It’s an early wake up call Saturday morning – lots to do. We pack our things and hang out in the back, drinking fluids and feeling a bit hungover. Alicia joins us. She’s 13 – a junior bridesmaid in the wedding – and gives us her take on last night. The other junior bridesmaid’s mother made her come in the house last night because the language and content of our conversations was getting “inappropriate.” Alicia could have cared less about that. “I walked outside and the first word I heard was stripper.” Well, that is kind of funny. “But I don’t care. It’s not like I haven’t heard it before. And I wanted to hang out with my cousins.” Damn right Alicia, you tell ’em. We sit outside talking for a while and I realize how grown-up Alicia is becoming. Like, I can have a real conversation with her. It’s kind of cool.
Stephen and Jimmy arrive shortly after and don’t look too happy. We all walk in the house, get our stuff, say quick goodbyes, and we’re out the door. What’s up. “David is not happy.” Apparently, when they hashed out the details last night of our ‘plan’ this morning, it was agreed that Andrew would drive to David’s place and then Jimmy could take the car to pick us up. David called him this morning and he wasn’t answering his phone. We walk up to the car and Stephen pops the trunk so that we can put all our stuff inside – we still haven’t been to the hotel so we have everything with us. Ali’s trunk is packed with God knows what. Stephen sighs heavily. He and Jimmy begin unloading everything so we can try and make it fit. Jimmy fills us in while they do this. “David wants Andrew out of the wedding.” What? Not seriously. He and Stephen look at each other. “He seemed pretty serious.” It turns into a long story that I can only sum up as miscommunication.
Jimmy drives us back to the hotel and while the whole thing is sort of serious, since we’re removed from it it’s kind of hilarious. Jimmy refers to David in his moment of sheer anger as a groomzilla. He looks silly driving this car with some kind of flower print on the steering wheel and colorful lays hanging on the rear view mirror. I’m sandwiched between the twins in the backseat and start to feel sick. Hungover and hungry while in a car is not a very good combination. I feel like I might throw up. I need some air. Chris we need to switch spots. She looks at me like, where do you want me to go? I literally slide over top of her because we’re both sweating so much. I roll down the window all the way and let the air hit my face. This feels better, but not for everyone else in the car. God, Florida is so hot! It’s gross, and everyone is telling me to roll up the window. I do. Stephen controls the air conditioning, which turns out to be temperamental and just shuts off when it wants. When that happens, I don’t feel bad opening the window, but the hot air really doesn’t make anything better. Are we almost there? “Yea, like 20 minutes.” This has become the running joke of the weekend because everyone keeps telling us everything is 20 minutes away, but in reality, everything is like an hour away.
We finally escape from the car when Jimmy pulls up to the hotel and drops us off. See you in a few hours! We go up to our room and quickly drop our stuff, but not before Stephen cranks up the air so that it’s cool when we get back. We walk across the street to a place called Eggz. Our server is overly friendly. “How’d y’all do with the power out?” Um, what. “The power went out on this whole side of town during the night. We just got it back this morning.” Well then. So happy we didn’t stay at the hotel last night. Stephen voices his happiness. “If we were in the hotel when they lost power I would have killed one of you.” OK, shot gun not sleeping in the same bed as Steve tonight.
Back at the hotel we can finally relax. Aunt Laurie figured she’d pick us up early so we could hang out at her house, but we are so slow right now and none of us have showered, so she says Uncle Pat will come for us around 3pm. Perfect. We finally get ready and meet Uncle Pat out front. How far is your house from here? “About 20 minutes.”
We pull up to the house just as the enormous limousine is pulling up. It’s massive. Quickly grab a beer from Aunt Laurie’s selection – I have to go with Yuengling since we don’t have it in California – and we’re out the door. In the limo is obviously the four Stetsons, plus Aunt Laurie, Uncle Pat, Uncle Chuck, Denise, Grandma, Pop-Pop, and Chaz. Aunt Laurie is super excited – it’s her first time riding in a limo. “I thought there were supposed to be TV’s in here.” There are, they’re just not on. “Well why don’t we have them on?” Because we’re enjoying each other’s company! Denise leans forward a little and looks at me. “Now you sound like your mother.” God. It’s happening more and more and I don’t even realize it.
