The Wedding

I’m sitting here, cramming toast in my mouth and swilling coffee, trying not to think about the million things I have to do today, and how I just want to write a good, long post about the wedding.

I’m still trying to absorb it all. Still trying to take in the fact that Greg is my husband, that I am his wife, that we are married. Last night, lying in bed, all the incarnations of those words, husband and wife, swirled through my head. A lifetime’s worth of associations, good, bad and all things in between. Those words, so laden with meaning and images. Husband and wife as archetypes, role models, aspirations, declinations. I think it will take some time to absorb. Time to settle into being a wife, to having a husband, to what that means to me.

The wedding itself could not have been more lovely. It was ten times better than I imagined it might be, full of surprises and love, light and depth, well-wishes and intimate moments. Everything seemed to unravel and fall into place in just the right ways, affirming over and over that this very sweet and small ceremony on Cape Cod was exactly how it always should have been.

Greg and I, along with his parents and my half-brother and his girlfriend, all arrived on the Cape on Thursday. We spent the afternoon getting settled, everyone getting to know each other and maneuvering around my aunt’s old, Victorian era beach house. Greg and I went for a swim in the late afternoon, just the two of us, and floating there in the warm, green Atlantic, I realized that I was the happiest I’d been in over a decade.

Church
On Friday we all ran around taking care of last minute preparations. Friends and family arrived at the house on the hour. Greg’s four brothers and his best man, Tarek. My cousins and my maid of honor, Liz. Everyone hugging, introducing themselves, laughing and lugging suitcases. We all went to the beach in the afternoon and then to the church for the rehearsal in the early evening.

Both the rehearsal and the dinner following were fun and funny. As I walked down the aisle that first time in my flip-flops and t-shirt to "Here Comes the Bride," we all giggled with the enormity of what was coming the next day.

That night we all dined at a long table at The Bishop’s Terrace, an old, very Cape Cod, restaurant in Harwich that my grandmother had loved to go to, and we ate and drank and laughed and everyone gave the nicest toasts. The air-conditioner wasn’t on and there was a problem with the lights, but the food was fantastic and we dined by candle light, all of us excited to be there.

That night when we got back to the house, my cousin Ron had arrived from New York and was waiting for us. He’s an incredible fashion photographer and had actually arrived late because he’d been in the city, photographing Christian’s (from Project Runway) new line. (Ron turned around the next day and shot our whole wedding — an amazing gift and I can’t wait to see all the pictures.) That night Ron and Liz and I ran down to the beach with Greg and Tarek, all of us dipping our feet in the ocean just as an enormous thunderstorm broke overhead, catching all of us in a downpour as we ran, screaming and laughing, back to the house.

The next morning I woke feeling calm and ready. Liz and Greg’s mom and I all went to get our hair done and then back to the house for more coffee and quiche before heading to the church. Greg had spent the night with his brothers and best man and I wouldn’t see him until the ceremony. While everyone else ran around in a frenzy of last-minute things, I rode to the church with Ron and Liz and Greg’s mom. Liz put in a CD as we got into the car and "We’re Going to the Chapel" played over the speakers. Just one of the sweet things my girlfriends did for me, including mailing packages and cards and letters and gifts all to my aunt’s house for me to open before the wedding.

At the church I got dressed in the same room in which my mother did when she married my father 33 yearsGetting_ready
ago. Ron ran around taking photos of everyone as they arrived and I stood in the room in my dress, ready well ahead of time, as people came and went. My dress was perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever felt prettier in my whole life and I wore my mother’s wedding garter and her necklace and earrings. When my aunt Pam popped her head in to see me before the ceremony she began crying so hard that she couldn’t even come in.

I think there are so many elements of this event that I’ll write about in the days ahead, but for today, I just want to give a synopsis. But I will say that, never once, during the whole weekend, did I feel sad that my parents weren’t there. They were just so present in so many ways and my overwhelming feelings of privilege and gratitude for this day even happening outweighed anything heavier.

Finally, it was time for me to walk down the aisle. I have actually written about that in detail, and you can read both of our takes on today’s She Wrote, He Wrote.

The ceremony itself was everything I wanted it to be. Greg and I had designed it together, down to the last detail. And we had found ways to incorporate almost everyone present. My uncle, who is a retired minister and who married my parents and baptized me, officiated. There were readings and poems by family and friends and while my cousins sang a song, we passed our wedding bands around to be blessed by all who were present.

When it came time for the vows, Greg and I had each written our own, and neither of us had heard the other’s until that moment. I read mine aloud from a book I had been writing to Greg ever since our 2nd date (in the very first entry I told him I would give this book to him on our wedding day…and I did). We took turns each reading one of our three vows aloud and, as a testament to our relationship, the vows were so complimentary to each other. Greg’s were sweet and funny and thoughtful, just like he is. And I read mine slowly in my breathy voice, taking time to look up at him as I did so. I think that everyone present cried, including us.

