Girl Gone Authentic: I'm Married! (Part 4 of 4)

A few minutes before it was time for our grand entrance, the DJ had us go upstairs so that we could have a few minutes to be alone while the coordinator got the guests situated in the ballroom for dinner. It was nice to have a few moments of quiet. Then, we went back downstairs after the guests were in their seats in the ballroom.

The wedding coordinator lined us up, and the DJ started introducing the parents and wedding party to “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. David selected the song and it had the perfect amount of energy to kick off the reception. When it was our turn to be introduced, we entered the ballroom to cheers and a standing ovation. David and I did a fist bump, smooched, and then walked across the dance floor to our table.

I set down my bouquet and then the DJ led us into our first dance. We danced to our song, which is “Tangled Up in You” by Staind. Once again, I felt like everyone in the room faded away, and it was just me and David. I kept telling him how happy I was that I finally decided to marry him. I told him that even though we’d been together for so long, it still felt different being married. He told me the same and that he was so thankful that I was his wife at last.

After our dance, the DJ opened the buffet line for dinner. David and I went first, and the venue staff treated us like royalty. They made our plates for us, and they carried our dinner to our table. They checked on us throughout dinner to make sure we had everything we needed. I felt like a queen being waited on by servants!

Once David and I were done with our meals, we walked around the ballroom, greeting our guests at their tables. We were told by multiple guests that they were surprised at how emotional our wedding was. A few of our guests thought that we had a close, personal relationship with our minister because she seemed to know us so well and our ceremony was so personalized.

After everyone was done with dinner, it was time for the toasts. This was the first part of the evening that sucked. The toasting “order” was supposed to be our kids (led by my middle son), one of my sisters (matron of honor), one of David’s best friends (best man), and my dad. The DJ came up to me and let me know that there was going to be a bit of a change. He informed me that our kids would not be going first because my middle son was not feeling well and he was in the other room being attended to. I then noticed that our other kids were out of the room, along with both of my daughters-in-law (one of which is his wife). I wanted to go check on him, but the DJ told me that I needed to stay put so that the reception stayed on schedule. I was obviously upset, but David reassured me that if he was seriously ill, one of the kids would come get us. He also reminded me that my other daughter-in-law (my oldest son’s wife) is a nurse and that she is probably taking care of him.

So, I reluctantly stayed seated and the toasting started with my sister. She started out the toast by reciting (not singing) the entire theme from The Golden Girls. Anyone who knows us knows that she and I share a love of this show. I was cracking up when she finished and said, “Oh, wait. That’s not my toast. That’s the theme from The Golden Girls.” She then went on to say that she didn’t expect to be so emotional during the wedding ceremony. She said that a lot of the guests at our wedding (including her) have been married for a long time, and that sometimes a person can forget what marriage really means. She ended her toast by saying that David and I helped her to remember what marriage means. What an amazing toast, especially considering that she was dreading it because she doesn’t like talking in front of large groups of people.

The best man went next with his toast. He talked about knowing David since they were kids in Boy Scouts, and how he lost touch with David for a while until he started working at McDonald’s (David worked there during high school). The best man mentioned how that’s where he also met me (I worked there too; it’s where David and I got to know each other, even though we attended the same high school and were both in ROTC). He made a joke about being “low-key jealous” of me because I got to work drive thru and he had to cook food (drive thru was the most coveted position at McDonald’s lol). He segued into saying that David is the type of person who says exactly what he is thinking, and that when David first started dating me, he kept waiting for David to say something negative about me or our relationship, but that he never did. He wrapped up the toast by saying how happy he was for us.

My dad got up to give his toast. He talked about how David used to think that my dad didn’t like him and how they got past this, and how my dad was happy to have him as part of the family. It was super sweet.

My dad finished, and as the DJ announced that David and I would be cutting the cake, our kids came back into the ballroom. My middle son was feeling well enough to come back in, so I immediately told the DJ that our kids would give their toast before we did anything else. David’s first-born spoke first. He said how he always knew we’d end up getting married and how happy he was for his dad. My oldest son said that he was happy that his mom was so happy. Our daughters chose to not speak, so they gave the mic to my middle son, who went last. He gave a very moving tribute to David, talking about how David is the person who taught him how to be a man. He said how he wouldn’t be the person he is now if it weren’t for David being there to help him. I said, “What about me, I gave birth to you!” and he said, “This isn’t about you mom, it’s about David” and of course everyone laughed. By the time he was done talking, David was bawling. Later, he told me that he had no idea that my son felt so strongly about him.

After this toast, the DJ had us go over to our cake to the song “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies. This was the other part of the evening that sort of sucked. First, we noticed that our cake looked a bit like the leaning tower of Pisa. It was decorated beautifully, but there was a definite slant to the layers. No big deal in and of itself. The real part that sucked was when we cut the top layer.

To backtrack: When we went to our cake tasting several months back, we initially opted for red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream for the top two layers. After we got home, we thought about the choice and decided to change it to pistachio cake with pistachio buttercream. I emailed the baker, and I received an email back from them, confirming the change. About a month before the wedding, I emailed them again, confirming our cake and filling flavors. Additionally, I read our contract with the venue when I went for the final meeting 10 days prior to the wedding (the baker was a subcontractor, paid directly by our venue), and the contract specified the pistachio cake/buttercream.

So, we cut into the top layer of the cake. To our disappointment, the cake was red velvet with cream cheese buttercream. I was so upset. David LOVED the pistachio and was really looking forward to it. I’d also told some of our guests about it, and they were expecting that flavor combination. I know that in the scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. The cake did taste really good. It’s just that it wasn’t what we expected and it’s not like we can get a do-over!

