Sunday, February 19, 2017

A sunny and hot wedding February?

Bachelor party is done, vows are written, and friends and family from around the world are in town. Today is my wedding day.

I've lived with my fiancee for over two years, and we are already "mortgaged" together, so logically today won't change anything. Why, then, does it feel momentous today?

Contrary to popular tradition, Mindy and I woke up together this morning at home. As per "tradition" in our house on a Sunday morning, I got up while Mindy drifted back to sleep. I started working on our speech - the last piece of the puzzle to work out for the biggest party either of us have ever thrown, happening tonight. Mindy and I finished our speaking notes just in time for her to be whisked away by her mother and sister for hair and make-up. Mindy had promised me that, unlike some brides, I would still recognize her when the artists were done their work. Requiring a little less time on my hair, I had some time to myself. My last moments of freedom! I went to Home Depot to buy ice-melting salt and return a heater. Oh, the excitement of a single life!

Like a (tame) sequel to the bachelor party, some of my closest guys got together for brunch, then I was back to the house to get ready for this evening and - I'll admit it - have a 25 minute nap. Between busy work and the final stages of preparing for the wedding, I haven't been sleeping much this week!

Time to prep my "race kit" for this afternoon:

Not my usual Skechers:

The most important part!

Mindy hasn't seen my suit yet - a slight point of consternation for her. Soon we will know whether I've messed this one up!

We started at our hotel for the "first look" photos. I was standing on a bridge overlooking the pool and garden of the Delta Toronto East hotel when I felt a hand softly grasp my shoulder. I turned and saw a radiant beauty; a princess in a shimmering gown with the face of a Venus.

I was anxious to get to the restaurant to see with my own eyes that everything was ready and waiting for us; that everything would be perfect. Our photographers Mike and Sebrina drove me and Mindy’s brother Jay to Scaddabush where I walked in to behold the rustic charm of brick and wood with exposed steel rafters that I so love at that restaurant. It was beautiful! I can’t thank the team at Scaddabush enough for how they prepared (and subsequently carried out) the evening for us.

The bride gets all eyes on her as she floats down the aisle through the ceremony, but the perk of no grand entrance was that I could greet guests as they started to arrive. People who mean so much to Mindy and me.

(Don't be hurt if there's no photo of you here. I didn't get photos of everybody, and sometimes my eyes were closed! Rest assured that there are a ton of people that should be represented here, but aren't.)

Soon enough, my brother Michael and I were standing at the front with the officiant Barb, as Mindy and her retinue were ensconced behind a door at the back of the restaurant. 

Kicking off the procession was my nephew Liam, looking dapper in a suit and purple bow-tie, walking my mum down the aisle to her seat up front. Crosby, Mindy’s nephew, followed on his heels walking Mindy’s mother to her space. Our nieces Reine and Peyton who have already become fast friends followed, heralding Mindy’s arrival with flower petals.

Mindy’s sister and matron of honour Tracy followed, and then finally Mindy walked down the aisle toward me. Stunning. Beautiful. Perfect.

In honour of our enthusiasm for (obsession with?) running, Barb wore running shoes to perform the ceremony!

By all accounts, the ceremony was beautiful. Of course, I really only care what two people thought about it – Mindy and I were blissful! Heartfelt emotion that even caused Mindy to cry was interspersed with candid humour. This was our opportunity to commit to our love and to one another in the audience of the people who mean the most to us.

The ancient Celtic hand-fasting ceremony profiled our respective Dutch, Scottish and French ancestries. 

Our vows profiled our feelings for each other in our own words.

