The morning was as cloudy and cool as the one before. Breakfast was, again, excellent, a baked pancake (a.k.a. a Dutch Baby or what could be called a very large Yorkshire pudding) with savory and sweets on it. Some of the sweet was local fruit, ripe with the season.
Carl had been very conscientious about telling us that we had to be at the garden again around 2, which would be two hours before the wedding; but until then we didn't really have anything we had to do. We'd already done the errands promised yesterday yesterday. The sooner the better, I usually say, when there's something that has to be done. Since we had most of the morning to squander, we left my celphone on, and headed south, since we'd come from the north we knew what that looked like, but hadn't really known what the coast or the population spread was like to the south.
It's entirely different than the northern coast. Lots of larger freeway, more development, lots of big, commercial farms, and the 1 is farther away from the shore. So we turned shoreward after a bunch of that rolling landscape, all alike, and found a tiny little port town that looked like it survived entirely on the fishing fleet that was docked there. It was very beautiful. Especially all the way out to the shore where we could see all the masts, the spray from the waves and all the seagulls roosting on the roofs. Way out there, near the piers, was a seafood fast food joint that looked perfect for its local. The food smelled wonderful, but we were both still so full from breakfast, that all I could get was a cup of their white clam chowder. They even had a whole bread box filled with pieces of sourdough that one could just take like the oyster crackers. I got a few pieces to take with us and I ate my soup in the car as we headed back north.
We went past Santa Cruz and headed back up the 1 to look at various houses and properties that John had seen in the local real estate office. We usually like living out of the way, not in town, and where there was plenty of land. I really thought it would be cool to be able to see the ocean. So out we went and then up to the east a bit, and up into the hills right there on the shore and just a little ways in the forest closed in around us. The trees grew taller and taller and there was more and more ground water, and the growth got to be good and thick, nearly Oregon like. The shore yielded to the trees. We wound up and up and up and there were little ranches, houses all hidden in the woods. A few were for sale, for more reasonable prices than the one on the shore in town; but still significantly beyond what we presently had.
Eventually we came across a woman walking her dog, and we asked where the road would eventually lead. She said it went back to the 1 in just a few more miles; and she was perfectly correct. It wound back down soon enough and we were back on the coastal road. It was a beautiful drive back to town and on the way we stopped at one of the roadside fruit stands. Really yummy things, like fresh strawberries, pears ripe off the tree, and local vegetables. I ate the pear, which was just a dime, as we drove back down to Santa Cruz.
We had to stop at a drug store to get me some mascara as the seven year old bottle of the stuff I had was dried out, and while we were in line my phone started ringing. It's set to the Playground ring and I first looked at the guy behind me in some wonder, thinking that he'd set his phone to the same song I had! But then I realized it was my phone. It was Carl asking John to buy more water as he wasn't sure if we had enough of it for everyone. So we bought a dozen bottles.
All the driving and everything had worn me out. The B&B was hosting a political rally for the owner, who was starting to run for a local office, and even with all the noise and people we managed to get into our room and I fell dead asleep for a good half hour while John puttered about doing small things. I woke up at 1:30, and the two of us got dressed. I wore my black velvet skirt, a short sleeve blue shirt, and over that was the loose, hand dyed blue silk jacket. It was comfortable, not too many layers, and my belly wasn't being compressed. I also had on black flats. Finally, I did something I haven't done for years. I actually pulled out my make up and used it. Blush, eye color, mascara, lip stick, and powder all carefully applied to not overwhelm. A little extra that I don't usually do, but well worth it when I looked at myself in the mirror. It's not that it makes great changes, that's not really what it's supposed to do, I think. It was just all a little bit more vivid and that would be useful in the garden light.
We arrived just a bit past 2, and folks hadn't really gotten all that organized, yet, so I didn't feel bad about being a little bit late. We mostly just hung out around Carl's room as most of the men involved in the bridal party had already changed; and then everyone went down to the garden to get all the pictures done before the ceremony. Carl came up to John at the beginning of all that and asked him to buy more water as he'd already passed out the dozen bottles and it looked like people needed more in the sunshine. John went off and came back pretty quickly and started just handing water out to everyone.
