All the days of my life

Team Sean and Cindy

I’m a day late on this anniversary post. I was too busy yesterday spending time with Sean and Xavier, catching up with friends visiting from NYC, and freaking out over Breaking Bad to do some writing.

The day after we got married, we checked out of the hotel, and went to my parents’ house for leftovers and to open up gifts. Later that afternoon, Sean took a nap and I stayed up to brainstorm the moments I never wanted to forget from our wedding day. I wrote a long list of details and moments that would not be captured by any photographer, videographer or guest. A year later, I re-read the list and am so glad I wrote those memories especially the one after the vows.

Vows

When it came for the rite of marriage, Sean and I followed Fr. Ricky’s directions. We stood, faced each other and held hands. Our guests looked on quietly — mostly — as we stated our intentions.

Yes, we had come freely and without reservation to give ourselves to each other in marriage. Yes, we would love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of our lives. Yes, we would accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church.

The church was quiet except for a friend’s toddler asking “Where’s Buzz Lightyear?” I thought that was fitting since we had just pledged to accept children.

Saying our vows

Following the statement of intentions, it was time to give consent to marriage through our vows. Sean went first and repeated after Fr. Ricky that he promised to be true in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. His voiced cracked and tears welled up as he professed to love and honor me all the days of his life.

Nervously, I took my turn and repeated the same words Sean had just uttered. I, Cynthia, take you, Sean, to be my husband. As I continued, I tried my best to keep my voice steady and eyes dry but was only half successful. I couldn’t help tearing up as I saw the emotion in Sean’s face as I promised to love and honor him all the days of my life.

When I was done, Sean mouthed, “You won.”

I shook my head. No, we pretty much cried at the same time. The bet and bragging rights didn’t matter anyway.

A kiss to seal the deal

A year later after reading my notes, I realize that Sean was right. I did win, but it wasn’t a bet and the prize was better than bragging rights.

I got him. And Xavier too.

First anniversary

Happy anniversary, Sean.

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The Soloist

It’s the feast day of the La Virgen de Guadalupe, one of the most important days for a Mexican, especially one was raised by Guadalupanos. I’ve written many posts over the years on December 12th. This post about one of my favorite moments during our wedding Mass has been sitting in my drafts. I thought it was fitting. Sorta.

Marian devotion

During my 2004 solo trip to Mexico, I reconnected with dozens of extended family members. I stayed in Guanajuato with my dad’s cousins for a week and then took a bus out to Mexico City where I stayed with another aunt and cousin.

Fabiola and tía Rosa had moved to Mexico City a year or two before so that Fabiola could study canto at the national conservatory. I was impressed by Fabiola’s beautiful voice and her budding career as an opera singer, but I was more impressed by her. I had met her once or twice when I was much younger and barely remembered her, but you wouldn’t have known that since she was so welcoming. Fabiola and other aunts, uncles and cousins made me feel like I was in my second home. They became the main reason Guanajuato is now one of my happy places.

Fabiola and the Pyramid of the Sun

While we weren’t sightseeing around el D.F., Faby and tía Rosa recounted the stressful experience of obtaining a visitor’s visa. In 2003 Faby had been accepted to an opera workshop in Oregon. She was worried that her visa application would be rejected at the consulate. The process is quite unpredictable even when the applicant has all the required documentation and more. Faby got lucky, in part because she demonstrated her singing talents (I may be making that up, but I like the idea of her singing at the consulate). The official was so impressed that she granted Fabiola a visa good for ten years.

This was a big deal to both Faby and tía Rosa as it meant she could go to her workshop, future workshops/contests and could come visit family. I thought of myself. “So this means I have to get married within ten years so you can come and sing for me?”

Faby feigned offense that I would only invite her so she could sing.

“No, no, no, I’d want you there even if you didn’t have an amazing voice.”

Getting a good laugh on the way down

Faby was cool with it and we made up, but I never forgot the conversation.

***

Reunited with my cousin Fabiola

I kept in touch with Fabiola over the years. If I was in Guanajuato or she was in LA for an opera contest or wedding, we’d hang out. The last time I saw her was in 2010 for some family weddings. She sang “Ave Maria” at tía Anita and tío Juan Carlos’s wedding. I recorded it and still get goosebumps listening to it again. Being rather emo, her voice makes me want to cry. [Watch on Youtube]

After Sean and I got engaged, she congratulated us and then offered “te iré a cantar a LA!” If that could happen, it would be amazing.

