Tuesday, April 9, 2013

One Treasured Day: The Aftermath

Adam and I left the reception venue separately. He had to bring the cooler from the trolley back to his parents' room, and I had to get my clothes from my parents' hotel. My best friend and bridesmaid walked with me back to the hotel. I was in my wedding dress, carrying my heels in my hand, walking through the middle of downtown Chicago on my wedding night without my brand-new husband. I could not stop laughing because it felt like something out of a movie.

Eventually, I made my way to our hotel room for the night. I took off my wedding gown and replaced it with the dress from our rehearsal dinner, and Adam and I headed over to the same bar where we'd had our rehearsal dinner the night before. We drank beer and ate nachos with our friends and family members from out-of-town. It was so nice to have that extra time with them. One thing I'm really happy about is that we got to spend a lot of quality time with all of our guests on our wedding day. I'm so glad that we weren't liberal with the guest list.

A little after midnight, we headed back to the hotel and quickly fell asleep. The next morning, I awoke to the sun coming up over Lake Michigan, which illuminated the aftermath of our wedding day.

It was the first time I noticed how filthy the underside of my bustle was. Check out those red stains from our surprise signature cocktail! Thank goodness for the modern miracle of dry cleaning.

Once Adam woke up, we left the hotel to go to breakfast together. I highly recommend this to everyone. As we enjoyed our Irish breakfast, we played with our new rings and reminisced about our favorite moments from the previous day. It was a funny feeling walking through the same streets where the day before, everyone yelled their congratulations to us, but this time, we were in nondescript jeans and t-shirts. No one could tell that just hours before, we were the bride and groom. It was nice to be husband and wife instead.

After breakfast, we went back to our hotel, packed up, and said goodbye to our families. Before long, we were in a cab to the airport to begin our honeymoon! Everything we'd spent 14 months planning was all over, but our life together was just beginning.

Monday, April 8, 2013

One Treasured Day: The End of the Road

After several hours of dancing, photos were starting to look like this:

...which meant the end of our reception was near. We planned the final two songs with our DJ to end the night right. The first was the Notre Dame Fight Song.

Even though it was a bye week and no football was played that day, our wedding was in the middle of our undefeated football season (OK, fine, our undefeated regular season. I don't want to talk about our bowl game meltdown.), so our guests sang nice and loud. I credit our cheers with the team's success.

The very last song of the night was an unexpected choice for most people, but very predictable to our friends. There's a bar in South Bend called The Linebacker Lounge. Most students know it as The Backer, and it was our favorite place to go in college. Every single night, the Backer closes down with "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. We knew our wedding reception had to end the same way as all those sweaty, alcohol-soaked nights in college.

As wedding guests are wont to do, we all got into a big circle with our arms around one another and sang along with Lee.

Even though these aren't professional photos, these are some of my favorite photos from our wedding. Everyone is standing side-by-side - my brother standing next to Adam's cousin, my college friend with her arm around my father-in-law - with ties untied and hairstyles falling down after a long day of celebrating Adam and me. It was the best party I have ever been to, and I will never forget all the love in that circle.

The catering staff packed up tables and chairs while we hugged everyone. The staff yelled at us to get out as they turned the lights off on our wedding day.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

One Treasured Day: All the Single Ladies

Just after we served our late-night snack, our wonderful photographers left for the night. But we still had two hours of partying left. Fortunately, my dad had his camera there to capture the rest of the evening.

I know I wrote that we weren't going to do the bouquet or garter tosses. But near the end of the evening, I looked over at my wilting bouquet and figured that if it was just going to go in the trash anyway, I might as well have some fun with it. So I walked over to our DJ, asked her to put on "Single Ladies," and made my way onto the stage with my bouquet overhead.

I turned around as my friends gathered together in the middle of the dance floor.

I counted to three and then I let 'er rip.

It landed right in my friend E's hands.

She put it in a vase at her apartment when she got home, and when I went over a week later, it was alive and well! I'm glad that I spontaneously decided to toss my bouquet because it saved me the sadness of having to throw it in the trash and it decorated her apartment for a week.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One Treasured Day: Group Photos and a Late-Night Snack

One thing I really wanted was to get photos of our families together. While the dancing was going on, but before things got too crazy, we called our family members up to the stage to do a big photo. This is my giant Irish family. (And this isn't even everyone! We're missing at least 15 people.)

Next up was Adam's family. They're a slightly more manageable size.

Finally, we took a photo with all of our friends from our college musical theatre group. Most of them live in Chicago with us and have become our pseudo-family here.

After we took group photos, our caterers brought out the final surprise of the evening: our late-night snack. As soon as Adam found out we could have mini Chicago-style hot dogs on the dance floor, he insisted we get them.

They were delicious and very popular with our friends and family members. I was happy that my nervous stomach had subsided, so even I could enjoy one.