This past weekend, my sister, K, & my brother-in-law, G, exchanged vows on a beach beneath a waterfall in Yosemite National Park, which is perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. The wedding weekend began simply, with drinks and an opening barbecue out on the back deck of the Yosemite Bug, a collection of cabin-like rooms about an hour outside of the park. K spearheaded the effort to decorate the deck with twinkle-lights and table-cloths and it all looked beautiful.
The barbecue was followed with a good old-fashioned campfire with s’mores and hot chocolate down the hill. K & G had planned an evening of campfire games, but one of G’s friends grabbed a guitar and some instruments and got the group singing and dancing to “Brown-Eyed Girl,” cheering for more. We all spent hours dancing and singing around the campfire, which was an experience that took me back to the innocence and plain old fun of being a kid. This world should probably have more campfires and acoustic guitars.
The next morning we drove to the ceremony at Sentinel Beach in Yosemite Valley for the ceremony. The ceremony was simple and genuine. The couple promised to hold each other’s lives in their hands forever. Their vows came from the heart. The ceremony background was beautiful, but K looked ever prettier.
After the couple exchanged vows and kissed, K & G took over. Realizing they had forgotten to tell the disc jockey to provide the guests with instructions, they skipped any processional they may have had planned (or maybe they planned none) and, to the surprise of everyone there, turned to their family and friends and said, “Okay, so, here’s the deal…” Hey, the whole married thing finished so dispense with needless formalities. Time to get the guests up the river and onto rafts.
The wedding guests who didn’t wear their swimsuits to the ceremony changed and loaded into rafts. K & G continued on, throwing their life vests over the wedding dress and suit, K lugging their raft through the sand and into the water in her white wedges, the hot sun beating overhead. They seemed so happy, they didn’t even appear to sweat.
The raft trip was a relaxing few hours to soak in the beauty of the surroundings, with a stop for bagged lunches in the middle. For me, the best part of the raft trip may have been watching the shocked-turned-amused-turned-joyous expressions of everyone else in the river or watching alongside the river as they took in the fact that K & G had just gotten married and were, in fact, rafting down the river together in full wedding attire. Not sure how many random pictures they turned up in!
After rafting, we headed back to the Yosemite bug for the reception. The reception was a traditional buffet dinner and dance. All of K & G’s siblings gave well thought-out toasts. G’s sister and my sister were both adorable, funny, and genuine in their expression of love for K & G. I did manage to deliver a speech after all of my anxiety about it as discussed here. But G’s brother gave the best toast I will ever hear at a wedding. I should have videoed it and if I had it would be a viral youtube sensation. G’s brother puts my rambling thoughts to shame. But K & G really aren’t ordinary. Maybe they are nobel-prize-winner special in their own way. I couldn’t figure out how to express it, but G’s brother did. He talked about his parents immigrating to America and how G had to step up and fill out forms for the family. He mentioned their father passing away when they were in high school. He thanked G for growing up early and stepping up to be the responsible adult . . . so that he could have a childhood. He said so many heartfelt things. He made everyone cry. And in between that he was hilarious. He also managed to work in a random chart on cats, funny stats on relationship fights during marriage and his phone number for any single ladies in the audience. I’m not doing the speech justice, so I’m just going to stop trying to describe it right now, but trust me when I say it was a knock-out and it was that way because he put his heart and soul into it and because K & G lived lives that provided that kind of material to paint onto a canvas.
K & G planned to hike with the wedding guests today, but K suffered a potential finger fracture during intense participation in the Y-M-C-A song (she and a guest made their C’s go in opposite directions) and George was far too exhausted. “I know, we’re horrible people,” K said in the morning, managing her plate at the buffet line with her home-made splint and feeling awful as they excused themselves from the hike. Yeah . . .