It was also the only thing that I never once worried might go wrong. Believe me, in the last two weeks leading up to our wedding day, I found a way to worry about everything else. I woke up every morning fresh out of a crazy dream about wedding disasters, and when I was anxious with stress, I considered ways that virtually every other element of our wedding could go wrong. But the thought that our wedding reception might fail to live up to the gigantic celebration of life I was dreaming of never once crossed my mind. I know us, and I know our guests. I come from a long line of party animals, and I kind of sincerely believe that Mr. Octo and I have cornered the market on really, really fun-loving friends. I knew that our reception would be fantastic, and I was right.
That said, I'll be honest: this recap was harder to write than any of my others! I've found it really tough to articulate exactly how it felt to be surrounded by my brand new husband and family and friends, all the people I love most in the world, all of whom were just as excited and joyful and celebratory as I was. I can tell you that I'm very sure that our wedding reception will always stick in my head as one of the most treasured memories of my life. I can tell you that I very clearly remember pausing at one point, looking around, and thinking, "this is exactly what I was hoping it would be." Other than that, though, if you don't mind.....I'm going to let the pictures tell most of the story on this one.
(All photos, except those noted, courtesy of Corey Ann Photography.)
"Mom and Dad, I am about to go BANANAS on this dance floor."
I asked the DJ to play the University of Pittsburgh's fight song specifically so Mr. Octo could have this moment with his best friend and his brother-in-law.
From this point on, I don't believe you will find a picture of me without a drink in my hand. I'd like to point out that a.) I was nursing them, and b.) NO SHAME! IT'S MY WEDDING DAY, BABY!
You guys, I love Erica so much.
Interpretive husband-and-wife performance of the "Single Ladies" routine:
And no I did not put my beer down to do it. I told you, no shame!
I have to tell you guys, Grandma Octopus is a badass. She's 86, drank multiple gin and tonics, and danced all night.
Best Man JP and MOH/Sister Lauren had not met before our wedding weekend, but discovered that they are soul mates who share a taste for the finer things in life and a mutual love of making catty remarks.
Three generations of women who love to raaaaaaage:
And.....surprise! I never intended to change out of my wedding dress during our reception, and up until we started going around and greeting guests at the dinner tables, I didn't have any plans to do so. But man, although it was beautiful and I loved it, that dress was a beast. It was bulky, heavy, and tight. Once I started really actively moving around (and eating!), I got so uncomfortable and hot that I was just dying to take it off. My aunt Cathy saved the day, and made a quick stop back over to the hotel to pick up what was supposed to be my after-party dress for me! I changed into it when we had about thirty minutes left in our reception, and man was it a relief to finally peel my beautiful, hot, tight, uncomfortable dress off. I stepped out of the bathroom stall and squealed, "I'M FREE!"
The funny thing was, our guests thought it was totally delightful that I switched dresses near the end. People acted like I had just pulled off a fabulous surprise costume change, when in actuality I was just really really sweaty. Ha!
I was also really happy to have changed into such a light, comfortable dress because it totally maximized my cutting-loose capacities for the last thirty minutes of our reception, when the drinks had been flowing for a while and the dancing started getting particularly raging.
Our last dance was Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," and it was possibly the best three minutes of my life. I was totally overwhelmed with joy and happiness at how much fun we were all having, and I was surrounded by people who love Mr. Octo and I and who were having a total blast at the party we worked really hard to throw. We all jumped up and down and fist-pumped and sang like our lives depended on it, and at one point, I twirled around in a circle, trying to look at everyone all at once, thinking, "don't forget this!"
And then it was over. We didn't have any kind of formal send-off to wrap up our wedding. We danced 'til they turned the lights on and the staff nudged us out, then Mr. Octo and I sat in the bucket seats in the back of my mom's minivan and rode back to our hotel with my parents. We headed up to our room, I found a stray out-of-town bag and inhaled the bag of white cheddar popcorn inside, and then we met back up with our friends and headed to an Irish pub down the street for some after-partying.
There are not a lot of photos documenting this portion of the night, but this ought to give you a pretty good idea:
If you're on the fence about having an after-party, I recommend without hesitation that you DO IT! I expected to be exhausted, but I was absolutely not, and it was really, really fun to spend a little more time socializing in a more low-key way. Our actual wedding reception was a dream come true, but the after-party was a different, more normal kind of enjoyable. I felt like my regular self again, you know? I loved being THE BRIDE! all day, but I was also really glad to turn the spotlight off, slap a giant sweatshirt on, and just be Octo again, having a beer at the bar with my friends.
I finally turned into a pumpkin around 1 AM and was suddenly hit with a wall of exhaustion, feeling so tired I could barely hold my head up. Mr. Octo and I walked hand-in-hand back to our hotel, where he surprised me by remembering the old tradition, and scooped me up to carry me across the threshold into our hotel room to finally, finally call it a day.
And.....that's it, hive! That's the story of our wedding day! I have so, so loved writing these recaps. Our entire wedding weekend was one of the most beautiful, joyful experiences of my life, so much so that it practically has a sparkly gold aura around it in my memory. Having the opportunity to tell the story and share those amazing few days, and the photos of them, with all of you has been so gratifying. Thank you so much for listening.
Don't worry, though. You can't get rid of me quite that easily. Stick around for a big fat budget breakdown and one last goodbye!
Previously, in the Octopus wedding....
- We did errands all the live-long day.
- We ran late, we got stressed, and we argued.
- We rehearsed and had dinner, and had a great time doing it.
- We got fancy with hair and makeup.
- I got bridal.
- I waited and soaked up the moment in Heinz Chapel.
- We processed up the aisle.
- We made it official.
- We posed our way through our family portraits.
- I had, then recovered from, a minor freak-out.
- We took portraits with our bridal party.
- We took some smoochy pictures.
- We posed for some skyline shots.
- I showed you how it all came together.
- We had just a few minutes to enjoy the end of our cocktail hour.
- We were introduced into our reception…..and almost screwed up the cake-cutting.
- We danced.
- We listened to toasts, and visited our guests during dinner.
- I danced with my father, he danced with his sister.