The weekend before Memorial Day one of my closest friends Carrie got married. She was our neighbor when we lived in Alexandria VA as newlyweds and even after Ryan and I moved to North Carolina we all managed to stay in touch. I was extremely touched when she asked me to be her bridesmaid... and then momentarily panicked a week after I accepted when I realized I was pregnant! I called her up immediately and she laughed saying I would be one of two! Another bridesmaid was also pregnant and two weeks ahead of me and she was glad to have both of us if we were up for it. It was a little disconcerting trying to pick out the right size for a bridesmaid dress from afar and guessing on sizes and not wanting to alter until the last minute, but my dress fit and all was well!
Even though Carrie and her now husband Pete still live in Alexandria, Pete's family is actually from my home state of New Jersey, and that was where the wedding was to take place! Double score! Ryan and I drove up a day early (and had our engine overheat on 95 in Virginia causing a 9.5 hour drive to take 11 hours thanks to full on DC rush hour after we fixed the car) to try and spend some time with Babci and Poppy. Friday we drove "down the shore" as we NJ-ians say for the rehearsal and dinner in Pete's hometown. It was great getting to know the other bridesmaids better and of course the families of the bride and groom. The bride and groom gifted all the bridal party a hotel for the night, which was lovely, and we had a small, impromptu bachelorette party at the wine bar across the street after the dinner. It was a quiet night though as we all had to be up early the next morning.
The top picture is the bay down the street from our hotel the night of the rehearsal, and those smudges on the horizon are actually of the New York City skyline. It was much more visible with the naked eye! In the morning the bridesmaids and bride all got up early and drove over to a nearby salon to do our hair and make up. The husbands all slept in knowing they didn't have to be at the venue (an hour and a half away) until the afternoon. We assembly lined through the salon getting our hair set, make up done, then hair pinned up... I thought it was great and felt extremely pampered. Especially when the matron of honor ran to the bagel shop for us! I got a sandwich called "the bomber" that the groom, Pete, told us about the night before; pork roll, egg and cheese with hashbrowns mixed in with the egg on a hard roll. Heaven! Pete's family also treated the bride and her bridesmaids to a limo ride to get us to the venue. Party animals we were everyone had maybe one mimosa (made with seltzer for us pregnant ladies) and then slept most of the way! At one point Carrie and I were the only ones awake in the limo! But we made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare and got checked in to our rooms. She got married at the Inn at Millrace Pond, a gorgeous venue with lots of historical buildings and it was so lovely!
We had some time for lunch and to relax before we went to the bridal cottage to all get ready. By that point all the men arrived and photographs started and we just all prayed the predicted rain would continue to hold out! It was cool but not cold and the sky was gray, but we were super hopeful the outdoor ceremony could go on! Carrie looked stunning in her dress and made us all cry as we helped her get ready. She had more gifts for us, touching letters and Alex and Ani bracelets with our initials, that seriously almost made me ruin my mascara. The groom, getting ready in another building, got a pretty great gift too... a motorcycle Carrie had picked out with the help of his brothers! I think I got Ryan a Taylor Swift CD (as a joke) and a binder of the emails we sent back and forth while he was deployed!
Unfortunately during the set up the catering truck delivering the tables and chairs backed in to our car and put a hole in our bumper! It was minor and mostly cosmetic, but the guy drove off without leaving a note or anything! Luckily there were witnesses so we filed a report and plan on getting it fixed since they were so dishonest about it. We tried to keep it from the bride, but she did find out, and considering there were one or two more issues with them we know she was not a happy camper! I felt bad adding to that stress for sure!
But luckily for us the rain held out and we had the ceremony outside. Ryan shocked me by taking a lot of pictures which he usually never does. I was the second reader during the ceremony (and I will not share those pictures as my mouth is open horribly in nearly every one!) and I was very honored she even asked. The ceremony was beautiful and it quickly rolled into the cocktail hour with pictures. The large meeting house in the background served as the cocktail hour headquarters but it was inside and outside. There was a massive tent set up for the reception and the rain held out until we all got inside! It was perfect.
I actually forgot to take pictures during the dinner and reception, we just had a fantastic time and I didn't bother. I danced and ate delicious food and Ryan and I literally stood guard in front of the sweetheart table so the bride and groom could eat! I don't know why people think the instant the bride and groom sit down it is time to go shanghai them, but don't! Most people at weddings are either already married or have been to at least one wedding, you should know how this works! It should not take a Marine and a pregnant lady threatening to belly bump you out of the way so the poor couple can eat! I was also on bustle duty as those darn things never want to hold up. Luckily the matron of honor was prepared with tape, pins and a sewing kit. Why make gorgeous gowns with big trains that are literally held up by a piece of thread?! My gown did it at my wedding too, as have most of the brides I encountered!
After the reception died down we went back to our rooms in the converted mill (over 200 years old!) with intent of going to the after party, but Ryan got horribly sick from something so we just called it a night. I was swollen and exhausted to boot so I spent the night in sweats trying to make Ryan keep something down. Poor guy. Been there! He was perfectly fine in the morning thankfully. We had a big wedding breakfast and then wandered the trails on the property for awhile.
We met my aunt and her boyfriend for lunch later that afternoon and it was so good to catch up with them! She is my biological father's sister and I honestly haven't seen her since my own wedding but we talk often. She and my other aunt and cousins chipped in and got a lot of things off our registry (our entire bedding set and bumpers) and she had lots of baby things from work (a diaper bag, outfits, bibs, blankets, stuffed animals and ultrasound frames) that she also surprised us with. We were so touched!
After we went back to my Babci and Poppy's house and spent the rest of Sunday and the morning Monday with them before we had to drive back. Ryan set up cable in the back room and helped shift furniture and do things that a big, strapping Marine in his 20s can handle with ease that made me so thankful for him. Anything he was asked he jumped to it instantly. We also went and visited my brother and niece that evening and she is getting so big!
Poppy seemed to be getting around a bit better since Christmas but is still more frail than I like seeing him. We got out his piano and harmonica though and he lit up! He said he hadn't played in ages and he did really well with them both. Ryan even learned a bit while we were there. Poppy learned and played both completely by ear so it is impressive to see at 93 for sure. Babci doesn't look anywhere near 90 and she was going up and down the stairs and cooking dinner (chicken popperkosh!) and refusing help left right and center. I did pick out a beautiful knit blanket for our Bean that Babci made that I cannot wait to wrap the little guy in.
Once again, these trips are entirely too short and Ryan and I had to drive back Monday to get to work Tuesday. It was a shorter drive back, only about the expected 9.5/10 hours, but it still was not fun to do seven months pregnant! I hope once the baby is born we can do another quick trip so Bean can meet his great grandparents!