Ah! Gracious me, so much to tell, so little time. I'll warn you here, what you're about to encounter is an epic novel of Russian proportions (minus the borscht) so buckle in. Maybe get some tea or a snack or something. The combined efforts of a busy spell at work and a broken computer are making it hard for me to find time to write and I wanted to finish blogging about our wedding before like, our 14th anniversary (8/16/28! Start shoppin'!) so I decided I'd just write out the rest of the story in one long, rambly, wordy, dramatic post. Trigger Warning: Oversharing.
Who's excited! No one? COOL! Let's goooo.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 - 2:45 IN THE PM: We open on the corner of King and Duke Streets in downtown Lancaster, PA. Our heroes are standing on opposite side of an historic bank, just out of view from one another. The photographer counts down three...two...one and they walk towards each other for a moment known to the Wedding Industrial Complex as "The First Look." I'll shut myself up and let this photo do the talking for that whole scene.
Brian’s grin! Gah, he’s the best.
Nice tush, too.
After the first look we walked around the block, stopping now and again to pose for romantic photos and then met our wedding part at Lancaster Central Market which, in case you’ve forgotten, is the World’s Oldest Continually Operated Indoor Farmer’s Market!!
How good-looking are these people?
I’ll answer that for you: VERY.
We were posing along the exterior of the market, which faces the windows of a number of shops and restaurants, inside of which were shoppers, diners and drinkers, all of whom became totally engrossed in our photo sesh. This one bar had floor-ceiling windows and all the patrons crowded around the windows and waved at us and clapped and one lady came out the door and said “I’m so sorry to bother you but I love your gown!” and I was like YAAAAAAS and realized I was finally living the day I’d been dreaming about my whole life.
The day I marry my one true love! Psh, no. The day I walk around town looking drop dead gorgeous and commanding the attention of everyone in my wake. This was my Kate Middleton Moment, guys. And I enjoyed EVERY SECOND OF IT.
After wedding party photos we met our immediate families at the Hamilton Club for portraits. By now it was 4 PM and the wedding was set to begin at 5. We were worried that guests would be late, but instead a number had arrived early and were already there when we arrived and I got a little thrown off, both overwhelmed by the realization that all of our loved ones would soon be surrounding us and simultaneously being upset that said loved ones were seeing me in my dress before the ceremony, because I’m the President of Vainslvania and wanted to blow everyone’s MINDS when I walked in the door. On top of that there was some hullabaloo surrounding a missing boutonniere situation and we were all getting a little worn out from posing and the mood went from excitement to anxiety in about 2.2 seconds flat. We snuck inside to where the venue had this really gorgeous private room kind of tucked away under the staircase where we could hide out while guests arrived and once again, we killed time and calmed our nerves by calling on our our new spirit guide, Ellen Degeneres.
Heads Up forever and always. I remember my hands were shaking so badly I could barely hold the phone straight!
And then! Bummm bum BUMMMM it was 5 PM. MARRYIN’ TIME. I’m not going to make a single joke or sarcastic comment about our wedding ceremony. It was, and I mean this, perfect. We spent a lot of time thinking about how our ceremony would look and were so proud, really, of the results. It was very important for us for this ceremony to truly feel like a representation of us as a couple and as two families coming together. Our ceremony was entirely secular which was both freeing and challenging. We were very lucky that our families did not pressure us to do any sort of religious or traditional rituals, instead allowing us to celebrate our commitment in our own way, but the freedom of a nontraditional ceremony means there are almost too many options. Structure can be good!
Thankfully Jayne, our amazing officiate, met with us and talked us through a bunch of options and helped us to form a ceremony that we felt was really personal, intimate and meaningful. The room was set up beautifully, with just enough room that it felt cozy, even with 140 guests.
Our friend Amy played music for the ceremony using just her iPod and the building’s sound system. I would have been fainting with nerves over such a responsibility but she was as cool as an entire farm of cucumbers the whole time. We have rad friends!
