On April Fool's Day, we celebrated the marriage of Eric's childhood friend Ryan to the lovely Amanda! And what a great celebration it was.
(Photo taken by their friend Ed)
You all know by now that I just LOVE weddings, so I can't wait to tell you all about this great event! (And of course, get ready for lots o' photos!) Let's start at the beginning.
Eric and I arrived in Florida late Wednesday night, and Thursday night was to be the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The plan was to hold the rehearsal outdoors in Largo Central Park, but the weather was--to put it mildly--less than ideal. We're talking torrential rain, high winds, tornadoes, the works.
Not cool, Florida. Not cool.
Needless to say, Ryan and Amanda just scrapped the whole "outdoor rehearsal" idea and we just went straight to the dinner. We met at Boulevard Bistro, where Ryan works. They had a nice setup with four tables for the whole group. Ryan and Amanda had a large bridal party (seven bridesmaids and seven groomsmen), plus bridal party significant others and family members, so we were a large group. We all spent some time chatting and enjoying cocktails before dinner.
At Eric's grandmother's house, ready to leave for the rehearsal dinner
The happy couple at the restaurant
Once everyone was settled into their seats, Ryan's mother made a lovely toast and dinner got underway. Eric and I each had the Bistro Chicken (stuffed with a blend of cheeses and bacon, chargrilled, topped with mushroom sauce and a side of parsley garlic potatoes), and I had some wine. Before long Ryan and Amanda also thanked everyone for coming and handed out the bridal party gifts. What did the boys get, you ask? SAMURAI SWORDS. Original, no? The boys were all pretty psyched and the girls were all just kind of like, "uhh....awesome."
"We love you too, Ryan!" - Eric
The boys opening their gifts!
Eric is pleased.
Eric, Ryan and a samurai sword.
Unfortunately (well, depending on your point of view) Eric's sword is still in Florida, because we were unsure if smuggling such an item on a plane in a golf bag was wise.
Friday was the Main Event, and thankfully, the weather had cleared up and it was absolutely DIVINE. Eric and I spent some time on the beach (more on that in my next post) and then went back to our hotel on Clearwater Beach to get ready for the wedding. Eric showered and got dressed in our room, then met up with the boys for some pre-wedding pandemonium (apparently things were all frenzied and hectic around there, although it doesn't look like it in pictures!).
Ryan getting ready
Nice moment between Ryan and his mom!
The boys headed over to the venue in a limo, while I hitched a ride with another wife-of-a-groomsman (and fellow Gator alum), Aston. We found our husbands at the venue, where guests were milling about and people were handing out programs.
At the venue before the wedding
Very pretty programs in a cute little tin
How handsome is this guy?!
The wedding was held at the Clearwater Beach Social Hall, and it was a lovely venue. The ceremony was held outdoors on the grass, which was so nice. The scenery was gorgeous and it was much more private (and quiet, with the exception of one loud bird that squawked all through the groom's vows) than it would have been if it was held on the actual beach. The cocktail hour was then held on the adjacent deck, and the reception inside the hall. It was a beautiful location all around, and Amanda decorated it wonderfully with lots of happy pink pom-poms and cheerful details.
Pom-poms on chairs along the aisle
Before long, everyone took their seats and the ceremony got underway. Music was provided by a guitarist, which was perfect for the peaceful setting. The groomsmen all looked quite dapper, the bridesmaids were lovely, and Amanda was stunning. The ceremony was unique and personal, with non-traditional vows and a very sweet wine ceremony in which the couple toasted their past, present, and future life together. Ryan and Amanda were adorable through the whole thing.
Ryan and the officiant processing in
My handsome husband
Here comes the bride!
During the beautiful ceremony
(Photo by Ryan & Amanda's friend Ed)
Husband and wife!
Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. G.!
Can we pause here for a moment to discuss my inability to dress myself for weddings? I mean, really. I may have to stop attending weddings unless I am in the bridal party and thus am told what to wear. Remember my friend Kristina's wedding back in 2009, when I agonized over what dress to wear, finally settled on something, felt amazing in it, and it ended up being the same dress my friend Jordan wore? We were even at the same table at the reception, so there was no sneaking it under anyone's radar.
With Jordan at Kristina's wedding
Jordan and I just ended up embracing it, because at that point, what else can you do? I didn't have another dress with me, so even if I was so inclined, there was no dashing back to the hotel to change. So, we just went with it.
Well, for this wedding, I also agonized over what to wear. I debated buying a new dress but couldn't find anything that was just right. So, I shopped in my closet and decided on a pink knee-length dress I bought some time ago but had only previously worn once, when I visited my sister on her cruise ship. Perfect, I thought. Still fairly "new," cute, fun, bright and upbeat for a beachy wedding. Well, little did I know, but Amanda would very much agree with my assessment. I know this because I WAS DRESSED EXACTLY LIKE THE BRIDESMAIDS. Nearly identical shade of pink, knee-length dresses. So, so embarrassing. I had no way to know this is what they would be wearing, of course, but dude. Awful luck. Add to that the fact that I was seated at the head table anyway because of my groomsman husband, and it was just not good. Sigh.
