First, the executive summary: Everything went wonderfully. It was sunny and bright with a few clouds — a bit warm, but nearly everything was inside, so that was fine. But everything just worked. All of our vendors went beyond what was expected, all of our guests had a blast (as far as I know!), and the day basically unfolded without a hitch.
The next morning, Candice got up early to head over to her parents’ hotel, from which she and her mother were going to get their hair and makeup done; she’d then get dressed there, so that was the last time I saw her until the Big Event. I got showered, packed for the night, checked into the hotel, and headed over to my father’s hotel to get ready. (He’s in the menswear trade, so he took care of getting my suit, but there was still one alteration to do at the last fitting so he brought it up with him.) I was originally going to get dressed at home, but I’m glad we did it this way — once I got to the room, everyone else cleared out to do some shopping, so Dad and I got to hang out in the room (on the 25th floor of the Westin, sitting in a big window overlooking Parliament and the Byward Market) and shoot the breeze. I wasn’t particularly nervous about the wedding, but I was even less so by the time I was getting dressed.
At 2:30 I walked up to the Tin House court — where Candice and I ended our first date! — to meet our photographers while Dad went to pick up Candice and drive her up there after I arrived. (We didn’t have enough places to go to warrant hiring a limo or something like that, since the ceremony and reception were in the same place, and that place wasn’t on a street anyhow, so Dad just loaded Candice into the back of his Explorer.) When I saw Candice in her dress my jaw didn’t drop, but I was sure weepy. (Click on the picture!) From there the photographers were shooting pretty much non-stop as we wandered through the Tin House court (ignore the weird cropping on the right there — I’m too lazy to fix album’s default right now!), over to the steps of the Peacekeeping Memorial, and over to the National Gallery (where we narrowly avoided being eaten alive), then back through Major’s Hill Park and down York Street back to the Courtyard Restaurant where the wedding and reception were held.
When we got back the room was full of guests, Andy Daub was piping away on his Irish pipes, and our officiant Floralove Katz was ready to go. After a bit of back-room coordination to make sure that all of the guests had arrived (which was difficult because I’d only met some of them once, and others never, and others still I hadn’t seen in years), the ceremony began just after 4:00; I went up to wait with Floralove at the head of the aisle while Candice’s father walked Candice down the aisle and Andy played The South Wind. . It was hard not to get weepy again watching them make their way up to the front!
The ceremony was simple and atheist with a bit of subtle Buddhism. Before we got into us, we lit a candle in memory of our grandparents that had passed on, and then Floralove gave her bit, followed by this reading we selected, from Rainer Maria Rilke:
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development.
But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
We had a unity candle — my parents and Candice’s parents each lit a taper candle, and then Candice and I used those candles to light a bigger candle — but ours was off to one side and just a small component of the ceremony instead of the focal point (and the candles were poem- and frill-free).
Our actual vows were from Floralove’s standard ceremony (although most people apparently ask her to leave off the “until parted by death” part, which we did not leave off), but before those we had additional pledges to each other, which we took from a Buddhist-influenced ceremony and modified to use a lot less jargon that would have been confusing to our guests:
Candice and Richard, do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life and to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?
Understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living things, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?
Do you pledge to remember the disadvantages of ignorance, anger and attachment, to apply antidotes when these arise in your minds, and to remember the kindness of all others and your connection to them?
Do you pledge to work for the welfare of others, with all of your compassion, wisdom and skill?
Do you pledge to continuously strive to remember your own nature, as well as the nature of all living things? To maintain the awareness that all things are temporary, and to remain optimistic that you can achieve your greatest potential and lasting happiness?
I can’t completely remember the order of everything in the ceremony — it’s a good thing that we’re basically fed lines the whole time we’re up there, I’ll tell you — but of course we also had the exchanging of rings (“The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two loyal hearts in partnership”) and the signing of the register (with my father witnessing for me, and Candice’s mother for her). Oh, and there was something about a kiss, too. (I look hesitant but I was really just weepy again!)
