When Allison was in elementary school, she was in a string orchestra called the Singing Strings. Shortly after she joined the orchestra, the conductor - John Clement, who became a mentor to Allison (and many others) - passed out music to the group. It was Handel's "The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba".
As the group began playing, Allison leaned over to her seatmate and said, "This is the music that I want to walk down the aisle to."
That's how long Allison has been planning this wedding.
There's a wedding album to the left - click on it to see some selected moments from the day. In the meantime, I'll give you a few snapshots here in the form of some moments that stood out for me.
The wedding was held on a Saturday. The girls in the bridal party - including my wife - were all meeting early in the morning for breakfast and then going to get their hair done, fingernails cut, toenails painted, cycles synchronized. Girlie stuff. Did not involve me.
So I gathered together a couple of friends who were in for the wedding, and we went golfing.
I expected to come home to a madhouse, but I guess one of the benefits of meticulous preparation - if Allison weren't a talented and passionate teacher, she'd make a kick-ass event planner - is that things were calm and ordered and running to time. By now the girls were all back at our house, clustered up in the master bedroom (which has an attached dressing room), and ... again, girlie stuff. Makeup. Boy talk. Watching "The Notebook". I have no idea.
My wife was having none of this "calm" bullshit. This was a by God wedding, and it wouldn't be a wedding without a crisis, and if there wasn't one readily available, she was prepared to manufacture one. So she rushed down and informed me that we had to take some wedding cakes to the reception hall.
(Side note on Allison's brilliance: instead of the traditional wedding cake, she had decided to ask a few friends and loved ones to bake and decorate a small cake. Each of these beautiful and delicious cakes were to be put on pedestals and would each serve as the centrepiece for a given table. And, of course, dessert. How smart is that?)
Well, one of the cakes didn't have a pedestal. Oh, boy. The day was ruined. It was all collapsing in a heap of ashes and Allison would wind up weeping and sobbing with her life in shards around her. Or, you know, we could use my cell phone, call my wife's best friend, and she could cheerfully offer to go pick up a pedestal and make sure she got to the hall early so that the offending cake could be raised and the day rescued.
Disaster averted. A narrow miss, to be sure. But all was good.
We got back to the house, I grabbed one of the few minutes when the shower wasn't in use (with six house guests and a bridal party all straining the resources, timing was everything), then got dressed and ...
... nothing. It was only 2:30. The wedding wasn't till 4. What was my hurry? I poured myself a drink and relaxed. I do "relax" pretty well.
At around 3:15 or so, the house was filling up. Everybody had cleaned up nicely. I was called to the foot of the stairs to watch Allison descend.
The look of her literally - not figuratively but literally - took my breath away. I think you can see that in the photos.
Conversation En Route To The Church
Allie: I think I have to go poo.
Me: Should we stop at Tim Horton's? (Canadian coffee shop chain - think Dunkin' Donuts).
Allie: Yeah, that would be great. Go into Tim Horton's dressed like this and say "Can I use your bathroom? I have to poo."
Erin: Well, I believe if you go into Tim's in a wedding dress, you're required to say "Can I use your bathroom? I have to take a dump."
What followed was a discussion that began with the logistical challenges of pooing in a wedding dress, and moved on to pee, puke, and boogers. We are such a classy family.
Allison and I got into the church and people were already in place. The bridesmaids were milling about, assorted children were being kids, and the string orchestra - under the direction of John Clement - was playing excerpts from "The Sound of Music".
The minister came back and made sure everyone was ready. Allison - who actually had ducked into the church washroom (for a pee, and she was unwilling to divulge the logistics involved, for which I am grateful, except to say "It's trickier than you might think.") - gave him the go-ahead.
The music changed. Time to go.
Here is a video of the procession. Be prepared to be slain by cuteness.
There is only one way to fight that.
Take that, Cute Kid.
Daddy, Stop Teasing
When she was a little girl, and I was a stay-at-home Dad/writer/performer, I would often take Allie with me when I went out to schools to do storytelling workshops. Part of the workshop was always about letting your imagination run free - and she and I had a song we'd perform that sort of illustrated that.
It was a song written by Eric Nagler, a well-known Canadian children's performer, called "Daddy, Stop Teasing". The lyrics (as I adapted them for us):
Allison, guess what I just saw outside?
An elephatamus with a black naugahyde.
He was eating the Chevy, and what could I do?
And he said when he's finished, he's coming for you.
Daddy, stop teasing, it's not very pleasing,
It's awfully confusing when you don't know what's true.
I know that you love me and that's why you do it,
But Daddy stop teasing, whatever you do.
How would it be if you drove my car?
We'll go to Fort Garry, it's not very far.
These phone books will help you look over the dash,
And we'll fool all the cops if you wear my moustache.
Well, guess what we're having for supper today?
Some eggplants and onions all mixed up with hay.
Petrified Tasmanian turtletoes are nice,
With snakes' heads, worms' tonsils, and sugar and spice.
Me: Well, if I can't tease you, how can I show you that I love you?
Allie: Buy me an ice-cream cone, I guess.
The song is in 3/4 time, perfect as an old-time waltz. But who would ever waltz to that, unless you were, I don't know, trying to make your father cry at your wedding? Of course, the actual music is hard to find. Why, you'd have to email Eric Nagler months and months ahead of the wedding and get him to send you the song. What kind of dork would go to that trouble, just to make her Dad cry?
Yeah. Well played.
Turnabout Is Fair play
At the end of my speech at the reception, I directed everybody's attention to the screen set up in front.
For a week or more before the wedding I had worked hard to assemble a slide show, depicting both kids' pasts and bringing us to today. I also wanted to remind us that there were some people missing from the pictures today - but not from our hearts.
I matched the pictures up to music and tried to craft it as a small movie. It's Other Peoples' Children, so you're forgiven if you're not interested in seeing it. but I think it's pretty nice.
Some notes: I love the joke early on in this: "How did he get to be so tall?" Umm. He ain't.
There's a picture of Allie with a guy in a beard. That's Fred Penner - a friend of mine and one of Canada's best known children's performers. Sorta like having a picture of your kid with Mr. Rogers. Only cooler.
Please excuse my appearance in some of these photos. It was the 80s. How did YOU look? OK, then.