In the spring, we made arrangements so she could come out for the wedding. I spoke to Michael, the organist/music director, and planned the music for the ceremony. The church allows a soloist, but I couldn’t have Fabiola sing the entire Mass. We planned times for her to rehearse and made sure Michael knew that Fabi would sing the Schubert version of Ave Maria in B flat.

Michael the organist

Faby arrived on Thursday night as planned. On Saturday, as dad drove me and Lori onto the church grounds I could hear her rehearsing from the car. I snuck in to the sacristy (staging room of sorts for the priest, altar servers) and waited. As I waited Michael came in and offered his impressions.

“Your cousin has a beautiful voice. She almost brought tears to my eyes.”

He rushed out again to be ready to play the entrance march and I went back to trying to keep calm by chatting up the brother/sister altar server team.

***

Vows

I loved our bilingual wedding Mass. It was the most important part of the day. Sean and I thoughtfully chose the readings and spent time selecting the music with Michael. My dad was with us when we planned the music and offered his own suggestions since he has tons of experience in that area.

After the entrance I took my place next to Sean at the kneelers in front of the altar. We had our backs to all our guests except Fabiola since she was sitting by Michael and the organ. Her smile instantly calmed my nerves and made me feel happy.

Fabi singing the responsorial psalm

After the first reading by my cousin Beatriz, Faby sang for the firs time. She and Christine (official cantor) switched off singing the verses of the responsorial psalm in English and Spanish. It was lovely. Even better, despite our bilingual set up, our guests were singing along. I tried to sing too, but couldn’t hold notes very long thanks to the tight bodice of my dress.

Taking flowers to La Virgen de Guadalupe

Traditional Mexican Catholic wedding Masses include the adoration of the Virgin Mary. This takes place almost at the end just before the presentation of the bride and groom. The newlyweds take a bouquet to the Virgin Mary statue and take a moment to say a prayer and ask for her blessings in their marriage and life. As a lifelong Guadalupana (devotee to the Virgen de Guadalupe) I’ve always loved this part of wedding Masses because of the intimate nature of the moment, but also because a soloist sings “Ave Maria.”

As Sean and I slowly walked to the small shrine and said short prayers, Fabi sang the long version. According to dad, she was asked to sing the shorter version but objected saying, “I didn’t come all the way from Mexico to sing the short version.”

Fabi was amazing and made me tear up. Not only was her voice perfect, but it was even more meaningful to me that she took time out of her busy performance schedule and master’s classes to come sing for us. I may have had a chance to get to know her over the years, but she’s only met Sean once. I felt incredible love and joy from family throughout our wedding day, but the love I felt from Fabi singing and sharing her talent was different.

Serenaded by Fabi

And because she’s awesome, Fabi sang “Si Nos Dejan” for us later backed by the mariachi. My cousin knows me. I adore that song.

All the way from the GTO

Dad and Fabi sing

She also sang “Caminos de Guanajuato” with my dad but I missed that somehow. I hope it’s on the video!

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Cleopatra Suite calm

I’m a lazy wedding recap writer. Last post was over a month ago about my morning freakout. This one has been sitting in my drafts since I think getting ready posts aren’t all that interesting. However, now I have pictures from our pro photographer, Michael Fletcher. They’re great photos. Might as well share since I’m sure you have no idea what someone looks like while getting hair and makeup done.

Cleopatra suite, room 702

I had nothing to cry about. Really. Even before my minor freakout, things were going as planned in the Cleopatra Suite.

Bar hair styling station

Bathroom hair styling station

The suite that felt huge and empty the previous night filled up quickly with six bridesmaids, my mom, two sets of hair stylists and makeup artists, and my dad (occasionally). It was busy as everyone took turns in the makeup and hair stations.

Nancy's tattoo!

BM's getting ready

By the time Elisa, the make-up artist, arrived at 10:30 the tears were out of my system. I went from sleepy-nervous-crying bride to chill bride thanks to my mom’s reassurance and presence. Elisa mentioned my calm demeanor as did Michael, the photographer. I heard he asked Lori if I was okay because he’d never seen a bride so calm.

Hair and makeup

Elisa at work

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Nerves and tears

A few hours before I was to enter the church, meet Sean at the altar and enter the sacrament of marriage, I sat in my hotel room full of bridesmaids, stylists and makeup artists sobbing.

