As we journeyed down the highway, we noticed the traffic had gotten weird and congested right around I-35. As we bobbed and wove, we saw in the near distance a grouping of police lights and vehicles, and believed we were about to be stuck in the backup of a wreck. However, traffic never stopped, and neither did the lights... and it wasn't long before Kyle put two and two together: Wasn't Elizabeth Alexander the Vice President's press secretary? And hadn't there been suggestions and rumors that he might come all the way down to her little old home town to attend her wedding? Oh yeah... right... and then we realized... we were following his motorcade to the wedding. Guess we weren't that late after all!
We ended up making pretty good time behind VP Joe Biden's motorcade, and the only other hangup we encountered before reaching our destination manifested in the security around the church. We actually were redirected in and out of the neighborhood, turned around, and finally funneled into a single parking lot outlet to the church, where the secret service was swarming. We were directed to a parking space (in a surprisingly not-so-crowded parking lot), told to leave our truck unlocked so the bomb squad, dogs, and servicemen could inspect it while we were in the church, then pointed to the one open entrance to the church.
Now, this is the church that Kyle's family has attended since he can remember, and it is also the church that we were married in, but when we stepped inside, it looked nothing like what we remembered... aside from the new floors in the breezeway that had nothing to do with the wedding (which looked great!), there were 12-15 secret service milling about, an arched metal detector in the entryway, 3 security men with detector wands after the doorway metal detector, and even an official-looking German Shepard, casually checking out the crowd at the door. Then, there were the photographers. Talk about a foreign experience for a small town!
We eventually were seated (about 5 rows behind the Vice President, or so I'm told... I couldn't see him), and witnessed Kyle's old friend exchange vows with her groom... the ceremony was simple, beautiful, and normal.
After the ceremony, we loaded up and headed to the reception, which was at a rustic ranch a few miles from the church. We were directed out of a specific parking lot outlet, and were waved through security as we drove away past 13 motorcycle cops, several black-and-whites, and a local police car at every intersection between the church and the reception. (I'm sure the locals were wondering what was up with all the speed traps that day!)
A lone secret serviceman keeping an eye on... a field
The driveway out of the church parking lot
We arrived at the reception without incident, and mingled during the cocktail hour with many of Kyle's old friends. The atmosphere was peaceful and elegant, and there were appetizers and drinks all around!
The guys: Josh Berthume, David Willerton, and Kyle
A shot of the cocktail hour at dusk
The only distraction while mingling: the Vice President. Surprisingly, it wasn't as chaotic as one would assume to have the VP in attendance; we had to go through another elaborate rigmarole of security checkpoints, but after that, he was just another guest (who everyone wanted a photo with, yours truly being no exception).
The sitting Vice President
The Vice President greeting the parents of the bride
An ice breaker: seating cards
Now, when we went to meet the Vice President, we found him to be especially warm and chatty... the perfect politician. He shook everyone's hands, chatted about small towns, asked about the local football rivalry, and even hugged me... twice... then he told Kyle he'd married up... then he said someone needed to get a picture quick because "This girl is just too good lookin'..." then he teased the group about being the intellectuals of their high school class, including putting his forehead to mine after I spoke up that I could have been an intellectual with an "I bet!" It was... unexpected. But flattering. But unexpected.
Anyway, he left without much fuss (in fact I didn't even notice when he slipped away), and then they literally rang the dinner bell, and opened the reception to the crowd.
Opening up the beautifully decorated barn
Inside the barn
The stage for the live band, view from our table
Family-style chicken, shrimp, and roasted veggies
The acoustic guitarist that played during the ceremony and more than half the reception
The toasts to the happy couple
The old high school gang back together
It was a beautiful night: the live band was excellent, the lighting was perfect, the atmosphere was romantic, and the bride was absolutely beautiful. Alas, when you have wee ones at home, you can't stay out all night, and we eventually had to say our good-byes and hit the dusty trail... which was OK by me, because despite all the beauty and perfection, I was freezing the entire time due to the open-air nature of the barn, and was ready to be in a heated vehicle!
We were blessed and happy to be a part of this old friend's special day, and will always treasure the memories the event brought! We wish them all the happiness in the world in beginning their new life together!