I immediately put on my full wedding regalia. Everyone else waited until closer to the time of the ceremony for at least some of it, and my mother advised me that I also ought to wait to put my cape on later, so as not to get it dirty before the ceremony. I said no - I was only going to get to wear this outfit once in my entire life, and I intended to wear it for all I was worth for the whole entire day. So that's what I did. And it was just fine, and I was glad of having worn it all day long.
On the morning of our wedding, Barry made some incredibly delicious scrambled eggs with a large bar of Velveeta melted into the middle of them and served them to everyone present who wanted some. The people present at that time were our hosts, their family, my parents, me, our officiant, the best man, and the best man's girlfriend. I enjoyed the eggs very much and felt privileged to be marrying the maker of such delicious scrambled eggs.
Our hosts put the wedding tracklist we'd compiled on the house's sound system, and I pointed it out to my parents and identified the song "Sanctuary" by Madonna. My two matrons of honor (who are married to each other) and their daughters arrived and helped us finish setting up. I handed out some wedding-related pins to our immediate family and the members of our wedding party. The wedding party got the butterfly pins shown below.
We finished setting the tables together, and then the best man and officiant asked me what else they could help with, and I asked them to wipe the excess dirt off the centerpiece pots I had planted and hand them to me one at a time after they were clean so I could set them out on the tables. The tables were soon perfectly set.
Barry's family arrived around this time, and my mother took this photograph of Barry chatting with his niece while his father looked at our wedding favor/program bags.
The best man and officiant also helped set up our two signs to tell people where to park. Our friends' house where we got married has a huge driveway with space for about twelve cars, but we were expecting more than twelve cars, so Barry had lasercut a sign saying "Wedding Overflow Parking" with an arrow and then another sign saying "Wedding Parking" to direct people to park on a grassy area of our friends' property where they had advised us that guests could park. Barry had attached these signs to wooden posts with pointy ends, but actually getting pointy ends into the ground and getting the signs to remain upright was a separate issue that still remained. Our wedding party helped get the signs properly embedded in the ground. Also, I had bought and brought with us some shiny white tulle just in case it might come in handy, and they tied some of this tulle around one of the signposts to help get people's attention. It seemed to work. (I only have a picture of one of the signs, and it isn't the one with the tulle.)
We set up the rented chairs where we wanted people to sit for the wedding ceremony. I put enough chairs in the front row for all our immediate family members plus our half nieces from out of state, but the shape of the courtyard was such that putting an aisle down the center of the chairs for easier access divided the chairs into uneven numbers on each side, which confused some people, and among the confusion, our half nieces ended up sitting in the second row. (The aisle down the center wasn't for us to walk down; we walked around one side instead, because the side of the courtyard was where the main front door opened onto, where we were making our entrance from.)
We held a mini-rehearsal, with the officiant still in his sleeping clothes. The officiant recited as much of his speech as he had memorized and consulted the transcript when necessary. Barry and I had to make sure we recognized our cues for when to kiss each other – there were two of them, and they were both indirect, because I didn't want anyone outright telling us when we could or ought to kiss each other (we get to decide that for ourselves!) and I wanted one of the kisses to be before we were pronounced married yet, because hello, people should definitely not wait until after they're married to kiss each other for the first time. So we practiced the lines preceding each kiss, and practiced kissing each other on each cue, several times. Later, when my mother sent me photos she took of this rehearsal, I realized our parents had gathered behind the glass doors to watch us practice kissing, where we couldn't see them. This is a picture my mother took of the rehearsal.
And this is a picture my mother took of my father watching the rehearsal.
At around noon, Barry's parents went to get the wedding food from the barbecue place we'd ordered it from, while Barry's brother Jeremy and Jeremy's girlfriend Stephanie went to get the wedding cakes. The wedding cakes were three separate cakes in three different flavors, from a place called the Mad Batter Cakery, and we had purchased a three-tiered cake stand to display them on. Buying three separate cakes was cheaper than having the cakes stacked directly on top of each other, and once we found the perfect tiered cake display stand, it felt just as fancy to us as a traditional tiered cake. The cakes were all decorated just in the standard way that the cakery normally decorated them for other customers; they offered to customize the decoration for us using flowers from our wedding, but our wedding didn't actually have flowers (other than the ones I cut from our own gardens and stuck into two vases in lieu of handheld bouquets), and we felt that there was too much potential for miscommunication and mishaps in any effort to customize the cake decoration, so we just figured the standard cake appearances were fine. Our emphasis in cake selection was more on flavor than on appearance; traditional wedding cakes tend to taste rather bland, but ours tasted amazing beyond words.
