I thought that writing about the wedding beforehand was sufficient schmaltz from a mom with a son getting married, but quite a few of my blog readers have asked me why I didn’t write about the wedding afterward. I guess you all want to share in the good time, so here is a reflection on the wedding, this time from the other side.
The whole week in SoCal was full of enjoyable events and memorable times. Ron and I drove down with Sudi on Wednesday. The long drive through the parched Central Valley (so sad to see the devastation of the drought) afforded us time to chat with Sudi and get caught up on his doings.
On Thursday we hooked up with my dad and my brother Bill and went over to Akili and Tina’s lovely new apartment to check it out. They can even see the Pacific Ocean from their balcony on a clear day. I took the opportunity to pull Akili and Tina aside and give them the quilt I made for them as their wedding gift. Giving them the quilt was emotional for me since I put so much love into it. Some of the material in the quilt came from Akili’s clothes from when he was a little boy (yup, I saved some of them). The front of a Hopland Bears T-shirt (from Hopland Elementary School) was sewn into it along with the front of two other T-shirts from Akili’s boyhood. There was material from the dresses I wore when I was pregnant with him and material I have saved all these years that I inherited from my mother – material she had used to make curtains for the house I lived in until I was eleven years old. Other material was selected because it would be significant for Tina – shoes, red hot chili peppers, sock monkeys. Akili and Tina have a sweet little personal thing about sock monkeys. My first cry of the weekend came when I gave them hugs with their wedding quilt.
Sudi’s partner Leah flew down on Thursday to join us and that evening was the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. Our close family and Tina’s had the chance to visit before the other guests began to arrive. The man who has been making my Yael so happy this past year drove down from L.A. for it and we finally got to meet him. The way she lights up when she’s with him takes my breath away. Seeing her with him in person was yet another joyous aside to the wedding festivities.
On Friday, I went to Newport Beach with Dad, Bill, Sudi, and Leah. We lolled by the glorious ocean for hours; longer than we had intended because it was just so gorgeous. Ron remained at the hotel waiting for his family to check in. By that evening the Reed family contingent had arrived – Ron’s sister Wanda and husband Rick, our niece Denise, nephew Keith and his wife Shana; also my stepson Brian rolled in from St. Louis. By Saturday, everyone from our side of the family/friends had checked in at the hotel. We were ready to party. The most raucous party of the evening occurred in Sudi and Leah’s room where they engaged in a loud, wild, competitive game of cards with Sudi’s younger cousins (teenaged children of my brother Dan and my first cousin Deb).
By the time the actual wedding day dawned, we had been celebrating for days. Ron and I spent the morning of the wedding watching football with our Fantasy Football League – one of the rare occasions when so many of us from both sides of the country were in one location. We turned the football off after lunch and cleared the room so we could get fancy and beautify ourselves to see our son married. I could have worn a potato sack and flip-flops and everyone would have told me I looked fabulous because I was glowing with such happiness. I didn’t wear a potato sack, though. I wore a fancy outfit that was comfortable and Tina’s florist helped me put a gardenia in my hair. I never looked more respectable. Even my fashionista daughter approved. (She looked spectacular as always.)
We arrived early at the wedding venue and so did the rest of the family so we had more time to visit. I spent a pre-wedding hour in the “bar” watching football with the guys, of course. Photos of everyone dressed up were taken. The guests took their seats. My dad was ushered down the aisle first by Dan’s youngest son Ben (Dan’s other two children were in the wedding party). Ron and I followed. Then Tina’s mom and Akili. Then the wedding party walked. There were about a dozen bridesmaids and a dozen groomsmen so it took a while for everyone to take their places. The flower girl was Tina’s four-year-old niece and she was a hit; so poised and adorable, accompanied by her little cousin, the official ring bearer (although Sudi actually had the rings). Tina’s niece refused to call Akili “uncle” until he officially married Tina.
I expected I would make a fool of myself crying when Tina came down the aisle. Well, I was not alone as it turned out. Everyone was crying. She was so beautiful and so happy; and her Dad, well he was the picture of happiness. Knowing how important Tina’s dad has been in Akili’s life, it was extra special to see him hand his daughter off to my son. Our friend Jim officiated. He was not only the best man at our wedding (Ron’s and mine), but he had been present at Akili’s birth. Jim said some excellent words for the occasion, finishing up by telling the bride and groom that he believes we should strive to live a life of which we can be proud and that their relationship is an exemplary relationship of which they can be proud. He also shared that when planning for their wedding, Akili had told him that he could not imagine the world without Tina in it. Tina spoke her words to Akili. Then it was Akili’s turn. Akili’s words to Tina included “I never thought I would find a girl that likes cars, football, video games, cartoons, and beer, but somehow there was you.” He also told her that she inspires him to be a better person. When Jim asked for the rings, Sudi pretended he couldn’t find them, patting his pockets and looking confused. Then he laughed and produced the rings. Rings exchanged, Jim pronounced them husband and wife. Akili and Tina do not often show affection publicly. They are private that way. So I have never seen my son kiss the love of his life for real. But he sure gave her that real kiss before they walked back down the aisle. Any romantic would have swooned over that kiss.
As we returned to the reception area, a mariachi band (friends of Tina’s mother) began to serenade. They were exceptional. Dad and I soon began to dance with Tina’s mother and her cousins and women friends. We danced to that mariachi as the sun set on a golden day. There were cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and we were shepherded in to dinner. Tina’s dance with her dad melted me and Tina’s mom as we wept together at the parents’ table. But I have to say that my Macy’s mascara held and I didn’t look like a raccoon. Akili had chosen the Beatles song “In My Life (I Love You More)” for his dance with me. Dancing with him to that tune was one of the sweetest moments of my life.
The dinner was delicious. I went around and talked briefly with all the guests who were my family and friends. I wish that I had been able to meet all of Tina’s family and her parents’ friends, but there was just “not world enough and time.” Everyone was so happy that we danced and danced and danced all night. Many people told Akili when they left that it was the most fun wedding they had ever attended. There is so much more that I could write about the wedding. But this is already a lengthy description. I hope this account was enjoyable for you to read and satisfies the wish of those of you who wanted to hear more about the wedding. I thought that I would be sad afterward; let down because it was all over. But I’m not. I feel as though my life has shifted into a new place. Crazy, huh? I pray that Akili and Tina continue to live a charmed life of their own making.
Our immediate family -- Sudi, Yael, Tina, Akili, me, Ron, Dad, Brian.
Me and my dad. Love this guy to bits. So fun to party with him.
The siblings. Yael and Sudi are so happy for their brother.
A snapshot of the quilt I made -- laid out on my bed at home.