Friday, January 16, 2004

Okay, finally, here it is...
New Year's: The Wedding
Once again, Mark and I got up "bright and early" to hit the road for our next destination, Cape Cod. For some reason, my mental geography of the East Coast has never really allowed Massachusetts to be north of places like New York and Pennsylvania. It's more down around Maryland and Delaware and those other small states. This is despite the fact that I can recite all of the 13 original colonies in order, north to south. (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia. Thank you, 8th grade social studies.) Anyway, now I can actually say I have been in New York City. We stopped there for gas. Also, I would like to say that the Northeast has a rather inflated opinion of how much toll it is entitled. We spent more on tolls from NC to Massachusetts than we would have going straight from Michigan to NC, and back again. We did eventually reach Massachusetts, whereupon we discovered...

Cape Cod is the most confusing place to drive, ever. Roads labeled as running south actually run northwest; straight roads take 90 degree turns and dump you onto residential roads rather than the interstate; "short" drives can take 45 minutes, so long as you're still on the Cape; and last but certainly not least, it is the only state in the nation that has "rotaries." Everywhere else in the whole world is content to call them "roundabouts" or "traffic circles," but not Massachusetts. On the other hand, it was kind of reminiscent of my life in Japan, what with never having a clue which direction I was going and the constant use of cell phones to get more directions.

Because I was a bridesmaid, my time was scheduled. There was the bridesmaid luncheon, the rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, bridal shower preparation, the bridal shower, the wedding, and the reception. Poor John, the "maid" of honor, was somewhat freaking out about getting everything done right, but as people kept telling him, so long as Ellie and Matt ended up married, everything else just added memorable moments of character. Ellie seemed to be taking it all well, and given the amount of preparation she had to do prior to this weekend, it's probably fair that John decided to freak out enough for both of them. (By which I mean freak out in a cute and endearing way, of course.) I hardly saw Matt at all, as he was spending most of his time with his relatives from New York and elsewhere, as well as all the groomsmen, imported from their grad school life in Maine.

The bridesmaids' luncheon, which also included attached boys and some other Grinnell people that Ellie wanted to see, was at a diner actually 45 minutes away, but somehow, all of us coming from the hotel thought it was only supposed to be 15. Hence, we were all 30 minutes late, and got to experience some marvelous Cape Cod driving, with not one, but two rotaries. The food was good, though, and Ellie had presents for us all! I got an extremely soft knitted hat, fitting since Ellie was one of my knitting teachers at Grinnell, and two pocket hand warmers, with accompanying lighter fluid and a windproof lighter, so I can make them work anywhere I go. Jennie got a teapot with a base for a tealight under it to keep the tea warm; John got a journal, book marker points, and a handmade pen; and Kate got special liquor in the shape of a giant Russian bullet. After we finished eating, though, Ellie and John had to run off to do wedding things, and the rest of us were instructed to be at the church in time for the rehearsal.

The rehearsal was easy enough. All the bridesmaids were there, as was the flower girl, but only one of the groomsmen, so we used Matt's sisters instead. The wedding was in an old, historical (as everything is on Cape Cod) Unitarian church, and was officiated by a very cool minister, who had obviously had a lot of practice with weddings and what can go wrong. She emphasized drinking lots of water during the day before the wedding, and especially emphasized to the groomsmen not to lock their knees. Apparently, groomsmen are prone to passing out.

The rehearsal dinner was in a hotel dining room. There were a lot of people there, basically every relative who had been invited to the wedding, plus the wedding party, which is rather more than usual at a rehearsal dinner. The best man and other errant groomsman showed up there, finally. There was lots of mingling, lots of toasts, and Ellie's step-father presented them with three Chinese figurines to bring health, wealth, and prosperity (I think).

When that was over, we dropped off the boys, (Mark and Jennie's husband Dan,) at the hotel and then the bridesmaids were off again to Ellie's mother's house to prepare for the bridal shower the next day. John and bridesmaid Kate made french toast while the rest of us, (me, Jennie, and photographer Kate) wrapped sparkly Frango's mints in little packages as favors for the next day. Ellie sat and entertained us by teasing her cats with extra ribbon. On our way back to the hotel, we got lost on the famous straight road with a 90 degree turn, with the added excitement of dense fog (did I mention I was driving?), but eventually we made it back and got to visit with Rikhei and Liz, two other Grinnellians not actually part of the wedding party, until I was well and truly tired and went to my own room to sleep.

The next day, the bridal shower started in the morning. The french toast had been turned into strata by Ellie's mother, from when Ellie seems to have inherited her culinary superpowers, much to John's relief. It was delicious, along with the vegetarian sausage and three kinds of syrup. Ellie opened her presents, which included many kitchen things. I gave her (and Matt) a matching set of chopsticks in red and blue from Japan, along with rests. Matt's mother, though, had knitted a gorgeous shawl with a peacock tail pattern, which she presented to Ellie at the shower, so Ellie could wear it in the wedding. But then we were all shooed away so Ellie could go be primped before the main event.

The wedding was in the evening. We got there a little early, to help with bringing in all the food. Ellie appeared to greet people wearing her "decoy" dress, since Matt had requested not to see her in her actual wedding dress until she was walking down the aisle. All of the bridesmaids were in gray pinstriped pants and off-white silk shirts, with white roses for our bouquets. The flower girl was in a green velvet dress with one white rose. We barricaded ourselves in the cloakroom with Ellie while she changed dresses, and when we came out, everyone had been seated, and all the groomsmen were actually present and waiting this time. The wedding itself went smoothly, in usual wedding fashion, except with a moment of meditation instead of a prayer before the vows were exchanged. Matt promised to love Ellie and wake her up every morning, and she promised to love him and fix all his technical problems, while hopefully teaching him to fix them for himself. And then it was done.

The wedding party led the rest of the guests down the hall to the reception room and then went back to the sanctuary for formal pictures. Those were done in rather amazingly short order, so we were soon back at the reception as well. The catering was all vegetarian, and there were 7 cakes of varying flavors, from white to chocolate to cheese to carrot to lemon. Ellie had set up her iPod connected to an elaborate set of speakers, so the reception music was chosen by her from her mp3 collection, which struck me as very Grinnellian. At the very end of the evening, she threw the bouquet, and no one quite caught the whole thing, although bridesmaid Kate caught at least the edge of it. Who knows what that means. Then everyone dispersed and Matt and Ellie made their escape unseen.

The next morning, there was a post-wedding brunch at the IHOP, and then we were on the road for our last 13+ hour drive, back to home.

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