The rest of the meal was from a place called Red Bee BBQ, where Barry and I had eaten a couple of times before the wedding (on our early planning and setup trips to the wedding venue) to verify that we liked their food. We had a bunch of hot plates set up in the dining room to keep the food warm until the reception started, and in a little built-in nook adjacent to the dining room, the wedding cakes were set up on their tiers next to a sign describing the flavors.
Somewhere in here, our hosts took the matrons of honor and their daughters, along with my parents, to meet our hosts' hairless cat, who was something of a celebrity at this event but was shut in a bedroom to keep him from eating the wedding food or otherwise causing trouble.
At 1:30 p.m., the photographer arrived. We had half an hour to do pre-wedding couple portraits.
It was during this time, toward the end of it, that I first noticed that our guests had begun to arrive. The first guests I saw were my Uncle Ron and his wife Linda, whom I had last seen nearly two decades earlier. They wandered out onto the back patio, and while walking below then, I looked up and exclaimed at the sight of them, and we greeted each other briefly before finishing the photography session.
This is the driveway of the wedding venue, where guests were arriving.
And this is a view from the wedding venue of the surrounding countryside that all our guests drove through just before they arrived.
From 2:00 to 2:30, our schedule allowed us time to greet arriving guests at the front door. So we did some of that, and also mingled a little with guests who had already arrived. Our hosts began giving our guests tours of their property, and in some cases also introductions to their hairless cat. I remember a conversation with my two maternal uncles and their families, something about my wedding dress having pockets. I said that I only ever buy dresses with pockets these days, so it only made sense that of course my wedding dress would also have pockets, and that didn't even seem unusual or special to me anymore. Then I said that what did seem unusual or special to me just then was, "Right now I have a wedding ring in my pocket!" I remember that they seemed to find this delightful.
Everyone also seemed to have a lot of fun opening their wedding favor/program bags. We were hardly able to notice all the details at the time, but we enjoyed seeing photographs afterward of everyone excitedly looking through the contents of their bags.
After half an hour, everyone seemed to have arrived. So, right on schedule, from 2:30 to 3:00, we had formal group portraits. We brought everyone out in the backyard and had the group pose next to the covered swimming pool. This involved me screaming instructions at everyone at the top of my lungs – possibly not entirely the most "bridal" impression to make, but nobody else was doing it and I knew what needed to be done, so I did it. We took a group portrait of everyone present, and then various subsets of that group – us with our immediate families, us with each separate part of our families, us with everyone we weren't related to, us with our wedding party ad hosts, and so on. At one point I did my screaming right next to my soon-to-be-father-in-law's ear, and he mildly protested that perhaps I should be an inch or two farther away when doing that. But all in all, it went pretty smoothly. Here is the photo of the entire group.
The ceremony started at 3:00 p.m. We could have done a better job of explaining to our immediate families where they were supposed to sit. When it was clear that no one knew where to sit and no one else could or would explain it to them, I went out there myself, alone, while everyone was standing around looking vaguely confused, and shouted at the top of my lungs again: "Our immediate families including Paige and Parker should sit in the front row! The front row is for our immediate families, including Paige and Parker! Everyone else, sit wherever else you like!" Then, without waiting to see whether anyone understood, I ran back inside and out of sight. It turned out that "immediate families including Paige and Parker" was a very confusing turn of phrase, since Paige and Parker are our half nieces and thus not actually included in the definition of "immediate family." So Paige and Parker sat in the second row, and one of the front-row chairs went to my former housemate (now the wife of our best man), and the other front-row chair was left empty. So our plans didn't entirely hold up, but at least we came close.
The next thing I knew, the ceremony was starting. The music we walked down the aisle to was an instrumental song Barry chose called "A Corner of Memories," taken from the opening of the video game Persona 4 Golden. There is a short repeating piano bit at the start, and Barry told the best man when to start walking down the aisle. At the next repeat, he told our matrons of honor to start walking. At the third repeat, he and I started walking, and at this point my eyes filled up with happy tears so that I couldn't see a thing as we were walking down the aisle. After we got to the front, I struggled to regain my composure enough to see again, and I mostly managed to hold myself together after that. But I entered totally blind and relying on Barry to lead me to the correct spot.
Our officiant, Jason, said a bunch of stuff, and Barry and I answered "We do" in unison a bunch of times:
"Though you will always be two separate people, marriage joins your two lives into one shared life. Everything that affects one of your lives will affect you both. Do you pledge always to keep each other informed about the developments in your shared life?"