The mini freakout was ridiculous, but not a big surprise considering my emotional tendencies. Still, I should have been okay given that everything was going as planned.

View from the suite, it was already hot at 8 am

The morning started off fine. I woke up on time. Took some time to myself in the morning and looked out at the hills. Lori arrived shortly after 8 with the hair stylist and makeup artist, she hired. Sarah and Nancy set up shop near the living room window and huge bathroom. Andrea and Isabel showed up next and took their places getting their hair and makeup done.

Not one of those brides who didn't eat

I left the room to grab a quick bite to eat and ate breakfast with my aunts-in-law.

As soon as I was done, I met my dad outside the lobby. He dropped off my dress, veil, a steamer, and flowers for the bridal party. Kenton (father-in-law) was in the lobby at the time and helped me get everything up to the suite. Dad left to drop off the fruit salad at the reception venue.

There was only one minor annoyance before breakfast: the front desk never sent up a shower cap despite calling and asking for it twice.

Bar area

My hair stylist, Andie, arrived promptly at 9. She set up at the wet bar for easy access to electrical outlets and a mirror. She then began the not-so-painless process of styling my hair. I like Andie’s work, but being as tender-headed as I was at 6 years old, it hurt a little.

Bedroom

To distract myself from the tugs, I started to think about taking a nap. Crawling back in to bed sounded wonderful. I was sleepy and starting to get cranky. I blamed the uncomfortable bed, missing my pillow at home, checking in too late and not sleeping well Thursday night. I looked tired too. I could see the bags under my eyes. Sniffles and a tear or two turned in to more.

No one said anything. I don’t think they even noticed since we were all busy. Andie made small talk, but thankfully didn’t mention the tears. She was probably used to brides freaking out. In fact, she told me a story or two later.

I excused myself for a moment and went to a corner of the bedroom to grab tissues and tried to calm down. I needed to stop crying, if only for vanity. Elisa, the makeup artist, would be arriving at 10:30and I didn’t want a red nose and puffy eyes.

Mom's always been at my side

I was fine for a few more minutes until mom showed up armed with dresses and oatmeal for any hungry bridesmaids. She noticed the tears. Of course she did. I’ve never been able to hide my emotions from her. She spoke to me with compassion and concern, the same voice I’ve heard for the past 32 years.

“What’s wrong, mija? Why are you crying?”

She put her arm around my shoulder and squeezed me. I tried to explain that I was tired and didn’t sleep well, but that just made me cry more.

I tried to speak. “I was doing fine until you made me talk.”

“Everything is going to be okay, mija. Ya no llores.”

I took more deep breaths, dabbed my eyes, drank some water and hope I’d cried the drowsiness and nerves out of my system. Or maybe I just needed my mom by my side to calm me down. That has worked since before I could remember.

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We clean up okay: Pro teaser photos

A few days after the wedding Michael Fletcher, our photographer, posted a few teaser photos. Naturally, we can’t wait to see more.

It’s been nice reliving the wedding through photos friends and family posted on Facebook and Instagram. We didn’t shy away from incorporating social media into our wedding considering our history, the fact that Twitter played a role in our engagement, and we’ve both been blogging over 10 years. We encouraged our friends to post photos using the #bicoastalwedding hashtag for Instagram and created a Tumblr blog with the same name for them to share photos. It’s been fun to see what others captured and see what we may have missed, especially on the dance floor and in the photo booth.

Back to Mike and Soupy’s (second shooter) photos.

Sean’s friend, Phil Young, made customized Dunny’s for us using KidRobot’s Munny kit. We placed them on the entrance table rather than the cake. Phil did a great job, especially with Sean’s suit and glasses.

We took formal wedding party and couple photos in the church and at the Brea Community Center’s Art Garden. The latter was uncomfortable. It was way too hot to be outdoors (the high was 107), but we worked quickly in 20-30 minute chunks and took breaks indoors where the air conditioning was on full blast.

Can you tell the veil is upside down? We didn’t notice this until I was waiting to enter the church and fixed it just in time.

That bouquet got heavy. I think it was a little too big for me. Oh well, that’s what I get for not being more specific about what I wanted with the florist.

***

Sean took a Q&A approach to writing about the wedding. His first post, Love is the Answer, Part 1 is up.

All photos by Michael Fletcher.

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