Wow, what a weekend! I have been speechless for a couple days because words simply cannot do it justice. Let me just say Drew Carrie's wedding could not have been any more awesome. I am one proud papa. This will be a long post.
Friday night was the rehearsal. It started at 6 pm. I went to the church early and Andrew was there getting the music set up (Joel wasn't able to be there until later). He was just playing some stuff on guitar and piano, and when he began to play "Storybook Love" on the piano (the Mark Knopfler song that the mothers entered on) it all became real like a lump in my throat. I was sitting at my desk when I heard it, and time stopped... My daughter was getting married this weekend.
As people arrived it became a bit more festive. The rehearsal went well. Everyone was easy to work with. Around 7 we went downstairs and had a meal of Casa food served to us by Robin, Shelley, Lucy, and Joan. After that some of us went to Curly's in Waynedale and the party was started.
THE WEDDING DAY
Jane and I spent the night at the same hotel our out-of-town guests stayed in (Isaac and some friends stayed at our house). The Hilton Garden Inn was fantastic, and it was nice to be where everyone else was so we could visit aside from at the reception. We were in room 332.
Saturday morning Jane and I went to McDonald's across the street for breakfast. Then she went with all the bridesmaids to get her hair done. I went down to the exercise room and ran on the treadmill for an hour. Four miles. It felt good to run off some tension and lose myself for a little bit. After showering I hung out in the lobby and chatted with people. Then we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at the hotel that Joan put together for the wedding party and out-of-town guests. Joan was such a huge help this weekend and everything she does is just right.
After lunch it was time to go to the church. I put my tux on at home and headed over around 1:30 (I think). I had wanted to kind of go over what I was going to say a little, but the photographers were ready right away. And, let me say, the photographers were EXCELLENT. It was a man and wife, and she took all the photos of the girls, while he took all the photos of the guys. And they were there for the entire reception as well! So I was involved in all the pics with the guys before the wedding. Then when the girls were in the sanctuary I spent some time in my office going over things, because I didn't want to see Carrie before the start of the ceremony. Time seemed to fly by. I didn't really think I was all that nervous, but there just seemed to be so much going on. As it got closer to the 4:30 start time, right before we were to line up, I kind of got a frog in my throat. I didn't tell anyone, but I finally went outside and tried to sort of cough it out, and I actually had the dry heaves several times around the back of the church. I've not done that in a long time. I began to wonder if maybe I was more nervous than I had thought. I was finally able to compose myself, and went back inside.
The best moment of the whole day for me was... when the ceremony started... after the grandparents were seated; after the parents were seated; after the groomsmen and bridesmaids entered in pairs... as the best man and maid of honor were heading up the stairs to walk down the aisle... I went downstairs to get Carrie. The partition into their dressing room was closed, and as I slowly opened it... she was standing right inside... and as I pulled the door open........ I saw the most beautiful bride in the world... and she had the biggest and prettiest smile I have ever seen on her face. This set the tone for the entire ceremony. She looked so happy, and so pretty, and she was so calm, and it was like all was right with the world. How could this not be the most awesome of days. And it was.
We went up and stood around the corner so no one could see us for a bit. I wanted to let Joel and Andrew play "Into the Mystic" for awhile before we entered, because not only do I think it helps to build a little anticipation, but I also wanted them to get into the song a bit. So we waited until Joel sang, "I wanna rock your gypsy soul"... and we entered. I was afraid I might get a bit teary-eyed, but it felt so right and good, and I was so proud walking my lovely daughter down the aisle. I wasn't nervous or sad or anything but elated. Everything seemed to be perfect. I was able to look at people's faces, and was totally in the moment. We made it down the aisle, the music was timed perfectly, and my good friend Tom set the tone with a nicely done welcome and prayer. Nephew, Dr. Tim, did a splendid job reading the Scripture passage. Then Tom did the 'declaration of intent' and asked who was giving this bride. After saying "Her mother and I," I gave the former Carrie Horwedel a hug and a kiss on the cheek, shook Drew's hand, and I went around behind Drew and took my place in the altar area to perform the rest of the ceremony. [Note on performing the ceremony for my daughter vs. just being the father: It may have been different if I were just 'a' pastor and not 'their' pastor; but I would not have wanted it any other way. I think I would always have regretted it if I hadn't done it. It was an honor and a privilege.]
