a peek inside the fishbowl

05 Aug, 2006

Remembering a special weekend

Posted by andrea in: Misc. life

This weekend Mark and I are celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary.

Other than the birth of our daughters, August 7 1998 was the happiest day of my life.

It was a Friday. The day was overcast and mildly rainy. The wedding and reception was at a place called Hartin House, a restaurant and romantic heritage home in Stittsville: lots of stone, lovely green gardens, flickering candles, it felt like some happy ghosts followed me around there that day.

I wore a poofy dress – the kind I said I would never wear ? and I loved it.

My closest friends came from far and wide to wish us well. This meant a lot to me?more than I can say. For me, my friends are family, because my own family consists only of my mother and I. Mark’s clan attended in greater numbers, and welcomed me with open arms. For this I was (and still am) very grateful.

Our wedding was small. My best girlfriend, Jane (who now lives on a pretty island in BC and has a bambino of her own), was my maid-of-honour. Mark’s best man was his friend Jeff. They both cut a dashing figure in their tuxedos. There were 48 people in attendance. Total. It was perfect.

We chose to have a non-religious ceremony. We wrote our own vows. Exchanged simple gold bands. This was not a fussy production. We could not have it any other way. We are not fussy people.

I remember a conversation I had with a co-worker who was getting married around the same time. Organizing her grand affair was such a headache. The stress and the pressure were too much. She told me how she’d looked everywhere for a wedding pen, and after much searching finally found one at such and such store. Perhaps my mind has altered the memory somewhat, but I remember her descriptions of panic re: wedding prep and this wedding pen.

Wedding pen? What? it took me a second to figure out what she was talking about. A wedding pen is That Very Special Pen for guests to use when signing the guest book. I’ve seen them with a marble stand and a big fake white plume spilling out the end of the pen part.

We had a guest book. Sure. It was a pretty handmade-looking spiral bound book, with a simple white cover with an abstract gold star on it and blank pages inside. I bought it at Pier One Imports during a Christmas clearance sale. I guess it was intended to be used as a scrapbook. The pen was ordinary and cost no more than $5 at Grand & Toy. It was a normal pen, not overly fancy, and there was no feather.

I once read that the best guest book is one with unlined pages ? and it’s true. Our guests wrote with abandon ? all over the pages, and not necessarily in straight lines, but it was wonderful. Perhaps their loops and swirls were fueled by wine, but I like to think that it was inspired by shared happiness and that other kind of good spirit.

I carried daisies and ivy down the aisle. There was a white rose in Mark’s lapel. I wore white leather Keds under my wedding dress. (I wore them happily for many years afterwards!)

Every table was given some Scrabble tiles, and if they were able to make a word we kissed. Geeky, I know, but I have fond memories of tables “secretly” swapping letters so they could make a word. It was so much fun.

What a great party that was. I would do it every year if I could. Our wedding day ended much too quickly. Mark and I drove a rented car to the Westin hotel downtown. I remember waiting in the lobby. Was Mark parking the car? I don’t remember. I wish I had a photo of myself at that moment. I was positively bursting with happiness. I grinned madly at passing strangers and they grinned right back at me. It was the dress. I felt like Wonder Woman enveloped in those miles of raw silk. I felt like a bubble that could never burst.

(I have never quite understood why some brides change out of their wedding dress during the reception. The way I saw it, I had this awesome dress that I was only going to wear once – and wine and grass stains bedammed – I was going to wear it until the end!)

There was champagne waiting for us in the room. It was about 3 a.m. and we were too almost too tired to drink it. I removed about 150 hairpins from my heavily shellaced updo and was chagrined to discover my hair stayed vertical even without them.

The next morning we watched the ceremonial changing of the guard from our hotel room window. The next day (or was it the day after?) we flew to Calgary. Upon arrival we stayed at the Calgary Airport Hotel. Someone we all now know as Emma was made that day. And thus, with new cells dividing, we began our honeymoon trip to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper.

Mark and I don’t exchange gifts for our anniversary. We go out for a special dinner, but that’s about it. But, looking ahead, I would really like to celebrate our tenth by adding two stones my engagement ring. The solitaire hasn’t been solitary in a long time. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s a special glimpse of that very special day. :)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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