"Do you pledge always to listen to each other and endeavor to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings?"
"Do you pledge always to weigh one another’s well-being along with your own in your decision-making, striving both to be a source of strength for each other and also to accept each other’s strength in return?"
"Do you pledge to take one another as spouses, to love, honor, comfort, and cherish from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to remain faithfully at one another’s side until death parts you?"
We do, we do, we do, we do. We do!
Then Jason said, "Please place your rings on each other's fingers," and that was our cue not only to follow his instructions but also to kiss each other, perhaps seemingly spontaneously and maybe even against the rules. (We got to make our own rules.)
Jason asked Barry and me to sign our marriage certificate. Next, he called both our brothers to the front to act as witnesses in signing our marriage certificate. I had incorrectly instructed my brother to sign it a few hours before the wedding, so he just made the motion of pretending to sign it again. Barry's brother actually signed it during the ceremony.
Then Jason signed his own name on our marriage certificate and said, "With my own signature, by the authority vested in me by the State of California, I pronounce you married." That was the cue for Barry and me to kiss each other again.
Jason then presented us as a married couple with our new, merged last name, and people applauded.
Meanwhile, the best man and the matron of honor set up two sawhorses between us and placed a small log on them. Dramatically, Jason announced, "Barry and Cynthia have only been married for a moment, and already they find an obstacle in their path!" He explained the German wedding tradition of log sawing, and the best man presented us with a double-handled saw. Jason instructed us, "This two-person saw will not function if one of you tries to do all the work or none of the work."
Sawing the log in half was somewhat more difficult and time-consuming than we had expected, perhaps primarily because we were nervous about having an audience and kept trying to rush things. Someone shouted at us, "You should have practiced!" and I shouted back, "We did practice!" But people also seemed very amused and entertained by the ordeal. Barry stopped sawing a bit early and, with my permission, tried to break the log in half with his hands by himself - which, in retrospect, would have been symbolically sort of inappropriate. In any case, it didn't work. Close, but not quite.
So we sawed a bit farther together, and then Barry took one half of the log in his hands while I took the other half of the log, and we each twisted in a different direction until it broke and we were each left with one half of the log in our hands. Everyone applauded wildly. It was really gratifying to see everyone around us having so much fun along with us! Wedding ceremonies aren't generally known for being highly entertaining to their guests, but we definitely felt that everyone really enjoyed ours.
Then we put the two halves of the log in the outdoor fireplace we'd been standing in front of, and our matrons of honor and best man presented us with matches, and we lit the logs on fire. (They had been doused with lighter fluid in advance, but even so, this still took a slightly stressful amount of time. We each had a long match and each tried to place it under the log, but the flame on my match went out, and I said so, and relit mine from Barry's match before we both finally got our matches to catch the log on fire. It was not immediately an especially impressive-looking fire, but it continued to burn throughout the reception, and someone pointed out to us later that it had eventually become quite impressive-looking later on.
And we were all done! Officially married! Ceremony over!
Then it was time for the reception! The reception was from 4:00 to 7:30. We started by having everyone bring their chairs in from the courtyard, where the ceremony had been held, to the adjacent great room, where the tables were set up, which looked out upon the courtyard through a wall of glass doors. I think just about everyone already knew by that point which table they were going to be sitting at and with whom, because they'd had some time before the ceremony to pick up their favor bags (which told them their table numbers) and find their lasercut nameplates marking where they should sit. They brought their plates to the dining room to help themselves to the buffet of barbecue food we had set out on the hot plates. (There were vegan options because Barry's parents, among other guests, are vegetarians and sometimes at least theoretically vegans. There were also gluten-free options because at least two of our friends who were there have celiac disease. And all three layers of our wedding cake were gluten-free for that reason.) I think they may have been called to the dining room by table, but this was one case in which I was not the one doing the shouting and organizing people, so I don't remember exactly how it was organized. I just know that it got done and seemed to work out fine for everyone. I think Barry and I were among the last to get our food, though I don't remember what we were doing before then. Barry was probably more involved in getting the food served than I was, because he had done pretty much all of the food-related wedding planning.
Once we got our food, Barry and I were seated at a small table for two at the front of the room, in front of the indoor fireplace, with two vases of flowers from our yards, one on each side of us. The flowers were a couple of days old because we had left our houses a couple of days earlier, so I had removed some of the wilting ones and supplemented what remained with rosemary from our hosts' gardens. The flower arrangements were imperfect but personalized and satisfying to me. Except for the rosemary, I had grown all the flowers myself (and I also do grow rosemary - I just didn't grow these specific rosemary plants).
