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July 24, 2001: Wedding: Just before

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To say that last week was stressful is putting it mildly, since it all culminated with me bawling my eyes out on my sofa Saturday afternoon. Not once during this entire process did I have any doubts about marrying Richard, or did I get cold feet. No, the stress was all related to one thing. The outfits.

To add to the list of stumbling blocks that have thrown themselves into our path for this wedding, the seamstress called Monday with strep throat. When she showed up Tuesday for a fitting, she looked like she felt like hell, and if it was anything like when I had strep throat, I would not have wanted to be her right then.

Thursday my entire family spent decorating for the reception. With four ladders between us, my sisters and I hung slightly less than 20 strings of lights from the ceiling of the church's social hall, and then topped that with probably 50 or so lengths of vines and flowers, while my dad wrestled up huge vines and managed to attach them to the wall to form tree trunks, muttering unkind words about said vines all the while. Through all of this my little niece stumped around the room, playing with her toys and otherwise being adorable, and my mom offered words of encouragement and handed us paper clips and vines or lights or whatever it was we were hanging at the time. Yep, paper clips. Handy little suckers, those. Bend them just right and you've got a nifty hook for tucking all manner of things into the particle board ceilings.

Friday I woke in a panic (yes, such a bride thing to do. Ha) with a sore throat. Considering how everything else was going, I was pretty much convinced that I was going to break out into full-blown strep throat. Oh, and with the wedding the next day, we still did not have all the outfits, although parts and pieces had been trickling in all week. To say that my mom and I were concerned about this state of affairs is putting it mildly.

I took my bridesmaids out to lunch Friday afternoon, and then it was off to the rehearsal, where our oh-so-patient minister managed to get our loud and unruly crowd of two families and combined wedding party to cooperate and process, recess, and manage to play with candles without dropping a thing. Once we'd all figured out just who stood where, did what, and said what and when, then we all piled into cars and headed for the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner.

Richard's parents are wonderfully cool people and had booked dinner in a restaurant on a huge boat on the river. This won rave reviews from the three-year-old ring bearer, because not only did he get to watch trains going over the river, but he also got to watch the bridge actually turn around to let boats through. Richard and I passed out our gifts to everyone - pewter goblets for the entire bridal party, and various dragon items for everyone else. We sat at the table with both sets of parents and laughed and talked and had a wonderful time.

The entire day seemed rushed though - as if despite our best plans we just didn't leave enough time for everything, and by the end of dinner I was starting to feel the exhaustion creeping in. But I still had more to come - D had planned my bachelorette party, so there was plenty of laughter and a rousing game of 'Kiss the Stud', gifts to make some of the more inhibited party members blush and giggle, and then, of course, the requisite male stripper.

Okay. Excuse me while I blow the whole stripper mystique. Perhaps I was expecting something different, as the only time I've seen anything even remotely resembling male strippers was when my sister and her friend and I went to see a Chippendales review years ago. There were yummy men dancing in teensy tiny undies, and dollar bills were tucked into places using teeth by someone (we won't mention any names, but it was quite fun!). So in a way, this guy - yummy though he might have been - turned out to be kinda boring. It was amusing at first, but then I was starting to check my watch surreptitiously to see how much longer he'd be there, because quite frankly he just wasn't doing anything for me. Yes, I'm hopeless. A gorgeous male offers lap dances and all I can think about is that I just wish he'd hurry up and get on with it so I can get some sleep.

But despite him, we had fun, ending with a small slumber party that night - a handful of women crashed on various futons and mattresses, all of whom luckily were already owned by cats and perfectly fine with being trampled on, purred at, or otherwise snuggled by critters of the feline persuasion.

And so night passed, and then it was The Day.

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