Monday, August 3, 2015

West Virginia / Pittsburgh Recap Part V: In Which My Brother Gets Married!

The day of the wedding was… hot. But lovely! We got up and made breakfast at Brandon’s place. He and Jo and her friends headed over to her parents’ house early, but David and my parents and I took our time getting ready, and one of the groomsmen also hung out with us. I ironed David’s shirt and my dad’s and the groomsman’s on a mini-ironing board set up on their kitchen island because that’s all Brandon and Jo have (they don’t iron).

We arrived about an hour and a half before the wedding was scheduled to begin to a rather chaotic house… Jo's parents have a very nice, very good sized home, and it was bustling. Zuzu had napped in the car, so she was a little clingy, but since she’d been there the night before, she warmed up fast and found some kid toys that were in the game room (including a shopping cart, which made an appearance later on the dance floor during the bride and groom’s first dance, much to my chagrin).

Jo was getting her hair done in the living room, sisters were running around looking for hair accessories and shoes, dresses were on the ironing board, friends and relatives were in the kitchen preparing the food for after the ceremony, the photographers (two talented friends of the bride) were snapping shots of everybody… it was crazy, but everything was coming together.

When the officiant arrived, we did a quick run through of the ceremony and the flower children were all reasonably cooperative. My brother put a package of fruit snacks in his pocket, and we told Zuzu that if she walked up the aisle and dropped her petals, Uncle Buck would give her fruit snacks and then she could sit down with us and eat them. She was game. She was also pretty excited about her "princess dress," which "matched" Jo's princess dress. (She's really into "matching" as well as into princess-wear.)

She was pretty excited about the "lully-pop" favors. I caught her filling up her flower girl basket with them before the wedding started.

Is this not ridiculous and adorable? If only she (1) could walk unassisted and (2) wanted to do something besides nurse or cry during the wedding. At least the headband fit perfectly. I asked Jo if she told her friend who made them that Coco has an enormous head. She laughed and admitted that she had. Hashtag big brain.
The ceremony was really lovely. (I have practically NO PHOTOS because my cell phone battery died and also because my hands were literally full of a clingy baby and then I was reading and trying to be in the moment while also sweating so much that I nearly slid off my chair.) 

They kept the ceremony small (except for the wedding party, haha), with more people invited to the reception afterward. There were a few rows of white chairs set up in the side yard facing a row of trees and a decorative alter-like area made by hanging paper flower garlands between two antique ladders. 

The groomsmen and bridesmaids processed together, and then the flower children went after them. I stayed back with Zuzu to help get her started, and then walked around the side to sit down by David (my mom was holding Coco). It was only when I got up to my row that I realized I’d left my reading inside next to the sofa, so I had to turn around and SPRINT back into the house to get it. Zuzu did just fine on her own, though.

Like she'd been training her whole life for this moment.
JoAnna and her parents saw me running toward them as they were starting down to ceremony (she looked so gorgeous) and she was like, “What’s wrong?” but I assured her everything was fine. I missed her entrance because I didn’t want to proceed through the yard behind her and her parents, so I waited back in the reception tent until everybody was turned to watch her at the front of the aisle and then scurried back up the side to my seat.

Of course, Coco saw me at that point, and she was hungry and tired and has been quite the mama’s girl with all of the new places and unfamiliar faces, so she started crying and my mom had to hand her over. Which was great because being hot and sweaty and out of breath after literally sprinting several yards to get my reading out of the house was one thing, but being hot and sweaty and out of breath while holding a hot and sweaty baby angrily trying to claw her way into my bra while she's wearing an enormously puffy polyester dress is another experience entirely.

Anyway, Zuzu had nailed her duties as flower girl ("I drop my petals!) and when she sat down, she looked up at Jo and Brandon and said (rather loudly), “Oh! Mommy, is Auntie Jo a princess and Uncle Buck is her prince?” 

Perhaps the best illustration of how perfect Jo & Brandon are for one another is that Jo was totally unfazed by the fact that Brandon wore this hideously shiny suit he purchased while living in South Korea. I was mortified, but then again, when you have a gorgeous bride, nobody's really looking at the groom, right?
The officiant announced that Jo’s sister Elizabeth would do a reading and Brandon’s sister Brooke would do a reading and Zuzu said (again, loudly), “That’s you, Mommy!”

I read my wedding blessing while holding Coco, which was slightly awkward but mostly fine (she wasn't crying, at least) except for the moment when Coco grabbed the arm of the microphone stand and yanked it directly toward us, causing the microphone to swing directly into my throat, making that horrible squeaking noise that microphones make when they HIT YOU IN THE NECK so fast that you can't get your hand up to block it. JoAnna had to step up and assist us. I can't wait to see how this looks in the video. 

The minister told the story of how Jo and Brandon met, which is really cute. They were on the same Southwest flight back from separate ski trips to Utah. Jo was in boarding group A and sitting by a window. Brandon was in boarding group C (of course) and came on the plane when only middle seats were left. He saw an open seat next to a cute girl reading a book and decided to take it.

Jo had a lot going on at the time, and wasn’t interested in small talk with strangers. She basically turned away from Brandon and read her book with her back to him for four hours. Brandon just waited for the moment he could make his move. Finally, when they were packing up to land, Brandon asked her what she was reading and she saw his Pittsburgh Pirates hat and asked if he was from Pittsburgh, and they started talking for about ten minutes or so.