Our families and wedding party entered first, to the Vitamin String Quartet cover of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, which you can listen to here! And then, to the swells of All You Need is Love, as played by the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, my future husband and I walked arm in arm, towards our future together.
Walking the aisle together was one of the best decisions we made. Leading up to the wedding I stressed a lot (shock) about the aisle entrance. Tradition has the bride escorted by her father, but for a number of reasons I won’t go into here, as some are too personal and the rest involve phrases I’m trying to tone down on, like “patriarchal ownership,” it just didn’t feel right for me, personally. I thought about walking in with both parents or on my own, even, until someone suggested we walk in together and it just felt like the perfect choice. Brian was the first to jump at the idea, actually, and I quickly followed.
After the wedding I was talking to a friend of mine who was recently engaged and he said that his fiancé, who also has a complex dad story, was very moved to see that we walked together. She said she didn’t even realize you could do that!
Aside from how right it felt for us I’m happy that we were able to share that with other people and that our choice might be helpful for someone else. Planning a wedding when you have a little family baggage can feel really hard and lonely and upsetting. It’s easy to think back on friends “perfect” weddings and compare yourself to them but you have to remember that you never know the whole story, that every family is different. And with that, to remember that your wedding doesn’t have to look like theirs! You can walk the aisle with your dad, your mom, your cat, by yourself, on a scooter, with your partner, with your child, with a highly evolved robot…or you could just not even walk an aisle at all!
I’m getting a little side-tracked and soap-boxy but I just didn’t want to let that go unsaid. On the off chance that this is ever read by someone who’s feeling sad or stressed about wedding planning and family, you’re not alone! Do your best to ignore the stress and stop comparing yourself to other people and try to focus on what feels right for you.
For us that was walking the aisle together. One thing that Brian and I love about marriage is being a team and it felt really special to enter that room as a united front. We were in this together.
Jayne said a few welcoming words and then my brother brought down the house with the most utterly perfect five minute monologue of all time. Shakespeare was spinning in his grave y’all. In lieu of where a priest might give a homily or personal statement, we asked Michael if he would be willing to tell the story of our relationship and he eagerly agreed. He didn’t practice it during the rehearsal so it would be a surprise for all during the ceremony and hoo boy, he hit it OUT OF THE PARK. He weaved together personal stories from Brian and from me, memories shared by our parents and siblings and turned our ordinary tale into a love story for the ages. I will cherish this speech forever. He had me in tears within seconds and by the end of his talk, all of our guests had joined me.
After Michael’s speech, our friends Melissa and Brandon, who are an adorable couple themselves, read selections from the poem I LIKE YOU by Soandol Stoddard Warburg:
I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, “Remember when you told me something special?”
And both of us remember
When I think something is important
you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
Maybe day after tomorrow
If you go away, then I go away too
I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That’s how it would happen every time
They alternated verses and perfectly captured the sweet, silly, sentimental nature of the poem which summed up perfectly what Michael’s speech had revealed about our relationship. Apparently we just really like each other.
And then, the reason for the whole party: our wedding vows! We had worked with Jayne to construct personal vows each of us saying the same half-dozen promises to one another. Brian went first and barely made it through “I Brian, take you Elizabeth” before he was completely choked up and crying.
I'd never seen Brian cry. Emily later told me she can’t remember ever seeing him cry and she’s known him for 22 years!
At this point, everyone was sobbing. Brian, me, Jayne who was supposed to be running this show could barely keep it together and all of our guests were sniffling away. At one point Brian choked out a sweet line and someone out in the seats moaned “Oh god” before just openly bursting into loud weeping and it was just the moment of levity needed to help me keep it slightly together and make it through my own vows without completely losing every sense of cool.
This photo cracks me up, hankies all around!
PS: I am also crying right now writing this, just FYI.
We exchanged rings and grabbed hands and an uncle later told me that the room could sense our excitement; that we just looked at each other like giddy fools “Pronounce us married already! Let’s kiss!”
Jayne announced that by the powers vested in her by the state of Pennsylvania – not invested, a fact I just learned at the rehearsal! – we were legally married and Brian kissed the bride.