During dinner, we had toasts. The best man toasted us and praised me for how generously I had "opened my house to" his girlfriend, and I shouted out and interrupted him – "Maybe clarify, renting the room to her!" because most guests didn't know I had rented a room to her and were likely to be confused by his vague reference to it.
One of the matrons of honor toasted us and talked about the frustration of having had to wait so many years to get married herself, because of homophobia, and having met me while we were fighting together for the right to get married - and I was relieved that she talked about this, because it felt important to me to have somebody acknowledge at our wedding how hard I'd had to fight to be allowed to get married, not to Barry but before Barry, because of homophobia.
Barry's mom toasted us and quoted something I'd said in an email to her, about how "B and C marriages" are the best because my parents and Barry's parents and Barry and I are all in marriages between people with the initials B and C.
My father toasted us and said that Barry and I are both good human beings with good ethics and will be good to and for each other.
These are some pictures of us glowing while listening to various toasts.
Then Barry made a toast and said that I'm like the aliens in an original Star Trek episode who appear on an alien planet to one crew member at a time and tell them each, "I am for you, [Name]," except for the part about how, when those aliens touch the crew members, the crew members die. This got a laugh from our audience. I was briefly confused, wondering whether Barry had forgotten the part about the crew members dying, until I understood that he hadn't forgotten and was just doing a good job of making his toast entertaining.
Here I am watching Barry make his toast.
Then it was my turn to make a toast, and I was taken aback because Barry had just told me I should thank everyone for everything, and he had not given me any warning that his toast was going to be eloquent and say such nice things about me, so I felt inadequately prepared. I said that on this date five years earlier I had been very miserable because I had been supposed to get married that day and the wedding was called off when that relationship fell apart disastrously, but now five years later the date of misery was finally a happy day, and therefore even when life was very difficult everyone should keep in mind how amazingly better things could get only a few years later, because Barry is wonderful and I was so glad to be getting married to him, and thank you so much to everyone who helped make it happen. I thanked various people by name, but aside from that, the toast was probably not very much more eloquent than my description of it here is, because it was so off the cuff and I was so unprepared for it after having been busy focusing on absolutely everything else. It was a short toast that mostly just conveyed the fact that I was incredibly happy and hadn't always been before meeting Barry. But those seemed to be the important things to convey.
(I think I look slightly drunk in this photo, which pretty well suits how I was actually feeling, although I do not actually drink and have never actually been drunk and had not drunk a single drop of anything that evening but apple cider. I was making my toast with Martinelli's.)
As we all finished eating, Barry and I moved from table to table, talking to various groups of family and friends. Here we're talking to Barry's out-of-state family who had flown in from Texas and Arizona.
We also sat and talked for a while with my extended maternal-family relatives, some of whom had flown in from Oregon and Washington State. Since my mom and her siblings were raised Catholic but are no longer Catholic, and Barry was raised an atheist but attended a Catholic school and belonged to the (religiously oriented) Boy Scouts, we talked a little about that so they could get more of a sense of who Barry is.
And here we are with my extended paternal-family relatives, who all live in the Sacramento area. My unofficial aunt Linda (she's not married to my uncle, but they've been together since I was a fairly small child) and I talked about going shopping for plants and getting our men to hold the plants for us while we pick out more of them.
People also began to disperse across the property to take advantage of the many forms of entertainment that were available at our wedding. Some went outside to play bocce ball.
Others went to the garage to play pinball and arcade games.
Including some particularly antiquated arcade games.
My cousin's daughter, the youngest of our wedding guests, apparently threw an adorable mini-tantrum that I didn't find out about until I saw the professional photographer's pictures later.
My brand-new half niece demonstrated her remarkable juggling talents. (She also juggles knives and torches but confined herself to safer items at our wedding.)
People gathered and chatted in various locations. Here I am by the swimming pool with my mother's side of the family.
And here we are on the patio with Barry's side of the family and a couple of Barry's oldest friends.
One of the engaged couples at our wedding took some of this time for kissing! (Our hosts' daughter and her fiancée, who live here and were enjoying their own front yard.)
From 6:00 to 6:30, while the reception was still continuing, Barry and I stepped aside with the photographer to take "golden hour" portraits.
