I have to start with the days leading up to the celebration. The other Olaf groomsman, Brian, and I were fortunate enough to not have cars. This put us in the wonderful position of having to dive right into all the errands and family events of the three days leading up to the wedding. This provided me with the opportunity to join in a cornucopia of good food served up by Mike's parents (including Hoa's famous egg rolls which swiftly put an end to my vegetarian sentiments for a night), some raucous pillow fights with Mike's little cousins that ended with more leaping knees than pillows being thrown my way, explorations into my crafty side helping with programs and place cards, and more than one trip to Men's Warehouse. I known I've said this before, but it rang true again this week; home travels well when the right people are there. And despite the hectic run-around mentality of the days leading up to the wedding, I felt right at home with Mike and Kristin's family and friends around to enjoy the mayhem.
But Saturday was the icing on the cake (which was a delicious carrot or chocolate raspberry by the way). The hours leading up to the actual service pulled along slowly. The wedding party and family finished what setting up they could and spent much of the late morning and early afternoon getting dressed, posing for pics, and (if they were anything like me) pondering what the day meant for Mike, Kristin, and everyone else involved.
At one point when wandering from person to person got tedious, I made my way over to some logs that overlooked the entire farm venue. Across the lawn, white chairs waited in tidy rows for friends and family to fill them. The chairs stared at the small awning in front of them, which was veiled in foliage and awaiting its big moment. Beyond the open-aired ceremony area nestled a grouping of buildings. A small cottage was the staging area for the bride and her maids. A white roof peeked through the trees and covered the soon to be dinner area and dance floor. A barn (tastefully well-used) housed the boy's "man cave" and the back up venue under the rafters. Of course, the barn was not necessary, as the sun gazed down intermittently from a thick cloud cover. Family members and new friends alike passed from place to place in front of me spotlighted by laughter and smiles. Brian eventually approached and asked, "Whatcha doin buster?" "Taking it all in," I replied.
The wedding itself seemed almost too brief, but looking back it was just right. Otherwise everyone would have gotten dehydrated from the amount of joyful tears that were falling. All of it was delightfully personal. From the personal vows that had the bridesmaids and groomsman sharing welling eyes across the isle (if I ever love someone as much as Mike loves Kristin's smile, I know to follow that woman to the ends of the earth) to the watering of a banzai tree, everything bloomed with a deep love that was shared between two amazing people and with all who were present. Something felt special during those thirty minutes. Something felt whole. Something felt complete.
Following the wedding was a party that kept a smile inching onto my face until I tucked into my hotel room much much much later. A spread of delicious food, people new and old all sharing in the moment, and dancing until my pants couldn't take it anymore (I'm really hoping the seamstress at Men's Warehouse doesn't charge me too much). I got to meet and get to know a wonderful group of people including the wedding party to the relatives. And I got to be together with so many people that I have loved for a long time.
I am blessed with a group of friends from college that can come together anywhere and nothing will have changed. For whatever reason (divine or otherwise) we all ended up on the same nondescript freshman dorm floor. Despite a huge range of interests and now geographical locals, what we have always loved about each other is each other. And that hasn't changed a bit. To say I felt at home would be an understatement.
So it's hard for me to say how much this weekend meant to me and everyone involved. For that we have Mike and Kristin to thank. They brought together an amazing group of loving, caring, laughing, and genuine people. Which is no surprise because every one of those traits and then some make up their relationship. A relationship that has no bounds and will no doubt continue to grow and inspire many for years and years to come.