I didn't have much of a bachelor party. I got drunk with my brother and brother-in-law. Watched WrestleMania 22 on DVD. But that's all fine with me, I wasn't relishing the thought of having strippers at my party. I'm quite committed to monogamy. So I had the bachelor party I wanted, and got just drunk enough to enjoy myself, but not enough to get sick. Even better.
At the last few minutes, the wedding was real hectic, but it fell into place. Because of the arrangement, Jen had to walk a good distance to get to me. So I had to look away. It worked, though. The flower girl (who was only 3 at the time) tripped and fell, and started to walk off - created a bit of a diversion. Then I look up and Jen's at the end of the aisle. That's the moment, guys, where you know a relationship that's developed into a marriage is worth it.
The reception wasn't well organized, half the food wasn't ready, and we got crappy instrumental music for an hour and a half, and the CD we put together to play at the reception for half an hour. Here's the tracklist for those interested.
Nickelback - Far Away
Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
LeAnn Rimes - I Need You
Yuki Kajiura - Key of the Twilight
3 Doors Down - Here Without You
Savage Garden - I Knew I Loved You
Rhett Atkins - She Said Yes
Celine Dion - A New Day Has Come
Tal Bachman - She's So High
Avril Lavigne - I'm With You
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles
Celine Dion - Because You Loved Me
Garth Brooks - The Red Strokes
Extreme - More Than Words
Nightwish - Forever Yours
Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply
Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance
Gloria Estefan - Live For Loving You
UB40 - Can't Help Falling in Love
Nope, no Disturbed up there. We also meant to have Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do" but forgot to include it.
One neat thing I did during the ceremony... No one from California could make it (except my brother, who's now in Georgia) so I made two calls right before the ceremony began. One to my mother and one to my sister. They put it on speakerphone and most of my family out in CA got to listen in on the ceremony. (They said they heard the minister and I very well, but said they could barely hear Jen.)
Anyway, after the reception, we headed back home to get out of our costumes. The plan was to meet a couple friends at their hotel, who had flown in for the event, and party with them. That still happened, but we got delayed - badly - and the party didn't happen. I did however get two hotel rooms - one for my wife and I, the other for my brother. Waste of time and money overall. That wasn't the honeymoon, mind you, that was just the wedding night. Aren't they one and the same? Not in our case. One of the bridesmaids had to be at the airport, and it was on the way to where we were honeymooning at - you know I'll get to that - so we took her Sunday morning to the airport, and left from there.
The first idea was to take her over the Tennessee border, get a room for the night, and drive back so she could see, during the day, that mountain pass between Tennessee and North Carolina on I-40. It's a very nice drive, especially for someone who hasn't seen it - Jen hasn't been that far west.
Sure enough, we went out to TN along I-40, but ended up all the way in Knoxville. We stayed for two nights at a Marriott hotel, and drove back yesterday. That one day was a heck of an adventure. We had some shopping to do, and finding a Wal-Mart was relatively easy. However we had gift checks to cash to fund the honeymoon, and finding a Bank of America was not. We had to get lost in downtown. Once we got the checks cashed, the search for a bathroom was insane. Money in pocket, we headed back east 15 miles or so, and headed for Gatlinburg.
First stop was Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum. Over 90 cars worth $5 million. And I got pictures. Including one of me with the car better known as Eleanor - a 1969 Ford Mustang/Shelby GT-500, easily one of the best muscle cars ever (and my personal favourite).
After that we got sucked into a "As Seen on TV Store". The place was huge. They got us for about $15, and we got a pancake maker/flipper thing, and I got a pair of those Ambervision shades for only $5. They're worth it and more - they add considerable sharpness and contrast more so than blocking bright light. Every driver should have a pair - they could reduce accidents.
Speaking of every driver, there's a road between the Tennessee towns (or tourist traps, take your pick) of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg that every motorist should drive at least once. I was honoured to drive it twice - there and back. Curvy enough to keep you alert, but not enough to really challenge. Trees completely covering the road overhead, through the mountains. Absolutely inspiring.
Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are both shameless tourist traps, but Gatlinburg does it so much better. It's a picture perfect mountain town. Unfortunately, the shops are wall to wall. There's no parking for most businesses. Only place you can park is in parking lots about a mile and a half apart.
My mother told me she'd put a good amount of money in my bank account for an expensive dinner. My first choice was the Italian places. Actually it was my only choice, until I saw an ad for the Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg. After that there was no other choice. Jen had never been to a Hard Rock, and I'd only been to the one in San Francisco once, when I was a kid. I don't really remember it, but I did know going to Hard Rock was a real treat. And boy, was it ever.
