Congratulations, Alexius and Marlise!
This weekend was a wacky adventure from start to finish - not only for Lyssa, Laurelinde, and myself, but it marked the beginning of a similar adventure for some good friends of mine, 'lex Pendragon and Marlise, who reside just north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as their daughter Raven.
On Friday afternoon the three of us loaded up the TARDIS and headed northward for Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and points beyond to get ready for the wedding on Saturday. It didn't take us long at all to get loaded up (I've gotten quite skilled at throwing together clothes for a weekend junket in a hurry) and on the road. For the first leg of our trip I set myself up in the back of the car with Windbringer to read my e-mail while Laurelinde handled the driving (because she can handle long drives better than I can). However, it took us the better part of two hours to get off of route 270 north because a two car pileup (specifically, a car and an SUV that had to be cut apart on the side of the road) had backed traffic up as far as the beltway. Sadly, I was so ensconced in my e-mail and then catching up on my reading that I didn't realize what was going on until Lyssa pointed out the wreck on the side of the road. Because of this, the three of us didn't get to Cracker Barrel in Maryland (our Pennsylvania trip watering hole) and thus dinner until around 2100 EST5EDT on Friday. Thankfully the rest of the drive to the hotel (situated in Cranberry, Pennsylvania) was uneventful despite traffic and weather, though we didn't actually get to sleep until 0230 EST5EDT on Saturday morning.
Rehearsal for the ceremony (which had to be partially rewritten due to the fact that two people with parts in the ceremony had to cancel at the last minute) was at 0830 on Saturday. This meant getting up at 0630 to get a shower, get dressed, get breakfast from the crappy buffet at the hotel, and then figure out how to get to the house of 'lex and Marlise from the hotel. This actually wound up being a fairly simple task - a half hour's drive at most. I wound up being the first at rehearsal on Saturday morning, specifically, I had to wake a couple of people up by way of 'lex calling in because everyone else was still asleep.
It figures - the first time I found where I was going right off the bat, I was also too early. Rehearsal didn't take very long, all told. Everything was written down for reference during the ceremony (people with lesser parts had bright yellow index cards, which fast became the butt of jokes all morning, while the ceremony itself was neatly printed and bound into a book that the high priestess and I would refer to during the ritual later that day. A few tweaks had to be made during rehearsal, but we made it through without too much trouble. Part of the difficulty we encountered was that the planned high priestess and invocateur couldn't make it and so their parts had to be filled in by Andrea ('lex Pendragon's sister). Feeling much better about what was to happen later that day (especially about not having to memorize everything up front).
The trick was getting back to the hotel: I had to pick up a few things at the local drugstore, which meant having to find a drugstore in the middle of Cranberry. All the way by the turnpike. Farther out from Cranberry than I've been in eight years.
I'll cut to the chase: I found what I needed and made it back with an hour to spare, which was taken up by trying to iron my clothes with a hotel iron that leaked all over the place (highly unpleasant when the temperature was and getting dressed when two other people were busily attempting to get ready. Oh, and did I mention that we had to meet at the site, the Stone Mansion restaurant, at 1130 EST5EDT?
We made it in plenty of time, and then spent the next couple of hours setting up for the wedding ceremony itself (that was to start at 1230 EST5EDT on Saturday). There wasn't much to set up when you think about it, just an altar. Marlise had the lion's share of the getting ready-type stuff to do, being the bride and all. This wound up working fine for the rest of us because the altar cloths hadn't come with any of us to the restaurant, and so we had to send Taja back to retrieve them from the house.
I wasn't paying much attention to how long this took, but I'd wager that it was over an hour before she returned. This suited all of us just fine as we were running around all over the place making sure things were set up, mingling with friends and family, and generally trying to stay calm. That's the thing about weddings: If you're organized they don't take much work to set up. It's the unexpected stuff that happens which throws you off your stride and eats up time.
The ritual itself went off without a hitch. Andrea and I called everyone to the front of the room and went through the ritual by the numbers: Calling the elements, calling the gods, calling our ancestors, asking family to give the bride to the groom and vice-versa, asking for protests, binding the hands, presenting the rings (a pair of tungsten carbide bands - very pretty!), jumping over the broom, everything went smoothly. Andrea and I are quite proud of how everything turned out. It seems that the families of the bride and groom were satisfied with the ceremony, also, and we had no problems.
Photographs, of course, will be posted later.
The reception was held immediately after the ceremony at the restaurant - catering was done on-site, so there was little for us to do but push the altar back against the wall and direct everyone to the open bar and buffer. Lyssa, Laurelinde, and I spent the next couple of hours nibbling at the buffet and hanging out with some friends from Maryland and closer to home while more wedding pictures were taken in front of the fireplace and outside in the snow.
I didn't mention the snow, did I? It started to snow about halfway through the ceremony and kept on until late, late that night. By the time I got back to the hotel at 0230 EST5EDT it had turned to rain, but the roads were treacherous indeed for the rest of the day.
We headed back to the hotel around 1600 EST5EDT on Saturday afternoon (or maybe a little before that; I don't know) and I curled up to nap for a couple of hours because I'd run out of juice from earlier that morning. Lyssa and Laurelinde woke me up for the three of us to go to dinner at the steakhouse down the street (yep, still snowing like mad) and check out the roads because I was planning on driving back to Pittsburgh to attend the afterparty at the North Park Clubhouse and Lounge on route-8.
Once again, I found it without too much trouble; in fact, I arrived at precisely the same moment as Alexius and Marlise. Because I've been out of Pittsburgh for a couple of years now, I took the long way 'round that I knew that I couldn't mess up too badly.
The after-party had far fewer people than the wedding ceremony itself, mostly because the friends of the families of the bride and groom weren't in attendance. The people who were there wound up being mostly comprised of close friends that we hadn't seen in too long from when 'lex and I were active in the Pittsburgh community years ago. It was good to catch up with everyone over a couple of games of pool (note to self: give up dream of playing professionally), video games (note to self: don't join the army if I want to come back alive), and standing around generally having a good time. I played a couple of rounds of Dance Dance Revolution with Raven, the daughter of 'lex and Marlise and used up the rest of my tokens (they're useless back home in DC, anyway) playing a game called Stacker in an attempt to win an iPod Flash.
I then drove 'lex and Marlise back to their hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, the Westin William Penn, and then drove all the way back out to the far side of Cranberry to my hotel to get some sleep for the night. I finally crashed around 0300 EST5EDT on Sunday morning and slept until 1000, when Lyssa woke me up to get dressed so that we could check out and get breakfast before hitting the road.
Breakfast was at a packed Bob Evans just down the block. A piece of advice for all of you: The cinnamon cream stacked hotcakes are wonderful, and are really more than one meal. They're incredibly tasty but know your limits, and don't order anything to go with them. Following breakfast we set course southward to DC, and arrived shortly after 1600 local time. We hung out at Laurelinde's place for much of the evening (well, I suppose that everyone else did; I slept downstairs most of the time) and headed for home around 2300 local time.
That about catches me up for the weekend. More to come when the photographs are collected and organized.