Back over the bridge. Grandma is quiet. I’m not even the slightest bit afraid of bridges and her fear is now making me nervous. Silly. Aunt Laurie has stocked the limo with beer, and after one more I have to pee. It doesn’t take long. Are we almost there? Stephen or the twins answer me. “About 20 minutes.” It is not 20 minutes. I’m dying when we finally pull up. Stephen is in the same boat, just better at not freaking out about it. So relieved no one is in the bathroom. I’m so happy when I’m done I walk out of the bathroom without realizing my dress is tucked into my underwear. Chaz just stands there looking at me weird. Then Chris turns her head. “Uh, Lynn, what are you doing there?” What? I look down. Oh, Christ. Woops! Thankfully my dress was hanging over enough so they couldn’t see my underwear. At least it was family and not strangers!
We hang out while everyone is getting ready and taking pictures. There’s no more mention of “the fight.” Earlier, when Andrew and Jimmy walked into the room where all the groomsmen were getting ready, David immediately said hi to them. “There’s beers in the cooler, help yourselves.” And that was that.
Eventually, we’re told we have to leave the main room and go in a side room. Workers are setting up dinner tables in this room and definitely don’t want us in here either. After that, we have to go outside – anyone who is not in the wedding. Ugh. Back into the heat. We’re told to wait out front. The photographer comes out and tells us we can’t be there; we have to move to the side of the building. Right. This is where you just told us to go, but we can’t be here. Fine. We walk to the side of the building. Here comes the photographer. Yea, you can’t be here either, you have to go to the back. OK, now it’s comical. I cannot express how hot it is at this moment. We try to stay in the shade, but it makes absolutely no difference. Or maybe it does. Ali walks out to where the ceremony is, directly in the sun, and walks back with the program, which can also be used as a fan. “My baby just got sun burnt.” I’m enjoying her more and more.
We finally take our seats and wait. Everyone walks out from the back except for Brittany – she walks down this really pretty winding staircase. I don’t know how she does it. I would fall on my face. The ceremony is so short, which is awesome. Towards the end, the minister starts singing the words instead of speaking them. It’s funny and cute. But then he keeps going, singing the words all the way until the end. I get uncomfortable in my seat, and not because of the heat. It was definitely different, to say the least.
Cocktail hour is outside, but now in the shade it doesn’t feel as bad as it was before. And everything is just so pretty. We move inside to the wonderful air conditioned room. After dinner, Stephen and Chaz disappear. They and our really cool limo driver make a liquor store run. Leave it to Stephen to bring his own craft beer into a wedding. The party really gets started when it’s finally dark and cool enough to get outside on the dance floor. It feels like no time at all when Uncle Chuck is rounding up the troops. It’s already 11!
Now that we’re all jacked up and ready to party, I’m a little disappointed that we can’t keep it going. Or can we? Gotta give props to Stephen – the limo is now stocked with a rose champagne for everyone to share a toast. After that – gin and tonics all around. Definitely a Bramble drink. We now also have Jimmy and Alicia in the limo with us. We all get drunker and louder. Stephen is of course in charge of the music. He starts with Girl Talk and then starts taking requests. From himself. Chaz keeps looking at his watch. “It’s almost midnight.” So? “It’s my Dad’s birthday.” So of course, when it strikes midnight, we all scream, HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE CHUCK (DAD, CHUCK). It just so happens to also be Grandma and Pop-Pop’s 62nd wedding anniversary. “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY GRANDMA AND POP-POP! Pretty sure we wake them up with this one. In honor of Uncle Chuck, Stephen plays some music he’ll like. Soon we’re singing Journey and Queen songs at the top of our lungs. I’m sure the “adults” don’t appreciate our antics. But man, are we having fun. This is the first time all weekend I don’t mind the long drive. Just give us 20 more minutes!