It’s amazing how fast it all goes by. I’ve officially been Mrs. Abby Dean for eleven days and I still can’t believe the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception have come and gone. People warn you from the time you get engaged. They tell you to “enjoy every moment because the day goes by in a flash.” But what they don’t tell you is how fast the entire month before the wedding flies. And how the week leading up to it disappears in the blink of an eye. Aside from some very stressful days and a few last-minute panic moments, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Heck, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Every single sleepless night, detailed spreadsheet, and daunting task list made for the very best weekend of my life.
I made the seven-hour drive from our condo in Kansas City to my mom’s house in Minneapolis a full week before the wedding. It was a smart decision because, despite 12 months of planning, there were a million last-minute tasks to complete. Luckily, my older sister and mom were by my side, staying up until 1:30 a.m., calming me when I was on my last nerve, and making sure that all the programs were tied with ribbons, menus were embossed with silver “Bon Appetit” stamps, place cards were assembled and in alphabetical order, and welcome bags were stickered, stuffed, and delivered to the hotels.
Before I knew it, our family and friends were arriving in Minneapolis from St. Louis, Kansas City, Phoenix, D.C., and New York. I had my first “oh-my-gosh-it’s-really-here” moment when Jack and I checked into our hotel room at the Westin Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon. Our suite at the Westin would be our home for the next five days, and we couldn’t have asked for a more serene and wonderful setting to spend that time.
By Friday, 99 percent of the tasks were complete and the Westin was swarming with everyone we knew. Jack and I went our separate ways that morning. I joined my bridesmaids, mom, aunt, and future mother-in-law for manicures and pedicures, followed by a delicious bridal lunch at CRAVE. Jack spent time with our dads and his friends at a pub where they played billiards and darts, and of course, drank beer.
When we returned to the hotel for a few minutes of downtime, I stopped by my future in-laws room to check on the progress of our pew ribbons. Peg, my mother-in-law, was knee-deep in tulle and satin ribbon, working her magic on the final church decorations. She is one of those awe-inspiring people who is genuine and warm and has the ability to do a million things at once while making everyone in her life feel special. She never ceases to amaze me, and for some reason, in that moment, we decided to let the months of built-up tears pour out. She told me how proud she was of the wedding I’d planned and how grateful she was that I was marrying her son. It was probably one of the most important moments of the entire weekend and it made me feel so blessed to be marrying into the Dean family. Seriously, how did I get so lucky?
At 5:15, the tears were wiped dry and we headed to the church for our rehearsal. I absolutely love the church where our ceremony was held. Central Lutheran Church is located on the southeast side of downtown Minneapolis and you can see its stunning bell tower every time you drive north on 35-W into the city. The stained glass windows, brilliant architecture, and enormous organ are no less than breathtaking. When my dad and I did our practice walk down the aisle, the tears came again. Here, in this beautiful setting, were all the people I loved, standing at the front, watching me as I prepared to marry my best friend. (I decided then and there that I’d have to avoid eye contact with my bridesmaids during the walk down the aisle if I ever held out hope of making it to the front without bawling!)
By 7:00, we were on our way to Kieran’s Irish Pub for the rehearsal dinner. My Irish in-laws had reserved the restaurant’s Titanic Lounge. With a warming fire pit, private bar, and Titanic-inspired decor, it was the perfect place to kick off our celebration. A heartfelt speech from Jack’s dad, followed by an amazing photo slideshow put together by my little sister brought on more tears. (As I’ve mentioned before, I come from a family of three girls who can cry at the drop of a hat, so the crying was pretty much expected.)
At 9:00, we opened the room and bar to all of our wedding guests. Dozens of people filed into the room, and everywhere I turned there was someone I loved. Friends from college, high school, and work. Family from cities across the country. I wanted to stay there all night (where else would I rather be?), but by 11:00, my sisters convinced me it was time to get back to the hotel and rest up for the biggest day of my life . . .
Stay tuned for Happily Ever After: Part 2 . . .