When we were first engaged I had a few vague of ideas of how I would want our wedding to look but there was ONE thing I knew for certain I wanted: to recess down the aisle, husband and wife, to Beyonce’s Crazy in Love. And I am happy to say, that dream came true.
Here’s a link to the video in case you want to read the rest of this while jamming out. Come on, you know you do!
After the ceremony, the wedding party returned to our little cove under the staircase to chill out for a few moments while the rest of the group went upstairs for the cocktail hour and I will spoil the suspense by telling you that we did NOT play Heads Up. We partied!
The staff had set up a whole table with our hot appetizers and cheese plate and most importantly booze. We popped champagne and toasted and were all kind of giddy and goofy.
For my bridal shower, Kathleen had given me a ruffly white apron (“is this a sex apron?!” I asked, enthusiastically) which she told me was “as a joke, but also serious” …not for sex (but it could be!) but to protect my wedding dress from the inevitable spills. We brought it with us to the wedding and broke it out to take a funny picture. Kathleen tied it onto me and for some reason there was a stray piece of fabric in the mix, which she tossed over her shoulder in an afterthought. Who has time for this pointless fabric!
Suddenly there was a commotion! I turned around and find Kathleen holding up the piece of fabric which is now ON FIRE.
Like…Katniss Everdeen ON FIRE.
It turns out that she’d tossed it right over her shoulder onto an open candle! Everyone simultaneously laughed and panicked. Someone suggested she stomp on it…but that would involve throwing it on the 200-year-old carpet, which seemed foolish and someone else tried to open the windows but again, 200 year-old-windows aren’t that easy to open and we all just shouted and laughed and Kathleen just stood there, frozen, holding onto the flaming remnants of my sex apron until finally someone poured a glass of water on it which was a surprisingly simple solution that took us a while to get to.
The whole thing couldn’t have been more than 20 seconds but it felt so much longer and oh my god it was the funniest moment ever. Sadly but probably actually happily, our photographers joined us in panicking instead of photographing the scene which like, as a rational human I obviously recognize as appropriate behavior but man…that would have made for some epic candid photography.
We did get this gem. True love.
The apron may have been mostly a joke but legit was a lifesaver as I was able to then stand at the appetizer table and shove mini crab cakes and chicken bites into my face with wild abandon and not worry about staining my dress.
After that, Brian and I were able to sneak into the Hamilton Club’s duckpin bowling alley for a few amazing photos…
…and then we all joined our guests for the cocktail hour which was and I don’t mean this as a metaphor, I mean it for real, a complete blur. I think I just blacked out and went onto auto pilot. I was SO HAPPPY to see everyone but SO STRESSED OUT about saying hi to everyone and making sure I accurately conveyed just how honored I was to have them there and I kept worrying about slighting people or spending too much time talking to one person and not enough to another and so if anyone currently reading this was at our wedding and I didn’t already say it: OMG THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE!! I do hope you had fun.
After what felt like 4 seconds but my sources confirm was nearly 40 minutes, it was time to go back downstairs for dinner and dancing. Brian and I followed along behind everyone else and as they sat, we took a moment to peek into the reception room and it looked INSANE. Our florist/cousin/hero/goddess Angie had transformed the space into the bright yet cozy yet classy joint we were envisioning. Instead of big centerpieces, each table had a few stems in mini-vases, stacked atop old books. Each table number was actually a complex math equation as thought out by Brian and designed by our friend Jamie and the whole room was just a magical explosion of nerdiness and beautiful flowers and LOVE.
We did NOT do those bridal party entrances where everyone gets introduced and then does a “funny” entrance like, the sprinkler or the shopping cart because I think those are cheesy as all get-out and under no uncertain circumstances was anyone to do ANYTHING of the sort at our classy wedding. Normally here I’d say something like “but it’s fine if you like those!” as a risk of offending anyone but I’ll stay right here on my mean girl throne and settle on agree to disagree on this one, that shit’s the worst.