At 6:30, we came back inside for the cake cutting. Our wedding cakes were incredibly delicious! The top tier was an eight-inch, one-layer chocolate caramel coconut tarte, described as being "like a deluxe Almond Joy bar, featuring a coconut cream ganache filled with roasted almonds and vegan caramel, inside a coconut crust and topped with coconut flakes." The middle tier was a ten-inch, two-layer peanut butter chocolate porter cake, made with beer, espresso, peanut butter buttercream, whiskey chocolate glaze topping, and peanut brittle bits. The bottom tier was a twelve-inch, three-layer German chocolate cake featuring coconut, pecans, and caramel, finished off with chocolate drizzle along the sides.
First the photographer had us pose for a completely fake cake-cutting photo, looking as if we were going to slice into a different cake than we actually sliced into first. It was later pointed out that we both have a devious expression in our eyes in this photo; I think it was because we were being asked to be deceptive. But after the fake, posed photo was taken, we cut our actual first slice, which was from the middle cake since that was the one we both were most interested in tasting. (I do not drink alcohol ad also do not drink coffee, so a cake made with beer, espresso, and whiskey might sound like a strange choice for me, but I do actually eat solid foods made with all these things on the rare occasions when I come across them. All of them taste terrible to me plain, but all of them can taste quite good when mixed with sufficient quantities of sugar. So the peanut butter chocolate porter cake was what appealed most to both of us, and so it was what we ate first.)
This one is the real photo of the real cake cutting.
One of the things Barry had felt strongly about during wedding planning was that we should not smear cake on each other's faces. I agreed with this entirely. So we used forks to very considerately feed each other a first slice of cake. It was delicious! And very filling, too. I didn't taste the German chocolate cake until we got around to eating leftovers of it on our honeymoon, and I never got any of the chocolate caramel tart at all (it was already gone by the time we left the wedding), so we may order some more of our wedding cake flavors someday so as to taste them all and reminisce.
Here are all the people watching us cut the cake.
There was much serving and eating of cake.
After cake was eaten, my cousin who has two small children and was expecting dancing to follow the cake came over to me to tell me she was planning to take her children home. When I let her know that I was about to present bouquets and then we would play a board game, she convinced her kids that a board game would be fun.
In lieu of the traditionally annoying bouquet toss, which assumes that all single women should seek to be next to get married, I first explained that I had not wanted to carry a bouquet around with me since I did not feel like playing the role of a vase, and then presented my two vases of flowers to the two engaged couples attending our wedding.
Then at 7:30 p.m., we all played Tiny Towns. Barry acted as caller (remember, it was a Bingo-style game with one caller for the whole room). He taught the rules of the game to the room. Then, throughout the game, he drew cards one at a time and announced to the whole room what piece we should all add to our individual towns next. He also played, adding a piece to his own town each time. I think everyone played along except my father, who declines board games in general. At our table of two, I defeated Barry! It is rare for me or anyone to defeat Barry at any board game, so it felt important. Our copy of Tiny Towns is technically mine now, since it was supposed to belong to the winner at each table.
We had hired our photographer for six hours, starting at 1:30 and ending at 7:30, so our photographer went home a few minutes after we started the game. That was fine; it wasn't supposed to be an especially photogenic scene, and anyway, some of our friends took photos of it and sent them to me.
After the game, it was time for most people to go home! About half a dozen people helped divide all the Tiny Towns pieces to get the correct original number of pieces back into each box again so that the winners at each table could take the game home with them. This task went fairly astonishingly quickly; it seemed to be all done within less than five minutes. Barry and I started moving our remaining honeymoon luggage into my car, while also pausing to say goodbye to various people. We collected our wedding cards and wedding presents. Most of the presents had been sent through the mail, so it was mostly a box from Barry's parents (wrapped in paper printed with blue butterflies that matched my wedding dress) and some cards. There was also a candle from our hosts' daughter and fiancée, but I failed to pick up the candle along with the card, so they gave it to us again later. There was a picture frame that all our guests signed the mat of with good wishes for us; I think we left that behind intentionally for Barry's parents to bring it to us later.
The same people who had spent the night before at the venue also stayed the night after, except for Barry and me. My brother Paul had been scheduled to stay the night after, but he decided on the spur of the moment to drive back home instead, and sneaked out without notifying our hosts, so they were somewhat confused as to where he had gone and whether he was okay, but everything worked out fine. Barry and I got in my car, waved goodbye to both our sets of parents, and headed out to begin our married life! Little did we know how traumatic our honeymoon would be for that car of mine. But we were both completely overwhelmed with happiness at how fantastic our wedding had been, and our honeymoon would also be plenty fantastic in all manner of other ways. And I hope to get around to writing about that in another entry soon!