And then we were putting the rings on each other’s fingers and we were kissing, and even though I never wanted those moments to end, there we were walking back down the aisle together. Before we walked out into our wedding day, we ducked into the little dressing room together for one private moment, our first as husband and wife.

Just_married
After that, it was all a rush of hugs and bubbles, cars honking as they drove by us outside the church. My aunt had arranged for us to drive off in a little, convertible Volkswagen bug, but it turned out to be stick shift which meant that I had to drive it, much to everyone’s delight, instead ofDriving
Greg. We drove off to the harbor for more photos and as we drove through town with me in my dress and veil behind the wheel, our "Just Married" sign on the back, everyone honked and laughed and wished us well.

As we all milled around by the harbor, posing for photos and talking about how the ceremony had gone, I thought about how grateful I was that we were able to get married on Cape Cod. It has always been the most special place in the world toHarbor
me, a haven to which I have returned every year, filled with memories and family and love and respite.

Back at my aunt’s house, we all sat under a pretty tent in the backyard and feasted on lobsters and clams, all the guys wearing bibs and lobster bits spraying everywhere. It was so hot that everyone, except me, changed into shorts and sandals and we drank champagne and enjoyed each other’s company.

After we’d all had our fill of food and drink, my aunt generously gave us one more surprise. She’d arranged for an a capella group called the Hyannis Sound to perform for all of us. My cousin Alex had been in this group over a decade ago, when I was still in high school, and I’d loved them, had crushes on all of them, and used to go up to Provincetown to hear them sing. Having them at the wedding was absolutely one of my very favorite moments. And it also allowed Greg and I to have our first, and only, dance.

Dancing there in the grass with my arms around Greg, the ocean air wafting up from the beach, and all the people we love all around us, was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I’ll share it with you here, even though it’s almost hard for me to watch.

After that we cut cake and drank more champagne, and in the late afternoon all of us donned bathing suits Mv
and went down to the ocean together to float in the warm, green Atlantic. That evening Greg and I caught a ferry out to Martha’s Vineyard where we stayed the night, our first as husband and wife.

I don’t think it could have been a more perfect day. All these months I’ve been scoffing at people who say that your wedding will be the best day of your life. While I still think that there are many best days to come, I will admit that July 19th, 2008 was indeed the best day yet.

 

9 comments

9 Comments

  • Carroll
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    “…the happiest I’d been in over a decade.”
    Here’s to many more happy decades to come, Claire!
    I’m with your Aunt every step of the way on the tears thing — from word one of this post, clear through the second complete reading, with a real gusher at the end when Greg dipped you at the end of your lawn dancing.
    (sigh)
    Good tears though – all good.
    (What is it about weddings and tears, anyway?)
    My personal favorite? The bride getting to drive the getaway car.
    Yeah, baby!

  • Josh
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Claire! You look lovely.
    I am so truly happy for you.
    o^o

  • Stacy
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh Claire! Your wedding sounds like it was perfect! I’m so happy for you and Greg. There’s more Crate & Barrel to come from ol’ B and I. Until then, we love you both and are so happy!
    (I’m totally crying from watching your first dance…how perfect).
    Miss you!
    Stace

  • RzDrms
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    oh claire! first nina simone and now james taylor?! couldn’t you have first warned us(me) that it was a james taylor song to which you two had danced?! (the tears, THE TEARS!) my goodness, i’m not sure i’ve been THIS happy for anyone in a long, long time. i obviously don’t know you at all except from your fabulous writing, but this wedding seems like it was absolutely perfectly suited for you, with a man more impeccably perfect to accompany you into a life of marriage and happiness.
    and the vw bug with a fancy bride as a driver brought the right amount of humor and fun that a really good wedding needs. 🙂
    continued blessings. (but james taylor?! SNIFF!)

  • RzDrms
    Posted July 23, 2008 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    (p.s. my “oh claire!” comment wasn’t even copying stacy’s. that’s just what you do to us!!!)

  • Posted July 23, 2008 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Claire, even though I have never met you and probably never will, I wanted to cry when I was reading this post! I’m so happy that you had such a wonderful wedding, and that you and Greg are so in love.
    I hope the happiest day yet is only the first of many more to come.

  • Posted July 25, 2008 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Congratulations. You look so beautiful and elegant in your Vera Wang gown. I wish you the happiest marriage 🙂

  • Posted July 25, 2008 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Wow, thank you all for such warm comments and well wishes.
    It’s been really intense to share all of this so I really appreciate how respectful and encouraging and embracing everyone has been.

  • Stace Fielding
    Posted December 30, 2008 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Hi claire – u lookd lovely and I LOVE the fact that you drove the car! Stick shift rules and we are 100% better driving it than men!

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