Matt, today we are surrounded by people who love and support us and are here to witness this moment, when I commit to be your wife.
I will always be there for you. I will respect you as a person, a partner and an equal. I vow to support you, push you, inspire you and above all, love you for the rest of my life. 
I marry you with no hesitation or doubt and my commitment to you is absolute.
I look forward to many more adventures over the years to come, as we grow old together.
I wouldn't change one thing about you, except....could you just run a little biit slower, so I could catch you once in a while?
Matt, I love you and you've made me the happiest girl in the world. 
I hereby take you to be my lawfully wedded husband.
 and me:
Mindy, you are my love and my partner. I promise to love you and care for you, through sickness and health, through wealth and - hopefully - more wealth, and even when I haven't run in a while, I'm stressed about work, and I'm really cranky.
I promise to comfort you when you're sad...or when you've just watched a sappy romance movie. I promise to revel in your happiness and to enjoy every moment that we are together. I promise to be your rock when you need one, to be a shoulder to cry on, to be a hand to clasp, and to be a lap to fall asleep on - when we're watching a movie on the sofa. I promise to never outgrow being goofy, and to dance with you in the kitchen even if the blinds aren't closed. Even if there's no music playing. I promise to try my best to figure out when you're losing patience with me, and to stop doing whatever stupid thing I'm doing before you get angry.  I promise to try - every day of my life - to be the kind of person you can be proud of and the kind of person you deserve.  
Mindy, you make me proud and happy and excited to come home at the end of each day. You make me dinner most nights, and you're a really good cook.  I love telling people how spoiled I am that you are my other half.
On July 30, I asked you to have an adventure with me and to marry me. I promise to try my best to make this the best adventure you could ever have. To make this, legitimately, the adventure of a lifetime.
Mindy Lauren Fleming, I promise to love you as my wife and partner, from this day forward, forever.
And then we were married. Husband and wife. Wife and husband. Mr. and Mrs. Leduc.

Well...a little bit of legal detail, and then we were married!

We had good advice from Tracy to cut the scheduled photos after the ceremony short, and so we were quickly able to mingle – and hit the bar.

Then we played a little project of ours that one of my longest-standing friends, Megan Triebe, helped us put together:

My brother Paul starred as MC, turning a blind eye to the most sensitive ears in the room – those of his own children and his mum – as he made raucous jokes and shared stories. Some of the stories were even true!

I laughed and clapped, even though I was often the butt of such jokes. Paul made sure that any sting was balanced by building me up. Paul Zwama – my almost brother – toasted me as though he were doing the best man’s speech; only in this case, my brother Michael topped Zwama as only someone who has been as close with me for my whole life could. My favourite line from Michael’s speech:
Matt, in Mindy you have met your match, your equal, and - dare I say it - perfection.
Amongst my brother and almost brother, my beautiful mother worked up the nerve to step up and toast both Mindy and me, welcoming the daughter she had already assumed, and reminding me that mothers never stop thinking of their youngest as their babies.

As for Mindy, she was deservedly glorified by her mother Sheree, who started with Mindy’s clever business selling candy to her siblings as a child, and worked her way through some of the highlights of Mindy’s impressive life. A lot of people, myself included, learned about Mindy from that talk. Tracy toasted my bride in a speech that reflected the love Tracy has for her little sister, and a welcome to me. Finally, Mindy and I stood up to express our appreciation for the people who were sharing our night with us, and especially those who had helped to make it happen. I even thanked Victoria’s Secret for the most impressive shape of my bride!

Dinner soon gave way to my first dance with my wife, set to “How Long Will I Love You?” by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney and Ben Coleman, The photos almost make it look like we know what we’re doing on the dance floor!

The video reveals more clearly that we aren’t premier dancers, so we’ll stick to photos here.

As the night wore on, some little guests tired and snuggled away.

Some less little guests also felt the tug of bed-time…

Not so my nine-year old niece Reine! As her brother and even her father started to tire, Reine was committed to last until the end. She and her new-found dance partner Lisa (whose boyfriend was snoozing in a corner) kept the dance floor going.

Alas, in the words of Albert Einstein:
Put your hand on the stove for a minute and it feels like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it feels like a minute. That’s relativity.
Ultimately, our night came to a close. The stragglers collected around the dregs of delicious burrata as cabs were called, and I put an expensive dinner on an assortment of credit cards.

We piled into cabs headed toward the hotel, and carried generous gifts and envelopes up to our room. It was like Christmas morning in room 1402 as Mindy and I opened gifts and marveled at people’s generosity.

By 3:30 am, every gift was open and card was read. However, the night wasn’t quite over. I still had one gift to unwrap; the chance to see what my wife was wearing underneath her beautiful princess gown…

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