We walked back down the aisle while Andy piped Planxty Hewlett and down a set of stairs into the restaurant’s lounge area to have a few moments alone while our guests moved into another room upstairs for a cocktail reception while the Courtyard staff set up the big room the ceremony was in for dinner seating, and we and immediate family headed outside for group photos. Not much to say about group photos, except that they went really smoothly, and that there was some confusion because my step-siblings look nothing like me, and the photographer thought that my stepsister Sarah was my half-brother Kieran’s date. Awkward. We headed back upstairs for the end of the cocktail reception after that, and then everyone moved back into the main room for dinner. Candice and I visited table to table until the champagne toast, given by her father.
Dinner was, by design, the focus of the reception. We didn’t want to do a dance floor or couple games or anything like that; we wanted our guests to sit back and relax and have a very good meal. That’s why we went with the Courtyard as our venue in the first place; it’s a good French restaurant that happens to also be a beautiful, high-ceilinged, wood-raftered, stone-walled tapestry-filled hall. It’s probably easiest to just list the menu to describe the meal:
Hors d’oeuvres: Tomato, bocconcini and basil canapés; artichoke and chevre bruschetta; and balsamic marinated vegetables on parmesan toules
Punch: Blackberry liqueur, pomegranate liqueuer and sparkling wine with fruit juices; orange, pineapple and mango juices with grenadine, lime, Perrier and fresh fruit slices
Soup: Cream of broccoli and old cheddar
Salad:Mixed baby greens salad with lemon-honey-sunflower emulsion, dried cherries and toasted sunflower seeds, in a cucumber-slice bowl or warm almond crusted chevre over baby spinach with prosciutto, red onion and citrus vinaigrette
Main course: Cajun-spiced beef tenderloin tips with lavender honey and red wine sauce or pan-seared tilapia with panko-crumb crust and fennel-onion concassé or polenta layered with tomato-onion confit and chevre over ratatouille
Dessert: Caramelized lemon custard tart with red currant coulis or crème caramel or basil and verjus marinated berries with cinnamon-yogurt mousse
Everyone seemed to be really excited about the menu and to really enjoy their meal. After the soup course, my mother and then my father gave short speeches, both of which had us all teary-eyed. Between dinner and dessert, I gave a little speech, thanking our family for their assistance in putting on the wedding and our vendors in pulling it off, thanking Ted and Trudy for welcoming me to their family, and telling the story about how Candice answered when I proposed, and then I got mushy, which I’m happy to quote here in full from my notes, which at least vaguely resemble what I ended up actually saying:
Thank you for taking care of me for the last three years, and putting up with me while we’ve been planning everything for today. I figure if we can make it through planning a wedding we can make it through anything. Thank you for supporting me through all the crazy things I try to do, for being there for me when it seems like I can’t do anything, and for sharing with me all of the wonderful times we’ve had over the last three years and all of times we’ll have from now on.
Candice, you’re my s’ee’ee, my best friend, and now you’re my wife, and there’s nothing I want more than to spend the rest of my life by your side. Thank you for being my wife, sweetie. I love you.
After dessert and coffee, we handed out our “wedding cake”, which was chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing, and sort of coasted around table to table for the rest of the night while everyone chatted. It felt like we were just hanging out with friends and family, which is pretty much exactly what we wanted. It was about midnight before people started leaving, and then everyone left within about twenty minutes of each other. We gathered up the remaining decorations (we encouraged people to help themselves to bud vases and candles!) and favors (we have a box of a dozen or so cookies and half a dozen cupcakes!) and presents to take them down to the car. The problem: There’s no street that passes by the Courtyard, which faces onto a courtyard. So I parked the car on the sidewalk and put the hazard lights on, but I was still worried about being ticketed or towed. So I enlisted Candice to stand at the car in her wedding dress and look cute while I carried everything out. She did well!
We spent the night at Arc the Hotel (yes, those words go in that order, with a pregnant pause after “Arc”), which is a modern boutique hotel here in downtown Ottawa, straight out of the pages of Dwell. You don’t get any wedding-night details (this is for your own benefit). The next morning we picked up some stuff from our parents’ hotel rooms and then headed back home to open gifts and pack for Paris, details of which will follow soon!
(Also, we received our DVD of wedding photos from the photographer early this week. I’m going to be uploading the watermarked preview pictures to my Flickr account shortly, once I upgrade it to a paid account and find a good way to automate uploading hundreds of pictures. I’ll post to my journal when they’re uploaded, and when the 200 pictures of Paris are up there too.)