We arrived in Birmingham at about 2:00pm local time. We checked into our hotel: A very nice hotel with a pool, spa and a deluxe continental breakfast. I inquired about the location of the pool, as the girls were ready for a pre-rehearsal dip after our long drive. "Oh, the pool isn't open yet." I asked when it would be. "After it's been inspected." And when will that be? Later today? Tomorrow? "Oh, they don't do inspections over the weekend and they're not coming today." GREAT. No pool. However, there was the spa, which Rachel did use since it WAS water after all. Her time spent there was rather short as it was too hot! At least she got wet, though. :) Really, it didn't turn out so bad that they couldn't get in the pool b/c after Friday, there really was no time as you'll see later....
Friday 4:30pm was the rehearsal. We were all excited as this was at the Church at Brook Hills, an awesome church. It was huge! The girls had a ball playing hide and seek during their down time at rehearsal. After the rehearsal was the dinner across the road. We had BBQ and fixin's. The bride made a montage video of her and my cousin. It was great!! Eric took Rachel on back to the room and Em and I stayed a bit longer and hitched a ride with my dad back to the hotel.
Saturday. Okay. The wedding begins at 4:00pm, so we're thinking we'll have a nice leisurely day until picture time, most likely a couple hours prior to the wedding. Nope! Not in this case! Sigh. (This is the reason that having no pool was not such a big deal. We really had no time for it anyway....) Actually, we had a bit of a heads up yesterday on this as the bride had a schedule typed out for every detail. A great idea, but I must say I've never had a schedule handed to me for a wedding! :O
The girls had to be at their first picture op at 11:00am at a beautiful local waterfall area near a hotel. The groomsmen had to be there an hour earlier for theirs. The bride did not want the groom to see her before the wedding. So we hiked down to this area with the girls. I'm glad I wasn't dressed up myself b/c I could never have made it down the way we went. Eric and I were in shorts and t-shirts. The weather was really warm and balmy. After about 10 minutes the girls were DONE with pictures! Thirty minutes into it the bride arrived. About five minutes before THAT a man came down and told all of us that we were on private property and had to leave. !!!!!! He was very nice about it and seemed to hate having to tell us, but that was his job. Needless to say, the bride wasn't very thrilled with this change of plans, but what can you do? To be honest, E and I were kinda glad since the girls were not enjoying it. Our next pic appointment was at 2:00pm back at the church, so we took this opportunity to reward the girls for putting up with all this while in their WHITE dresses that weren't entirely comfortable in the warm weather by letting them get back into street clothes for the next two hours and enjoy a nice cool ice cream treat from the local Dairy Queen. They liked that idea! We didn't eat lunch at this point b/c since we were expecting to be at the waterfall for a good while during our usual lunch time we had them eat a bite beforehand. So ice cream it was!! They enjoyed it thoroughly while chilling out watching some TV.
Next up was the photo op at the church before the wedding at 2:00pm. This wasn't so bad as it was INSIDE in the cool. Well, most of it was. They did do some shots outside but we were able to come in to cool off in between. Most were in the sanctuary.
By this time, I'm getting a little concerned about R (she actually had to walk the aisle. Em was "honorary" flower girl) as she was tiring from the long day. About 30 minutes prior to the wedding, the bridesmaids, my girls and I were all invited to come into a little room to hang out with the bride prior to "show time." This turned out to be such a good thing for R b/c it was during this time that she really perked up and got into the "flower girl thing." She got her basket of petals and proudly practiced.
After the wedding and a few more pictures it was time for the reception. It was a very festive atmosphere. There was no traditional cutting of the cake. In fact, when we got in there several minutes after the ceremony was over, everyone was already seated and eating. Two large sheet cakes were already cut and being served to all tables. There was a table with fruit, crackers, cheese, chicken, etc. to eat. No waiting on the bride and groom. Nice! They were presented when they arrived and mingled amongst the guests. Later there was dancing and they they left through an arc of bubbles to their waiting sabotaged car. That (the sabotaged car) was about the only part of this entire weekend that was traditional.
After they left, Em and I hitched yet another ride to our hotel with another family member staying there as E took R back early. She was DONE. We finally got back there around 9:00pm and we were POOPED. We crashed and slept in Sunday morning. Didn't even realize there were tornado warning sirens going off over night! Never heard them although I did hear the thunder and rain. Oh and also R when she got up scared of the thunder.
All that said, I have to say this was one of the best weddings I've ever attended! It was totally non-traditional but totally wonderful. The bride and groom were so at ease (or at least they seemed that way!) and everything was well thought out. Way to go Eric and Melodie! Wishing you many years of happiness!R & C