Only a few occasions in life manage to combine stress, joy, chaos, panic, excitement, and true love into one hell of a strong emotional cocktail. This past weekend was one of those occasions: A Big Family Wedding.
The one in which I (and my ridiculous mom-boobs) had to wear the strapless bridesmaid dress I talked about in this post.
The one in which my adorable but wildly unpredictable two-year-olds were flower girls.
The one that took place on Cape Cod, a five-hour drive from my house.
The one about which I stressed (my hair sucks! my arms look fat! what am I going to wear to the rehearsal dinner?) (the girls still need shoes!) (they sent the wrong shoes!) (we have to have the shoes shipped to the hotel!) for many weeks leading up to it.
The one that ended up being beautiful and fun and perfect – the kind of wedding that can only happen when the people getting married are truly in love and absolutely meant for each other.
My husband’s little brother is the one who got married. His lovely wife, now my sister-in-law, is officially my Girl-Crush for this week because she planned and pulled off a breathtakingly beautiful wedding and a wicked fun kick-ass reception. And on top of that, she made a stunningly gorgeous bride who looked calm and blissfully in love the whole time.
So this post is doing double-duty as my requisite every-other-week Girl-Crush Thursday post and giving you the run-down of my (you guessed it!) wedding weekend shenanigans.
It’s hard to know where to begin, but I guess I’ll start by saying that it turns out that my mother-in-law is a sorceress of sewing. A wizard with scissors. A needle-wielding genius. She fixed my dress so that I no longer resembled the cinnamon-roll-dough-can-popping thing that had me feeling kind of bad about myself. However. Post-three-kids-and-currently-nursing boobs still do not lend themselves well to a strapless dress. I spent A LOT of the 8 hours or so that I was wearing the dress hauling it up so that no one got a completely horrifying glimpse of something they couldn’t un-see. All the other bridesmaids seemed to be doing the same thing though, so I guess it was okay.
Surprisingly, the car ride down to the Cape with my three little kiddos, my long-suffering mom, my husband, me, and a rooftop carrier bursting at the seams with pack n plays and singing stuffed animals and a couple of varieties of industrial-strength Spanx went pretty smoothly. My mom kept the girls happy and entertained. She even brought a loaf of homemade zucchini bread that we passed around the car, savagely tearing off hunks to keep from starving to death when we were sitting in god-awful summertime Cape traffic. I breastfed The Baby in the parking lot of the New Hampshire State Liquor Store. So classy, right? I know. Be jealous. All told, the ride was about as good as it’s ever going to get with that many people and belongings in one car.
Then came the hotel. The girls LOVED the hotel rooms. We had adjoining ones and they tried really hard to slam their fingers in those heavy doors between the rooms but never succeeded. They’d had no naps and went a little nuts, but mostly in a good, screechy-gleeful way. Even The Baby liked the hotel room.
The next day, it was on. I went with all the other ladies for some serious salon beautification. I’m pretty sure that the fog of hairspray in that room hit toxic levels. Probably in California they have laws against that much hairspray being released into the air at the same time. I felt like there was hairspray in my teeth and under my fingernails. The upside is that I think it made me a little high, so I kicked back with a magazine and rode a wave of aerosol-fueled euphoria there for a while.
But then we got back to the wedding location and I came down from my high. Hard. We had to get the twins dressed and ready. I had to get into my outfit. The Hubs had to don a three-piece suit. My poor mom had to get herself and The Baby ready and we had to do photos. And for extra fun, The Baby started feeling feverish and all three girls developed some kind of gastrointestinal distress.
While wearing pretty little white dresses.
Gah. So we pulled some Elmo undies on over their diapers for extra protection and prayed to the Poop Gods for mercy. I was
being a total bitch not being especially patient with everyone, but we all managed to get dressed and it seemed like things might be okay.
Until Captain Chaos developed an urgent, desperate, and completely irrational need for Daddy. She needed to be as close to Daddy as she could possibly be. She grabbed onto the lapels of his fancy-shmancy suit and buried her head in his collar. She was not letting go. He was trying to coax her away from him so he could at least breathe by offering gummy snacks and stuffed animals and anything else he could think of, but she wasn’t having any of it.
The barnacle behavior was challenging enough, but then he got a phone call.
From The Groom.
On a wedding day, when you’re a member of the wedding party, the Bride and Groom own your ass. On any other day, he’s just your kid brother, but when he’s The Groom, you do whatever the hell he asks no matter what. So The Groom received two left shoes from the tuxedo rental place. Awesome. Thanks, tuxedo place guys. But luckily, my husband’s stepfather was given two pairs of shoes by the tux guys (seriously on the ball at this place, huh?) which were apparently close enough to The Groom’s size that he could wear them. The stepfather and his shoes were in a house as far away from the groom’s current location as you could possibly get and still be on the wedding venue property. Of course. But no worries! My husband would just run across the grounds to get the shoes and bring them to his brother.