Gee, can you notice a resemblance?
Once again, I just had to roll with it. What can you do? It was the same story as last time - I had no other options. Maybe this builds character? But just in case, if you are my friend/relative/acquaintance and are thinking of inviting me to your upcoming nuptials, I am going to need to see a photo of the bridesmaids' dresses and thorough description of all guests' apparel beforehand. Thanks in advance.
Anyway, back to the celebration! After the ceremony the bridal party went off for photos (many of which involved those swords I mentioned), while the rest of us checked out the reception room, got our cocktails, and enjoyed some more live guitar music on the deck.
Placecards/favors, which were so cute! Amanda is an art teacher, and she hand-painted each of those little canvases for the guests. The name tag is just a slip of paper stuck behind it, so you could take home your personal hand-painted canvas and little easel as your favor. I loved this!
The bar served beer, wine, and "Mr." and "Mrs." cocktails, another great touch! The "Mr." cocktail was Crown Royal and Coke (the groom's favorite, and mine), and the "Mrs." was rum punch with a pink rock candy stir stick. So cute.
Meanwhile, while I drank, the boys took sword pictures.
(Photo by Ed)
Bridal party shot
(Photo by Ed)
Soon we moved inside for the reception. The bridal party was introduced, then the bride and groom made their grand entrance to the theme from Star Wars, which was a big hit! I had no idea Ryan was such a huge fan, but Amanda gave him Darth Vader cufflinks as a wedding gift, and I do recall Ryan gifting us the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD for our wedding. Needless to say, the crowd went nuts. Once things settled down, the bride's father made a lovely toast to get things started.
Eric being introduced into the reception - they had the girls hold the swords and the boys hold the bouquets!
Amanda and Ryan
VIDEO: Ryan & Amanda's big entrance
Everyone listening to the father-of-the-bride's toast (and if you'll notice, my very strange husband is holding his bouquet upside down)
Everyone then took their seats and we hit up the buffet for our dinner. After dinner we spent some more time on the deck with cocktails, cigars (not for Eric or me, but others), and chatting with the newlyweds.
Time to eat!
Showing off how well I match the decor
With the newlyweds
After dinner they did all the special dances: bride and groom's first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance. Very sweet.
Amanda and Ryan's first dance; Amanda dancing with her father; and Ryan dancing with his mom
The dances were followed by the toasts, including a very memorable toast by Best Man Jordan, Ryan's younger brother. Poor Jordan was so nervous about his speech, and then on the day of the wedding, he lost his written notes. So, he just got up there and winged it, and was so cute. He was funny, told stories (including letting it slip that the bride and groom were living together in college, which apparently their parents didn't know about), and was very sweet to his big brother. Well done, Jordan!
Jordan toasting the happy couple
I think at that point we may have done some more dancing, but soon it was time for the cake-cutting and all the bouquet/garter fun.
Onlookers during the cake cutting
I forgot to put my wedding rings back on after I showered that afternoon! So, here I am joking that this "single lady" should head up for the bouquet toss. They also happened to be playing the song "Single Ladies" (duh), so I was waving my hand around in true Beyonce fashion.
We spent the rest of the night dancing the night away and having a great time. (They played several Glee versions of songs, which I loved!) Eric was a trooper - he started the night with the worst headache ever, but he manned up and partied on anyway. He knows how I love bad wedding dancing, and he powered through to be right there jumping around on the dance floor with me. He's my wedding hero!
Happy dancing wedding guests
I have to say, Amanda and Ryan ended their wedding in an epic fashion. The DJ announced the last three songs were getting underway, which included a slow song, "Shout," and then "I'm On a Boat" to close out the night! Once again, if you are not a fan of The Lonely Island or SNL, you are missing out on "I'm On a Boat" goodness. Check out the video below (WARNING - explicit language, although it is beeped out!):
VIDEO: "I'm On a Boat" by The Lonely Island, featuring T-Pain
When that song started playing, the remaining crowd FLIPPED OUT. Everyone started singing along and busting out their best bad dance moves. It was awesome, and a great, fun way to end the night! (Eric and I found it especially funny because before our weekend at home started, I had to take Achilles to "camp" in the city via ferry. Once we were on the ferry, I texted Eric lyrics to "I'm On a Boat" as if Achilles was saying them: "'I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat! Everybody look at me because I'm sailing on a boat!' - Achilles." Oh, how we laughed!)
All in all, it was a fabulous wedding, and we had a wonderful time!
I heart weddings!
Congratulations again to Amanda and Ryan! We love you guys!