The Main Event

When I went to bed on August 20th, the weather bug informed me that there was an 85% chance of thundershowers for Kathryn and Michael’s wedding day.  Truth told, this news did not keep me awake.  Only the photography would really be affected by such a development, and I have seen very creative photographs of newlyweds with umbrellas.  I just prayed that Mike would adopt the same attitude.  

Saturday morning was overcast and humid, but I did not give it a thought. Rachel and I had bigger issues- we were off to the beauty parlor for hair and make up.  Sure, the day wasn’t about us, but we were committed to looking as good as we possibly could.  Kristin at Sean Patrick’s in LaGrange tortured the frizz out of my hair, curled Rachel’s into a beautiful chignon that would not wilt in the heat of the extended day, and Elana attempted to cover my many flaws, and accentuate my daughter-in-law’s natural beauty.  By the time we left LaGrange, the sun was fighting to burn off the clouds.  

I had a call from Mike during my makeover that indicated that he was very emotional.  He had received a gift from his intended that reminded him of how much in love he was- and he said he was sure he was not going to be able to hold it together.  I gave him a dose of my best General Patton style Janter.  I made him laugh and promised we would stop by and visit the groom and his groomsmen for any last minute nerves.  As it turned out, he was just doing what Mike always does: seeing a difficulty, forming strategy and dispatching it.  He was both steady and joyous throughout his day.
In a rare example of organization, I was packed and ready to go.  I had my dress shortened, and hung it on a short closet bar, however, and when I tried it on for Steve, we could not help but notice that it looked like it had accordion pleats. My general solution would be to hang it in a steamy shower, but time was short.  When I dragged out the ironing board to press and steam the silk into submission, Steve grabbed my dress and went to the cleaners for an emergency rescue.  The Asian owner scowled at the thought that the wedding was hours away- what, she said, was I thinking.  I think Steve is afraid to admit how he described me.  I do not care, because he probably saved me from scorched, stretched silk and an attendant panic attack.  I even ate a frozen dinner to prevent myself from getting dizzy- (or tipsy with my first drink). Then we grabbed our stuff and headed downtown to the hotel to visit our groom. 
The hotel we stayed at was the Fairmont, where Mike hondled a pretty good rate for our block of rooms.  They gave him a conference room to dress in with his posse. After we got our party clothes on, which involved negotiating peek a boo underwear and panty lines on my side, and popping shirt studs for Steve- we declared that we were as good as we would be.  We saw the luggage cart with Mike’s provisions – a cooler of Miller light and Corona light, and followed the non-premium beer trail to a mound of subway sandwiches and a gaggle of groomsmen.  By this time, Mike was fine.  He gifted his groomsmen with CTA token cufflinks and shirts from the Gent’s club they visited for his bachelor party.  I had made an emergency kit for them, and I was gratified to see them using the lint brush, mints, zyrtac, deodorant and hair spray.  My Girl Scout mantra of being prepared finally helped someone.  We were photographed,hugged, and off we went to the Old St. Patrick’s in the West Loop.  The groomsmen traveled with their beer on a shuttle.  Mike and Steve both have a good friend in George Jacobs of Windy City Limo.  He is the fellow with the yellow M & M jacket behind home plate that looks like Steve.They both lost 50 pounds this year, and their new svelte selves sat together opening day in dueling M & M coats.  Mike deals with him at Comcast, where he is a sponsor.  At any rate, he upgraded Mike to oversized shuttles as well as providing limos for the girls.  The guys beat the girls by a half hour.  They were under the spell of Mike.  Once they arrived at the church, Father Terry took them under his wing, maintaining a calm and happy group. 
The bridesmaids and bride were in the basement, and I had not seen Kathryn.  I didn’t see Rachel ahead of time either.  I like to be as awestruck as my sons are, and once again, I was.  Kathryn wore a blusher veil, but her smile and her beauty glowed through as she started down the aisle.  Her dress was lace with heavy crystal on the shoulders and under the bodice, and she wore a small tiara.  I LOVE tiaras! She splurged with glittery Jimmy Choo shoes- and I love glitter, too.  This is a girl after my own heart….and of course, after Mike’s.  He choked back his emotions, and accepted her hand from her father, Livio’s.  After that moment Mike was “the host”- a role he is good at.  
Father Terry Keehan said a great Mass, from the “relax, welcome and enjoy” greeting, to the “remember that the first time you are introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Michael Dahl was by ME in a CHURCH” dismissal. The musicians from Old St. Patrick’s sounded like angels.  I did not cry during Ave Maria, and I managed to hold it together for Panis Angelicus.  (Both songs were sung at both of my parents’ funerals- an unfortunate Catholic conundrum) My sisters gave Communion.  My knee gave me an excuse not to kneel.   If the day had ended at the church, I think it would have been the best wedding many guests had ever attended.  But the party was just starting.
Mike and Kathryn at their first Mid America date- July 4, 2007
