (2 leftover centerpieces, some favours, the table numbers, the unsmashed bouquets, the head table flower centerpiece), leftover food and drinks (booze, pop, water), and my three houseguests were all stuffed into Kel's and one of the groomsmen's cars and driven back to our house.

Our wedding party were all so good to us, and big extra thanks here go to Kel's boyfriend Martin and especially Ly...neither of them were officially part of the wedding party but they pulled full duty as if they were. Ly, if I'd been able to have a third bridesmaid you would have been it! You helped so much. *hugs* (Though I have to say you looked hotter in your dress than you likely would have in the bridesmaid ones! Yowza ^_~.) I have to say that when we really needed it our friends really came through for us.

Paul and I took our overnight bags and went to our fancy Sheraton suite. Including the giant bathroom that suite was probably about the same size as the first floor of our house, with an amazingly comfy king-size bed. Too bad I was feeling too ill to enjoy it! It was 2am, but with all the makeup, hairspray and dancing sweat on me I couldn't stand to go to bed without taking a shower. So I did, hating it all the while because my feet hurt and the shower floor was made of lumpy polished stones. I don't know if that's supposed to massage your feet or what, but those hurt to stand on, so I wasn't happy. Anyway, I had to dry my hair and all, so by the time I was done with that, it was nearly 3am and Paul was already in bed. Wedding night? Highly overrated! Honestly, anyone capable of having a "wedding night" did not party hard enough at the wedding itself XD.

The aftermath
Knowing that our guests were taking care of our cats at home, we took our sweet time getting up and took well advantage of our late check-out. We thought of eating at the hotel restaurant, but it was serving fancy-shmancy food and we just weren't interested, so we checked out and went to a regular breakfast place for finally heading home.

Gifts were opened, and other than that a lazy day was had by all. Dinner was wedding leftovers (common meals for the next few days, heh). Things were slowly cleaned up, and a pile of 25 or so bobby pins were found that had come out of NE's hair XD.

The next day was Thanksgiving. Paul took BC with him to the gaming store while we girls played some Rock Band and just plain relaxed. We followed that up with a good Thanksgiving dinner (meaning the Californians would get two Thanksgiving this year!), and very early the following morning I took NE, Ly and BC to the airport to catch their respective flights.

It was almost weird to go home to a quiet house after that. We couldn't believe it was all over. Ten months of planning and spending and crazy stress, all for ten hours, some of which went by in a blur. My long-distance friends were gone again, and who knows when I'll get to see them again. It all seemed to be over so suddenly.

I'd sat at the head table with my camera, intending to take some photos myself, but the only one that turned out was this one of me and Kel (something about the washed-out lighting and the focus issues makes this photo look unique to me, and I love it). So I had to sit back and wait for the guests to post their photos on Facebook, then download them from there. All of the photos I have right now are from Kel and other friends. There are probably 300 or so, so I've distilled those into a photobucket album. I've linked some of them in this post, but if you want to see them all (and they're in order too!), go ahead and check out the full album.

So that's it! Next up: the honeymoon. We got married October 9, but would only leave on November 6 because we wanted some downtime in between. The honeymoon was a week-long Caribbean cruise aboard the Ruby Princess, gifted to us (including flights) by Paul's boss. It's going to take me a while to upload all of those photos, so sorry to say you'll have to wait a while for that post!
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