Back from Elwing's wedding.

07 April 2008

I'm proud to day that the wedding of Elwing and Irregular Expression went amazingly well, and with no major hitches to speak of. Congratulations, you two.

After my last post from Elwing's place on Saturday afternoon, I loaded the TARDIS up for the trip back to the Strong Mansion in Maryland as the best... what would you call the female counterpart of a Best Man, anyway? Best Woman? Best Friend? Google's copy of The Groom's Guide says that Best Lady is appropriate, so that's what I'll use henceforth. Resuming, Sarah, the Best Lady, helped Brian (who was unfortunately still quite ill, even after spending the night with a cup of honeyed tea in one hand and a dose of Nyquil in the other) get everything packed up in her car so that we could caravan back out to Sugarloaf Mountain. The trip took only about forty five minutes due to the lightness of traffic on route 270 north, and thanks to the gotcha of the night before I was able to get there in plenty of time regardless of the lack of GPS navigation capability that far off the grid (as evidenced by the fact that the in-built maps have no roads stored for that area).

Here's the thing about being the officiant: Once you're there, there isn't a whole lot to do until the actual wedding ceremony starts. One could sit around drinking coffee and reading the paper, if one so chose, but I'm not the sort who can do that. For the next couple of hours I wandered around more or less aimlessly, helping out where I could. Moving stuff? Check. Tracking down the wedding license, special pens, and suchlike? Done. Checking the ornate silver coffee urns to see if they'd been pressed into service yet? As if I had to mention that. Wandering around the mansion's grounds?

Oh, yes. You betcha.

If you want to picture what the Strong Mansion is like, picture whatever country or mountaintop mansion you like best from television or the movies, and you won't be too far off the mark. You've got your rolling hills, your steep hills, your outcroppings of natural marble that make up the mountainside itself, the woods re-awakening after a winter's slumber, the signs of a woodpecker busily looking for grubs to eat (as evidenced by the neat, round holes punched into most every tree in the woods), and a beautiful view from the hilltop overlooking the valley... I'll post photographs later.

More under the cut. So far as I know from where I was in the grand scheme of things on Saturday, the worst thing that happened was that we couldn't find the pens to sign the ketubah. The pens belonged to Brian's grandmother, and were very important to him. As it was, they were small and lost in the carrybag of little, miscellaneous things, as they are wont to do under most any circumstances. Just in case, I'd asked Lyssa to bring my fountain pen and inkwell, because it never hurts to have a backup. Thankfully, it wound up not being necessary. It was a bit of a trick getting the ketubah out of the frame so that it could be signed by everyone present, but after a bit of jiggling, shaking, and pushing we got it to drop out of the frame onto a handy table. A quick hunt for some way of weighting the corners down ensued, and after finding a couple of white jar candles it was carefully placed on the table to the right of the chuppah in preparation for the ceremony. Later that day, Elwing slipped me the navy blue scarf she'd made for the handfasting part of the wedding ceremony (which I was told I handled like an expert by the witnesses throughout the night), and after preparing it I tucked it into the pocket of my sportscoat for later.

Two plans had been formulated for the wedding, plan A (which involved an outdoor ceremony on the hillside) and plan B (holding the ceremony inside the celebratory tent behind the mansion). Thankfully the weather co-operated with us, and provided clear blue skies, warm sun, and dry turf for everyone to enjoy. It didn't start getting cold until later in the evening, about when you'd expect such a thing to happen.

Some time after 1700 local time, the guests congregated on the lawn, the bridal and groom's parties took up their positions on either side, and Brian's father walked him down to his post below the chuppah. A few minutes afterward, Elwing made her grand appearance.

I now understand why the bride won't let the groom see her wedding gown until the ceremony takes place. What an effect!

The ceremony was a bit longer than most I've performed, about three pages (typed) in length if you count section headings, section breaks, and the odd note here and there. I don't know how long it took to go through, probably about twenty minutes if you count the humorous bits that Brian and Elwing threw in. The ceremony told how they'd met, some of the things they'd done together (misadventures and (mostly) otherwise), and how things had finally turned out. In turn, I took each ring from its designated bearer (thankfully, no Lord of the Rings jokes were made, otherwise I'd have cracked up), blessed it, and gave it to one to place on the ring finger of the other.

True geeks, the inside of each ring was inscribed with the date and time of the wedding ceremony in seconds since the beginning of the UNIX epoch, otherwise known as time_t format. I suppose that you could call this a day of epoch win... Elwing, Brian, the Best Lady, Matron of Honor, and myself all signed the ketubah when the time came, and I bound the wrists of the Brian and Elwing with the scarf. Thus it was said, and thus it was done. Afterward, the newlyweds retired to the mansion for family pictures, and I went in search of a cup of coffee and mingle with the rest of the family. Much to my surprise I ran into quite a few old friends afterward. I ran into Onivel, my mentor in the ways of bastarddom and his wife, and we wound up spending most of the night talking and catching up because it's been so many years. A few of the DC locals, like Seele, were also in attendance that night, and we wound up at the same table with them for dinner that evening. Hausufin and Mika were also there for the wedding ceremony, and sat next to Lyssa and I at dinner. I think that our discussion of practical bladed weapons frightened everyone else at the table, unfortunately, especially after Sarah's brief roasting of the newlyweds.

The first dance was done to an orchestral piece from the Final Fantasy games. There was talk of using a light sabre to cut the cake, but unfortunately only a silver knife was present. Much to the relief of everyone present, the exchange of bites of cake was civilized and dignified. Onivel, his wife, Lyssa, and I discussed the pros and cons of adding a virtual component to a long-distance relationship, and agreed that it was a good and useful thing after all. We're all glad that we did so. Later on that evening, one of my favourite Elvis songs got our respective couples on the dance floor for a waltz, which surprised the other to no end. Near the end of the night we wound up hanging out around the chocolate fountain eating dessert and plotting all sorts of fun things to do with the bubble stuff party favors we were given along with commemorative bottles of wine (courtesy of the newlyweds). Onivel and I, as we were wont to do when we worked together, ran off to get into mischief, namely, trying to convert the forced warm air heating system set up in the tent into a bubble machine. Perhaps it's for the best that we weren't able to successfully do so.

Late in the evening, Lyssa and I said our goodbyes and headed out in the TARDIS to return home and get some sleep. I didn't get up until 1130 EST5EDT or so the next morning, even though I went to bed shortly after midnight local time. The next morning, we got a call from Hasufin; he and Mika had invited us to breakfast. I got cleaned up and dressed, and after they arrived we caravanned over to our local IHOP (which I can never find on my own), only to realize too late that it was standing room only due to the post-church crowd, and would remain so for a few hours. Discovering this, we decamped to Anita's for lunch, only to run into Francis and Suzanne from the wedding the day before. The six of us hung out there for a good three hours geeking out because the kitchen was so busy. All too soon, it was over, and Lyssa and I went off to do our grocery shopping for the week, and then returned home to rest for the rest of the day.

Elwing and Irregular, once again I'd like to congratulate you on your marriage. I wish you health, wealth, long life, happiness, and the chance to do everything that you love, and everything that completes you.