Brian and I entered the room to James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and then quickly segued into the longest 2.5 minutes of our whole entire lives: the first dance. We danced for TWO AND A HALF FULL MINUTES to Norah Jones’ cover of The Nearness of You and you guys, it was hella awkward. Like, painfully awkward. As we were planning the wedding, Brian kept saying we needed to keep our dance short and I must have been drunk because I guaranteed that 2.5 minutes is totally fine and short and doable and I was dead wrong. About three seconds into the song it dawned on me how long we’d be standing there, swaying clumsily in front of our family and friends who would enjoy it long enough to snap a good ‘gram or two and then politely sit there for the rest of the time, picking at their salads and praying for it to end.
At least that’s what was going through my mind. PRO TIP TO THE MAX: keep your dance shorttttt. SO SHORT. Like, take the length you think is appropriate, cut it in half and then divide by 8. THAT SHORT. Or, don’t even do one! If I could go back in time and take my own “don’t worry about tradition!” advice…I don’t know that we’d even do a first dance. We really only did it for the pictures and the tradition and so we could have “a song.” I mean the photos are pretty…
And our friend made us a sweet print with the lyrics to “our song” on it, which we shall cherish, but looking back now with the wisdom of TWO WHOLE MONTHS of marriage under my satin belt…meh. We didn’t do parent dances and almost wish we’d been bold enough to just scrap forced slow dances altogether. So staged! Who slow dances??? Why is that even a tradition?! After the 2.5 minutes of torture were over, Brian made a really cute speech thanking everyone for coming and tossing out a few cool math jokes and maybe we should have stuck to joking and talking rather than the foxtrot.
It didn’t ruin the wedding or anything but just keepin' it real.
OH MY GOD THE ONLY THING LONGER THAN OUR FIRST DANCE IS THIS BLOGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.
We sat down to dinner and realized that the salads, which were supposed to have been plated, were not yet on the tables (sacre bleu!) and also that the bar was closed, due to a minor miscommunication between myself and the waitstaff. I flew into a legit panic that everyone was having a terrible time, thinking we were forcing them to a dry, saladless wedding and they were going to go home and complain about how bad everything was and I kind of hyperventilated a little bit and fluttered around the room and found the coordinator and she opened the bar and the salads came out.0003 seconds later and SURPRISE, when I talked to my friends after the wedding, literally ZERO of them even noticed the salads or the bar and all my worrying was for naught. Que sorpresa!
Also we only served beer, wine and champagne because the full bar package was more than we could/wanted to spend and I was so nervous the whole time that people would think we were cheap …and then I remembered that we are kind of cheap and that beer, wine and champagne is PERFECTLY acceptable and everyone seemed to get tipsy and have a good time but I know there is still a chance that someone out there in the world went home and complained about how lame we are for not having liquor and I am OK with that fact. I really am! So there’s another pro tip (how many tips is this? 457?): Stop worrying about what people are thinking! Are you enjoying yourself and happy with the choices you've made? GREAT. Otherwise, stuff it. Just do whatever works for you and you won’t make everyone happy and it’s fine and if you don't feel like paying to serve full liquor bar…just don’t! And anyone who gets legit mad and upset about that is probably a butthead and WHO CARES what they think!
Ok obviously I’m still not fully over my anxiety that people think I’m cheap and talked about me behind my back post-wedding but I DO stand by our decision, I really do!!!!
Annddddd I’m running this train right off the rails.
Salads were served. Booze was poured. Speeches were given! Both Brian’s best man Vapo and my Person of Distinction Maggie - we both decided that “Maid of Honor” is a sexist term that harkens back to a time when women were only valued for their sexual purity and marital status (oh wait! That’s still happening!) and therefore Margie got her own cool, non-gendered title. (we’re so annoying!!) - gave adorable, sweet, heartfelt, perfect speeches that had everyone laughing and crying and their speeches perfectly embodied us as a couple and the two special people we’d chosen to speak for us.
Vai’s was rehearsed, structured and quick witted.
Marge’s was off the cuff, sentimental and charming and ended with her raising an imaginary champagne glass, as she’d walked up empty-handed, and everyone in the room cracked up.
