With Sora's dress all bustled up so she wouldn't be sweeping her train everywhere, it was time to head down to the reception hall for our grand entrance! The DJ cued up "All You Need Is Love" and announced our arrival, and we entered the room to the applause of a hundred of our friends and family. It was a great feeling, but still a bit surreal to be the center of attention like that.
We sat down at our own little table, right in front of the dance floor. The catering staff had put together a little plate of hors d'oeuvres for us, and someone had gotten us drinks as well. As we thankfully ate and drank - it'd seemed a very long time since we'd had anything - we read a wonderfully sweet little card that Manda left at our table. After relaxing for a couple minutes, the lead caterer asked us if we were ready for dinner. That was a no-brainer, so we went up to the buffet and then the DJ started calling tables over.
The food was amazing. Easily the best buffet food I've ever had. The main course options were a fantastic grilled salmon filet with mango chutney, or a chicken cordon bleu that I also enjoyed despite not really liking the type of cheese they used. There was pita and hummus and baba ganooj, fried rice, salad, grilled vegetables, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. Apparently the salmon was so universally well-regarded that even the vegans had some.
Eating was an opportunity to relax a bit more. Occasionally some of our guests would say hi as they walked by on their way to or from the buffet, or we'd be offered more drinks by the catering staff, but largely we got to share some more between the two of us as everyone else was busy eating.
As our family and bridal party tables finished up, we gave the DJ the go-ahead to start the toasts soon. Our fathers and our honor attendants delivered some touching speeches - my father talking about how happy we were together and how perfect we were for each other, and Sora's father advising us on keeping our marriage balanced. Rachel and Pam each gave recollections of knowing me and Sora respectively before we met, and getting to watch our relationship unfold from their viewpoints.
And then we toasted each other. We had kept our vows during the ceremony short and traditional, making them true promises rather than a recitation of our history or the ways we loved each other, and so we used the toasts as a way to express ourselves in a little more detail. I have to say, it worked out pretty well - amazingly, I came out feeling even more loved than I did already, after Sora's beautiful and heartfelt toast. And then I delivered mine. I had completely forgotten to rehearse in private beforehand - just like I'd forgotten to rehearse my reading during the ceremony - but it went pretty well anyway. I had to improvise on the fly to acknowledge that I wasn't exactly the first person to refer to the utter geekiness of our relationship. But I got by.
And of course, after the toasts came our first dance! The song was "Lucky" by Jason Mraz (with a female vocalist whose name escapes me, but who had a very pretty voice). We hadn't had a chance to practice dancing, either. We took a few generic ballroom lessons (of the one-style-a-week variety) in April, but never got around to the individual lessons we'd intended to do. All the same, the dancing worked out great - shifting occasionally from a slow shuffle, to a bit of a swing, to some foxtrot-type steps, and we even managed to throw a couple spins in there.
That was followed by the father-daughter dance. Sora tells me that she and her dad were chatting the entire way through it to keep from breaking down into tears. They danced to "Lullabye" by Billy Joel, after Sora convinced him not to request the Funky Chicken. And with that, we opened up the floor to dancing! Sora and I danced for a little while longer before mingling with the guests for a little while. I went out to the bar (situated just outside the ballroom doors) to get a drink, and got caught up in conversations there for a little while.
Not long after, we noticed people starting to leave. It felt a bit early for us, but some people had early flights the next morning and others just felt like it was time to go, I suppose. We realized that we needed to move the cake-cutting up to make sure as many people got cake as possible, so we gave word to the caterers and got that started.
Apparently, while Sora and I were leaning over the table cutting the cake together, my fly plaid dangled into a candle, and her veil did much the same. I didn't know about it until afterwards, and neither garment seems to have actually been damaged, but I want to thank Jamie and Pam for quickly averting the one potential disaster we stumbled into that night.
The cake was delicious. The bottom and top tiers were standard white cake with a strawberry Grand Marnier filling, the second tier up was chocolate cake with Bailey's chocolate chunk filling, and the remaining tier was hazelnut cake with Frangelico cream filling. We only got to eat the white cake, though. As soon as we'd fed each other (no smashing of cake into face for us!), they hauled the cake into the kitchen for cutting in a more controlled environment, and Sora decided it was time to stop hauling her dress around.
We disappeared upstairs for a bit to get Sora out of her wedding dress so she could change into her "reception dress", a much lighter and more casual dress that she'd wear for the rest of the night. I left my jacket and tie upstairs, too. After a few minutes Manda came upstairs with a few slices of white cake and some glasses of champagne, and she and Pam helped Sora get into the dress while I went downstairs. Sadly, the cake was all gone by the time I returned, so we never got to have any of the other flavors...
Sora rejoined us soon enough, and the rest of the evening passed much like it had previously - dancing and chatting and generally having a good time. At one point a few of our friends announced they had a surprise for us, and bade us sit down in a couple chairs at the edge of the dance floor. A little bit into "YMCA", we found ourselves being hauled up into the air on our chairs and paraded and bounced around the dance floor in what I took to be a pretty faithful enactment of Jewish wedding tradition. (Apparently "YMCA" isn't part of the tradition, but you do what you can with the materials at hand.) I was feeling sturdy enough to actually do the arm motions along with everyone else; Sora was holding onto her chair for dear life. But it was all kinds of fun anyway.