I had been thinking about the message - and the ceremony in general - almost since they announced their engagement. I wanted to make it personal - because, after all, how many fathers have the opportunity to be officiant at their daughter's wedding - but I didn't want to make it SO personal that it was too much about me and/or Carrie. This was Drew & Carrie's day, and I wanted it to be just as special for he and his family as it was for her and our family. So I tried to not get overly personal. I actually built the message around the song Carrie and I walked in on (Into the Mystic), and the name of Drew's band (Swimming Into View). I tried to connect them to God's sending of Abram on a journey of faith, and the chosen people coming into the Promised Land: Regardless of the events or location, we always need God involved. Which is why marriage is never about just the two, but it is including God in our lives as well.
Not only was I not nervous during the ceremony, but I actually think I was more calm than during any other wedding I have ever done. I had hoped to be able to memorize some parts, so I wasn't so tied to the page. But I just can't do that, and I totally underestimated how much prep time I would have in the days preceding. So I was forced to read more than I wanted. Other than the message to the couple it was a fairly standard ceremony. I personalized the prayer and a few other moments, but I didn't veer too much; and it seemed like it was over as soon as it began.
I think it took about 40 minutes overall (from the grandparents being seated to the wedding party exiting); which is a little longer than most of my ceremonies. We didn't get started right on time. There were three groups of people where I said, "Okay, after they're seated we're going to start." But then another group would come in. So it was probably more like 4:35 when we started. We didn't have to set up any extra chairs, but it was packed pretty tight. One girl came in late by herself. I felt bad making her stand in the hallway alone, but it was just too late.
And, let me just say... THE MUSIC was the best ever. I hope it turned out on the video. Joel and Andrew did a better-than-fantastic job with the half hour of music beforehand and all the music during the ceremony. It could not have been any better. It helped so much having professional musicians. I only wish Carrie could have heard more.
After the ceremony Drew Carrie dismissed everyone, then we took pictures with the couple together. I was able to get some stuff put back in place for Sunday morning - since I wouldn't be there Sunday (I took a week of vacation, because I wanted to focus solely on the wedding and didn't want to have to be thinking about anything else). I think Jane and I were the last ones to leave the church at around 6:35 pm. Which was just about perfect, as the reception started at 6:30, and we were to start eating at 7 pm.
We arrived at The Lantern (on Ardmore) and everyone was waiting. And, before I forget, let me just say... this was THE BEST place to have a reception. The people were super great to work with, and they took care of almost everything. The only decorations we had to do were the table centerpieces, and decorating the gift table. Everything else was set up and decorated and ready to go. And at the end of the night, they boxed up all the centerpieces for us, so the only cleanup was putting the gifts in the car and the boxes of centerpieces. You can't beat a 10-minute wedding reception cleanup. I would highly recommend them.
Dan and Sam introduced the wedding party. Then I was supposed to say something as the father-of-the-bride. I had written something out, but I kind of got lost in the moment. So I welcomed everyone; welcomed Drew into the family; made some comments about how proud we are of Carrie; and I can't really even remember what else I said. I skipped through the rest of my written comments and just said grace for the meal.
We ate right away, and I thought they did a good job getting everyone through the food lines. I think we had turkey and pulled pork sandwiches, mac-n-cheese (Carrie insisted), potato skins with a bunch of toppings, chips, and maybe some other stuff (I didn't pay much attention). There was a full bar, and Drew's dad paid for 4 kegs of beer. I would guess there were somewhere between 300-325 people. We told them to set up for 313 RSVP's, but we got more back after that, and there were a few people there who weren't invited; but I know of a few who were planning to be there that didn't make it. It all seemed to even out in the end. A really nice crowd, but no one went without a seat.
