The Big Day

At the Bar, awaiting the guests
Today is the day when I would finally have to give the speech which has been hanging over my head for months now, looming ever since the day they asked me to be best man. I've definitely built it up to more than it should be, but I'm also putting on the pressure to give a great speech that rivals the greatness of my betrothed friends. My sister had reframed it as an opportunity that I am able to be part of such a momentous occasion for people whom I love. Easy to say, difficult to convince yourself fully. But remember: the idea of doing something is usually worse than the actual act itself.

Ciociaro Club Hall
The moment I woke up, anxiety immediately set in and, strangely, the fleeting idea of getting out of it crossed my mind. This is increasingly rare, as now I tend to default to "fight" over "flight." Figuratively, of course. Sometimes I wish the fights we had would be more physical, as they might be easier to confront. Tangible, y'know?

I drag myself out of bed because I don't have much time to get ready, making it to the groom's - Steve's - house in Tilbury. Johnathan, and Joe (bride's brothers), Mike (Steve's cousin), Elyssa (Mike's girlfriend), Fahad (John & Joe's friend), and Wyatt (Steve's Nephew) all met up there, rearing to go. Not really. It's 9am. We joked around while snacking on finger food and sipping on the coffee I was serving. Then videographer arrived. Let the games begin.

Balla Balla
Steve and Adeline had opted for bow ties for the groomsmen, so bow ties it shall be. We had a bunch of presumably* nice shots of us fixing each other's bow ties and boutonnieres. Elyssa was a great help with getting the boutonnieres on properly, and generally helping get everyone in ship shape. Once we were all geared up and time was nearly out, we all took a shot in honor of the groom. The groom, however, opted to pose for the picture, but not consume any alcohol. I think it was important to him that he be stone sober for the ceremony, though I can't be certain.

About to head out from the Church
We piled into Steve's parents' trucks and rode on down the country roads to St.Anthony's in Leamington. It's a nice church, quaint and cozy. Our job was to greet the guests and help the older ladies to their seats. Only no one had arrived yet. We ended up screwing around in the basement trying to go to the bathroom without wrinkling our suits, and posing Wyatt (I think he's 3) in these miniature cars that he could fit in. Eventually guests showed up, and we started helping.

The Barber Pole
Well, by "we" I mean mostly Steve's dad and brother, as I was mostly schmoozing and whenever I tried to help, they didn't seem like they wanted it. I technically brought the ring up to the front of the church to the sentinel-like groom, calmly standing at the front of the church. Duty fulfilled. Really, though, I didn't have many duties as best man because I wasn't even supposed to be in the country. I was happy to be able to help and be part of it.

The ceremony kicked off, and everything went as smooth as it possibly could. It was a tasteful ceremony, with a nice melding of the two cultures that were merging - Lebanese and, I guess, French. He's of French descent, but I don't really see it as a huge influence on who he is. In this particular ceremony, there are crowns involved, which were blessed by the priest and placed on their heads. I now pronounce you King and Queen of England Lebanon. That was kind of cool, and I wish I could have gotten a picture of them with the crowns on. That would have been kick-ass.

Jessica, Adeline's sister and maid of honor, was brought up to the front, along with me, to sign the registration as witnesses. Strangely, the bride and groom only have to sign twice, while we both had to sign thrice. Thrice!**

Mike Examining one of the "Torture Devices"
Upon leaving the church, the wedding party stood at the bottom of the steps with the rest of the guests piled up behind us for a picture. Again, I'm sure it was beautiful. Adeline's Lebanese-only-speaking grandmother shouted out a blessing/prayer from the top of the stairs. It was wonderful. She's a wonderful lady even though I don't understand a single word she says.

The wedding party piled into the limo which ferried us on over to a historic landmark near, I think, Windsor. I have no idea where exactly since I don't know the area very well. The women and men were separated to our picture locations. I don't know where they disappeared to, but we were brought to an extremely old-school barber shop. It also seemed to have cobbler/shoemaker tools in one corner, alongside hair styling devices from the ages, some of which appeared to be devices of torture.

Wyatt in his new Caddy
We reconvened in a different location and took more pictures, whittling down to just immediate family. The limo driver had, for whatever reason, decided to park on these walkway planks. This turned out to be a bad decision, as he broke half a dozen of them when we backed up.

To the Reception! The Ciociaro club is pretty fantastic. The speech is still looming, which is hindering my ability to relax. Anxiety is a call to action, after all. Don't worry, I have a plan: I'm going to trick my subconscious mind to make the job easier. You see, we tend to act certain ways when in a safe space, such as being loud, taking up lots of space, moving around more, and having fun. I purposely do all of these things, laughing loudly, joking around, making conversation with random people, and standing at the podium to see what the view was like. I adjusted the mic to see how difficult it would be.^

I was part of the reception line, along with Steve and Adeline's immediate families. There were something like 300 people at the event, so you better believe we were shaking hands and kissing babies for a good chunk of time.

