I had the important job on Sunday morning of calling James to make sure he was up and ready to check out of his hotel room. Even though I set two alarms to insure I woke up on time, I kept waking up early and dreaming about having to wake up my friends for important events. When I called James, he was not only awake, but showered, packed, and sounding chipper.
The groomsmen, fathers of the bride and groom, and the hupah holders met at the hotel Perkins promptly at 9, which might be the first time that "five guys from a house" showed up on time for an event. Due to the dearth of decent restaurants in the immediate area of the hotel, we had to pretend we didn't see three of our significant others as they came into the same restaurant for breakfast about halfway through our meal. This time, I had the ham and egg skillet, with "cheesy alfredo sauce." The only way it would have been less kosher is if it had come with bacon-wrapped shrimp.
We dressed at the hotel and took a few pictures in the lobby before departing for the synagogue. The next few hours were full of the usual craziness before a wedding: keeping the bride and groom away from each other, taking pictures with family, figuring out how we were processing and recessing (since we never actually rehearsed the ceremony). As a Jew, and one of James' friends, I had the honor of signing both the marriage certificate and the ketubah, and it gave me great joy to know that I could be a part of the official documentation of their marriage. (This sounds dumb, but I really was touched to have this honor. He has other Jewish friends he could have asked to do this for him.) I also got to supply some of the music for the ceremony -- on CD, not live, but it counts. The ceremony itself went off without a hitch. There was a good bit of levity to the proceedings, as the rabbi cracked a few jokes and people had to be prompted for handshakes and handoffs. But the room got a little dusty when James and Jess read their own vows to each other. And we all had a good time rehearsing a shout of "mazel tov!" for the ritual breaking of the glass. My friend Rich, a fellow groomsman, pointed out that the shout was the only thing we rehearsed in the entire ceremony. I especially enjoyed the recessional music: "Linus and Lucy," also known as the "Peanuts" cartoon music. Then there were more pictures, and more visiting, and reviews of the ceremony, and then we got to eat.
The reception was in the synagogue's social hall. The highlight of the meal was the sushi appetizers, though all the food was good. I kept checking my watch (both the new pocketwatch James gave me and the other groomsmen as a gift and the clock on my cellphone), since we had to leave early to catch our flight home. But we got to spend plenty of time with our friends, along with the occasional few minutes to chat with the bride and groom. And even with our time constraints we got to see all the key wedding elements: the dancing, the cutting of the cake, and even the Jewish custom of hoisting the groom on a chair while everyone dances around. We wanted to do the same with Jess, but she begged off with an old injury that we might have inadvertently aggravated. We put off our departure as long as we dared, but eventually it was time to go. A quick change in the mens' room later, and we were all set for the flight home. We said our goodbyes to old and new friends and headed for the airport.
I had timed things just right, as we were able to refuel and drop off the car, check our bags, clear security, and get to our gate with about ten minutes to spare before boarding. The idea had been that we didn't want to spend time waiting at the gate instead of at the reception, and it worked out well. The flight back was OK, but I was disappointed with the video selection this time. While ESPN was one of the available channels, it wasn't working, probably because of some stupid NFL-Dish Network rule about showing the Sunday night game to cheap travelers. There wasn't anything else worth watching, and even the trivia game bored me since I'd seen all the questions two days before. I listened to my MP3 player for a few hours and relaxed. We landed early, but the airline made up for the time we gained by making us wait about 20 minutes for our luggage. Despite the late hour (10:30 PM) there was no cab line, and our driver even did us a favor by taking the Queensborough Bridge and avoiding the toll bridges further north, saving us a few bucks. (I'll have to remember that.) So it was a quick weekend trip, but a most worthwhile one. I'm glad we were able to be a part of James and Jess' celebration, and I hope they have many happy years together. They certainly got off to a good start.