Robin and Erik (maid of honor and best man) gave superb toast speeches. Other than that, the rest of the night was kind of a blur. There were so many people that we didn't even get a chance to talk to because they left before we got around to them. But we tried talking to as many as we could. And the dancing lessons were kind of a waste if this was the only reason for them. I only danced a few times, and for the most part I just did the usual that I would have done before. Which doesn't mean the lessons were wasted, they just didn't help for this. I danced with my mom on the mother/son dance; with Carrie on the bride/father dance; and Jane and I danced to a few songs (we did the rumba). Other than that Jane's niece, Allison, dragged me out there a few times and that was it. There was much too much other stuff going on to spend too much time on the dance floor. Mostly I enjoyed seeing Carrie, and even son Isaac, enjoy themselves.
Overall it was a great reception. No one got out of hand at all, but everyone seemed to have a good time. I regret that we didn't get a chance to talk to some people, but I talked way more than I am usually comfortable with. I started wearing down as the night went on, and at one point I sat down and didn't think I was going to be able to get back up. I had a sprite and finally got my second wind after awhile.
The reception was over at 11 pm, and by 11:35 we were out of there. Me, Jane, and nephew Seth loaded all the gifts into our car; and we put the centerpieces and leftover cake in Keith and Seth's vehicle. We took our car to our house and just parked it in the garage, then took the Buick back to the hotel. We got there a little after midnight, and I was kind of pumped again, so I got on the computer for a brief while, but once I laid down I didn't last very long.
THE DAY AFTER
Sunday morning we got up and went down to the lobby around 7:30-ish. Carrie was already down there, as were a bunch of other people. Once again, I'm glad we all stayed at the same hotel. They had a breakfast there and we pretty much took over the breakfast area. Carrie brought down her digital picture frame and we got to look through the pictures she'd had taken at the wedding (they were also playing at the reception, but not many saw them). That was a nice idea we'd seen at the last wedding we did - someone took pictures before and during the ceremony, then they just took the picture card out and put in the frame, and they could show the pics to all the people at the reception. We continued to visit with family and friends throughout the morning, and finally checked out and left just before noon.
Jane and I went back to our house, and there was still a living room full of boys sleeping (other than Isaac, who had come to the hotel for breakfast). We grabbed a bite to eat, then took the car loaded with presents to Drew Carrie's apartment and they opened them. They made a very nice haul. They got some nice presents, and a good bundle of cash. I was glad more people gave them money than gift cards. Gift cards are okay, but money can be used anywhere. We stuck around awhile, then headed back home. I took a short nap. Drew Carrie stopped by the house on their way to Indy, where they spent the night before flying out this morning to Florida. They will be staying at our aunt and uncle's condo until returning on Friday.
Last night Jane and I took her brother Keith out for supper. He and his son, Seth, drove here from Colorado. They spent last night in the hotel again and were going to stop by for a bit this afternoon before heading back west again.
I really didn't think I got all that stressed, but now that I've come down a bit... I think I was more stressed than I realized. I was like a zombie last night. Today I am a little better, but... I am really out of sorts. I'm glad I am off until Wednesday. I wish Jane didn't have class tonight, and didn't have to go back to work tomorrow. She was so great during the whole thing.
All in all, I can't imagine this weekend having gone any better than it did. Every aspect was perfect: rehearsal, wedding ceremony, pictures, music, reception, lodging, weather.... everything. If anything went wrong we certainly don't know about it. Saturday was sunny and in the 50's; then it rained Sunday afternoon after everything was over. It is a nice sunny day again today though. Perfect.
I hadn't really thought about the fact that there is no longer a Carrie Horwedel; but Jane and I couldn't be happier for Carrie Feipel. An awesome wedding and weekend. Hopefully there will be more pictures later.