At lunch we met up with the groom and his best man where we dined on some of what the Gulf Coast has to offer for seafood including my first peel and eat shrimp experience. Notable only because I was teased for my lack of skill at peeling shrimp. I could tell already that it was going to be a good weekend. The weather was perfect, about 75 (24 Celsius), sunny with a slight breeze, and is there any better smell than fresh ocean air? I do regret that I was a bit of a wreck when I traveled that day, I had come home from the trunk show and didn't make it to bed until about 3am, only to wake up twenty minutes before my dad and sister came to pick me up to go to the airport at 7am. Ooops!
Anyway, lunch over, we headed back to the beach house for a tour, it was beautiful, could sleep 16 people if it had to, and was RIGHT ON THE BEACH! My sister, Jem, and I were fortunate enough to get a room at the top of a spiral staircase which included 1 queen size bed each, and a lovely bathroom attached. My sister and I commonly referred to the spiral staircase as "the spiral staircase of death" because we knew as the evenings wore on and drinking commenced, it would get harder and harder to make it up and down that staircase. :-) After a bit of chatting we all got ready for the rehearsal dinner...ah finally I can walk around with the confidence that comes after I've had a chance to make myself presentable! A comment to which I had made to the best man when I met him at lunch "It's nice to meet you, but let's re introduce ourselves once I'm actually cleaned up and cute." (Yes I'm a smart ass even when you first meet me, or perhaps especially when you first meet me). The remarkable thing is that when I came out later, all dressed and ready for the rehearsal, the Best Man, who was out on the deck enjoying the sunset, stuck his hand out and re-introduced himself. HAHA... yes! Sense of humor, and an appreciation for my smart ass attitude... I knew I'd made a Friend for the weekend!
The rehearsal began after sunset, where Captain and her hubby explained how they wanted things to happen. Captain's dad and step-mom were there, lovely people I had met when they came to visit here in Chicago. Captain's dad is a lot like mine... which really isn't a bad thing at all! Also met the rest of the bridal party, and everyone seemed really lovely. This weekend was going to be awesome! We were all there because we had a common love for our friends and magically we all got along with each other too!
This wedding was a bit different than others, or I should say that being a part of the wedding party was different than others... Not only was it different because we were all scattered across the country, and I was trying to help with whatever I could from Chicago, while Captain was on the East Coast, trying to plan a wedding down in Florida... it was a challenge, but I was happy to help. The Captain and her hubby never officially designated Best Man or Maid of Honor within their parties, not sure why...but it just wasn't done. I was just honored to be asked to be in her bridal party after only knowing her for 2 short years. Once we got to the top of the staircase to practice going down the isle into the sand, Captain designated the order we were to walk in. I was chosen to go last before she would walk out, which means...anyone that sees this wedding and the pictures of it...is going to know that I am in the Maid of Honor position!!!! Oh My Gosh!!!! I'm Maid of Honor!!!! I was FLOORED for several hours afterwards....that's a really big deal! At least it is to me! I actually hid in the bathroom shortly after the rehearsal to call my mom and tell her what just happened... I didn't want to make a big public deal about it because clearly that is not what they wanted... but.... My whole life I always thought the only wedding I'd be Maid of Honor in is my sister's!!!
The rest of the rehearsal night went well... it was very relaxed and casual... pizza and wings for dinner, lots of beer and wine flowing, games being played and everyone just having a wonderful time! Not only that, but lots and LOTS of night time pictures by the photographer right by the ocean... I can not wait to see what those turn out like! Later, my sister and I even caught the Best Man practicing jumping off the balcony into the sand...well he was jumping off the staircase into the sand, with the idea that he might try and do it during the reception...but a minor (very minor) injury was sustained after reaching the second stair from the top...and the idea was scrapped... I just didn't know that anyone actually practiced "spontaneous acts" in advance... I also got to bond with the groom and his groomsmen by partaking in the traditional smoking of a cigar... made me feel very included. Being the responsible adults we are (mostly) the wedding party who was all able to stay in the house, wrapped up the evening at about midnight so that we could all be ready for the ceremony the next day.
