Saturday, July 19th was Justin and Sally's wedding. Since Andrew was his roommate at Behrend for so long, he got to be one of the groomsmen. Leading up to the wedding day, I wasn't specifically invited, so I wasn't sure if I would be able to attend the wedding and reception. I wanted to go since I'd gotten to know Justin a bit through seeing him when I'd visit Andrew, and also at church. After talking things over with the rest of the family, and believing that the dinner was a pre-ordered affair, I decided finally that it would be acceptable to attend the wedding ceremony, and pay my respects, then not crash the reception.
So I got all dressed up in my dark khakis, blue oxford shirt, with blue tie and suspenders, and drove to the church. I arrived about 15 minutes early, so I sat in the van and listened to the radio until it was time to head in. Walking through the parking lot, I met up with James and Andrew Law, which was a relief, since I could sit with them and didn't feel so odd to be by my lonesome. In the church foyer, Sky and Melanie were greeters, and in charge of the guest book, which people were signing as they entered. I forget now if I shared hugs with the girls then, but at least I recall that I was greeted warmly Sitting nearby on the groom's side were many other Behrend folks, including Meghan Gearhart, Nicki, James and Andrew Law, Brad and Ashley; Sky and Melanie sat behind me once everyone had arrived.
As the wedding party processed in, Andrew looked really sharp in his tuxedo, with amethyst/purple vest and bow tie. The groomsmen were Aaron Wood, Andrew, Brian Baldwin, Brandon, and one other relative/friend. The Bridesmaids were Liz, Amanda Placek, Meg Marong, and Sally's sister, and one other woman. John Wagner's daughter Hannah was the flower girl. Justin was quite handsome in his tux with white vest and bow tie, and Sally wore a beautiful, flowing gown with quite a long train. Pastor Lynn wore a dark suit to officiate. The mothers lit the tapers on either side of the unity candle, Justin's dad read a scripture. The newlyweds lit the unity candle after taking their vows.
At the receiving line after the ceremony, I had an awkward convo. with what turned out to be Sally's dad when I introduced myself, but Justin's parents remembered me from move-in days. As we waited outside for the tossing of birdseed, Meghan G punched me in the shoulder a couple of times, until James turned up. It was decided that several of the IVCF folks would go to Dairy Queen for a little ice cream while we waited for the reception to start. Without really being invited, I decided to tag along, to hang out with the folks I knew.
I had a peanut butter cup Blizzard, and sat with Nicki, Megan G, and James. Brad and Ashley sat at a table behind us. Nicki and Megan kept stealing James' fries and later his Blizzard. They egged me on to take a bite as well, starting a chant of “Do it!” which some teenagers at a nearby table picked up on, so I took a bite, to much laughter, and probably some surprise. Earlier, as we were giving our orders, then again as we were finishing our snack, I made mention that I wasn't planning to attend the reception, and asked if it would be okay if I came. When I first asked, there was a general affirmation of the acceptability of my attendance, the second time Nicki said that she wanted me to be there. Therefore, I decided to go, and see what happened, maybe I could get an extra meal if someone couldn't attend or some-such.
As we entered the reception hall, there was a table with name cards arrayed over it, with each individual's name and table number. All the IVCF folks were sitting at tables 13 and 14, and Brad found a card with my name on it as well, sitting at table 14; the size of our group worked out though, we could all sit at one table. Our table was in the last row from the table(s) of honor, but alongside the dance floor, so I got a front row seat for all the cool stuff like the procession of the wedding party into the hall, the fathers' speeches, the toasts, the first dances, and the cake-cutting.
Dinner, it turned out was buffet style, Andrew probably got confused about the rehearsal vs. the reception. The menu included sliced ham, meatloaf or fish; side salad or antipasto-like salad; cheesy potatoes; and dinner rolls. There was also a table with a variety of large and small cookies; and coolers of water, juice, pop, and coffee. For the toasts, each table got a wine-bottle of sparkling white grape juice. It would have been nice if that had been able to be served cold, but one takes what one can get. Speaking of warm things, the weather was quite warm that day, with only a slight chance of showers, but the hall was nearly stifling, even with all the windows and doors open and three large fans blowing. After dinner and the ceremonial activities, the tossing of the bouquet and garter took place. Melanie caught the bouquet, and Brad got the garter.
The extended families/friends of families/Grandview church people left pretty quickly into the dancing, so the college folks made a large circle where one of the viking helms from the bachelor party made double duty as a selector for dancing exhibition. Anyone wearing the helm entered the circle and did a little dance, then passed it off to another for their turn. I ended up doing a little John Travolta finger-pointing disco maneuver, which got some surprised compliments from a few folks afterward, and Andrew did a really great Robot, and Sky and he did a little gun-slinger number. Dan and Aaron were among the better guys, with someone I don't know doing a lawnmower that I got a kick out of. Meg Marong did some pretty good semi-pro dance moves among the better lady-dancers. Amanda dragged me out to do the Electric Slide, and the dance from the BK commercial, as well as something else similar. Later I joined the YMCA circle on my own. My slow dance card included Melanie, who asked me to dance, which was nice, and later I even got up the courage to ask Megan G. to dance, which was fun too, I think I danced with her at the Valentine's day dance earlier in the year as well.
Around 8 pm, I'd guess, things started winding down, tables and chairs were broken down, leftover food was packaged. I was putting away chairs when a jazzy tune came on, and I started head-bobbing, shuffle-stepping, and finger-snapping, to see if anyone noticed my fun-having-ness, plus it was just fun to do. Brian asked if I would be able to drop him and his leftovers off at the church, where his truck was, and I, being the helpful white knight, immediately accepted. Goodbye hugs took longer that I would have liked; I've got to be a bit more assertive, less afraid to interrupt, I think, without being too aggressive. Eventually we got the van loaded and took off. There were a few cases of pop, trays of food, and a bakery box with an extra cake. Brian asked if there was anything there that I'd like to take, and I selected the cake, since Mom requested I bring her home a piece, but hadn't. It turned out to be a large 8” round, with a pretty purple flower on the top-center. It took about a week to polish off the whole thing.
From a personal growth standpoint, this was kind of a coming out party for me. I'd been sort of familiar with these folks for a couple years, hanging out with Andrew at Behrend, and in the last year, becoming closer to them at church. It's been close to a year for me attending Grandview Alliance, and the social aspects of dancing at the reception let me show them a bit more of my personality. The snapping of my suspenders, and being on the receiving end of Megan's punches are physical signs of my being accepted into their social circle, and Nicki saying she wanted me to come to the reception was another highly evident sign of my being accepted and included into their group. Comments at the reception by Brian, and afterward by Amanda, alluding to my joining the dance circles and otherwise becoming more comfortable around those folks, are a sign to me that they notice a change in my mood and comfort level around them, so the counseling and medication are working.