Weddapalooza: Saturday, August 20, Part III

19 Sep

The car was packed on the way to Jungle Island, but everyone was so excited that the tight quarters didn’t bother anyone.  As soon as we got there Addam and I headed up the to second floor for our cocktail hour, as it was already underway and we wanted the bridal party to enjoy the reception as much as possible.

Caterers were passing around nine appetizers, but since I’m vegan I could only enjoy the vegetable spring rolls with ginger plum sauce. I hadn’t eaten all day, so I scarfed down a few of them as soon as I got there. Just so everyone knows, our hor d’oeures included:

  • Large fried shrimp with apricot-horseradish sauce
  • Conch fritters with key lime mustard sauce
  • Brie and raspberry en croute
  • Lobster fritters with red pepper aioli
  • Beef empanadas
  • Assorted dim sum with ginger soy sauce
  • Vegetable spring rolls with plum sauce
  • Sesame chicken with oriental ginger sauce
  • Crabmeat turnovers

After welcoming everyone to the reception, Ana pulled Addam and I aside so we could check out the reception room before guests had a chance to make their way in. Everything looked absolutely perfect, and we were very pleased with how everything came together. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was completely blown away.

As soon as we took a sneak peek at the banquet hall, Addam and I returned to the cocktail reception to mingle with guests. Our timing was perfect. There was a $500,000 circus-themed quinceanera taking place next door, and as soon as we came back out Jungle Island officials walked a number of animals right through our cocktail hour. They brought out a hog, a python, parrots, a capuchin, gators. We couldn’t spend that much time with them, but Katie, Kim, Chris and a few others sneaked over for a closer look later in the night.

After a couple of shots and a few more appetizers guests moved into the banquet hall, and the bridal party began to prepare for its grand entrance.

Despite our best attempts to sneak Yoga into the celebration, Ben got caught with a puppy poking through his shirt and had to run her back to the apartment. We didn’t think he was going to make it in time, but he got back the second before his name was called.

I tried to peek into the room as everyone entered, but I couldn’t get a good glimpse. I’m hoping Edé got some good shots so I can check out the creative things everyone came up with.

As soon as Addam and I made our way in, the DJ annouced our first dance as a married couple. We danced to Cee Lo Green’s Old Fashioned, which Addam chose for us. It’s a relatively new song, but it sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1940 or 1950s.   The song emphasizes the importance of taking your time to fall in love the right way, which is how Addam and I tried to do it. It was the perfect song to set the tone for our future together.

As soon as the song ended it was Steve’s turn to take the dance floor. We danced to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. It took me forever to pick out a song, but I was really happy with it. Everything else I listened to was either too romantic or too sappy and didn’t seem to fit the occassion. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love Louis Armstrong, Steve and I included. It was a classic song for a classic moment.

Addam and Judy danced to Sugar Babe by Stephen Stills. As long as it took to pick out a song for Steve and my dance, this one came us almost instantly. Judy is a big fan and couldn’t believe that we knew the song. It was an emotional moment for everyone but very sweet to watch. I know that I caught at least two members of the Evans clan tearing up. (Cough, Emily, cough, Judy ;)) It was a highlight of the night and a moment that Addam and I will look back on often as we build our lives together.

After the dances everyone (especially my maids, who hadn’t had any food since breakfast), was ready to eat. Before cateres handed out dishes the DJ called Ben, Addam’s best man, Heather, my matron of honor, and Emily, my maid of honor, up for a toast.

Ben isn’t usually much of a public speaker, but he went first and did an amazing job. He spoke about how long Addam and I had been together and how much he cared about us, but the part that really got to me was when he said that we gave him something to aspire to. To quote Angela from My So-Called Life, “Sometimes someone says something really small, and it just fits into this empty place in your heart.” It means a lot to us that he feels that way.

Heather was next, and I lost every bit of restraint I had held onto during Ben’s speech the moment she started speaking. She said that although she always thought she’d be watching me marry Zac Hanson, she knew that I had found the perfect partner. She discussed the many moves Addam and I have made together and the ones we will make in the future. As my best friend of nearly 10 years, Heather’s seen me change and she’s stood by me throughout every obstacle. I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I know that she’ll continue to be my shoulder, despite time and distance. Her speech only confirmed what I already knew.