But, the conversation was long enough that Brandon wanted her phone number. They just sort of texted occasionally for a few months because he was living in Pittsburgh and she was living a few hours away in West Virginia. But then they were both running the Pittsburgh marathon, so they met up for their first date that night. By the end of their second date, Brandon knew he was all in. 

Evidently, it took Jo a little bit longer to be convinced that he was really the right guy for her, but they complement each other so well. I'm really happy for them. Plus I actually like Jo. We have some very different interests (like, she likes hunting and I don’t like animals to die, she's a rabid football fan and I'm not really interested in football), but we also have a lot in common, and she’s super fun and easy to talk to. It makes me happy that Brandon met someone so great and also sad that they live so far away. I wish we could spend more time with them.

Anyway, two and a half years after that fateful meeting on an airplane, they got married!

I titled this photo "Birth Control for the Newlyweds" and it still cracks me up.
Coco's face. I die.
The dinner reception was classic Pittsburgh fare—sausages with or without sauerkraut, pierogis, haluski (my favorite—noodles and cabbage except more delicious than that sounds), parsley potatoes, and also a big salad and fruit and rolls. There was a cookie table and a Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers themed wedding cake, along with cupcakes. The wedding colors were Pittsburgh black and gold, modified to a gray and yellow, with rustic accents. Jo wore a big ruffly dress, and black and white cowboy boots. Brandon selected the neckties for the groomsmen, and Jo learned an important lesson about letting the colorblind guy make fashion choices (see also: shiny suit).

We still love Uncle Buck. Don't mind Coco.
Her family doesn’t drink, so it was a dry reception, which meant that the groomsmen weren’t dancing. I did a little dancing, but I have to admit that I don't do much sober dancing except in the kitchen with Zuzu. 

Jo's sisters and brother did a little music set that was really cute (her brother sang “I want to grow old with you” from the movie The Wedding Singer) and Jo herself played the guitar and sang “My love is deeper than a holler” to Brandon, which was adorable. Her whole family is so talented it’s ridiculous. I joked that I thought the evening should end with a rendition of the Von Trapp family’s “So long, farewell, to you and you and you-oo!”

I love to perform but have no musical talent, so I did NOT do my cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (much to everyone’s eternal disappointment, I’m sure). Also it would have required alcohol to lubricate my vocal cords.

The bride and groom also planned an after party back in Pittsburgh at a saloon near their building, so we made arrangements with one of Jo’s younger sisters to babysit the girls while we went out for a couple of hours.

Brandon had reserved the second floor balcony/bar of the saloon, and there was a rooftop with some seating, so we made ourselves at home, along with the Big Head Fans that my Aunt Peggy had brought for the festivities. I had two vodka cranberries and found photo opps with Buck and Jo's huge faces to be thoroughly entertaining.

Brandon photobombs himself. Priceless.
I had a lot of fun chatting with the groomsmen—they were cracking me up with stories of Brandon in high school—and hanging out with my cousin Brandi. I really wanted another vodka cranberry but I restrained myself and was definitely glad of it the next day.

With Brandon's high school buddies. And Brandon's disembodied head. LOL
When we got back to the building, it was midnight, and Jo’s sister had fallen asleep on the couch. Zuzu had been half asleep and watching cartoons when we left, and Jo’s sister had texted me earlier to tell me that Coco was asleep, so it wasn't a big deal that she was also asleep herself.

The funny thing was that Zuzu was now WIDE AWAKE and running around the house and telling me that she peed her pull-up, so she went upstairs (like, out the door of Brandon's apartment to the stairwell, all the way up to the third floor apartment BY HERSELF) to put on her big girl panties (while the poor, exhausted babysitter was asleep on the couch). 

Anyway, everyone was totally fine and perfectly happy, so next time we won’t even bother with a babysitter and we’ll just let Zuzu watch Coco.

(But seriously I can just imagine how panicked Jo’s sister would have been if she’d woken up when Zuzu was upstairs and hadn’t been able to find her. I can imagine this because it has happened to me at my own house when Zuzu thought she could just go downstairs and get herself some milk in the middle of the night. It's so awesome to hear strange noises in the night and discover your child is not in her bed. She’s very independent, that one.)

By the time we got upstairs to go to bed, Coco and Zuzu were both wide awake so it was another tricky transition to bed, but David and I were so tired that we had no trouble falling asleep. And fortunately everyone was still in our bed when I woke up the next morning!

And now my brother is married and they are tentatively planning a honeymoon that corresponds with a conference he's attending next month in Japan. Congrats to Uncle Buck & Auntie Jo!


  1. These updates have been so great and hysterical! Thanks for writing I was there with you-including the sweaty out-door polyester nursing, funny enough I too have been there lol congratulations to your brother and new sil!!

  2. Looks like a beautiful wedding! Sorry the kids didn't really cooperate, but it was funny to read about!

  3. Hot and sweaty reading at a wedding with a squirmy baby in arms? Wow, that's impressive.

    I feel like you've shown the shiny suit before - I almost asked on IG. Now it's all so clear. (And shiny.)

    I love your post-cocktail, mid-big-head-fan-waving smile. So funny.

    Independent Zuzu, yikes!

  4. I adore the honesty of this post. This is EXACTLY how a wedding with kids goes. Exactly it.

  5. That is such a cute story of how they met!

  6. Those photos of Brandon and Jo with the kids are the best. You call it birth control, but seeing all of those crazy little personalities makes me want another!

  7. This looks SO FUN. I love family weddings. And after parties. And formally posed pictures with screaming babies. Hysterical!