Journal Entry # 47 - Road Entry#37 (Dad's Living Room - 10:25pm - December 19, 2010)

Wedding Day (Labor Day Weekend).

I woke up at 9:45am in order to be downstairs with the running group for a 10 'o clock run. Jessie, Matt, and I had planned to meet in the lobby for a run throughout Ayersly - maintaining a workout regiment while traveling was a goal of theirs. I suggested at least an hour run for the group - making our way on the road under the blazing morning sun.

We set out from the hotel north, along a main road, running at a steady pace into a local neighborhood with less traffic, noise, and risk of getting struck by a vehicle. We turned back for the hotel after 35 minutes because Jessie could only run for 45 minutes. She had to get ready with the other bridesmaids and the two mothers at high noon. She turned off back for the hotel as Matt and I continued on our run. We ran to another major road, hooked a left and ran for a little while longer before heading back after an hour of running. We ran for an hour and 10 minutes roughly. Once we got back to the hotel, we spent another 20 minutes or so stretching right outside the automatic doors.

I went up to Sam and Andy's room to shower and wake them up because we all had to be over at Jack's house by 12:30 for some manual labor before lunch and the wedding. The three of us went to help Jack and Mike transport all of the alcohol from the house to the reception location at the Lodge. It took 5 guys to load it all and 3 of us to unpack it all in under an hour and a half. During this time I got to see the location of the reception and was amazed with the grandeur and setting of the wedding. The Lodge sits on Lake Wylie - a lake created by a reservoir that sits on the boarder of North Carolina and South Carolina. The space was perfectly configured for a beautiful reception. The 10-top round dining tables surrounded the dance floor and the DJ was positioned by the outdoor fireplace on the north side of the floor plan. All of this was covered by a beautiful and large wooden roof, with a iron-clad chandelier hanging in the middle. My words don't do it justice, so I have included this photo:



After a quick lunch at the Harris Teeter grocery store, Sam, Andy, and I drove back to the hotel to start getting ready for the wedding. Sam wanted all of the groomsmen in his suite at 3:30pm with tuxes ready before the limo ride back to Jack's house in the Palisades. I put on my tuxedo first and had my camera ready for action. I took some photos of Sam getting ready in the suite while the other men sat around, drank some brew, and joked a bit before Sam was completely ready. Sam did some push-ups in the room, in his tuxedo, to get pumped and psyched for this momentous afternoon and evening. Chad, Tim, and Andy made toasts in the suite with our cracked Coors Lights, and then made our way to the white Hummer stretch limo.

The limo parked as we went to the back of the house to meet the photographer on the lawn and green of the golf course. Jack's house sits on the 8th green of the country club in the Palisades. Us men put on our best smile as we took 50-100 pictures in 6 or 7 different pose combinations. Most of the shots we took were on the green, with a couple shots coming around the trees surrounding the green. Sam obviously took some pictures by himself, but it did not take more than 30 minutes to get the guys photographed and back in the air conditioned limo. The temperature for the day must have been in the 90's, with a decent humidity in the air.

The bridesmaids and Lindsay then took pictures in the back yard as we sat and waited in the limo. While we were waiting, Jack came in the limo with us - beer and cigar in hand. It was great to see Jack having a wonderful time at his daughters wedding! We took some pictures ourselves, talked some more, and then finally headed out to the ceremony location downtown. Lindsay rode with her father in the Bentley while the bridesmaids rode in the limo with us guys. The parents and the photographer were set on having Sam away from Lindsay the entire pre-ceremony - keeping the entire day on schedule and as traditional as possible.

In the limo, everyone expresses their joy for Sam and Lindsay on the way to the ceremony. We start taking pictures while listening to Country Music initially. But by the end of the limo ride and some more cracked beers, I was taking video while everyone sang "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. The limo was loud and a party even before the ceremony began! We were very excited.

Once we got to the tiny old chapel downtown, the groomsmen were instructed to be greeters to the guests as they arrived. The bridesmaids went inside to the side parlor with Lindsay, and Sam and his brother went to another room before the ceremony began.

The next thing I know, the ceremony is over.

It must have lasted no longer than 35-40 minutes. Like we rehearsed, I walked Rachelle down the aisle. Jack gave Lindsay away to Sam. Many family members and friends cried in joy for two of the people they care about most - (including myself). And we followed the newlyweds out the front of the chapel to the side lawn. The wedding party took a picture together there. Then got in the limo together (this time without Sam and Lindsay), and rode to the Lodge for the reception. This limo ride was even more joyous than the one previous. This wedding party was ecstatic to get to the beautiful Lodge for the party! Some of the group asked me what the Lodge was like, and I downplayed it because I didn't want to build too much of a grandiose expectation for them to be disappointed. So I said "it was nice and spacious, within a great setting".

