Friday, December 20, 2013

7 QTF: The Wedding of Son #3 and His Preciosa

Time to talk weddings!

And since I have a lot to say, I thought the 7 Quick Takes Friday forum might be just the ticket.  Actually, I might need 14 Takes (and none of them all that Quick!) to do this thing justice, but I'll try to squish all of my gushing commentaries into 7 meaty sections. 

Okay, as you may already know, our middle son got married on December 7.  (He's the one who, when at the age of five or so was asked by one of his female cousins which one of them he intended to marry, said, "Why do I have to marry anyone?  I've got my mom!"  Is that not THEE cutest?)

The wedding ceremony took place at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on the grounds of the University of VA, and it was incredibly beautiful and holy.  I blogged about that already here, if you haven't read that post.  And aside from that post dedicated entirely to the nuptial Mass, I blogged briefly about the big day here, here, and here, and I posted a few teaser pictures as well.  But I'd like to tell you more about it, because it was quite an event.  As one of my sisters-in-law who was in attendance remarked, it was "magical."
The young men in this picture, with the exception of the one who stands third over from the bride, are my sons.
I'm going to end Take #1 right here, so if you'd like to go back and peruse the previous posts to which I so helpfully gave you links, you may do so now.

The Warmest of Welcomes
Welcome back, dear readers!  Are you all caught up?
And speaking of welcomes, I must tell you about the amazing thing that the mother of my new daughter-in-law daughter Preciosa did to welcome all of the out-of-town guests who came to the wedding.  Keep in mind that this was a big wedding, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 guests--and almost all of them came from afar.  Although son #3 and Preciosa, son #4 and his fiancée, and my husband's sister and some of her family live in Charlottesville, VA, the lion's share of the wedding guests had to travel that weekend.  It was, for all intents and purposes, a "destination wedding."  Lots of folks traveled all the way from Miami.  The bride's parents are from FL, my husband and I live in NH, and other family members and friends came from CO, AL, NC, CT, NY, and other states far and near.
But do you know what my son's new mother-in-law did for all of the out-of-towners?  She put together welcome bags for every single one of us!  She hand-stenciled the first initials of our last names on the canvas bags and filled them with water bottles, packages of tissues, little guide books about all there was to do and see in the area, and snacks that included a FL orange and a bag of VA peanuts.  I forgot to ask her how many welcome bags she put together, but trust me, she had to make a lot of them.  And then she had them delivered to all the hotels where the guests were staying so that they would be there when they checked in.
Notice that a bag made for a male guest has a simple monogrammed letter on it (nice and manly); but a bag for a couple or a young lady also has a burlap strip embellished with pearls.  Such attention to detail!  Such thoughtfulness!
Preciosa's mother is one of the most thoughtful and caring mamas you'll ever meet, as this none-too-easy-to-pull-off gesture illustrates.  With all she had to do in the months leading up to the wedding, giving the guests a hearty welcome was a priority with her.  This gesture alone--although it is only one of the many thoughtful and loving things I've seen her do in the short time I've known her--convinces me that my son will be cherished by his new family.  That's a great feeling. 
Décor to Die For
This mother of the bride was a busy, busy lady from the time my son put a diamond ring on Preciosa's finger in April until the big day in December.  She and her daughter had a vision for decorating the event room at King Family Vineyard--a huge, majestic space with soaring ceilings, giant chandeliers, a mammoth stone fireplace, and rustic decorative touches such as wine barrels stacked in cubbies high up on the walls.  That vision was a combination of country charm and urban chic that included, among other things: burlap tablecloths for the round tables and burlap runners for the long farmhouse tables at which the bridal party sat; navy blue monograms (on the burlap covers on the chairs of the bride and groom, as well as on the wedding cake topper); antique-looking mottled silver vases filled with baby's breath, pine cones, and roses; King Family wine bottle corks glued together and tied with burlap strings, to fashion holders for the cards on which the table numbers were printed; and a huge hand-painted sign above the mantle that read "I have found the one whom my soul loves."
Every guest sat down to find a handled mason jar filled with ice water, personalized specifically for him or her--to use during the dinner and to take home as a favor at the end of the night.  Preciosa's mom had painted each and every one with chalkboard paint and then added the names in white.  Such attention to detail!  On top of the rustic-chic navy blue and white linen dish cloth that served as a napkin, there was a printed card filled with thanks and expressions of love from the newlyweds.
