On Saturday, my brother-in-law Michael married his fiancée Kathy. A few months ago, they popped the question--to me! I had offered, in passing, seriously but also just so they didn't stress about having to dig up an officiant. When they asked me, I was in heaven. It's such a privilege when people you know and love want you to be the person who joins them together. Whatever one might think of the institution of marriage, it's a ritual that has enormous weight and meaning.
Michael asked my love, Lynn--his sister--to be his best woman. She insisted on being the best man, but wore a lovely dress. The couple picked Oregon Gardens as the venue, and the mid-20s in dates in September. The 25th of September or thereabouts is a very reliable day for sunny weather in the Pacific Northwest, as is the last weekend of the month. We rented a minivan for the drive down. The boys were generally great, far better than I expected them to be, with the drive, having to wear suits, sleeping in a strange room, etc. They were troopers and awesome, and incredibly handsome in grandma-sewn vests.
Which leads me to the following interlude anecdote. A few months ago, when Lynn is back east helping her folks pack up for the move to Washington state, I'm driving somewhere with the boys and talking about the wedding in September. They are both excited. Ben pipes up, "I want to wear a dress to the wedding!" Rex: "Me want wear a dress, too." Being a modern, perhaps post-modern, dad, I offer no concern. "That sounds very interesting. What will your dress look like?" "It'll have John Deeres on it!" Ben yells. Rex says, "Fire trucks!" I assure them I'll tell their mother and we'll figure out a plan. I relate this to Lynn who hatches the following: vests, not dresses. The boys think this is fine. In the end, she works with the boys to pick fabric: fire trucks for Rex, but butterflies and dragonflies for Ben. My mother in law, Diane, sews the vests up. They are quite smashing. (The fellows will kill me for this blog entry later, when they're more grown up, and reading my blog.)
Back to this last weekend. It was just a long, happy time with Lynn's family, as well as my dad, sister, and niece Danielle. Danielle came to take care of the kids, and also took part in the festivities. We had a nice mini-reunion, and are thinking already about having a bigger get-together at Oregon Gardens in a year. My dad and I were both overcome a few times by thinking about how much my mom would have loved the wedding. She and dad had met Michael many times and Kathy a few, and she thought the world of them. Also, she loved meeting new people.
It was also great to see a small chunk of the Warner (dad's side) and Herold (mom's side) clan, and meet Kathy's family and all of her and Michael's friend. I acquitted myself nicely as the officiant. Kathy and Michael were a terrific bride and groom. They talk about a bride "glowing"; Kathy was practically nuclear in her incandescence. My brilliant wife had pre-planned the cake issue with the boys. If they could stay up, cake. If they got sleepy, cupcakes in the room. The kids swooned and recovered many times, but stayed all the way to 9.30, which is about 2 hours later than they typically go to bed (Rex, usually at 7; Ben, 7.30 to 7.45).
We danced to Love Shack (which Michael had picked in the boys' honor, since they love the song), drank champagne, ate cake. I walked the boys and my family back to the resort over a rough field (lighting at night, not so much); got the boys in bed; headed back for more talk and dance.
And, in my final officiant duty, I had remembered to bring a flashlight, so returned with that in tow to lead the bride and groom--husband and wife--back to the hotel. The wedding was the second happiest day of my life, following only my own wedding. While I love my boys and was overjoyed by their respective arrivals, the day of each birth wasn't so much a happiest day--rather, more the start of a long period of love and glee (and sleeplessness). If you want to know my dedication to this weekend, I left my computer at home, bringing just an iPhone, and took about 8 pictures across the entire weekend.