I thought it was much wiser to get all the pictures done before the wedding because there wouldn't be the long hiatus after the ceremony when all the guests couldn't get access to anyone in the wedding party. Sure, there was the small mystery of what, exactly did Gretchen look like in the dress, but it was well worth that small thing. Especially since Gretchen was wearing her grandmother's bridal gown, all gorgeous cream satin. Her grandmother had posed with a bunch of lilies and they'd taken the same pose and picture of Gretchen in the same dress. The picture of Gretchen's grandmother was up by the guest book before the wedding, and after the wedding, both pictures were up there. So the guests could see what Gretchen looked like coming down the aisle, first. She was mildly startling to a lot of people, with makeup, her hair done up and in a dress, several folks, even last night, had said that she looked like a beautiful stranger with Gretchen's smile.
I got to check out the now well-heightened stand and the very neat little booklet of the entire ceremony. There seemed a whole lot of pages for me to read, given that I knew that I'd not really written *that* much if one were to look at it on a computer screen. But Chris had done the really neat thing of breaking everything up into small phrases, so I couldn't read too quickly. It's a fault I've had before.
I got to talk with Chris for a while as well, and she was very bemused to find out that I knew all these people through the Internet. It didn't quite seem possible to her that I'd know all these people so well simply by typing at them for over a decade. But she did seem to accept that the friendships were that deep and that long, as it was very obvious to her that we all cared for each other. She made a comment that everything seems to have it's good and bad sides, that Gretchen and Brad met over the Internet and that we all had our friendships that way was a count to the good.
People started to drift in, various guests, people from the Horde. Trip turned out in a very natty suit that he seemingly had had to fight a snotty clothes sales person to obtain correctly. He looked really good in it. Angie and Cera turned up with brilliant hair. Angie had gone blue and purple. Cera was this gorgeous shade of pale sea green. As Chrisber put it, "Liralen took *months* to get to that color!" He was perfectly correct. Marith, Starling, Kit, Hegemony, and various others arrived as well. I watched, along with the rest of the wedding party, from the top of the hill as the coordinator got us all lined up and ready to go. The coordinator commented, as another family arrived with a mother with hair that was deep, vivid purple, "You have quite the colorful crowd down there." I just grinned.
I'd heard that Angie and Cera had dyed their hair just last week and when asked if it would make them out of place at the wedding they'd said, "Well, Liralen has blue hair, so we should fit right in!"
They definitely fit right in.
The music started, the crowd quieted, and Brad went down first with his grandmother. Then the procession gradually unwound it's way down the hill. I was escorted by Chrisber, and ended up behind and to the left of Chris, where I'd practiced being the day before. It turned out to be a very useful placement. Then the music changed for Gretchen and everyone got up to see her come down the hill. She was just glowing, smiling everywhere and at everyone, and everyone thought she was just gorgeous. A very beautiful bride.
Chris then introduced everyone to the fact that they were at wedding and then introduced me and why I was there. I hadn't heard that before and was blushing mildly by the time she was through with that section, as it included bits of why Gretchen and Brad had asked me to do what parts I could of the wedding. Then I was up. With an overall greeting and then we plunged directly into my section of it, i.e. the readings and 'admonishments' to be gleaned from the readings. Since it's been and done, I'll include, now, the full text of the Feynman reading I'd found.
"I guess maybe it is like rolling off of a log -- my heart is filled again and I'm choked with emotions -- and love is so good and powerful -- it's worth preserving -- I know nothing can separate us -- we've stood the tests of time and our love is as glorious now as the day it was born -- dearest riches have never made people great but love does it every day -- we're not little people -- we're giants... I know we both have a future ahead of us -- with a world of happiness -- now & forever." Richard Feynman
The other quote was from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and was the section on marriage that tells folks that there needs to be a space between the togetherness of married people. I got to say a small piece after each reading, and Carl was my savior by whispering to me, "Slow down." when I started to go a bit too fast from nervousness at the sheer, seeming length of my bits. I mostly used the first as a springboard for the fact that all marriages have to be based on love, real love that knows the reality of what each person is, good and bad, and with that knowledge commits even so, commits knowingly even to the hardships that might come. The second was simply a lesson I knew that they'd learned themselves, to really grow in a marriage requires that one grow as oneself, not that one sacrifices oneself to the other. Simple stuff, all in all. Maybe it's just truth.