In the bar area, there was an antique suitcase sitting open, with a burlap sign above it to let guests know that if they had brought cards, they could deposit them there.  There was a big wooden hutch at one end of the room, and Preciosa's mother had filled it with framed photographs of the bride and groom at all ages, and creative little burlap discs on which she'd printed out Notre Dame and Florida State logos--because if I haven't told you yet, you should know that these two kids are equally fanatic about the football teams of their alma maters.  Every single detail that could be thought of--well, it was thought of.  The bride's mother also had little pennants made, to be carried by young cousins of the bride, announcing when it was "Time to Cut the Cake" or alerting guests to get ready for the "Sparkler Send-off."
I could go on and on!  Suffice it to say that this wedding was packed with so many lovely and creative details that it should have been covered for an article in a bridal magazine--and Preciosa's mother could open up a wedding planning business!
Food and Drink Aplenty
One of the best decisions the bride and groom made was to have their big event catered by a local barbeque place rather than to serve prohibitively expensive plated dinners.  The guests were free to go through the buffet line and heap their plates with tender beef brisket, delectable grilled chicken, gourmet mac and cheese, salads, vegetables, and homemade bread.  And they could (and did!) go back for seconds!  The food was plentiful and pleasing to any palate. 
There were also plenty of spirits for the over-21 crowd, and the bar was open all night.  My husband and I decided when son #1 got married four years ago that since we don't have any daughters and will never have to put on an entire wedding, we would always offer to take care of the bar bill, along with several other incidentals.   For this event, we were able to buy all of the hard alcohol in tax-free NH (live free or die!) and cart it down to VA, which saved us a bit of expense.  Now that we no longer have our beloved 15-seater Dodge Ram Van (I miss my big red house on wheels!), we had to wait to buy the bottled beer, soft drinks, and mixers down in VA.  King Family provided the wine for the reception, of course.  And as a piece de resistance, my sister-in-law and her husband, who are getting ready to open up a microbrewery in Upstate NY, brewed a special IPA for our boy and his bride as a wedding gift (and let him give it a special name), and they provided some kegs of that to be enjoyed by all. 
We bought more alcohol than we needed, and we ended up bringing quite a few bottles back with us; at the Pearls!
Instead of a gigantic wedding cake, the bride and her mom chose to go with cupcakes for the guests, along with a small (topper-sized) traditional white-cake-with-white-frosting wedding cake that the bride and groom could cut and feed one another.    And when I say cupcakes, I don't mean just white-with-white.  There were some of those.  But there were also red velvet ones with cream cheese frosting, Snickers ones filled with caramel and peanuts, Heath bar ones, and I don't even know what other varieties of nirvana were on that tiered cupcake holder that was designed and made by the bride's mother (because--AARRGGHH!--I somehow never got around to getting a cupcake!).  The amazing thing is that one of the bride's friends from Miami baked all of these delectable items--AFTER she arrived in VA a few days before the wedding, with her baking pans packed in her suitcase!
As if all of this feasting wasn't enough, later on during the dancing, homemade apple cider donuts were available, freshly made on-site and served from a cart parked just outside the reception hall.  (This was my boy's special request.  Good call, son!  All that dancing sure makes a wedding guest hungry!) 
Music and Dancing
The reception started out with chamber music during the cocktail hour, followed by DJ'd dance music after the meal was over.
The newly married couple danced their first dance as man and wife to a beautiful song called "You Wouldn't Mind (Body and Soul)," which was written and recorded by the bride's good friend Colleen Nixon--who also did the music for the wedding Mass.
When father and daughter danced, there was not a dry eye in the house, I'm sure.  I danced the mother-son dance with my beloved middle child to pretty much my all-time favorite song, the Backstreet Boys' "The Perfect Fan."  My son said some very sweet things to me while we danced.  I cried.  But then again, I can't listen to that song, sung by FIVE [Backstreet] BOYS who love their moms, without crying.
After the tear-inducing numbers were over, the party started and the dance floor was hopping until they turned on the lights to signal the end of the festivities.
I just love my new daughter.  She is so full of life, outgoing, loving, and fun.  As you can see from these pictures, she enjoyed her big day to the fullest!
And no Pearl wedding would be complete without my baby dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," with everyone gathered round him in a circle.  It's a crowd pleaser--every. single. time.
There was one other musical component at this wedding--something that the bride arranged as a special surprise for her new husband.  It was AWESOME.
Right in the middle of the festivities, an Irish bagpiper in a kilt and full regalia, entered through a back door and proceeded to play the "Notre Dame Victory March."  That really got the Pearl contingent fired up, and we all sang ND's famous fight song at the top of our lungs.  Look at my son's happy face.  He was just beyond thrilled by this thoughtful--and really fun--gift from his new wife.

