do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches

Hibiscus at rental house
Koi pond at rental house

The wedding happened, and it was good. I didn't want to get any further into the vacation retelling without letting that out, because this is a happy story and ought to remain that way.

Backyard orange tree at rental house
Monday morning--Memorial Day--we all woke up extra early. The first thing that I did was to check my phone for voicemail, text messages, and then FB, to see if there had been any communication that I had missed while, silly me, I'd been asleep. There was a lot of chatter, in fact, including a FB status from the bride's sister, explaining very briefly what had happened the previous day and stating that the wedding was still on.

It was somewhat complicated to get everyone in the rental house ready to go. There were lots of showers to take, breakfasts to eat, clothes to iron (with the iron that the groom's uncle bought in Temecula to replace the non-functioning one in the house), and so forth. The groom's mother had an appointment for hair and makeup with the bridal party early in the morning, so she and the groom's father ready to leave as I was groggily stumbling out of bed. I thought that they would be returning at some point, but they ended up being on their way from that point.

I spent the morning hanging out with the groom's uncle and cousin and one of the groomsmen. It was hot (eventually reaching the mid-90s), bright sunny, and breezy, though it would have taken a lot more wind to make it seem cool during the day.

At some point, a pack of groomsmen came over to pick up our straggler and, in exchange, to drop off the girlfriend of one of theirs. She is...not a favorite of mine, a sentiment shared by the groom's cousin as well. We made the best of it, but it was a rather tedious period of time, hearing her prattle endlessly with little or no assistance from us. I did manage to keep the groom's uncle amused, as apparently my facial expressions during her muddled, silly stories gave my game away (from behind her, thank goodness).

All at once, it was time to get ready. We split into our separate rooms and put ourselves together. It was hot enough that I seriously regretted even the solidity of the dress that I wore, given that it was completely lined. I can't imagine the impact of a more formal dress, much less the bridal gown or a suit on a day like that. Still, I was comfortable in my insubstantial sandals and above-the-knee dress, grateful that it wasn't longer or darker. My hair was simply styled and took maybe 5 minutes start to finish; makeup even less. Two toe rings, rings on two fingers, and the usual six earrings (featuring the emerald studs) brought it all together.

I rode to the venue with the groom's uncle and cousin, as did the chattering young lady. We assisted with delivering the wedding cakes, of which there were three. I can't take any credit for creating them, but I did help make sure they arrived safely. That was a good feeling.

View from Villa de Amore
The venue itself was gorgeous. It couldn't have been a more beautiful day, weather-wise. And considering what had happened the afternoon before, I think that everyone there was just really grateful to have something happy to focus on and to be able to celebrate.
Villa de Amore courtyard

The ceremony was scheduled at 4:30. I think we arrived around 3:00, maybe a little later. The groom's cousin stayed inside the ballroom, doing the finishing touches on the cakes. I wandered around for a while, taking a breath and enjoying the time to myself before everything got moving again.

Off side of courtyard
Ceremony seating with program
Eventually, I headed around toward where I heard people congregating. There was a bar set up, and the few people who were there that early were very casually having a drink (generally non-alcoholic) and resting in the shade. The groom found me and took my straight into where the bridal party was getting ready for the ceremony. I sat with the groom's mother for a few moments, drinking lemonade and chatting.

Not long after I arrived, though, I was rather forcibly booted from the room by a clipboard-carrying, headset-wearing representative of the venue, whose agenda I'd apparently disturbed. She wanted me seated in the audience at the ceremony location (i.e. the "courtyard") posthaste. I wasn't wearing a watch, so I acquiesced, assuming that it must've been close to 4:30.

Palm tree near ceremony
It wasn't even close to 4:30. I had time to get out my phone and take several
photos (some of which are here--I also had my regular camera along, so those are here, too) and also send a thread of text messages to a friend who lives in northern California. And wish I'd worn SPF1000 sunscreen, because the entire left side of my body was broiling beyond recognition.

The wedding started a little bit late, but that's par for the course with at least half of this couple and it wasn't really that late, anyway. And it was, honestly, one of the most beautiful ceremonies I've ever had the privilege to witness. The officiant was a friend of the couple's, who'd received his...credentials?...expressly for this purpose. The result was something immensely personal, meaningful, and also fun (without being silly or frivolous). It was really, really lovely.

Wedding program
Dancing at reception
There were photographs taken both before and after, so we were left on our own for a cocktail hour while they finished those up. It was nice to have a relaxing time getting to know people a little better, to cool off a bit, and to have a little nosh before sitting down for the formal dinner--which was terrific, by the way. My fillet was one of the best ever. The prawns were big and perfectly done, as I understand it. I don't know what the vegetarian option was, but everyone looked happy to be eating what they were eating. The lemon risotto was particularly good, too.

Sparkly trees
Decorated archway
After all the drama that went into selecting and purchasing the dress and shoes that I wore, there are only a couple of pictures of me at the event, and I have no idea if or when I will ever see them; they were taken by the official photographers. The groom and I did a session in the photo booth, but what shows from the collar up is not exactly representative of the whole thing, and hardly worth sharing. I'll keep my hopes up for something stellar from the pros.
Darkened fountain
Because the venue is tucked up at the top of the hill and between private homes, I think their liquor license and noise ordinance must require that they close down pretty early; the bar shut down and the party was over earlier than I might've expected for a small group like this one, but it was all right by me. It had been a long couple of days, but happy. I was ready to lay my head down and rest a while.

[the title quotation is by William Goldman, from The Princess Bride]

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