We sang, drank, and took more pictures as we rolled into the Lodge parking lot. The wedding party then took a professional picture with Sam and Lindsay on a bridge (with the photographer standing below in the creek). I think this small creek was a run-off from Lake Wylie.

As the reception began, the 100 or so guests all got more comfortable with appetizers and refreshments for an hour or so. I got to talk with dozens of guests, mostly from Sam's side rather than Lindsay's side. It was a great time on the hour as mother nature provided the entire party with a gorgeous sunset reflecting it's colors off Wylie's surface.

Throughout this whole time, Sam and Lindsay were taking more professional pictures with the family and on their own. Once they were done, the wedding party rendezvoused inside the Lodge's main room to quickly go over the introduction sequence to the parties schedule. The DJ introduced each couple of the wedding party, with the parents, and then Sam and Lindsay finally celebrating their first party together as Mr. and Mrs. Johnson.

The DJ then instructed the guests to sit down and get ready for dinner.

The servers brought out large, family-portioned plates of pulled pork, corn on the cob, collard greens, corn bread, mashed potatoes, and baked mac-n-cheese. It was a gourmet southern style BBQ dinner without the sweet tea (substituted by beer, alcohol, and wine). Table #9 is where most of the "singles" sat together for dinner - at least that's what Sam told me when he and Lindsay did the table arrangement. I was sitting next to Tim and Kate. Others at the table included Andy J, Brenden, Anna P, Jana B, Jessie, Rachelle, and Theresa. The 10 of us enjoyed the food, conversations, photos, and laughs throughout dinner and leading into the first dance of the night. Sam and Lindsay kicked off the dancing together, followed by the rest of the reception. I danced with Grandma Louise - in somewhat of a "Wedding Crashers" moment to impress the single women of the party. HA!

I then went around the reception and took a bunch of pictures with friends and a my extended surrogate (Johnson) family. I was enveloped with taking photographs for so long that I was roaming around with my camera all the way through to the father-daughter dance and the maid of honor's speech. I finally got back to my seat when Andy J took the mic as the best man.

He told the story of when he was visiting Sam in North Carolina a summer prior. The 5 of them decided to go to dinner Andy said. On the way to dinner, Sam was rode in the car with Lindsay and Susan, with Jack following in his car with Andy. As they were driving, Jack, in a serious tone, asked Andy "What are your brother's intentions with my daughter?!?".

In a straightforward and serious response, Andy said, "He's in it for the perks". Andy, the 21 year old college senior, shocked the entire audience with this hilarious story. The entire reception was dying.

Commence dancing...

The dance floor was open for business as soon as Andy finished his speech. The music got louder and the bar more crowded as the night progressed. We all celebrated Sam and Lindsay's joyous occasion by dancing, drinking, dancing, drinking, dancing, drinking, and dancing and drinking. Everyone was having such a fun time! Then the "Single Ladies" song came on right after bouquet-toss and all the women hijacked the dance floor.

EXCEPT TIM.

Tim was so excited when the song came on, he ran from the bar area and on to the dance floor with all the ladies. I was stunned to see such excitement for a song that wasn't intended for him whatsoever. We all had a great laugh the next day at his expense.

As the night neared culmination, I danced a final slow dance with my brides maid escort, Rachelle - then lined up on the pathway with sparklers for the newlyweds grand finale. The happy couple, hand-in-hand, said goodbye to their guests as they walked down the illuminated pathway. They got into their get-away ride and drove off into the midnight. I took a great picture of the two right before they got into the car



With Sam and Lindsay off to their newlywed suite, the rest of the 20-somethings started into the stretch limo for the ride back to the Hilton in Ayersly. Initially, we only had 10 or 12 people in the limo to ride back. But as word spread, the party-animals started hopping into the vehicle to keep the night alive and going strong. Chad, Andy, Brenden, and I went to the bar and got 4 boxes of 12-14 bottles of beer for the limo ride back, with 22-25 people in the limo. It was so crammed that we had at least 4 or 5 girls sitting on guys laps and a couple girls sitting on girls laps. It truly was fantastic to have that many Oregon alumni friends in a North Carolinian limo, having a cold-one, and celebrating together!

The funniest part of the limo ride back was when Andy P just passed out from intoxication. He hit his head on the limo's bar/radio area and bounced right back up - asking what had just happened and what was happening. He was obliterated drunk.

The limo dropped everyone off at the back of the hotel and everyone pretty much dispersed back to their rooms. I went to bed very late in one of the hotel rooms.

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