I officiated possibly my last wedding this past weekend. It was niece Laura's wedding with Bradley. They were married at the First United Methodist Church of East Peoria. Apparently it was the only church in Peoria that would allow them to have an outside minister do the ceremony. My granddaughter, Anna, was also a flower girl in the wedding (along with Avery). She was the cutest thing, and did such a fantastic job! The reception was held at The Waterhouse in Peoria, in the upstairs of an old building along the waterfront. We stayed at the lovely Pere Marquette Hotel in downtown Peoria. It was a pretty swanky place, and our room was fantabulous (plus we had a handicap room, so the bathroom/shower was huge). The wedding, and the weekend in general, went very well.
We left for Buda Friday morning. Jane and I took Carrie and the kids in Carrie's Malibu. It was much more comfortable to drive, but poor Carrie was smashed between two car seats. Definitely not the most comfortable place for a pregnant lady to ride for 5 hours. Anyway, we went through Chicago, and for the first time in awhile we got caught in traffic. We eventually made it to my parents and had a brief rest before heading to East Peoria for the rehearsal. Everyone was late arriving for the rehearsal because there was a wreck on I-74, but we got things going eventually. Everyone was there except the musicians - who weren't planning to be there anyway. We had a nice rehearsal. They had 9 women and 10 guys stand up with them. After the rehearsal we went to the Pere Marquette for the dinner. It was all very nice. We didn't stay too long though because Anna and Bennett - while they were super good the entire time - were getting pretty tired. They'd had a long car ride, plus we lose an hour and it was well past their bedtime. So we headed back north for the hour drive to my parent's house. Isaac and Ricci arrived at my parents just before us, and Drew came an hour or so later (he had to work in FW, so he brought our car when he got off work).
Jane's brother Keith and his son Jesse arrived from Denver on Friday night also. They were staying at nephew Tim's house in Sheffield, so Jane and I went over there after they arrived - probably 11 or 12 at night. We chatted for awhile, but then headed back to my parents. I slept in the recliner and Jane on the living room couch, and the kids took the bedrooms. I don't mind recliners, and we didn't have kids; plus we would be the first ones to wake up in the morning. I slept good and it all worked out well.
Saturday we woke up with a full house. Jane and I ran over to Sheffield around noon and picked up Keith and Jesse, then in three cars we all headed for Peoria. We stopped at Tanner's Orchard along the way. We always used to make an annual trek down there when we lived in Buda, and Carrie wanted to take the kids so they could see the goats and play and we could all get some apple donuts, cider, and whatnot. It would have been more fun if it hadn't been so windy; and so crowded. I guess I caused a scene when we were leaving. I had an empty stroller, and was trying to get out a door. There was a lady with a shopping cart in front of it who wouldn't move, so I picked up the stroller and was going to raise it up over the cart and squeeze out the door. Unfortunately I forgot there were two cups of coffee in the stroller and it spilled into her cart. I guess she was really mad, but I was already out the door and was completely oblivious to the whole thing. So then everyone was mad at me, and I didn't really even know what I'd done. I was just freaking out and wanted out of there. Anyway, I guess we survived.
We finally arrived at our hotel around 3 pm. Our family was all on the 7th floor. Keith and Jesse were on the 10th. We also saw quite a few other people from the wedding there. Plus I guess there were a couple of weddings taking place AT the hotel that night.
The two of us and the Feipel's headed for the church around 4 pm. The wedding started at 5:30. There was a decent crowd. I'd guess 150-200, but there was plenty of room in the church. The pianist and violinist finally arrived (they were hired musicians from Bloomington), and everyone seemed in good cheer for the wedding. They had a shuttle that transported a lot of people between the hotel, wedding, reception, and back to the hotel. So we started about 5:33, and it was over right about 6 pm. Just right.
This was a fun wedding for me. I don't know when I really started to enjoy weddings. I used to hate them. But I wasn't nervous at all. I did have to wear an ear microphone, but it was better than holding a mic. Everyone did great. And it was so cute when Anna and Avery came down the aisle as flower girls. Avery was placing her flowers very gently on the floor, and Anna was just flinging hers over her head. They walked up as good as any flower girls I've ever seen. They were totally into it. I told them when they got to the front to give Bradley a "5" slap, and then go sit down. Avery did, but Anna was having fun, and she just walked right up to me on the altar stairs. I wasn't sure what she was doing, but finally she gave me her basket and went to Carrie. It was pretty cute, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think the ceremony went off without a hitch. Tim & Joe both read Scripture - and did swell. The musicians were awesome. They had a lady sing "Be Thou My Vision" during the lighting of the unity candle. That is actually my favorite hymn, so I was touched. I thought it was a nice ceremony if I do say so myself.
One of the funnier moments, that not a lot of people know about, was right before the ceremony. They guys all came out from a side room. Just before we were to go out one of the guys went to the other side of the room and then came back. He was being polite and passing gas away from all of us. Unfortunately the smell didn't stay over there though, and it stunk like crazy. Everyone sort of lost it and we were laughing uncontrollably. I'm surprised people didn't hear us. I also didn't think we would be able to maintain when we walked out, but everyone did, and it was soon to be forgotten. It was pretty funny at the time though.
So, after the ceremony and remaining pictures, we all headed to the Waterhouse for the reception. We got a little lost on the way because of all the construction in downtown Peoria (plus we didn't know where we were going). We eventually found the place and made our way up the stairs. They hired a big band from Chicago that was pretty good and they were already playing when we arrived. There was all kinds of good food, a full open bar, and a big dance floor. Everyone commenced to have a good time until the reception ended shortly after 11 pm. Well, maybe everyone except the Feipel's. They were the only one's there with children, so they didn't stick around too long. I guess at the end of the night, when Bradley and Laura got ready to leave, they had an old Model A (or some kind of old car) take them back to the hotel. They also had big sparklers for everyone to light as they came out. I don't know where I was, but I must have missed that part. Anyway, as things wound down, we noticed that all their gifts were still upstairs. So we asked who was taking the gifts. No one seemed to know, so someone finally asked if we had room for them. So we took the gifts with us and delivered them to Mary Ann's the next day. I was really glad when we got to the car Sunday morning that no one had broken in and stolen them.
After we left the reception we headed back to the hotel. The lobby and bar area was full of people - mostly people from our wedding, but also some others - so we hung out there until 1:30 am or so. It was a fun evening.
Sunday morning came and my wifey had had a little too much fun, I'm afraid. She didn't feel too good when we got up. We did finally make it down for breakfast around 9:30 am. We visited with people in the restaurant and lobby, and we all checked out around the same time at noon. Isaac and Ricci went with Tim & Elizabeth to get some old bikes at her parents house, then they headed to Anderson. The Feipel's headed back to Fort Wayne from Peoria. Jane and I took Keith and Jesse and headed back to Buda. We dropped the guys off at Mark's house, then headed back to my parents. We hung out there for awhile, then went back to Mark's for supper. John, Joe & Ana, and Tim and his family were all there (as well as Keith and Jesse). We had burgers on the grill and listened to John talk. It was fun. Then we headed back to my parents and went to bed.
Monday morning Jane and I took our time getting ready and finally left around 11 am. First we stopped in Princeton and signed the final papers for the sale of our farmland. Then we headed back down to Tanner's Orchard and got some stuff for the people Jane works with. Then we took the old route home along 24. We got home around 6:30 pm. It was a good weekend. It felt good to actually "work" again, as a pastor. Now... it's back to how it was, I guess.