After that was a gift exchange, candle lightings from the mothers to the children to the wedding candle, then a declaration of intent (which was the one legality Chris needed to ask and receive). We then did the vows, with me reading them quietly to each of them so that they could say things. I shortened phrases for Gretchen a little, so they would be easier to remember, a Brad had written the things, so didn't need quite as much prompting. At the end of the vows was a vow for the community that was there to support them, and I took a cue from Chris and when the first response was mildly uncertain, I asked the crowd to repeat it and they did, with good, loud enthusiasm. Chris whispered to Gretchen and Brad, "Do you feel it?" and I could see the wonder in Gretchen's eyes when she nodded. Brad was grinning happily. Then Brad had written a really beautiful ring ceremony, which I got to read and then, again, as they exchanged the rings, I gave them their promises to make to each other as they gave each other their rings.
And, finally, was the pronouncement with a really, really nice Kiss.
All in all, it was just about half an hour. It seems so short, for something so significant to the participants, but from what I could see we all really did feel like there had been a transformation. A real one, solid amid all of us.
For those that want to see pictures look here.
Folks drifted up to the restaurant, and there were appetizers set out as well as circulating in the crowd. There was champagne, sparkling apple juice and other wines and things. Of course, most of the Horde only drank the sparkling apple juice and it was deeply depleted quickly. The caterers were mildly astonished, but it was pretty amusing to the rest of us. It's kinda cool to know that there was such low alcohol consumption and zero pressure to drink. Eventually folks drifted to tables and it was so weird to be limited to just the people at a table for conversation, since I knew so very many people that were there.
All through that time and all the way through the reception various people would stop me to tell me that the ceremony had been wonderful, that it had really fit Brad and Gretchen and their personalities perfectly and that they thought I'd done a really great job. The Techers all loved that I'd quoted Feynman, and all the non-Techers had been impressed by that quote and were comfortable and familiar with the other. Brad and Gretchen, themselves, even thanked me for how it had gone, and I mostly thanked people for their praise and was very grateful it had come out so well. I have to admit that I hadn't really known how well it had gone until I'd gotten this feedback, that I'd done what I could and if there was magic, it really was from the emotional reception of the people involved. I was glad that they were receptive and that it had pleased; but I had been so busy making it as good as I could that I was oddly less touched by it, I think.
Then again, thinking back on how happy Brad and Gretchen looked, maybe I was touched in different ways.
When everyone was seated, Carl called for everyone's attention for the Best Man's toast. He then proceeded to deliver the most marvelous speech I've ever heard a Best Man deliver. When Brad actually asked Gretchen to marry him, he sent out a fully detailed email about exactly why he did what he did (which included a promise made to Jim and Cera that if they didn't get married by their 10th anniversary of being together that they'd elope and who would want their wedding anniversary to be Halloween?) and didn't do what he didn't do, the full plan of how he wanted to approach it and then a detailed description of the actual way the whole event unfolded. Carl did a masterful rendition of this email, actually starting with a friend that commented when Brad and Gretchen first met, with great pauses for suspense. Once he even had to turn a page at a really great moment for a pause and fumbled it for just that touch more suspense, and then brought it to a beautiful close on the inevitability of Gretchen's final agreement. He then went on to say that since it is the Best Man's duty to comment on the bride, that all he could say that Gretchen's graces and gifts and beauties were so many that we would be here to the dawn if he were to list them all.
Which melted everyone's heart. The toasts were all heart felt.
Brad's sister stood then for Brad's family and welcomed Gretchen in beautifully as well. That was really, really keen.
Then everyone dove into the good, hot food. It was a very lavish dinner for a wedding, with a full out buffet with three different main dishes, lots of salads, fruit, and yummy things. Each table got to go for its turn, and everyone talked and played with toys while they waited. So the toys were very useful, indeed.
Once dinner was done, the band started to play. Brad and Gretchen then got up and did something they've been practicing like crazy for the last few weeks with Susannah, the Horde's dance instructor. It was a fully formal dance, and they were gorgeous in the bridal gown and the tux, and the band kept very, very steady beat for them as they whirled and stepped very deliberately through the dance they'd practiced for so long. The sweep of the gown was very sweet with the dancing, and they made just a beautiful couple. It was also really obvious that they'd worked on it very hard as they were graceful with it all, not just deliberate.