Brothers Make the BEST Best Men

There were two best men in this wedding--son #4 and a good friend of the groom's from his college days--because the bride had chosen two maids of honor.  Son #3's college friend spoke first, and his speech was wonderful.  Then son #4, with a tough act to follow, gave an incredibly moving speech about his big brother.  He nailed it.  His speech was funny and sincere and heartwarming all at once, and his words were just chock full of love, admiration, and respect for a brother who is also a best friend.

Our sons all decided long ago that they would be the best men at each other's weddings: son #2 was our firstborn's best man four years ago, and he gave a killer speech; son #4 was the best man for son #3 at this wedding; son #5 will be the best man at son #4's wedding in February of 2014; when son #2 gets married, son #3 will be best man; and when our baby gets married, our oldest will be his best man.  Their dad and I never asked them to do this for each other; they made this plan on their own.  And after listening to two of my boys speak so movingly about a brother at two different weddings, I have to say that this might be the most touching part of the whole deal for me.  That or the mother-son dance; it's a toss-up.

Mothers of only sons, take heart: men may not be as comfortable expressing their emotions as women are, but they are capable of giving the most incredible tributes when called upon to do so.  They may not always show it the way we gals do, but their emotions run deep.  These boys of ours might jokingly call each other "losers" when they're hanging out casually together; but they would absolutely take a bullet for one another.  They support, respect, and appreciate each other, in spite of the differences in their personalities, and they truly are the best of friends.

The Sparkler Send-Off

I loved this send-off for the bride and groom!  Back in the day, people threw rice at you.  This is so much prettier!  (Not to mention safer for the birdies.)  What a spectacular ending to a perfect wedding day!   This newly minted Mr. and Mrs. look about as happy and in love as two young people can be, don't they? 


And on that note, I'll sign off and send you over to Conversion Diary, where you can find out what's been shaking with Jen and lots of other bloggers whose posts I'm sure you'll enjoy.


  1. Loved, loved, loved reading all these details!! and your son's new mil sounds lovely!

    1. Thanks, Erin, I'm glad you enjoyed it. And yes, she is lovely. So far, our married sons have hit the jackpot in the in-law department!

  2. Replies
    1. It really was--so filled with joy and fun!

  3. I should have added that one of Preciosa's dear friends (who works for a well-known DC caterer) helped her mom to make all of these ideas gel and become a reality. I should have mentioned her, and all the hard work she did behind the scenes for MONTHS, in this post!

  4. I love this! Beautiful wedding, beautiful couple!

  5. Wow. Just--wow. I am in awe. The only thing out of that entire amazing event you described that I think I am actually capable of replicating is the sparklers. I totally am doing that when, er, uh, wait a minute, I have three boys and a developmentally delayed daughter. Hmmmmm..... :)

    1. Kathleen, I was in awe, too. It was really just amazing. I could never have envisioned or organized something like that! Perhaps it's best that I've got all boys...:)

  6. Laura - your summary of the wedding events was beautiful!! What a beautiful experience!! I can only imagine what it will be like one day to see one of our own sons get married!! JOY!! :) So very happy for you....