Rachel had been very secretive about the wedding plans, only dropping a few hints on her blog. She even kept most of the surprises secret as we set up for the wedding on Friday afternoon!
We knew there would be cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake. We knew there would be a slushie machine for the children.
Ya know what? Let’s just throw the word traditional out the window!
The bride wore a green-hued dress designed and made personally for her from a local designer. She also wore a funky pair of green boots. The groom wore jeans, boots, a button down shirt and sports jacket.
He was walked down from the house by his mother. She was walked in from the gate by her father and her daughter. The entrance music: a harp version of All You Need is Love, by the Beatles.
The ceremony began with a welcome speech by the groom’s step-father. The minister was a friend of both the bride and groom. The wedding guests enjoyed hearing the back-story of this match made in heaven.
You see, as Rachel explains on her blog, this mutual friend tried unsuccessfully to set up these two for years. It was an accidental meeting, at this friend’s book reading, that the stars finally aligned.
I scanned the crowd and saw smiles and heard laughter. This was something you don’t normally get in a wedding ceremony. And everyone LOVES a great love story.
Rachel’s sister read a poem by Rumi…one of my favorites.
Then it was my turn.
Up to this point, I had been focusing on my breathing. I looked away as Rachel approached the chuppah with her father and daughter for fear of strong emotion. For a half an hour, my mantra was “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. BREATHE.”
I stood in front of the crowd. I looked out at everyone. I spoke.
"As you can see from the wedding program, our friend Jim Everson was to speak today…"
I couldn’t help it. I stepped back and was nearly hyperventilating. I looked to Rachel and apologized. Tears in her eyes too. I looked to her Lucky Guy. Tears in his eyes. I looked at Rachel's daughter. Tears.
I read my speech. Two pages of words describing the kismet of Jim’s presence in the lives of the bride and groom. How they met on Jim’s 44th birthday. How he proposed as they left Jim’s 45th birthday celebration. The man that Jim was. What he meant to me, to Rachel, to Rachel’s daughter, to Lucky Guy. How we’d lost him exactly one week ago…
I can’t say that it was easy. I broke down several times as I read. I couldn’t look into the crowd as THEY were tearing up too. Tissues were passed. I finally finished, hugged the bride and groom and announced, "OK! Now let’s get on with the happy stuff!"
And there was LOTS of happy stuff!
The bride and groom wrote their own vows, in secret from each other, yet very similar in tone and in gratitude. The groom also said vows to Rachel's daughter promising to "always be here for you". There wasn't a dry eye in the place!
They vowed to each other to be accepting of their differences, proud to stand at each others' side and look forward to many adventures and laughter together every single day. We all hooted and whooped as the ceremony came to a happy and joyous finish!
The food showed up and surprised everyone.
Yep. A taco truck parked outside the gate and took orders. Not just any taco truck. Korean tacos. Chicken corn dogs. French fries with Korean spices. Chilled spicy noodles with pear, carrots and cucumber. Pot stickers. Egg rolls. Kim Chee.
The food was to. die. for.
There were M&M's with the bride and groom's names. A unique cake topper made by yet another creative friend of the bride. The cake topper was then placed atop the stand of rock-n-roll cupcakes.
There was champagne and wine and drinks and blue raspberry slushies. There was music and dancing. Oh my goodness... LOTS of dancing! Laughter, smiles, love!
The new family, bride, groom and daughter, then did a family concert playing Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. Rachel played saxophone, her new hubby played guitar and Rachel's daughter sang along, joined by her friends.
Everyone was friendly, happy and genuine.
I was stopped many times during the evening and offered condolences at the loss of Jim. What made me feel really good about speaking on Jim's behalf was this:
Everyone told me that the speech made him real to them. Every single person told me that they either wished they had known him or felt like they did.
It only added to the magic of a perfectly romantic and authentic evening filled with joy.
He would have loved it!
See more pics of the wedding on the bride's blog!