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As the countdown to our wedding day approached single digits, Aleksei arrived from Spain to find a substantial “honey do” list (picking up the wedding dinner menus, organizing gifts for the groomsmen, checking in with the rehearsal dinner venue) — we had about three days before family and friends started to arrive, and I was still working.
We did have some issues to contend with. Think back to last fall: Remember the government shutdown? Brides and grooms with weddings in government-operated facilities (like the Naval Academy) found themselves without a venue, scrambling to come up with a Plan B. (We were fortunate that the staff at the Naval Academy had promised us that the wedding would happen even if they had to volunteer their time.) Then came a nor’easter — meaning that it poured the entire week of the wedding, so we had to come up with indoor sites for photos, just in case, and make sure there were enough umbrellas available to keep the wedding party dry.
Apart from the government shutdown and the torrential rain (neither of which I could do anything about), things were pretty well organized. My event-planning neurosis meant that most of the prep work was done, yet I was incredibly stressed and nervous. My life was about to change. Not only was I getting married, I was moving to Spain. I was saying farewell to family and friends. I was going to to work remotely across an ocean — and multiple time zones. I was leaving everything I knew for a completely different life.
Anxiety over all these changes consumed me to the point that I became physically ill (and a Cosmo martini-filled night probably didn’t help). It was so bad that on my second day of vomiting, a doctor prescribed anti-nausea medication (my hero!).
My bridesmaids, the groom, our families, and a few of the groom’s closest friends were unbelievable that week. They reminded me to have fun and enjoy the moment, and they helped to subdue my event-planning instincts, allowing me to simply be the bride. I really leaned on them, which was hard for me, an independent overachiever.
We had an awesome rehearsal and rehearsal dinner crab boil, followed by a cocktail party at Red Red Wine Bar (where we had gone to celebrate our engagement) for more than 100 of our favorite out-of-towners. It was a blast, and the anti-nausea meds were still working — win! I stayed at Red Red Wine Bar until around 10 p.m., when my sister (my maid of honor) and I went back to my hotel room. To say that I am appreciative that she spent that night with me is an understatement. We chatted, reminisced, and slept — that was the first night in weeks that I really slept.
And when I awoke, the big day was here! All of the girls went to a salon to get their hair and makeup done. I wanted a mimosa to calm my nerves, but the Naval Academy chaplain had firmly warned us about alcohol: If a groomsman or a bridesmaid showed up tipsy, he or she would be escorted off Naval Academy grounds. If the bride or the groom showed up with even the slightest hint of having had a sip of alcohol that day, the wedding was off. We all thought it was just a scare tactic, but I asked everyone to avoid booze anyway — better to be safe than sorry.
(Warning: For anyone planning a Naval Academy wedding, as it turns out this is not an empty threat. A wedding the same weekend as ours was canceled because the groom was caught drinking on Academy grounds. Rookie move on the part of the groom, but I can’t imagine what the bride, their friends, and their families were thinking … especially the mother of the groom.)
We got ready. The photographer and the florist arrived at the hotel. It was “go” time.
I know I’m biased, but we had a beautiful wedding ceremony. The rain held off just long enough for some photos on the stunning Naval Academy grounds. Then we were off to the Naval Academy Club for an evening of celebration. The dance floor was packed the entire night.
When the reception wound down, we and a few of our “committed” guests moseyed over to an Irish bar. My family name is Donahue, and in celebration of my Irish roots, I was determined to have an Irish Car Bomb (Guinness stout, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Jameson Irish whiskey), in my wedding dress, in an Irish bar. Check!
It was a fantastic wedding weekend, and a perfect opportunity to see family and friends before taking off for a new adventure in Spain.milfam milspouse