Emily was last but definitely not least. While Ben and Heather focused on mine and Addam’s relationship, Emily’s focused on mine and her’s. She talked about the moment I first met her and told her that she was going to be my best friend, about how I used to convince Addam to let her into his room when we first started dating, and about how she could always hear me laughing from the next room on the many high school nights we spent at his parent’s house. It took me back to the days when Addam and my relationship was still very new and unfamiliar, and it was a nice reminder of how far we’ve come since we met at Quarles eight years ago. It was perfect.

After toasts guests (hopefully) enjoyed a wild mixed green salad with tomatoes, cucumber and a citrus vinaigrette dressing, followed by a sauteed breast of chicken piccata with lemon-caper sauce, a vegetable medley and scalloped potatoes (Addam’s favorite). Since I couldn’t eat anything other than the salad, the wonderful crew at Jungle Island designed me a meal of my choosing. I got to munch on potato gnocci with marinara, asparagus and steamed broccoli. Four of my quests also opted for the torture-free option, which included a grilled tofu dish. I was disappointed that they didn’t get the gnocci, as I had requested, but everyone seemed to enjoy the food nonetheless.

As much as we were both looking forward to dinner, Addam and I really didn’t give ourselves the opportunity to sit back and enjoy our meal. So many people came so far to see us that we decided to spend most of our time moving from table to table. We don’t have many opportunities to fill a ballroom with lifelong friends and family — we had to maximize our time with everyone.

Once everyone who was interested in eating had finished up, it was time for Addam and I to cut the cake.

Indira designed us a vanilla rum cake with white fondant, and the closest I came to trying it was when Addam smashed a chunk of it into my face. (Apparently it’s also customary that he lick it off? I’m still unsure about that one, but I went with it.)

I think I’m the only bride in the history of weddings who’s been unable to eat their own cake, but I didn’t have anything set until a couple of weeks before the big day. I didn’t feel like I could make such a huge request on such short notice. I had planned to pick up a vegan cupcake the day of the wedding, but everything was so frantic that it completely slipped my mind. Those who did have the cake, however, assured me that it was amazing. (To quote Ben, “It was so moist.”)

After everyone was full on cake the DJ turned up the tunes and our guests headed to the dance floor.

While he did a pretty good job, Addam and I spent hours creating a full playlist a week or two before the wedding, and the DJ didn’t exactly stick to the soundtrack. He took requests, so I can’t really complain — there were just a few songs that I was hoping to hear that didn’t get air time.

Regardless, Addam and I had a fabulous time dancing it up with family and friends. Our guests were the most important part of the wedding anyway.

As soon as caters cleared away the cake the DJ called Addam and I to the center of the dance floor for the bouquet and garter toss.

I had the DJ play Carl Carlton’s She’s a Bad Mama Jama for the garter removal, which I found to be very fitting. After a quick dance and a few awkward moments while Addam and I struggled to determine the best way to lift my dress without exposing myself to the gang of groomsmen that was standing behind him, Addam went in with his teeth and pulled the band off my “sexy biker legs.” (His words, not mine.)

In what could not have worked out more perfectly, John caught my garter and Tati caught my bouquet. While I don’t think that they’re considering walking down the aisle anytime soon, it made for some cute photos! (Bonnaroo!) After sharing a quick kiss the lovebirds vacated the dance floor, and the party continued right where it left off.

Addam and I invited his Aunt JoAnn and Uncle Lenny to dance with us to Everlasting Light by The Black Keys. It’s a hard song to dance to because it walks the line between being fast and slow, but JoAnn is a pro partier. After a few turns around the dance floor she recommended that we pick up our heels and jam out. (Which is exactly what we did.) I don’t know who was having the most fun.

At that point Addam and I welcomed everyone back onto the dance floor some good, old-fashioned boogieing.