Both were totally rad.
During the dinner hour I remained a neurotic mess – I was so worried about getting around to every table and saying hello to every person and thanking everyone and in the midst of all that worrying I kept stressing that I wasn’t living in the moment enough. Everyone tells you how fast your wedding goes and to just “enjoy the moment!” and they are SO RIGHT but it’s so much easier said than done. I managed to get to every table just as the DJ was firing up his…laptop? Spinner materials? I don’t what DJ’s do. I stood by the dance floor nervously watching people tentatively start to dance – a half-dozen or so came out for the first song, a few more for the second and then suddenly the familiar strains of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” echoed throughout the room and my friend grabbed my hands and yelled “this is our jam!!!” and people just started swarming onto the dancefloor and I looked around me and the floor was PACKED and everyone was boogying and all the worry just whooshed right out of my fingertips and out into the world and finally, I was living in the moment.
I don’t think I left the dance floor for the next three hours. Nor did the majority of our guests! I knew our friends would bring it, they always do, but FAMILY you guys! Aunts, uncles, cousins...tearing the roof of the place. I was impressed. The HoBag & McKeon families know how to get down. I'll hold off from posting any incriminating photos here on the internet (don't worry everyone, I'll still put them on facebook!) but you can trust me that the moves, ohhhh they were smooth.
I bopped around from song to song, dancing with this group or that group and Brian – less of a dance machine than I – popped in from time to time to get his groove on and spent the rest of his time chatting with friends and hanging out at the bar and the DJ played THE BEST JAMS and we crowd surfed! I had forgotten that Brian’s track buddies, who are an amazing group of guys and always just down to have a good time, have a tradition at Goat weddings (their mascot is the goat. Intimidating!!) of lifting the groom up above their heads and throwing him up in the air yelling “Goats! Goats! Goats! Goats!”
And THEN they grab the unsuspecting bride and lift HER up in the air and if I thought that wandering around town waving at strangers was fun, I could never have dreamed how great it would be to be boosted up in the air by a bunch of cute boys, everyone around me chanting “Liz! Liz! Liz! Liz!”
God I love attention.
At 10:30 PM our reception came to an end, like all good things to do, so we took the party over to a bar by the hotel called Annie Bailey’s, where Person of Distinction Margepants had reserved a few tables for us. Brian and I came in a little bit after everyone and were immediately fed several shots and several beers and then we settled into a booth in the back and were able to relax and catch up with pals and get our drank on. Eventually our group began to thin and around 1 AM or so we made our way back to the hotel where we did not even remotely consummate our marriage, for all you pervs out there wondering. Big snaps to anyone who manages to have intercourse on their wedding night…and double snaps if anyone climaxes. All our exhausted bodies managed was to change out of our fancy gear, scroll through the #hottwedding feed and pass out.
Sunday morning we woke up to a weather reflective of our moods – grey, misty and cool. The party was over. Whompity whomp! Some of my aunts and uncles had very generously organized a brunch for out of town guests at the hotel, so we were able to spend the morning saying goodbye to everyone, catching up on any gossip from the night before and devouring bacon and coffee like it was our last day on earth. It was the perfect way to end our perfect wedding and I think I only cried like...seventeen times. Ok, thirty, max.
And then we went to my mom's house and took a NAP and opened presents and cried some more and ate sandwiches and drove back to Brooklyn and consummated the HELL out of our marriage (highfive!) and went off on our Big Gay Nude Minimoon and the rest, as they say is history. Now we're just a couple of boring old marrieds who won't stop talking about their wedding and get over it already!
Bring on eternity, world. WE'RE READY!
PS: As always, all photos are credit Kylene Lynn Photography. And I can't emphasize this enough...Lancaster couples, HIRE HER!
PSS: If you'd like to catch up on the rest of our wedding day because you have literally nothing better to do with your time...maybe you're like, in jail or an Ebola quarantine or something, I don't know...you can find them all HERE!
PSSSSSSS: Thank you all for following along with our nuptial journey. It was SO FUN!!