Jen’s wedding

I was up early because I’m still on east coast time and because I had an idea for a last minute change in the toast I was to give in the wedding later on in the evening. So I rewrote the entire toast (about 650 words) in 39 minutes and I felt it was much better. I then set about trying to memorize the changes in time for the wedding. When I went outside, there were perhaps half a dozen hot air balloons flying overhead. As I discovered, these balloons seem to only fly early in the morning, although I never discovered why that is.

Doug, Rachel, Ruby and I went over to the winery restaurant for breakfast. There, we met with Jared, Peter, and eventually, Jim and Joan. Mom and Dad came by later but had to leave for their 4 hours at the spa with the bridesmaids. Jason came by too, eventually. The breakfast itself was great. I had the pancakes with fruit and whipped cream.

We killed time in the morning by sitting out on our private porch areas, talking and taking pictures. We also drove into town to do a little shopping and so that Rachel could get some Starbucks. Jason announced that he and Jared and a few other people were going to get some lunch and when I found out they were going to In N Out, I had them pick me up a Double-Double combo, which I wolfed down as soon as it arrived.

I spent a little while in Gail’s villa talking with Gail and Lauren before I had to get ready for the wedding. Then it was back to my place, shower, and then suit up for the event. We had to be at the winery at 3:45 for pictures and we were there with some time to spare.

We did a couple of sets of pictures with the wedding party prior to the wedding. Jen and Jason used the same photographer that Doug and Rachel used in their wedding and she was great. The whole process went quickly. We were then whisked away to a waiting area. In the meantime, the weather was perfect.

The wedding itself was really nice and went off without a hitch. I couldn’t see Jen’s face because I was standing behind and down the steps from her, but from what I could tell, she giggled through much of the ceremony. I could see Jason clearly, however, and I could tell it was pretty emotional for him. After the ceremony was over, and Jen and Jason were pronounced husband and wife, we were once again whisked away, this time to have a bunch of family pictures taken. This also went by pretty quickly (I can only imagine how quick it must have seemed to Jen and Jason) and then we were finally able to join the festivities.

Doug, Rachel, Ruby and I were seated at the Bronze table along with Mom and Dad, and Aunt Judy and Uncle Joey. There were a lot of people there and it was good to see all of them: Jon and Hollie, Mitch and Susanna, Elliot and Sydell, Uncle Meyer and Aunt Dottie, Uncle Dick, Vicky, and Brandy. And, of course, the bride and groom, seated at their own private little table.

I was surprised at how quickly it was time to do the toasts. First, Jason’s brother Jared, who was also the Best Man, gave a toast that was pretty funny if you ask me. Then it was my turn, as brother of the bride, then Jim as father of the groom, then Dad as father of the bride. I can’t recall most of what people said (although Jared had some good jokes about Jason’s hair). But I know what I said, and it went like this:

We all love a good story.

Action and adventure stories keep us on the edge of our seats while the hero of the story braves all sorts of dangers. Scary stories, told while sitting around a camp fire thrill us. And, of course, love stories bring tears to the eyes of the ladies while us guys shuffle our feet and clear our throats.

Now, you may not believe this, but Jennifer has a story for each of these scenarios and I can’t help but retelling a few of them now. Keep in mind, that these stories were passed on to me directly from my little sister and so they must be completely and utterly true stories. I did not embellish these stories in the least.

First, the adventure story. Once upon a time, while flying across the country, the door to the airplane suddenly burst open and Jennifer nearly fell out of the plane. There she was, hanging out of the doorway of the airplane, and it was only her brute strength that she was able to pull herself back into the plane, return to her seat, and go back to sleep. She told me this story when she woke up from the flight, and while I didn’t remember any of it (maybe I was sleeping too), she insisted it really happened.

Next, we have the scary story. It was a dark and stormy night. Storm clouds had formed up above the community pool where we used to go swimming in Spring Valley, New York. The life guards started blowing their whistles for everyone to get out of the pool, as they always did when thunder and lightening ripped through the sky. Everyone had made their way out of the pool. Everyone, that is, but Jennifer. She was on the ladder of the pool, pulling herself out of the water. A loud clap of thunder exploded above. She had two more steps to go. The thunder blasted, the lightening flashed. One more step. There was a loud crash of thunder and bright flash of lightening and just as Jennifer pulled her toes out of the water, the lightening struck the pool and she survived to swim another day.

This was fortunate, because if she had been struck by that lightening, the third story might never have taken place. That third story, of course, is a love story. Most of you know the details of this story, some of you probably know more details than you’d like. I don’t have to repeat this story because it’s a story that we’re actually living in, and passing through. It’s unfolding before our eyes, with one chapter closing today and a new chapter opening. It’s the kind of story that always ends with the words, “and they lived happily ever after.”

My own story with Jen has been an interesting one, with an unexpected character arc. See, while Jen started out as my little sister, she has become one of my best friends. My story with Jason has taken almost the opposite course. While Jason started out as a friend, he has become like a brother to me.

So I would like you all to join me in raising your glasses, while I propose four toasts, to Jen and Jason:

First, to the most fortunate “once upon a time” when Jen and Jason met, and the happiness it has brought them thus far.

Second, to the “dark and stormy” nights that have come and gone, and will come and go, and that ultimately strengthen every relationship.

Third, to the “happily ever after” that begins tonight and disappears over the horizon with the setting sun.

And finally, to Jen and Jason, like I said at the beginning, everyone love a good story. May yours be a truly great love story.

Jen and Jason’s first dance was to the song “A Kiss To Build a Dream On” by Louis Armstrong. The Father/Daughter dance was to the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Instead of the traditional wedding cake, there were wedding cupcakes, which I thought was really cool. All-in-all, it was a great evening, it went off perfectly, everything cooperated and at the end of the night, I headed back to my villa feeling completely wiped out.

Doug waits for the wedding to start
Doug waits for the wedding to start
Jen and Jason Ashlock
Jen and Jason Ashlock
Jon pretends he's in the Secret Service
Jon pretends he’s in the Secret Service
Doug, Rachel and Ruby on the dance floor
Doug, Rachel and Ruby on the dance floor