The invitation to Alex & Kristen’s wedding came in the mail around 3 months ago. Being a very hormonal new mom at the time, I opened it, smiled from ear to ear appreciating the beautiful garden-like design that was so very much Kristen and then put it on the fridge. I just couldn’t RSVP yet. We knew it would be too tough for us to take the baby out to Madison at such a young age. So when I turned to Rich a month later and asked, “Can I go?” I fell in love with him all over again when he said “Of course you can”.The timing worked out perfectly as well, Grandma and Grandpa were due to come up for a visit now that we had settled into a good routine as parents. I was not shocked at all when they arrived with bags of diapers and gifts for Luke – our little guy is very lucky to have such a great family that loves and spoils him (and us) to death. I knew they were all going to have a great time.
As I landed in Madison Friday afternoon my excitement exponentially grew. I had made it, and could not wait to not only discover a new city that I had never been to, but learn even more about Kristen, my new cousin who won my heart the second I met her 5 or so years ago. I snapped a quick pic of a stand of cheese hats as I sprint walked over to baggage claim and made a mental note – you are in the land of cheese, Marie – eat as much as you can this weekend.
I used Über for the first time (I know, I’m embarrassed to admit it took so long) and made it in time to change clothes and hitch a ride with Brian & Megan to Marigold, where the rehearsal dinner was held in downtown Madison. And then the magical weekend began… in a place where the most gorgeous spread of food, family and friends filled the restaurant that Kristen had worked at years ago.
I’m pretty sure I crossed a line with my other newish Seattle cousin, Heather as I ran up to her, rubbed her adorable little baby bump and asked her a zillion questions about how she was feeling and telling her how great being a Mom was. I just couldn’t help it, her glow was contagious and I wanted to share everything I knew so far that I thought would be helpful. Sorry, Heather. I’ll shut up next time I see you.
The night was so much fun. I felt very honored sitting next to Kristen’s parents, who I really enjoyed getting to know and love. All this time I had been selfishly thinking how lucky we were to have Kristen join the Westcoat family, but it wasn’t until that moment I knew Alex was lucky too, to be joining her amazing family as well. After dinner filled with fun toasts, we had a couple of drinks in the hotel bar and caught up with Uncle Bruce, Uncle Steve and Kristi and heard some pretty neat stories about Bruce and Steve’s flying adventures after they got their pilots license.
The next morning Brian, Megan and I walked the path along the lake to the square in downtown Madison where they have the biggest farmers market I have ever experienced. It was so big Megan and I were joking that there was clearly a “current” and we felt like salmon – don’t even try to swim upsteam. We tasted cheese curds, discovered some new produce like ground cherries, and enjoyed brunch with a view of the capital building. What an amazing city.
After exploring Madison, we were off to the wedding that was 45 minutes outside the city. I was anxious to see all of the details come together for K&A’s big day. Knowing how much fun Kristen had planning it I knew I was in for a very special treat like nothing I had experienced before. As I stepped off the bus (in my terrible shoe choice – high heels) I walked into a whole new world (Disney song, pun intended). It was simply breathtaking.
A narrow dirt path through trees led us to this little chapel where K&A spoke their vows with tears and laughter and officially became Mr. & Mrs. Westcoat. Every detail of the ceremony from Kristen’s gorgeous low back lace dress to Alex’s smiling face as he contributed to the guitarist’s song (with a rocklike shaker? Not sure what it’s called) represented them as a couple.
The reception was super fun as well. AS we walked into a barn-like building, there was a table of framed pictures of Alex and Kristen’s parents and grandparents. It was pretty neat to see Nana & Papa’s picture from when they were our age. When Brian, Lucas and I were talking about how Nana was such a babe, Lucas turns to us and says “who does she look like?”. I was stumped so when he said me (after a long quiet pause), I held back happy tears. It’s so much fun to see family resemblances, but you can never see your own and I felt honored to look like such a beautiful woman.
The drink of the weekend were Old Fashions, a connection we discovered during Kristen’s Dad’s speech – the drink shared the first time Alex and Ron hung out together. We gazed out to the cornfields as we had crudité (or CREW-DIGHT as Uncle Steve calls it) and we found our places at our tables by finding the rock with our name on it – rocks that K&A had collected from various places they had been over the past year. SHOOT! I just realized I forgot to take mine home with me. Super bummed. The food was delicious once again and we listened to heartfelt toasts as the sun set in the background. Megan found a new trick to stopping tears during toasts – the bread tray. Next time I’m grabbing bread for the toasts because I clearly needed it!
We danced and ate cake & treats inside, and just had a grand ol’ time. My favorite song that night? “I’m every woman” that Alex had told me was one of Kristen’s favorites and he woke up to it every morning. These two people were so damn adorable.
The night ended with a sparkler line send off that was not only very pretty in the dark setting, but helped me make a step in the right direction of getting over my fear of sparklers (don’t ask, I always get burned by one somehow).
The bus ride home was a fun encore to the night as K&A’s friends in the back sang songs to enterain us. Briandand Megan had an over under on a Disney song, and sure enough, 2 minutes later we heard “A Whole New World”.
There were so many other endless details to the wedding that made it special to be a part of, but the underlying theme for me was family love. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Brian and Megan kid free which is extremely rare these days. I loved getting to catch up with all of my Westcoat aunts and uncles and hear stories that I had never heard before of them and my parents. Seeing in the flesh how happy and accomplished all of my cousins were just brought happy tears to my eyes throughout the weekend. And finally, what will probably be the most emotional moment for me that weekend is when I watched Alex dancing with Auntie T. I thought at first my tears were simply tears of joy for how much I loved them and having them in my life. But then as I looked down at my phone to see a pic of Luke, I realized that I get to share the same moment with my son some day and an overwhelming feeling of love filled my heart. I love all of my family so much and the more it grows, the happier my life truly becomes.
So I will end this very unorganized and sloppy written entry with this. Congratulations Kristen & Alex. It was one of the most memorable weekends I have ever had and I am so happy for you both. Once again, a Westcoat man chooses a truly amazing woman that we have all fallen in love with. Thank you for sharing your special day with us.