The Hard Rock was conveniently located right smack in the middle of two parking garages, so we had to hoof it. We went in, and naturally there was a wait. They told us an hour, it was actually half that. We went in, and it was incredibly noisy. LOUD rock music playing, videos on plasma screens, and of course wall to wall rock memorobilia. Good, top stuff.
The tab came to $96.80 for just us two. No joke. But the deposit covered it. And it was well worth it. Let's see - we started with an appetizer, chips and a spinach-artichoke-fried chicken dip; and two drinks - margaritas using Sammy Hagar's own brand of tequila, Cabo Wabo. (Best tequila you can get for any price, IMHO.) Without discussing it, we both ordered the same entrée, fried chicken and sausage over penne pasta tossed with alfredo sauce and spinach leaves - and two more drinks called Hurricanes - like a Tequila Sunrise but with Rum. And we did get to keep all four glasses, so we have proof we went to Hard Rock.
All in all, we had a great honeymoon. We did spend a little money, but it didn't break us. It was mostly driving, but Monday, we had a GREAT day.
Now, those of you who wanted to see pictures... Follow this link, or go to russeaton.com, click on "Lots of Pics" to the right, and look for "Jennifer_Nathan" in the lower-left corner of the page. At some point you will be asked for credentials; the info's just "view" in both fields.
I'm on Dialup, so I couldn't wait for the page to load. We've already saved all the images from the site - but we'll be getting higher quality files on CD-ROM and of course the prints. The photographer's in the process of assembling the final package, I think. But looking at the pics in the folder on the computer in thumbnail view, I think I can guide you through the pics as you see them:
The children in the first row are the ring-bearer and flower girl. Nephew and neice of the bride. The first couple you see is the sister of the bride and her boyfriend (of 5 years, they're unofficially married or something). The young lady is a bridesmaid, longtime friend of the bride. The three men together are, from left to right (in the ones where we're all facing front) my sister-in-law's boyfriend (who I call a brother-in-law), me, and my brother who now stays in Georgia. The only people at my bachelor party there. The two women you see before you first see the bride: the woman carrying the laptop is the bride's aunt from Connecticut, and the one in green with the bouquet is the bride's mother. Then of course you see the bride - the man behind her is the limo driver. And meanwhile when the ladies are getting Jen out of the car, you see the guys up at the altar. The next pictures show the ceremony. The first group shot is Jen with friends from work. Others have more of a mix. Then you'll see something confusing: the photographer really seemed to be interested in the tat on Jen's shoulder - he took about half a dozen pics of it! Then Jen and I get in the limo. What I'm looking up at was a CD player, which was broken. It was a short ride anyway. We then see the reception. Not going to explain all that, but I will say that the two teenage girls you see (a redhead and a blonde) are both very underage, so don't even think of getting excited. Oh, and halfway through the pics appear to start again. The photographer used two cameras. Camera one, camera two.
The pictures link actually still works! If you went there manually, the picture link might not be in the same place. I did not wait for the pictures to load, but a few did, so I assume they're all up there.
We never did get the CD-ROM as promised, but we did get two whole photo albums loaded with pictures. And what we got from the web site was fine for taking to Walmart and ordering reprints - they looked just as good as those printed in the album. So naturally if you want pictures (prints, I mean) you can save any pictures (not the thumbnails, the actual pictures they link to) and upload them to Walmart.com or wherever, or burn them to a CD or put them on a memory card, carry them to the store and get them printed very easily and fairly cheaply. Walmart does it for like 35¢ a picture.
Another thing I remember about the bachelor party: I drunk-dialed my mom, and was quite loud on the phone. I was walking back and forth outside like the drunken fool I was. I just didn't care. I was having a good time, and besides, I was a little disturbed by how Jen handled that day. She told me she was going to do a dump run, didn't even say goodbye or anything, and wound up at her sister's and began, well, you know, you're not supposed to see the bride until the wedding day. So Wayne and John were here, and Jen stayed with her sister. Except John got too drunk (not the first nor the last time) and had to be picked up. It worked out great because Wayne had picked up a Roman candle in South Carolina on his way up from Georgia, so Jen's sister pulls up and picks John up, then Wayne fires off the candle, we all watch, and they take him and Wayne and I finish drinking. So I was a little resentful about that, but I was focusing on the positive.
The honeymoon was great, in Tennessee. Never would I have believed, when I was younger, that I would be married by 27, honeymooning in Tennessee. Well, it just goes to show that we never truly know where our lives will take us. But less philosophically and more realistically, since the first anniversary will be in South Carolina, we are tentatively looking at Virginia for our second anniversary, and to complete the compass - well, what's east of North Carolina? No other state, that's for sure - so maybe the Outer Banks. Of course, to consider a true out-of-state destination east of North Carolina, one must indeed leave the country. London is a place we both want to visit, but whether we can afford a London vacation by our fifth anniversary remains to be seen...