Chapter 1: The Arrival in Minnesota
We like going to family weddings--first of all, because there's obviously that feel-good wedding vibe you get when you're happily sitting next to your spouse and some other bride and groom pair is gazing into each other's eyes, and because all the single people are always jealous of you guys; then, because there're the relatives you don't see nearly often enough but always have a good time with when you do; and finally, because going to a family wedding usually means an entire weekend away, out of the ordinary: always enjoyable, always unique, and always memorable.
Mark is the third oldest male first cousin on Robert's side of the family. Robert's sister had the first Slattery family wedding I attended, in June of 1994 at Judy and Bill's house in Illinois. Then, Robert and I got married, in June of 1998 in New York, and then had a second wedding reception in Minnesota that July when we drove across the country. Next, oldest first cousin Dave followed suit, marrying Candy in October of 1999 in Chicago. Mark's wedding, however, was the first family wedding to happen in Minnesota itself-where Grandma Gracie lives, along with her brothers and sisters, and nearly all of their children and, indeed, all of her grandchildren except for Robert, Christine, and Dave. All the grandchildren except Christine made it up to Minnesota for Mark's wedding, and of course, the huge amounts of first, second, third, and removed cousins who live in Minnesota attended as well, making this a really special weekend.
We left Boston on Friday morning, October 25th, and arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport around 1:30, right on schedule. Judy and Bill met our plane, and since we didn't have any checked luggage, cars to rent, or other delays, we were fairly quickly seated in Judy and Bill's car, stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing just outside the airport. Robert used the traffic jam to make cell phone calls with our last bit of battery life.
First we called Mark. "Find out where he is," I hissed. "Ask him if he got your tux already," advised Judy. "If not, tell him to pick it up because he's closer than we are," said Bill. Robert stalled. "Um, talk to Christina," he said, and passed back the phone. Mark and I then established that Robert's usher tux was still at the tux shop at the Maplewood mall, that Judy knew where the mall was and could navigate there, and that Mark was busy picking up the wedding cake at the moment and wasn't enthusiastic about returning to the tux shop, so when the train finally passed we drove to the mall ourselves.
It was a good thing we went, too, because Robert's tux was fit only for a midget. The pants had an outseam of 36 inches instead of an inseam of 36 inches, and so were a good 8-10 inches too short for Robert. The shirt, too, was tight in that sexy, 70s, completely inappropriate for a wedding way. The shop managed to find Robert acceptable pants, but said we'd have to come back later that night for a new shirt, while they had it delivered from one of their other stores.
Judy wanted to take a nap, Robert wanted some of that free instant capuccino from the machine in the lobby of our hotel, and I just wanted to check in, put down our stuff, and wash my face, so Judy and Bill dropped us off at our Holiday Inn Express and went back to Mike and Nancy's, where they were staying. We ran into cousin Dave in the parking lot of the hotel, returning from a quick trip to Wendy's for lunch while Candy was out with Vanessa's sister having their nails done and running errands. Dave followed us up to our room and we hung out and talked until Candy returned, exhausted, and then the four of us changed and drove over to the rehearsal in Dave and Candy's car.
Chapter 2: The Wedding Rehearsal
Before we arrived at the rehearsal, though, we had an animated conversation in the car about cars and dogs and vacations and how much we like visiting Minnesota. Our conversation was so animated that when Candy, finally, said, "Uh, where are we?" we at last noticed that we were no longer sure we were heading toward the church. Robert called Mark, again, and armed with new directions, we turned around in someone's driveway and reversed direction. "He said to turn left at the stop sign," Robert said, "and when I asked, 'Which stop sign?' he said we'd know it because of the pretty house." Looking for a pretty house, we eventually made the correct turn and arrived at the church--technically, a mere 10 minutes late. And, since we were earlier than everyone else, including the priest, except for Nancy and flower-girl-Lexie, all was well.
People trickled in, until finally nearly everyone was there and introduced, and the rehearsal began in earnest. Candy and I sat on the side and talked with Nancy, while the official wedding party (comprising six groomsmen, six bridesmaids, the best man, the maid of honor, the ring bearer, and the flower girl) practiced and Robert, cousin Pauley, and the rest of the ushers observed.
Above, you can see the groomsmen lined up at the rehearsal--from left to right, three friends of Mark's; then Dave, looking at his feet for some reason; then Punky (Aunt Martha's sister's son), looking down the aisle; then Brian, smiling for the camera; then Jerry, looking up and grinning. Mark, at right, and then Uncle Frank and Aunt Martha stood at the end of the line and watched as Vanessa walked up the aisle toward them.