As people drifted away, some small clusters of conversation reformed at some of the tables while others continued dancing. At one point we were all clapping along to a rather bouncy song - Dragosta Din Tei, I think? - while Rachel and her boyfriend Jon caromed around the floor with the most energetic dancing I saw that night. Later on, about ten of us were swaying in a circle singing along to a song, though I really can't remember what the song was.
Finally it came time for the last dance, so Sora and I took the floor one more time and slow-danced to "Skullcrusher Mountain". As those of you who are familiar with my proposal story know, we've considered that to be "our song" for nearly as long as we've been together. (It was one of the songs I was sharing with Sora the week before we started dating.) So it seemed to us to be a fitting end to the night (and a fitting beginning to the rest of our lives).
We said our goodbyes and headed up to our room, absolutely exhausted. Sora's bridesmaids had moved her stuff (and some of mine that they got ahold of) into our room, so we didn't have to do anything other than undress and fall unconscious. It wasn't the most comfortable bed we've slept in, and we kept waking up in the middle of the night because the whole thing shook when one of us moved. I'm never going back to coil mattresses.
Sunday was interesting. We had to pack up in a hurry and ended up getting an extension on the checkout time for the bridesmaids' room, where we stashed what was left in our room until sufficient vehicles arrived to take everything away. Pam and Andrew were left in charge of the keg system. This was made more complicated because the kegs were still both connected to the CO2 tank and to the "jockey box" - a hacked-up cooler that ran the beer through a bunch of ice-covered tubing before dispensing it - and we didn't know how to disconnect it. (Ask them for the story, sometime.) In fact, Andrew ended up transporting most of the stuff from the hotel (centerpieces, card boxes, etc) and dropping them off at our place later. We arrived at the brunch Sora's mom was throwing for us about an hour late (by which time Rachel and Jon had already left to catch their flight - I'm so sorry we missed you!), but the brunch was nice and relaxing. So relaxing, in fact, that we were feeling our lack of restful sleep rather acutely. We went home to nap while Jamie and Jeremy and Pam and Andrew went off to run errands and watch a movie somewhere, and they rejoined us at the house later that evening for a few drinks and a rousing (or is that carousing?) game of Apples to Apples.
Monday was largely spent dropping off Josh, Cynthia, and Hannah at the airport, followed by a trip to the peninsula by ferry. We had to drop the decorative flowers back off at the flower shop (being rented silks rather than dead plants). On the trip over, I mentioned to Pam that we were planning on getting a digital SLR soon and asked her if she had any recommendations. We spent the entire ferry trip playing around with her camera, getting a feel for the effects of the manual settings, and by the end we'd decided we needed one for the honeymoon.
We made the flower return, and then we dropped Pam off to meet her uncle for dinner while we returned to our house and tried unsuccessfully to drop the kegs off. (They're closed Mondays! WTF.) After dinner, Sora retrieved Pam from the ferry dock while I received my dad and siblings (fresh from a trip to Richland, in Eastern Washington) back at the house. I don't remember whether we played more games or just sat around and chatted, but later in the evening I got a call from Jeremy, whose entire apartment building was being shaken by some ridiculously loud noise from someone's apartment. The police weren't willing to break in and shut it off yet, so he needed a place where he could actually get some sleep. Pam and my family were already staying with us, but luckily our house has a lot of guest space, so Jeremy was able to stay on the couch for the night.
Tuesday saw the house finally being vacated. Andrew picked up Pam to take her to the airport in the morning, we saw most of my family off (with Alice staying another day), and Jeremy's neighbors finally got the noise taken care of, so he could return to his apartment. And then I dropped Sora off at the salon and finally got the kegs dropped off. The salon was an important bit - we had another wedding-picture session scheduled for that evening at Gasworks Park. Our original plan had been to swing over to the park between the ceremony and rehearsal on Saturday, but once we realized that the Fremont Solstice Parade would be happening at the same time - a parade whose terminus is that very park - we thought better of it, and realized we could take pictures more at our leisure later on, when we weren't keeping our guests waiting. Instead we'd just done the pictures in the garden at the church, which was a beautiful setting on its own.
So she got her hair and makeup done again, and we got her into her dress and me into all my finery, and off we went to the park. Alice came along, spending most of her time wandering around the park. The photo session was great - we wandered from the big hill down to the forested area, over to the industrial ruins, and back. Then home for dinner, a game or two, and early to bed - Alice's flight was way early in the morning.
She was happy to be dropped off near a bus and travel the rest of the way herself, so we ended up dropping her at the transit center near our house at something like 4:40 in the morning. I'm very glad I didn't have to drive down to the airport and back in that sleep-deprived state. I went back home and crashed for another several hours, and then Sora and I spent the rest of Wednesday running errands - dropping off the tux I'd rented, shopping for the honeymoon... including the purchase of our shiny new digital SLR camera. It's a Nikon D-5000, and we bought a telephoto lens for it as well, which proved quite useful on our trip. We got it from Kits Camera at Alderwood Mall, and I was pretty impressed by the store as a whole (after failing to get even basic questions answered at Best Buy). Along with the camera equipment (camera, telephoto lens, extra battery, carrying bag) we got for free a bunch of coupons for photography classes, some free prints, etc... I definitely recommend the store.
Thursday, we both telecommuted, a lone day of work among nearly three weeks off for the wedding and honeymoon. We couldn't quite spare the vacation time to take that day off too. That evening we packed for the honeymoon, and flew off to Hawaii the next afternoon!
More later: pictures from both the wedding and Hawaii; sights seen and books read on the honeymoon; and a return to what passes for normalcy around here.