I think some folks got confused by the fact that we signed the legal paperwork back in June (at the public party), but we never considered that the real wedding -- that was a mundane convenience, mostly so I could get off of the terrifyingly-expensive and relatively incompetent COBRA plan and onto Kate's insurance. (There's nothing like being on BCBS of Florida for a couple of years, via COBRA with all of its "we will happily cut you off if you don't follow all the rules precisely" to make you appreciate a nice ordinary BCBS of MA plan.) We were always clear that the real wedding was going to be this one.
The wedding was semi-formal and deliberately posh. We had decided very early on that we didn't want the traditional reception -- a big room full of people with assigned seats, all staring at the bride and groom at the head table, sounded pretty hellish to both of us. No enforced dancing, no rubber chicken, and for *god's* sake no DJ -- having to yell over the music to talk to people is one of my least favorite activities. Instead, we wanted essentially a fancy cocktail party. My personal vision was a sort of gussied-up Buttery party, and that's about what we got.
The site was the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum down in Providence -- basically a smallish civil-war-era mansion. The rooms are all ornate to the point of almost comical, but the result is that the whole experience felt very luxurious. The photographer had a hoot with all the paintings on the wall: towards the end of the day, she took to asking folks to pose under the paintings, mimicking them.
(The photographer, Meghan Moore, was a great deal of fun. She's neither terribly serious nor terribly traditional, but interacted quite well with our informal environment, and helped the photos be less of a chore than they usually are. Recommended.)
Us being us, the food was arguably the most important part of the whole experience. Blessedly, Kate managed to find an absolutely fabulous caterer in Russell Morin Catering. It wasn't cheap -- frankly, the moral of the story is largely "you get what you pay for" -- but the food and service were both top-notch. The menu (which was elaborate and extensive) was designed around the cocktail-party idea: our hard-and-fast requirement was that everything should be edible with the plate in one hand and a fork in the other. Kate and I are both fond of small plates and variety, so we wound up with five appetizers and six entrees, each one a few bites. Aside from a few minor quibbles (not enough chutney per plate for the Chicken Masala), it all went off smashingly.
And the staff of Morin's were as good as their food. We got a highly experienced coordinator (Cat), who effectively acted as autocrat: her job was to keep track of everything, make sure it was running exactly as we wanted, and troubleshoot as needed. (She wound up doing the on-the-spot construction of the cake, for example.) Besides her, they sent a dozen staff -- six cooks and six waitstaff -- so everything went super-smoothly, passing food out and unobtrusively collecting plates throughout the evening. Several folks specifically remarked on the great service. So between that and the food, Morin's gets a big thumbs-up from us.
As for the cake, that was pretty much the first thing we decided. Before the site, before the caterer, before anything, Kate declared that Laura's carrot cake was her ideal of wedding cake. Fortunately for us, Laura agreed -- and proceeded to produce a much more elegant (and large) cake than we were expecting. So we made it the main focus of the dining room, and everyone got to admire it throughout the wedding. (At least until shortly before the cake-cutting, when the six-inch-tall marzipan figure of me decided to take a header off the top of the cake.)
Kate's dress was an elegant emerald green (she was strongly of the opinion that she looks terrible in white), cut in a roughly turn of the century fashion. Made by John, of course: he did his usual brilliant job, and she looked lovely. I was in a more-ordinary tux, but with a nice black-and-green tie and cummerbund set to echo the dress.
The ceremony was intentionally informal: similar to the one in June, although with a bit more meat to it. We had my parents welcome Kate, and hers me; each parent had a flower to present, which all got added into the bouquet. I largely winged my vows (I had thought about a number of elements, but hadn't scripted it), but I'm told they were nice. My wedding ring was designed to echo her engagement ring, with a swoopy motif and tiny emeralds. (Her wedding ring is small and unobtrusive: the focus remains on the engagement ring, which we put a lot of effort into getting right.)
Later in the evening, we managed to be slightly surprised by the toasts, mainly in that Aaron did the sweet and sincere one and Kate's brother Chris did the gently snarky one. (We had sort of expected the other way around.)
On the downside, we managed to have perfectly wrong timing in terms of illness. I came down with a miserable headcold last Sunday; on Thursday, just as I was starting to recover, Kate got it. So she basically got through the day through the miracle of Sudafed, but still managed to look better than she felt.
On the upside, the weather was magnificent, better than we had any reason to hope for at the end of September: a clear day, with the high in the 70s. This meant that everybody could spread out onto the estate's lawn, and we could do all the posed photos outside. While Lippitt House was large enough for us to have coped if everyone had to stay inside, it was more pleasant not having to do so.
The whole thing was necessarily small: the site had an upper limit of about 90 people and we figured that 70 was around what would comfortably fit. Since half of *that* was family, we could only invite a few dozen friends. (Which was about a hundred fewer people than I probably would have invited, given my druthers, and was the motivation for the June party.)
Unsurprisingly to me, we *wildly* overbought the alcohol. Kate of course wanted a good selection of excellent wine, and I of good beer; it wasn't until the rehearsal dinner on Friday that we realized that we had about a bottle of wine per person. Given that most of our friends aren't exactly heavy drinkers, we wound up bringing about half of it home. But that's fine: we only bought things we like, and so are now basically stocked for some time to come.
Stepping back: Friday evening, despite the fact that we didn't have have a rehearsal per se, we still had a "rehearsal dinner". This was a smaller affair, almost entirely close family, and gave everyone a chance to finally meet. It went very well, and I was surprised by some of the social pairings that developed. (For example, my Uncle Len and Kate's Aunt Linda apparently spent half the evening discussing educational policy, which turns out to be a serious passion for both of them.)
The location for that dinner was Bacaro, an excellent and unique restaurant that Kate discovered for my birthday this year: this was our third time there, and it's become one of our true favorites. Bacaro is a "salumeria", specializing in all sorts of Italian salamis and meats, and their coolest gimmick is the menu. While they have a conventional entree menu, they also hand you what amounts to a giant sushi menu of small plates when you sit down, with dozens of options. (The first time we went, I ordered *far* too many of these -- we walked away gorged but happy.)
For the rehearsal dinner, we didn't want to deal with the chaos of individual ordering for 20 people, so we designed a preset "family style" menu for everyone. Fortunately, both families are fond of the "flying forks" model of eating, so we simply got each table a big charcuterie board, three pizzas (incredibly yummy -- we hadn't tried their Pepperonata pizza before, but Kate and I both loved it), three salads, and three entrees, and let folks dig in.
It all went great, and bodes well for the families integrating nicely. We let everyone sit where they would, and they all mixed it up well, getting to know each other. I suspect that there will be more assorted family gatherings in the future.
I'll probably have other reminiscences from time to time, but those are the high points. It was delightful, and I'm immensely glad that we put in the work to get exactly the day we wanted. But I think we're both glad to have it done -- to be able to kick back, simply consider ourselves Real-And-For-True-Married, and be done with the wedding. Photos to come...