Thursday, September 19, 2013

Serena's wedding: Part 1

Normally I don't cry at weddings. I didn't cry at my sister Lillian's, or my best friend Maggie's, or even at my own. But I cried at Serena's—the first wedding that ever moved me to tears. Let me walk you through this unforgettable weekend and tomorrow's post about the day that made just about everyone present tear up with joy.

Serena grew up in the remote North Country town of Malone, NY—best known as the setting for Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy—and that's where she decided to have her wedding. After weighing all our travel options, Frank and I decided to drive to the wedding. Alllll the way to Malone, NY. It was the only way we could both go, really, and luckily we love road trips.

Our car, ready to go with blankets, pillows and a picnic basket of snacks
We took Friday and Monday off from work and divided the 13-hour drive into two days, with overnight stops both there and back to make it manageable. At the reception, a few people asked, "Are you that couple that drove from Chicago?!" We felt proud to have acquired such a reputation. :)

We decided to make a full vacation out of it and visit the Wilder Farm on Sunday before we left. I read Farmer Boy aloud to Frank on our way there in preparation. By the way, that book is a great read-aloud. We've tried reading books out loud in the past and it didn't go well, mostly because we're both visual learners who struggle to retain auditory information. But the Little House books are so visually descriptive—everything is described in detail, from Father's barnyard to Almanzo's red mittens—that our visual brains easily stayed engaged. We also had a great time discussing the story, but I'll tell you more about that in my post about the Wilder farm.

Anyway, the rehearsal was supposed to start at 5:00 pm. We hoped to arrive in town before 4:00, but traffic on the two-lane highway to Malone slowed us down. It was 4:45 pm when we finally rolled into the hotel parking lot.

We had the pleasure of witnessing this fine vehicle on the way there. I'm just impressed they actually wrote "Ford" on there.
To make matters worse, I was dressed in the oh-so-fashionable attire of yoga pants and Frank's over-sized hoodie (it was comfortable but darn ugly ... Frank said, "I think your style theme for this trip is homeless"). I quickly laid out a plan—"Ok, you check in, I'll run upstairs, we'll change really fast, I'll do my make-up in the car"—and I couldn't help but add, "Everything will be fine as long as we don't run into Serena's or Anthony's parents before I get a chance to change!" Of course, as soon as we stepped into the hotel, Anthony's entire family stepped off the elevator right in front of us. I sank into the wall and hoped they didn't recognize me, but Anthony's dad (sweetest man on the planet) saw me and happily greeted me, "Hi Tess!" I turned ten shades of red, but of course smiled and said hi back. Luckily his mom didn't see me, and I was able to redeem myself by being very presentable at the rehearsal dinner.

We showed up at the church at 5:15, with me panicking because we were late, but to my immense relief Serena and the other bridesmaids hadn't arrived yet. I shouldn't have worried. Serena and I met when we were serendipitously placed as roommates at the ISI Honors Conference, and we bonded over the fact that we were the last to arrive at breakfast every single morning—generally skating in with just enough time to grab coffee before class. Running late is kind of our thing (for better or worse).

The rehearsal went off perfectly and the rehearsal dinner was a delight, with a heartfelt and loving toast from Anthony's dad. Frank and I made new friends and discovered that we knew a lot of people in common with the rest of the bridal party. Serena gave us bridesmaids beautiful rose earrings and necklaces (in keeping with the wedding's pink rose theme), and fussed over whether Frank and I were well-rested because she is the most thoughtful bride in the world. I really enjoyed spending time with her lovely friends who made up the rest of the bridal party and her older sister Mary Jo, who is now teaching my little sister's high school English class. I gushingly told Mary Jo how much my sister loves her class, but Frank the ever-helpful cocked an eye at her and said, "So, you're Caroline's new English teacher. I heard you gave a really hard quiz last week." I pretty much died of shame, but afterward when we told Caroline about it she was immensely pleased with Frank. I can't understand it!

Ok, I won't say any more for now—this post is already long enough. But tomorrow I'll be posting all about the wedding, with tons of pictures, so check back then. :)

p.s. Today is my birthday! I once heard that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who hide their birthdays, and those who proclaim them. I'm definitely a birthday proclaimer! The morning got off to a great start with delicious breakfast in bed from Frank—more like breakfast feast—and lots of presents, including a potted rose plant for our kitchen and our family's traditional birthday cupcake. I'm the happiest girl today!


  1. Happy birthday Tess!

  2. You share your birthday with Hermione..don't know if you're a HP fan.

    All the best on your birthday! :-)

  3. Happy birthday, Tess!!! I bet the first married birthday is super awesome. I still have several months to wait for mine. lol.

    Many blessings! ♥♥♥

  4. Eeeeek, I am just reading this so I missed your birthday! Happy Birthday a day late!!