We finished cutting the cake, and then David gave our thank-you speech to the guests. He told everyone how he came from a very small family, and now he felt like he had a much larger family. I got a bit weepy when he said this because family is very important to me, and it made me feel good to hear him say that he considers himself to be part of my extended family.

The last thing before the guests got to hit the dance floor were the father/daughter dances. I went first with my dad. We danced to “I Loved Her First” by The Heartland. While we were dancing, my dad and I talked about how great the wedding was, and how he thought that us waiting so long to get married was a good thing. He didn’t have to worry about us rushing things, and he knew we weren’t just getting married because of kids (we don’t have any biological children together).

Next, David danced with Elizabeth and my older daughter. There was no mother/son dance since David’s mom passed away years ago. Elizabeth didn’t want to dance the full song because she felt self-conscious, and my older daughter looks at David as a father. That’s why we decided to have the two girls split the song. They danced to “My Girl” – not the traditional version by The Temptations, but a more contemporary version sang by Smokey Robinson, Miguel, Aloe Blacc, and JC Chasez. Both girls looked great and David looked so happy to be dancing with them.

After the father/daughter dances, the DJ opened the dance floor to the guests. We selected “I’m So Excited” by The Pointer Sisters for the first open dance song. One of the really great features of our wedding venue is that we got the run of the entire downstairs of the mansion. If guests didn’t want to dance, they could leave the ballroom and go to the bar, to one of the sitting rooms, or to some outdoor seating. We also had a photo booth that many of our guests seemed to enjoy, if any of the hilarious pictures I received were any indication!

About an hour or so into the dancing, my dad came up to me and said that he was going to play a bit of a practical joke on David. He told me that I needed to be paying attention, and then he left to get David. I sat down at the sweetheart table to see what was going to happen.

Back story: A few months before the wedding, my dad called me. He said that he and my stepmom were driving back from Oregon and the song “Bad to the Bone” (by George Thorogood) started playing on the car stereo. This is my dad’s all-time favorite song. He told me that whenever he hears this song, he thinks of David. He told my stepmom that he thought it would be so funny if David walked down the aisle to the song. He thought my stepmom would say something sarcastic because she’s traditional when it comes to weddings. Instead, she started laughing and said she thought it would be perfect. My dad told me this, and I told him that I’d mention it to David.

I mentioned it to David, and he said he felt like he’d be making a mockery of our wedding if he did that. I told him that to the contrary, everyone would laugh and it would make my dad’s day. He ultimately opted against it because one of his groomsmen uses a cane to walk and is self-conscious of this, so David didn’t think it would be right to put him in a position of having to walk down the aisle during the processional. After awhile, we both forgot about my dad wanting him to do this.

Fast-forward back to the reception. After the current song ended, my dad got on the mic and asked David to come up to the front of the room. My dad explained about how he had really wanted David to walk down to the aisle to the song “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood, but that David apparently chickened out and didn’t do it. He said that he was daring David to do it now, and the DJ started playing the song.

Not only did David oblige my dad by walking down the middle of the dance floor, but he really got into it. He did this half-walk, half-strut, in time to the music. He incorporated a little routine with his fedora. When the DJ told him he could come back to the front of the room, one of his groomsmen yelled out for him to “get it” and David started doing a striptease with his vest. It was one of the most hilarious moments of the whole day, and he probably made my dad’s entire year! David did such a good job going along with it that one of my sisters thought that David and our dad had planned this in advance and that David choreographed the routine LOL.

The rest of the evening was amazing. Lots of dancing, talking, laughing, drinking, etc. Some of the guests had already left, so it was easier to spend real time visiting with those who were still at the reception.

Finally, the reception had reached its end. The DJ announced that he was playing the last song of the night and launched into “Last Dance” by Donna Summer (my choice). We didn’t have a lot of guests left at this point (it was nearly 11:00 p.m.), but those who were there got out on the dance floor for the final song. David doesn’t really like disco music, but he indulged me and joined me out on the dance floor.

The reception ended, and we had to spend a few minutes gathering up anything that we wanted to keep (e.g., framed pix of me and David, our gifts/cards, etc.). Everything else (e.g., decorations we didn’t want to keep) got tossed into boxes for the venue to dispose of. This was another great thing about our venue. When I got married previously, we had the reception in a parks and recreation building, and we had to clean up everything. We even had to sweep and mop. Not this time!

We loaded the stuff we wanted to keep into the trunk of David’s car. My stepsister and her husband gave our daughters and my older daughter’s BFF a ride back to the hotel. David had quit drinking hours earlier, so he was driving our car. My sons and their wives had called for an Uber to pick them up, but the Uber driver never showed up. Fortunately, one of my sons had also stopped drinking a few hours before the reception ended, but the downside was that since they took an Uber to the reception, he didn’t have a car with him. David and I had to cram him and his wife into our car (we were in David’s Camaro, which is only a 4-seater because the back seat has 2 seatbelts in it. It’s really a 2-seater car. We took them back to the hotel so they could retrieve their car to pick up my other son, his wife, and my granddaughter.

What an amazing, but exhausting, day! David and I got back to our room, which was somewhat messy since the women got ready in my room. David went outside to smoke, and I cleaned up the room so that the next morning wouldn’t be so hectic. By the time David got back to the room, I was asleep. Good thing he was too sick to be thinking about consummating the marriage that night!