That Friday morning, I woke up early, eager for the day to start. A friend from London stayed overnight, as his hotel wouldn’t be ready until that day. Since it was his first time in Florida, we made him a big ol’ Southern breakfast, with eggs and bacon and biscuits and gravy. It was delicious, and really, a great way to start a very crazy weekend.
I went to get my nails done with Sarah, another lovely bridesmaid. (I needed to get them done as close to the wedding as possible, to lessen the inevitable chances of me ruining them.) We then grabbed another Florida staple for Tom and Samir – Jimmy Johns. Delicious.
After lunch, we strolled up to my florist’s shop to drop off the final payment. While I should have done it earlier, and was slightly frustrated with myself for forgetting, it was actually a blessing. He was in the process of creating our bouquets and centerpieces, so we all got to see an sneak preview. I’d never been so happy to see flowers. The centerpieces were perfect, and the bouquets gorgeous.
My original directions to him were: “I wanted everything to look Autumny, so oranges, reds, and yellows. Also, make it cheap, but not cheap looking. Also, it better be pretty.” Somehow, our florist translated my ramblings. The central flower was a circus rose (get it?) – a yellow rose that, when in bloom, has red tips. Perfect, no? Then, he mixed in carnations (because, despite their bad reputation, I love them), mini calla lillies, and a few other flowers. I was so happy.
At that moment, I experienced the amazing feeling of knowing everything was done. If a task wasn’t complete, it wasn’t going to be in the end. I didn’t have anything else to do. The wedding was on.
We got ready for the rehearsal dinner (with Samir and Tom both giving me honest opinions on my wardrobe, makeup, and hair), and then stopped by the Science Center for the rehearsal.
It was an amazing feeling seeing everyone together at last. Every bridesmaid, groomsman. The officiant. My parents. Us. It was…so neat. Thankfully, our ceremony, which we wrote with the help of our non-denominational officiant (more on that later), was quite short, so we really only ran through everything twice. Also, it was so hot out.
We broke off after that, some going back to their hotel rooms to get ready, some going to a bar, some staying there. I participated in the latter. A new bug exhibit was opening the following day downstairs, so our contact at the center let us get a sneak peek. We drank bug juice (green lemonade), ate creatures (gummy worms), and took pictures with (cardboard cutout) grasshoppers. Actually, two of the guys actually ate fried critters. It was gross.
The rehearsal dinner was across town, so we left about an hour prior, to ensure we weren’t stuck in traffic. To get every cultural element in, we had it at an Indian restaurant. And it worked. If I was floored earlier when I saw all of our friends mingling, the feeling was only magnified when both of our families and all of the significant others were added to the equation. To see my cousin hanging out with Samir’s childhood best friend; or Samir’s aunt talking to my college roommate…amazing. It was all amazing. It was what we were most looking forward to.
The food was delicious, and the company was even better. We had a brief slideshow (I’ll post it later), which showcased more than enough embarrassing pictures of almost everyone there. Then, Samir’s cousins, sister, and her fiance performed a little musical for us. (In Indian tradition, it’s customary to perform something for the bride and groom.) Using songs from Hairspray and Glee (they know me too well!), they reenacted my and Samir’s first meeting, our courtship, our move to Orlando, and finally, our engagement. The entire performance culminated with our entire bridal party joining them for the final number. We were floored. And crying. And laughing. And totally just…humbled. Truly, we were in love with everyone.
There were more laughs and more tears (from happiness) as the night went on. As the doors closed, Samir went off with his family, and I with mine. Three of my bridesmaids accompanied me and spent the night. We giggled until it was almost light out, and then fell asleep. But we didn’t sleep long.
Because, you know, the next day I was getting married and all.
All photos by Colure Caulfield