It has been a long, long time.
Almost two years in fact. Can you believe it? I can’t. I seriously thought that it had only been a few months, but as a friend continued to gently nudge me to write the next chapter I realized just how long it had been. I have to be honest–I was a bit hesitant to pick up a thread that I’ve left alone for so long.
…but then I remembered the reason I started writing Our Story in the first place–it’s only been 5 years, and I’m already starting to forget those little details and moments that makes Our Story… ours. I started writing out how we met and fell in love so that I would always have those memories to have and cherish, to remember through good times and bad, and to smile and laugh about some where down the road. I love our story, and I think, at least for a while, so did many of you.
So, without any further ado… (this one’s for you, Miss Gentle Nudge)
I really wanted to pull a One Tree Hill and fast forward a bit through time, but as I was reading through the last chapters I wrote, I realized that while I told you the story of our actual wedding, I never did get around to detailing our reception.
And oh, my lovelies, it was a party. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
I was never one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding her entire life. To be truthful, I really don’t think I ever imagined my own wedding or reception until I had to plan it. My mom, with patience and guidance, helped me to make decisions I had never thought about–food? Flowers? Decorations? Guest list?
The planning was so overwhelming. We finally hammered out a guest list of 190 people, chose colours (pink & white), decided on food and flowers all that jazz.
At the time, I hated the planning part. I couldn’t visualize anything. It was all notebooks and pictures and boxes. It didn’t feel real to me until it was time to actually get my hands dirty and make it happen.
We were able to get into the building where I was having my reception two days early to begin the arduous task of transforming a gym into something a little more… elegant. The first night involved a lot of heavy lifting. I wanted the head table to sit a little higher than the rest of the room, so it required a small stage to be set up. Then there were the tables and chairs…
Oh, the tables.
Can I just say how insane it is to try and organize enough tables to fit nearly 200 people in a small space? It was like the ultimate 3D puzzle. Thankfully, I had the most amazing crew in the world. Several people came and pitched in–people who hardly knew me at the time but just wanted to help. Some wonderful friendships have blossomed out of that act of service, and I haven’t forgotten it.
I was exhausted, but it was beginning to feel real.
The next day (the day before the wedding) was decorating day. It began with just my immediate family–my mom and sisters, but more family and friends came to help as the day wore on. My aunt, cousins, maid-of-honour and fabulous friends all came and pitched in, and slowly we transformed a basketball court into a reception hall. It was simple, but it was exactly what I wanted.
A few short hours later, I was married. After a beautiful ceremony and many pictures, it was done: I was Mrs. Shop Girl. What now?
To my mother’s (initial) dismay, I decided to forgo many “traditional” wedding practices at my reception. The first thing to go was the reception line.
I have never, ever liked reception lines. I understand why people have them, but I find them so awkward and uncomfortable for everyone involved. They take forever, and it just wasn’t… us. Instead, my parents greeted and welcomed guests to the reception and guided them to the seating plan, and later that evening the Hubster and I walked around to every table to hand out our wedding favours and thanked all our guests then.
Once everyone was seated, my uncle (who was our MC for the evening) began the program. The wedding party all waited in the wings for our cue, and then began one of my favourite moments of our evening: the bagpipes.
If there was one thing that I was fiercely passionate about having at the reception, it was bagpipes. My maternal grandfather–my Gumpo–passed away in 2002. I still miss him terribly, and I wish he could have been there. While I personally loved the idea of being piped into our reception, I think it’s something he would have loved too. I have a strong Scottish and Irish heritage and red hair runs through my family, and he was always known by his nickname: “Red”. It made me feel like he was there, in some small way.
As the piper (who happened to be a close family friend) walked and we followed toward the head table, I finally felt that rush of reality and excitement: this was it. This was our wedding.
We decided that we didn’t want the fuss of a big fancy dinner, so we opted for a later reception and offered a large buffet of “finger foods” that were available throughout the evening. We also weren’t partial to long speeches, so we opted for short, simple toasts instead by family and a few close friends. I was welcomed into the Hubster’s family, and we became a part of mine.
Then it was our turn to speak. This is the part of the story where I find myself filled with both gratitude and guilt towards all those who helped make my special day what it was. I was young and so distracted by what was happening that minute that I didn’t prepare myself to speak. I generally thanked everyone who helped–and my gratitude was genuine–but I’ve always felt that it wasn’t enough. I’ve always wished that I had mentioned my sisters by name to thank them for the countless hours they poured into preparing for our wedding, to thank them for being the examples I have looked up to all my life, for them being who they are. I wish I had made it known that I couldn’t have survived those months leading up to our wedding without my mom–who supported me, guided me and loved me even when I was being absolutely impossible. Who sacrificed time, patience and funds to make our wedding a day to remember. For just being my Mom.
After a whirlwind of toasts, music and food it was time to dance. Because we had so many people attend, there wasn’t space for a dancefloor in the initial floor plan. Once people had finished eating we removed several tables and rearranged chairs.
And then I walked out onto the floor to wait.
Big Dad walked out to join me, and together we danced to one of my favourite songs of all time, “Daddy’s Little Girl” by the Mills Brothers. We danced and he sang to me… I even got a twirl. I love my Dad. :)
Listen: Daddy’s Little Girl
As the music finished, the Hubster walked out onto the floor, took me in his arms and together we danced our first dance as husband and wife. We chose “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. (I like old music.)
…and then, it was time to dance. I know everyone is biased about their own weddings, but I have never seen people dance like they did at our wedding. And the best part? Our wedding was completely dry–100% alcohol free, and that didn’t stop a soul from getting in on the party. We did every stereotypical “wedding song” you can think of, and it was hilarious. People I never expected to see on the floor were lighting it up to the funniest songs.
And last but not least, a little something to represent my northern roots: Shania Twain.
It may not have been a reception you’d see detailed in a bridal magazine, but it was a ridiculous amount of fun, and to us, it was a perfect evening.
Even though it’s now five years later, I cannot express enough gratitude to those who made it happen and who stayed for hours afterward to take it down. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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