We left off on the beach platform, with Jeff, me, Zach, Jeff's MMA-fighting buddy Mike and Emily's older brother, Mike, waiting for the ceremony to begin.
Everybody had taken their seats and there were a good number of random passers-by who stopped to watch the festivities. "Hey, look! It's a wedding. Let's watch." While the beautiful bridesmaids strolled up to the beach altar, my sore throat began to act up once again and my lips became very dry. So if you see photos where it looks like I'm licking my lips, you have your reason. I needed to drink constantly that day, but that wasn't an option during the ceremony.
Anyway, when the Maid of Honor took her spot (with a repaired toe nail) it was time to unveil the beautiful bride. Emily appeared in the distance from the rotunda and proceeded very, very carefully down a long string of wooden stairs. That had to be tough in a wedding gown and heels. Trust me, I've tried it.
She disappeared behind the bumper boat tent and emerged with her father in tow as several people hustled into position to take their pictures. In the hard-scrabble journalism world I inhabit, I don't often see faces of boundless joy but the there were two at that moment. Probably some more in the seats, as well. Emily's face looked ready to burst once she locked hands with her soon-to-be husband. Something she had been dreaming about for a very long time was finally coming to fruition.
A series of religious readings followed and then it came down to the vows. They had to fight the breeze and the ocean to be heard so I did not hear everything, but both vows were very "them." They didn't go to "fill-in-the-blanksweddingvows.com." A perfect fit for a picture perfect scene on a gorgeous Newport day. The photos that I've seen so far look really good. And I bet the professional ones will be astounding. They even have the ability to photoshop me out of them if necessary. They can add a stack of kittens or a Care Bear to make sure the photo is just right. I would not object.
The wedding party proceeded to the beach after the ceremony for another photo shoot while everyone else went up to the rotunda area for an outdoor cocktail party. The wedding arbor collapsed about 20 minutes after the ceremony ended because of a big gust, so consider that another bullet dodged.
After a few drinks (I tired a lime gimlet), it was time for the reception. Those of us in the wedding party ruminated on some whack intros we could do (and this was before I heard about that crazy Youtube video of the dancing introductions.) Katie, the MOH, decided she wanted to knight me and we had it all planned out but before we could do it, the DJ announced the newly-married couple. Once again, the Schaibles hog the spotlight. To prove my point, they even hogged the dance floor all to themselves for the first dance to Joshua Radin's version of "Only You."
As a long-time friend of Emily's and the maid of honor, Katie gave the first speech. It was short and sweet and even quoted from a high school yearbook, which was a nice touch. Then came the moment of truth for me: The Schaibleburg Address.
I wasn't as nervous as I was tense. Confident I had written a good speech, I wasn't quite sure how effectively I would deliver it. I had never spoken to a crowd that big before and I worried that I would either not speak loud enough into the microphone or I'D SPEAK WAY TOO LOUD!!!
I stood next to the couple's table and started by saying my name and my connection to both Jeff and Emily. I told the crowd that I did, in fact, beat Emily for the coveted English Award in high school, but that since she beat me out for prom queen, I thought we were even. That seemed to get a good reaction, though I was so focused on what I wanted to say next that I could not fully gauge it. I was just relieved, because if the first quip fell flat I might have collapsed up there into a mumbling, stuttering mess -- the usual Steve.
One problem did arise ... my left hand was shaking like crazy. I wasn't all that nervous either. It mystified me. The shaking was serious enough that I had trouble reading the speech, so I just read a few lines here and there to guide me and recited most of it from memory.
After I finished, I returned to my table and Grimey gave me two thumbs up so I knew I had done OK. He's always a tough critic. Zach was already sleeping.
At last, it was time for food. I couldn't tell you exactly what I was eating most of the time, but it all tasted good, so who cares? At my table it was me, Zach, Grimey, Jeff's friend Mike and his fiancee and Emily's ESPN crew. I listened in on their company secrets so I could report them to my CBS overlords. Zach and I also fed the ESPN crew some dirt on Emily, which was fun. They enjoyed it. Too bad I forgot the story about how she put on a Yankee sweatshirt the night of the "Grady Incident" - an almost unforgivable action for any Red Sox fan.
Dancing soon commenced. Grimey pressed Zach and I to dance, but we thought three dudes dancing together on the floor would be kind of lame. So instead we took the cool way out and mostly sat at our table and watched the dancers. Watching some of Emily's friends dance is a sport in itself.
Midway through, I signed the guestbook, which was a photo album of Mr. and Mrs. Schaible. This was the first time I had ever seen kid photos of Jeff. I enjoyed that. One thing I did not enjoy as much was returning to my seat only to find my plate gone, even though I had not finished eating. That happened a few times. Never leave your food alone at a wedding.
The couple danced the night away ... literally. I'm not sure they had a chance to even eat that much. I finally took to the dance floor late in the evening to a song Jeff told me he explicitly informed the DJ was on the "do not play" list. Among the fracas, I introduced my new dance "The Drummer" which is sure to sweep all the hot clubs. Though I really hope there isn't a photo out there of it.
The wedding ended at 11:30 and Zach and I headed straight home. We were both pretty tired and there was brunch hosted by Emily's mother the next morning. After a rough night of sleep Friday/Saturday, I enjoyed a peaceful night of slumber that evening.
The brunch was great as well. They had French toast sticks! Just like the Northeastern cafeteria. The brunch lasted about two hours before everyone said their goodbyes. I collected most of the tuxes since my parents live only a few minutes from the rental place. And we all parted ways, with the Schaibles off to Boston on their way to their honeymoon in the United Kingdom. I would be on my way to Florida the next day for Brett Favre and David Ortiz stories at work. Life ain't fair.
Driving back to Cranston that afternoon, it hit me that they were actually husband and wife, that this couple I remember just starting to date nearly six years ago were now legally married. Emily's last name is different. Jeff is now someone's husband. They're all grown up (sniff).
In summary, the weekend could not have gone much better. One can never go wrong with free food and free booze. I reunited with a few people I had not seen since I left Boston in 2006. The whole wacky, wild wedding weekend went great. I hope it exceeded Jeff and Emily's expectations.
The best thing now? I can start calling Emily "Schaible."