Saturday November 7th. Captain's wedding day... again same exact beautiful weather as the day before... PERFECT... we all rose and discussed going to breakfast as we had the night before, and then the Best Man came in with breakfast sandwiches from a local restaurant. He had no recollection of the previous conversation and tried to treat us all... Seriously I think he needs to hire himself out as designated Best Man... I don't know many people that would take it upon themselves to do all that for their friends. Anyway we decided to collectively go out to breakfast anyway...but don't worry those sandwiches didn't go to waste. After breakfast Captain, Jem and the other bridesmaid went to get their hair and nails done, I had come with nails done, and my sister was going to be doing my hair. So my sister and I decided to go to the beach... I desperately wanted to go in the ocean, and my sister likes to lay out in the sun. Which we did, and then came in to relax before having to get ready for the ceremony.
Getting ready was fun, I got to sit on the floor while my sister did my hair, and I watched Captain get her makeup done by a world famous make up artist, who just happens to be the groom's brother! Then I jumped into my dress, consulted my sister on what colors to use for my own makeup...I'm confident in my application skill, I just wanted verification on what I was thinking for colors. I then helped Captain get into her gown...it was perfect for her... strapless slight ballgown style with some minimal but perfect bead work. I couldn't picture her in any other dress for her big day. I couldn't picture any other setting for her wedding either...the beach suits her.
The ceremony went off without a hitch... My sister was designated "Wedding DJ" and took care of making sure the right music was playing for the right moments. I did my bouquet holding, train on dress adjusting duties and couldn't help but smile the entire time. It was a simple, but personal ceremony that was perfect. There were about 40-60 guests in attendance... the weather was perfect. The only change we decided to make was to switch sides bridesmaids on the right instead of the left because the wind was blowing such that if we stood on the traditional sides, the wind would have blown our hair into our faces. Wise decision especially for pictures.
The wedding buffet was some of the best buffet style food I've ever had the privilege to dine on, including but not limited to a full roasted pig. The catering company was top of the line professional and helpful too... that is something I wanted to note. The Best Man and I quickly got together and decided we would do speeches... I had something in mind, but didn't write anything down. Since everything was so relaxed we decided we'd be able to get everyone's attention right before we did the cake cutting...so we did, I went first, with a brief but funny and slightly sentimental bit that was about a minute long, the Best Man followed with something much more polished, the Father of the Bride said his prepared toast amidst tears, and then the groom's brother closed with something quite touching and appropriate.
After that, the timeline get's a little fuzzy...we played games, talked and laughed, I got to dance with the Father of the Bride, a Cha Cha, and the photographer, a Hustle of sorts...which I was too buzzed to spin... (sorry!). Much much later my sister got the Best Man and I to walk her to a local bar, where we arrived 6 minutes before last call, and met the Pensacola Beach Ice Hockey team... (does anyone else see the funny in that?) We then bumbled around leading and following my sister, trying to get back to the house, I fell at one point... (not hurt)... we finally made it back... and I crashed and burned...but did have the forethought to take some headache medicine before my head hit the pillow at about 3 or 4am.
Sunday November 8th. Started with exhaustion, I seem to remember the Best Man coming up to say farewell before he started his way home... My sister, Jem, and I went to breakfast where my sister and I treated ourselves to a bloody mary... not the best idea, but it did taste good. We then got back to the beach house in time for the brunch planned for all those people still in town. More pork... delish. I was so tired though... couldn't even fathom having the energy it would take to travel home. We bid our farewell to Captain and her husband, as well as those we had met and exchanged phone numbers with. We went away very tired, but we both had an amazingly fun weekend.
Thank you to the Captain and her husband for allowing us to be part of their wedding, my sister and I are both honored!
I would also like to thank my sister, this was the first time we'd ever done anything like this... and I can't tell you how proud I am to call you my sister!!! Thank you for traveling with me, making new friends, and helping me to help my friend for her wedding!