The applause was wild when they finished.
The dance floor was a bit small, though, for general dancing, but folks tried. With a number of folks taking formal ballroom dancing, it was a little intimidating though, for those of us that hadn't. It was a joy, though, to see Brad's mom and her guy go at it happily, as they actually do competition, though more with historic costumes than just the dancing. The band was really good, and really fun and funky and good to listen to and they had really danceable stuff. That was fun.
The cake cutting was fun, and the cake was absolutely marvelous. There were white layers and chocolate levels. The chocolate was dense and moist and rich with fruit. The white was light and very flavorful with an apricot cream between the layers, and both types were shelled in marzipan that gave it a wonderful richness and beauty. Most beautiful wedding cakes I don't want to eat the frosting off as the frosting is this spackle-like substance, with it actually being a dense, flavorful and not too sweet marzipan, I ate it right up. Yum.
After the dance, a large amount of the Horde went back outside, as the tables limited us to way too few people to talk with at any given moment. It was fun to just mill around with everyone and talk. Gretchen, at one point, was looking for Brad in order to do the bouquet toss. Brad had gone off to do one thing or another. John found Brad on his way back into the crowd and told him, "Your wife is looking for you." And found much amusement in watching Brad's face as he digested that bit of information, that he really had a wife, now. Then he grinned big and went looking for her. John had fun telling me about that.
It is such an interesting, instant change.
The bouquet toss was done from the railing of the porch right outside the reception room. All the possible recipients were crowded on the level below and there was good natured jostling and laughter. When Gretchen tossed it I heard a few surprised squeaks and Cera turned up with it! Hoorah! She was blushing and happy and surrounded by people who had pushed her towards the bouquet as it came down.
The party gradually wound down after that. Brad and Gretchen left soon after that in a huge limo, with jhart blowing bubbles as he was the only one with a bottle of bubbles left. We all hung around for a bit, exhausted and a bit euphoric still. Carl then proposed a D&D game in his room and possibly going to the Saturn after the game. John and I decided to do so, as I had no more duties, but we had to change first. So we drove back down the hill, changed into comfortable clothing and came back to play with Chris Dodd, jhart, Earl, and Bryant for a bit.
But we had a full group this time, with a couple clerics (both John's played Human clerics, which was fun at times), a mage, a rogue, and two fighters, so we were well-rounded this time. We had to go in after some nasties that were stealing dwarves from the mines, and we went in and bashed skulls thunderously and this time we looted everything, from the barrels to the mirror on the wall, to the tables they had and gained EP and gold. It was fun, mindless, mostly, and not nearly as dangerous as the previous game's work, with so few of us firstees going in. The damage was pretty much spread out among everyone and no one got even close to dying.
Everyone else was working tomorrow, or getting to work tomorrow, so Bryant was the first to bail as he was rolling really badly as well. So he took it as a sign and his character left when he did. Everyone else bailed after the game and so the three of us were the only ones that made it to the Saturn.
The Saturn is a very Santa Cruz, and in our parlance, a very Boulder kind of place. It's a vegetarian restaurant, with lots of funky yummy food, bohemian wait staff, and lots of cool, odd, artsy decor. The hallway entering the round building was all painted in neon colors with black lighting to make it all glow. Just like the Interhouse hallways we used to do at Lloyd. Miles of black plastic made that possible back then, here the hallway was just painted black. Carl got a sandwich and cheese fries, I got a huge hunk of gingerbread, John got a small triple chocolate dessert, and the three of us just sat and talked and reminisce happily about how it had all gone. That all the work we'd put in really had paid off and everyone seemed very happy.
Carl expressed some of the same feelings I'd had about the ceremony about his best man's speech, that it was a very receptive crowd for the emotions we'd presented. It was funny to realize that I thought his speech was the best ever, and that he thought that my words had been really, really good. Reciprocal in ways.
It was very fun to just wind down with Carl that way. Just talk and relax and kick back and feel happy. For it was a very happy day, indeed. I do miss the Horde and especially Carl, and I'm glad I got this time with him as I'll be birthing or dealing with a newborn when DunDraCon rolls around next year.
It was also well past 2 by the time we got back to our B&B. John left the B&B a note to say that we didn't need breakfast and then we crept gratefully into our bed.