While wearing a three-piece suit.
With a frantic and fussy two-year-old monkey-clinging to him the entire time.
These are the kinds of things you don’t see in people’s wedding albums and I don’t know why. That would have been a great picture.
Anyway, The Groom got his shoes and we all made it for photos. The Bride looked unbelievably beautiful. Her dress was gorgeous and perfect and I just wanted to keep staring at her. She was blissfully unaware of any shoe snafus and excitedly anticipating the greatest moment of her life. Captain Chaos let go of her father long enough for a couple of scowly poses with the wedding party, so it worked out okay.
I don’t know how it happened, but just before the ceremony, the stars aligned, the gods smiled upon us, and both Captain Chaos and The Enforcer got their shit together. (Well, not literally. That would be gross.) The calm and understanding Bride said they could carry their grubby puppy-blankie-things down the aisle with them in lieu of flowers, and that was awesome. When the music started and we all took our places for the ceremony, my tiny, questionable-smelling tots took my hands. There was no more fussing or crying or desperate pleas for Daddy. They walked down the aisle with me like little angels. Their be-ribboned pigtails bounced in the breeze and all the guests looked at them with sweet, appreciative smiles. They were perfect little flower girls and I was awed and proud and so incredibly relieved.
The wedding was flawless. The ceremony was beautiful, the cocktail hour was fun, and the reception was a blast. There was a photo booth and salted caramel cupcakes and some kind of sangria that tasted like vacation.
And even though the DJ played his heart out and we danced our butts off until almost midnight, there was more fun to be had at the after-party bonfire.
That’s when my wanton use of hairspray caught up with me.
I had just sat down at the bonfire. I had changed into comfy clothes, but my fancy wedding hairstyle wasn’t going to quit. I made some lame, cliche joke about how with all the hairspray we used today, someone’s hair was probably going to catch on fire.
Turns out it was mine.
My hair caught on fire. Only briefly, fortunately, because a wedding guest (who was inexplicably and irrelevantly wearing a really long feather behind one ear) gallantly whacked the hell out of my head to put it out.
And then, completely exhausted and aching for sleep, I misguidedly volunteered to store a dear friend’s freshly pumped breast milk in the fridge at our cottage because she was staying in more of a camp-y cabin and didn’t have a fridge.
That milk did not make it into the fridge.
What did make it into the fridge was a deliciously gooey and wonderfully chocolatey salted caramel cupcake. I am a terrible person with messed up priorities and I am SO SORRY, dear friend who faithfully reads this blog. I did put your milk in a cooler apparently, but the cooler didn’t have any ice in it. Just some cold drinks. The sad part is that I wasn’t even drunk. Just so tired that I may as well have been.
Tired doesn’t really even begin to describe it. The next day, having slept a total of about six hours in three days, the Hubs and I had to pack up our insane amounts of stuff and drive the fam back up to Maine. It had been an exhausting whirlwind of a weekend and now I couldn’t wait to get home. Fortunately, the girls all fell asleep before we even hit Boston and took the best nap they’d had in days. By the time we reached our street, the twins were really excited to see our house. It appeared, lovely and welcoming between our huge maple trees, and a tired little girl in the back of the car flung her hands up in the air and said,
“Yay! We did it!”
I almost cried. She’s only two years old but she knew exactly how much of an accomplishment it was to do what we just did.
She saw my tears and felt my stress as we prepared for this.
She felt the relief flowing from my hand to hers as she walked down that aisle.
She felt my intense pride as I cuddled her and couldn’t stop smiling at her after the ceremony.
She held onto me tightly for a few difficult and beautiful moments at the reception, confused about why Mommy and Daddy were crying as we all danced together to the song recorded by my husband’s late father, the grandfather she’ll never know.
She too was flooded with emotions over this Big Family Wedding, and must have been so glad to get home and let out the breath she’d been holding along with me for weeks.
So I guess I really have a lot of girl-crushes today. Certainly there’s The Bride, who put together a wedding that we’ll never forget. But there’s also my mom, without whom we could not have had any time to dance or drink or relax, and who made the long car rides and overnights not only possible but even downright pleasant. And of course there’s my mother-in-law, who fixed my dress for me and made me look as good as I could possibly look in a strapless situation. And finally, I am so very in love with my daughters, who came through when it mattered. Who put up with their crazy mother’s shenanigans despite being over-tired and under-the-weather. Who summed everything up so perfectly with,
“Yay! We did it!”