I’m sitting in bed, watching the sunrise over the mountains outside of Las Vegas. I’m in the honeymoon suite at the Bellagio – a place which meant nothing to me until saw the Hangover 3 on my plane ride back from Australia. The whole thing is surreal for a few reasons. First, I have never had any desire whatsoever to visit Las Vegas. Two, I somehow ended up here on my honeymoon.
But, let’s back track a bit here. It’s been a while since I last posted. In the interim, I quit my job, moved home from Australia, hit the ground running planning the remainder of my wedding, was interrupted from my planning by an unexpected contact from an estranged person in my past just a few days before my wedding, and then proceeded to have all my friends – most of whom I hadn’t seen in two years or more come in to my hometown for a weekend of amazingess, I married my Rickster, and now here I am in Vegas, watching the sunrise and eating minibar snacks.
So, the wedding. Let’s start with that. This post may have to be divided into multiple entries.
From day one, Rick and I knew we wanted it to be our own – personal and reflective of our personalities. But, as these things do, it began to take on a life of its own. We originally wanted an outdoor summer wedding in Colorado but neither of us wanted to wait over a year to get married. Then we considered a winter wedding in Colorado. We looked high and low and found some amazing places, but after announcing our plans to family, I learned that my Grandma who had been undergoing lung cancer treatment, wouldn’t be able to come to Colorado. So, we changed plans, ramped up our wedding planning, pulled our date up a few months, and took the wedding to my hometown of Milwaukee. She never made it to the wedding. We lost her in May, just a few months after she learned of our engagement. Though I know she was there in spirit her absence was a hole that many of us felt. But, perhaps our choice to bring it to Milwaukee was for the best because anyway because in planning from a world away one needs people on the ground and my parents were the engine that made this wedding happen.
The weekend was nuts. I am not even going to rein in my enthusiasm for it. Rick and I hadn’t seen many of our friends in the entirety of our time in Australia. It was a reunion, and wedding, and a hell of a party all wrapped into one. My bridesmaids started coming in a week before the wedding. Katie, Jane, and Max, the Maids of Honor, were the first. They arrived in town and from there the momentum just didn’t stop. We finished projects, we went to yoga, we made a Photo Booth, we met with people from the club, we verified orders and gave orders (and apparently I even do it in my sleep). It was so much fun. By the time Thursday night hit, all my girls were in town, most of Rick’s guys were too, and we had our Stag and Hens nights. We all met up in the end, but prior to that my Aunts, Mom, sisters, all of my bridesmaids, and many of my good friends took a Pedal Tavern around the city, had an amazing dinner at Benelux, and then we took a bus from bar to bar, finally meeting up with the boys at Wolski’s – which we closed, replete with stickers and assorted other “I closed Wolski’s” paraphernalia. It was SO much fun. I only wish we could have ridden the pedal tavern longer. My Maids of Honor did a STELLAR job planning.
Friday we all were in need of some TLC. We did our nails, sipped coffee and attempted to restore ourselves from lack of sleep and overindulgence. I took my bridesmaids out to lunch and gave them some gifts as a thank you for helping take part in my wedding. They, in return, gave me a fork to an old bike with a ribbon tied to it. It was a symbol of the fund they are starting for me to buy a touring bike before Rick and I head on our antipodal adventures. So, needless to say I was thrilled!
We met up for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, which included a brewery tour at Sprecher Brewery in Milwaukee. It was a fun night. We had Chipotle cater it – obviously Rick had his hand in that one. But I have to agree that the food and beer were a great combination. It was a perfect opportunity for some of our out-of-town guests and close friends to spend some more time with us. And it was low-key and fun. We then took a school bus to Trinity Irish Pub, where we met up with the wider group of guests getting into town for some drinks and more food. I was taking it easy Friday, so I didn’t stay out late, but the party was a good one. It was so much fun to see people after years of being gone. I’m surprised I didn’t spend the whole time crying from the excitement of it. I probably should have stayed out, because I came back to our hotel, laid in bed, and proceeded to sit there thinking about stuff – giddy and nervous – until about 2:30 when Rick made it home. So, yeah, sleeping wasn’t a big part of my weekend.