I was worried that no one was going to want to dance, but my concerns were quickly alleviated. At certain points in the night I don’t think a single person was even sitting! While there were so many fabulous moments, a few stand out. Most notably:

  • Pass the Hat: Early in the night I borrowed a black hat from one of Addam’s coworkers. Everyone ended up forming a circle and passing it from person to person. Whoever had the hat had to dance, and by the time the game was over nearly everyone in the room had their time in the spotlight. It was like something straight out of  a sitcom.
  • Lifted: I love being picked up, and at one point in the night Chris lifted me up and spun me around. At another point Chris and John hoisted me onto their shoulders and lifted me into the air several times in celebration. I don’t know if Edé got any photos, but my fingers are crossed. The boys definitely did a great job of making me feel special.
  • Satisfied: It appears that Emily isn’t the only dancer in Addam’s family. Steve and Lenny performed a stunning rendition of The Rolling Stones Satisfaction. The dance was great, but the best part was seeing the guys having so much fun.
  • Mmmbop: Katie and Courtney surprised me by getting the DJ to play Hanson. Mmmbop was our childhood anthem, so it was a perfect touch. As I’ve hinted earlier in this post, our love for Hanson is what initially drew Heather and I together, so it was great choice for everyone.

After a solid hour of heavy dancing everyone was pretty worn out, so I asked the DJ to give our guests a bit of a break. He called Addam and Emily up for a brother/sister dance.

Emily has always loved Remember Me by Ed Cash, a religious song that she and Addam used to listen to at Ligonier, a Christian camp the Evans kids attended when they were younger. Even though the song is about Jesus, Addam and I both thought that many of the lyrics could relate to their relationship as well. For example:

  • “I was with you when you were a baby; I was with you when you were a child; I know how you feel at every moment; And I’ve let you walk into the wild.” 
  • “Remember me the anchor in your storm; Remember me a place to keep you warm…Remember Me the music in your heart; Remember Me I’ve loved you from the start.”
  • “I feel for you in your times of trial; And I feel with you when your heart smiles.”

The DJ almost gave everything away by playing the song as guests were making their way to their seats at the start of the reception, but I hope that Emily was at least a little surprised.  We didn’t tell her about the dance because we wanted it to be a special moment that she didn’t see coming.

After Addam and Emily’s heartfelt moment, it was up to Ben and I to pump up the crowd for another hour of dancing.

Ever since we’ve met, Ben and I have had a running bit about being part of a club in which we are the only two members. That club’s theme song is We Are the Champions by Queen, and that is exactly what we danced to. I need a video to do the moment justice, but as I don’t have one, trust me when I say that we broke it down. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s a moment I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

While there was only supposed to be one more song after our brother/sister dance, everyone was having so much fun that Steve decided to keep the DJ going for an extra half hour. That half hour turned into an hour after Addam hooked his iPod into the room’s sound system and kept things going even after the DJ called it a night. As a result, we also got to listen to a lot of songs that we included in our reception playlist, including some Johnny Cash, Grateful Dead and Cee Lo Green.

We could have kept going all night, but everyone started packing up around 10. Addam and I are ridiculously fortunate and had a ton of gifts to pack into the back of Steve and Judy’s rental car. After a few of us took photos with some props from the quinceanera next door, Steve and Judy drove Addam and me home.

It was the last time we were going to see Addam’s parents before their flight the next morning, so after bringing all the gifts inside we had to say our goodbyes. It was hard to start bringing such a fun weekend to a close, but Addam and I tried to remind each other that Christmas is right around the corner and we’ll be seeing everyone again before we know it.

Shortly after Steve and Judy left, Ben, Chris and Andrew showed up with John, Tati and Alan, another cook at Red Lobster. After changing into some more comfortable clothes (I wore jeans and T-shirt while Addam opted to wear his tux jacket with nothing underneath), we ran by the boy’s hotel to try to coax Winston out of his room.

Once we realized that Winston was not going to make it out for the night, the group headed over to Churchill’s for a small after party. After a few beers the bar closed, so we brought the gang back over to the apartment for some more jams.

As hard as it was to bring the night to an end, Addam and I went to bed knowing that while nothing could top the wedding, there was still plenty of family fun to be had the next day.

“The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.” — Ivy Baker Priest, American political figure (1905-1975).

3 Responses to “Weddapalooza: Saturday, August 20, Part III”

  1. Moma September 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Wonderful!! I enjoyed every word and every picture. The quote at the end is so surreal. I will read this over and over.

    • hopkinar September 19, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

      Thanks, Mom! It was an amazing day!

  2. judy evans September 20, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    I, too, loved every word and every photo. I have relived the day over and over and reading this beautiful story STILL continues to reduce me to a puddle………
    It was a PERFECT day for a PERFECT couple.
    Thank you for being such a gifted writer, Ashley.
    Hugs and Kisses,

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