The kids went on a small photo tour while we headed for the Aon Center, where the reception was held at the Mid America Club.  Mike and Kathryn had one of their first “all Dahl family” dates there, in July of 2007, when we went for the July 4 fireworks.  It was a perfect choice for a wedding reception: 80 stories above Chicago, with 360 degree views of the city.  The reception started in daylight, as concerts and the Bears game mobilized Chicagoans below.  As the night wore on, the city lit up, including Navy Pier fireworks that are actually viewed from above.  Chicago shimmered.  
We had help in planning all the details.  Kelly was our contact at the Mid America Club, and she helped the kids settle on a menu of filet and shrimp with asparagus risotto.  There was a salad of greens and candied nuts wrapped in cucumber.  She ratified their decision to skip ice cream- a good choice, since by the time dessert was served the tables were emptied and dancing had started.  There was a late night snack of burgers and hot dogs, a second choice for Mike who desperately wanted home made donuts, an item the Mid America Club is famous for.  Alas, their machine broke, and it was not meant to be.  We doodled with sending the guests home with the Sunday Tribune rolled around Hostess Donnettes, but decided that we might be getting kitschy.  
Mike the bargain hunter bought a Groupon deal for a Magnolia Photo Booth, something we had at Pat’s wedding. I was shocked that he violated his own “no duplication of Pat’s stuff” rule, but he got such a good deal, that even HE could not resist it.
 Kathryn was wise enough to hire a “day-of” wedding coordinator, and I cannot underestimate the assistance that Bambi Caciedo Rogers of BCR events provided.  Her actual contributions came well ahead of the wedding day, with vendor meetings and double checks, time lines and reminders.  She anticipated every need, and fulfilled it well before a problem could arise.  Purses were miraculously stowed and returned.  Busses were summoned, umbrellas at the ready, events clicked off the master schedule in a timely manner.  She had assistants to work at the Mid America Club to ensure that the room looked perfect.  And it did.  The flowers were English traditional in style, designed and executed by Randy at Flora in Chicago.  The room is beautiful, the views are outstanding, and the flowers added to the beauty but did not overpower the event.  We had high flowers and low flowers, white, green and purple.  The linens were white with a shimmery overlay, and the chairs were tied with gold bows.  It was not over the top and stagey- just pretty and natural like the kids.
The music, of course, propels the party.  Mike made a systematic search for the best band he could find – but he wanted a different band than Pat had, The Gentlemen of Leisure.  He crashed or strafed many wedding receptions until he found some finalists that would keep his pals and family off the chairs and on the floor.  When he interviewed them, he culled anyone who quoted musician’s union rules- he wanted a wall of sound, with minimal breaks.  He wanted i-pod tunes during the one break he would concede.  He found a love connection with the High Society Orchestra. I think they brought 9-10 musicians, and their repertoire was very broad. There was no song that he requested that they could not play, and play well.   When I threw Rascal Flatt’s “My Wish” at them for the Mother- Son dance, they did not wince. They rocked often enough that Father Terry, Mike and Kathryn and a number of others were involved in air guitar contests.  Even Steve and I danced for a few notes, a miracle what with my bad knee and my bad dancing.  At the end of the night, there were still a hundred guests in attendance.  The High Society Orchestra asked us to circle Mike and Kathryn; they sang “All You Need is Love” while the kids danced and we sang along.  I will savor that moment of love and support forever.  And then it was over.  
Good things:  
*  Liz, the matron of honor, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, did not go into labor. 
*  No rain. 
* John Andrews, the photographer, captured the day with beautiful photographs.  I will see if I can post a link to his initial “proof slide show” .
* The videographer (whose name escapes me) was not kicked out of Old St. Pats, despite the docent being summoned to evict him for violating the “stay in back” rule.  I swear, his camera was on the tip of my nose when Matt and Pat walked me down the aisle.  I thought I was in the TMZ.  If he had been between Mike and his bride as she walked down the aisle, I would have made Steve remove him.
* No bird pooped on Kathryn’s dress when it was being filmed hanging from a tree.
* I managed to get pictures of the entire Joliat 6, complete with spouses.  However…..Judy’s sequins caught Marie’s lace,  A separation operation was performed by a resolute, yet merciless me.  Judy lost, because her sequins were on the back of her dress.  You can dress up the Joliat girls….but they are bound and determined to be entangled.  
* The meat was medium rare, as promised. The shrimp were linked together-cute.
* My nephew wore his West Point Cadet’s dress whites and looked stunning.
* I took flip flops, and my dress covered them. I could walk on Sunday.
* The kids partied on until dawn, and we never heard from the hotel.
It was a wonderful event.  I am posting the pictures I have, and I will see about sending a link to the album.  Thank you for indulging me.  Truth told- Steve does not want to rehash it one more time, and so I am grateful for the outlet.

Leave a comment