Saturday was like clockwork. Sort of. The girls all went to the salon and got our hair and make up done. Which was hilarious because by that time we had two nights of going out under our belts, drama was festering – in a good way, and we were eager to recount the previous night’s shenanigans together, possibly over a bloody mary or two, while the lovely stylists did our hair.
We headed to the Women’s Club of Wisconsin, which is absolutely a beautiful spot within walking distance of all the hotels we had out guests in. I had never been to it prior to the wedding – though my mom celebrated her debutante party there and took dancing classes there as a child. It’s got three floors, the uppermost of which is a ballroom – which we used for both our ceremony and reception. It was a gorgeous spot for our ceremony. We had some family friends do all of our decorations. I helped them pick out some flowers I liked – seasonal, wild-looking flowers, with gourds and pumpkins and stuff. They also made these amazing urns filled with curly willow, lit up with small lights. I know it was a LOT of work for them, but they were so happy and gracious. It was an amazing gift to Rick and me. The room looked exactly as I imagined it would. I couldn’t thank them enough for turning my dreams and pinterest stalkings into reality.
Our ceremony was like a dream. My lovely bridesmaids all looked beautiful. Three of them sang one of my favorite Wailin’ Jennys songs called “One Voice”. Rick’s friend Manuel, read the Buddhist marriage blessing, Ryan sang Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love”, and Justin did the whole ceremony. It was perfectly us. Perfectly light-hearted but meaningful. Perfect. Our vows were ours. The ceremony was peppered with our own words that we had shared with Justin over email in the months leading up to the wedding. It was amazing and sweet. We had a bagpiper walk us in, and then lead us out. Bagpipers always make me cry.
After the ceremony, Rick and I followed the bagpiper straight outside, before anyone saw us leaving, and we headed down the road together with a couple of Spotted Cow beers. We watched the sun set by ourselves out in the autumn dusk, before rejoining the wedding reception. A police car passed us carrying our open containers – we laughed that it would be hilarious if we got a ticket on our wedding day. But, he went on without incident.
And then the night unfolded. There were drinks. Many. A band. A good one! Toasts. My dad actually killed his toast. He brought out my stuffed bear from childhood. It was amazing. I think he is a better lawyer and public speaker than I’ve even given him credit for. My sisters made beautiful toasts that made my eyes water, my lifey had a toast which almost made me pee in my pants it was so funny. Gchat conversations from the beginning of dating Rick – references to him potentially being crazy because he runs ultramarathons – it was unreal. I had to go back to my conversations to verify that indeed, I did say all the things she quoted me on.
And we danced and sang and when the Women’s Club kicked us out, we went for more at the County Clare where we all stayed. It was so much fun.
I slept in my wedding dress. There were too many buttons with tiny little hooks. After the night’s shenanigans, Rick and I couldn’t get it off. I woke up at 6 in the morning and begged him to please “get me out of the thing!” So romantic. He got me out of it.
It was a fun, beautiful weekend.
The night before the wedding, gale force winds whipped up all over the city. Out hotel room’s windows were shaking. Winds were still whipping through the air during the early part of Saturday. The same sort of winds rushed around my Grandma’s house the night she passed away. They took down tree limbs and power lines. The revisit of such gusts seemed to me to be a sign that she was in attendance for the weekend. My mom, sisters, aunts, and I all wore pieces of her jewellery the night of the wedding. She was entirely there. I missed her that day, but I felt her and I know she was taking part in her own way.
I can’t write anymore. Though, there is much more to be said. Today we leave Vegas (thank god!) and head to Zion. I cannot wait! I want to have alone time in the desert with my husband and silence. That’s all I want right now. I cannot wait to camp in the cold and hike in the dry sun.