Once that was over, it was time to introduce the wedding party! I had no idea what was going to happen next, and the people who did know were not telling me. Joe and John just kept saying "you'll figure it out when you get in there" which is exactly what you don't want to hear when you're about to have the weight of 300 gazes fixed on you.

The Wedding Cake :'(
When it was Jessica and my turn to be introduced, we walked through the curtained double doors and made our way around the back of the elegant room, turning up the center. I knew we had to dance there, so I started to break it down in my white guy style but am thrown off by Adeline's family rushing toward us to aggressively throw one dollar American bills on us while we do so. Once everyone else was in, the last to enter were the Newlyweds. This led to an amazing scene of dancing, being showered with money, and clapping for 20 minutes straight while drums were banged and Lebanese music was boomin'. I just remember a snapshot of Adeline, leaning far back, shaking her shoulders, smiling ear to ear while having the money rained down in slow motion. Eventually, we picked up both of the newlyweds and danced a little with them on our shoulders, but I am much taller than most people, causing a problem of balance.

Eventually, this gave way to a much calmer atmosphere. Calmer for most of the guests, as they didn't have a looming speech. I knew the exact order of speeches, and was holding off on alcohol and eating. Why? The first was because I wanted to have to deal with the emotional turmoil fully, and the second because my stomach was already full with butterflies. The other speeches were wonderful, some of which I couldn't understand but sounded great. Then it was my turn.

Prickly Pears!
I practiced my meditative stomach breathing and focused on being present to the moment. I didn't want to miss it by blacking out^^ like I had with the speech I had given at my other friends' wedding. The speech sputtered a bit at the beginning, but came together once I got up to speed. I got more laughs than I expected, as I thought I didn't make it humorous enough. It was actually fairly comfortable during the middle of the speech. Like riding a bike, the beginning takes a little effort, but maintaining balance is easy once you reach your stride. Strangely, I felt like this blog has actually helped me with monologuing and on-the-fly composition. The speech finished with me producing a small bottle of homemade rum that had been given to me at christmas by the groom. I had been hiding it all night, eventually sneaking it under the back of the stage so that no one would find it. To the happiness of the bride and groom!

I was finally able to eat, and grabbed a drink. Everyone was getting a bit more sauced than me, since the bar had been open the entire time. The slideshow played and dessert was served shortly after. Apparently it's' common in the Lebanese culture for people to collect their dessert plate and depart immediately after. That's when the party started to kick it off. I had lined up for a plate of dessert, but set it at my seat because I didn't want to eat it just yet. This turned out to be a mistake.

The Champaigne Table
More Lebanese music had just begun to play, which was quickly nixxed by the bride and switched out for some top 40. I was mid-conversation when I heard the beginning of "uptown funk." Bee-lining to the dance floor and compulsively tore that shit up! Oh man, so much fun. Since everyone else seemed to be more drunk than me, it was time for some shots. Continually, I kept ferrying people to take shots, or was grabbed by others for the same purpose, which quickly brough me to their level. They also had Rum Chata, which is the nectar of the gods.

I tore it up and danced with whoever seemed down, bailing occasionally whenever one of those "instructional dance" songs played. You know what I'm talking about: Cha-cha slide and the macarena. Don't tell me how to dance, song!

The night starts to blur a bit here, as the alcohol really started to settle in and make itself at home. Remember that dessert plate? Gone. My one regret was not tasting my best friend's wedding cake, which isn't bad as far as regrets go. I did, however, pick Steve up again and dance with him on my shoulders while Adeline was raised up by two other people. This time, balancing was a breeze.

Pop Pop!
So long, and Good night!
It was an amazing party with a gaggle of amazing people, fueled to the gills with alcohol and adrenaline. It was hard to believe it was over once the lights came on, but I enjoyed every minute of it. The fun was also amplified all the more by being placed right after the stressor of giving a speech, which was another upside to facing that fear.

I eventually caught a ride back to Steve's parents place to crash on the couch. This was a fantastic day that I will remember for as long as I live.

Editing Music: Bloodstream Remix by Ed Sheeran and Rudimental

*I haven't seen them yet, but I'm sure they were sincere and sweet
**I just want to use that word haha
^Funny enough, no one else seemed to adjust the height of it very much, so many people were on their tip toes during the speech.
^^To clarify, blacking out is to not remember. I gave the speech and sat down without remembering exactly what I had said or how it had gone over.

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