At the end of my last post, I was somewhere in up-state Wisconsin on a coach that was 4 hours behind schedule with a US phone that had run out of battery and a UK phone that was about to follow suit, knowing that, even if everything from now on went to plan, I was going to be dropped at a bus station approximately 2 miles away from a wedding ceremony I had probably already missed. Things weren’t looking good.
I had 2% battery left on my British phone, which I hoped would be sufficient to let me turn on wifi, browse the internet for long enough to work out where I was on the map, find the number for a taxi company in Wausau, dial said number, and talk to the guy on the other end for long enough to secure a cab to take me from wherever I was to the wedding venue, preferably at at least 20mph above the speed limit.
Lo and behold, Hermes and Mercury had seemingly decided that they had messed with me enough for one 24 hour period, and ten minutes after being ditched at the bus station, I was being greeted by a man with a cab whose first words were “I’m looking for somebody with a funny accent, Is this you?”. Putting on my bestest guttural Scottish drawl, I assured him that that was me, and that we had to go to the Wausau Country Club as fast as humanly possible as I was already 20 minutes late for a wedding I’d travelled 4000 miles to attend.
In the cab, I made small-talk with the driver, mostly about Scotland, and I rummaged in my suitcase for hair mousse, deodorant, perfume, and anything else that might conceal the fact I’d come to this wedding right off the coach. I also did my best at taking this morning’s make-up off, and re-applying fresh stuff, which is not the easiest thing when you’re winding down semi-rural roads in a speeding vehicle, but at least he had taken my request for speed seriously. I drew the line at getting undressed in the back of a strange man’s car, and resigned myself to the fact that if I was going to catch any of this wedding ceremony at all, it was going to be from the back, wearing jeans and a sweaty jumper.
At the Country Club, I thrust a twenty into the guy’s hand, told him to keep the change since he got me here so fast, and ran into the building, expecting the lobby to be deserted, with everybody in the ceremony room watching a display of matrimonial joy unfold. Nope. In what was my second lucky break of the day, everything was running around half an hour behind schedule, guests were milling around talking to each other, and half of the name tickets had not been claimed. Wooo! Across the lobby, I spied Roxanne, one of my friends from Maastricht. “I DIDN’T MISS IT!!” I jubilantly exclaimed I ran at her for a long-overdue hug. She confirmed that I had not, in fact, missed anything, and we then headed for the nearest dressing room so that I could get changed into something more nuptial-appropriate.
Emerging from the bathroom suite, heels on, hair done, make-up properly on, teeth brushed and wearing an actual dress, I relaxed for the first time in about 3 days. The last task was to store my
ball-and-chain suitcase with the concierge, put my phone in my clutch, and head, with the pack, into the room where the ceremony was going to be held. Literally, this was the best timing of my life (Yes, even better than that time last New Year in Brooklyn)
The ceremony was beautiful. Holly and Syed looked radiant, and the readings were just the right mix of funny and moving. I should say at this point that an incident at the air traffic control office in Chicago had meant that hundreds of flights were cancelled, meaning that many of the guests were stuck in various airports around the country, including a significant portion of the bridal party, but the substitutes did brilliant jobs, and everything went seamlessly. At the end, we all lit a candle for the newlyweds, and it was all very lovely indeed.
Then the bar opened and it was announced that beverages would be free until after the meal. Naturally, the the gin began to flow, I got to catch up with some great friends who I hadn’t seen since I left Maastricht over a year ago, and it was just a wonderfully happy environment to be in, making me enormously grateful that, despite all my transport woes, I wasn’t one of the poor souls who hadn’t made it. We mingled outside in the glorious Wisconsin sunshine for a bit, taking photos, eating fried cheese curds, and sharing stories of our mildly hellish journeys from all over the world, before heading in to the dining room.
All of us MPPers were seated at a table together along with some cool friends of Holly’s who had travelled in from San Francisco, making for some highly pleasurable conversations and a lot of good laughs throughout the meal. The food was amazing. Pakistani dishes were heavily featured, which was a nice touch I very much approved of, and there was a bunch of American and European options too. All which were delicious. The speeches were emotional, particularly a video call-in from Syed’s brother (none of Syed’s family could make it across from Pakistan for various reasons) in which he sang some beautiful Pakistani songs and gave the couple a truly moving blessing.
Then the party really started! Having made the most of the open bar throughout the evening, I was suitably lubricated and ready for a lot of dancing. And boy, did we dance! At one point Holly donned a traditional Pakistani dress and the bride and groom did a spot of perfectly choreographed Pakistani dancing, much to the enjoyment of all the guests. I don’t think the good people of the Wausau Country Club had ever seen a reception like it, nor catered to a more internationally diverse crowd, but they seemed to be enjoying the frivolity.
At one point, when the freshly-wedded couple were occupied on the dance floor, Claudia, Roxanne and I snuck off to the bridal suite where we covered the walls in post-its notes that the guests had been writing messages on in secret all night. At another point, with the help of our good friend Fish, we slyly commandeered a golf cart and took it for a drunken midnight joy-ride all around the club’s grounds. We couldn’t work out how to put the damn thing in reverse, though, so had to park it conspicuously forward-facing in a row of which al the others were reverse parked. Apparently nobody noticed.
After much more dancing (and flirting with a few oldies), the reception ended, and guests began to disperse. Our night was far from over, though. We’d been given a bunch of large (LARGE) bottles of wine from the caterers, so naturally, we all piled into the shuttle bus, with the wine, and headed for the hotel for Wedding Frivolity: Phase 2. Of course, when you’re after-partying with the bride and groom the only place to do so is in the bridal suite. This worked out well as it meant we got to see their reactions as they walked in to see the seven trillion post-it notes that were stuck to every visible surface. They definitely appreciated our efforts.
It is around this time that the gin and wine began making everything a little hazy. I know we had a jolly old time though, and I even made it to my room before 5am, managing to get a good 3 hours of beauty sleep before the outrageously hungover 4-hour car ride back to Chicago.
Thanks to Holly and Syed for restoring our faith in true love, organising a fantastic reunion, and facilitating all that awesome dancing. It was a delightful couple of days, and one hundred percent worth the manic journeying!