The night before our wedding, Collin’s parents hosted a party on a boat for our out-of-town guests and the wedding party. Some people call this type of event a “rehearsal dinner,” but this party was too big for that name. It had 50 more guests than my sister’s ACTUAL WEDDING. So we took to calling it a “welcome dinner” or just “the boat party.”
I realize having a SECOND huge party the weekend of your wedding is ludicrously beyond the means of a lot of people’s budgets, so I feel a little guilty going on and on about how great this party was and how everyone should have something like it. I didn’t have anything to do with the planning or funding of this party, so I don’t even have any tips to offer to help you out. All I can do here is make you jealous. So if your rehearsal dinner is causing you grief, I recommend ignoring this post and using the time you would have spent reading it learning how to tie knots.
Wait, I do have one piece of advice: when my dear mother-in-law Viki told me she wanted to have the Friday night dinner on a boat, I had passing worries about it being too extravagant and outshining my wedding. That was dumb. A party is a party and a wedding is a wedding. They feel different, even if they both have hundreds of people and a DJ and a dance floor and toasts. If you are lucky enough to have someone planning another party for you the weekend of your wedding, let them run it however they see fit and enjoy doing nothing more than being a guest.
One huge advantage to having a big welcome dinner is you get a lot of small talk out of the way before the wedding. Wait, let me put that less cynically: you get even more time to spend with the family and friends you don’t get to see very often! This takes one of the most stressful things about a wedding—”Good gravy there sure are a lot of people I have to talk to this weekend!”—and make it about half as stressful, because you have twice as much time to talk to all of them. The atmosphere at the Boat Party was very chill, which I think is just what rolling down a river does to people. This made it easy to bounce from group to group and get as much face time in with as many people as possible.
Louis took photos on the roof deck, and I think the opportunity to take photos with an unobstructed view of Pittsburgh’s lovely skylines during magic hour may have been more valuable payment to him than the check I wrote for his services:
Being able to show off the beauty of Pittsburgh in this way to our out-of-town guests was a real treat for me. I love this city deeply, and it really put on its best face for our guests, first with a stunning sunset and then with a huge, fantastically orange full moon.
[Photo by Annie D.]
Tom gave a brief speech thanking our guests for coming from so far, noting that we had people in from 19 states and two countries (I can’t wait to plot that on to a map!). Viki thanked everyone who contributed to the wedding, which was such a long list that I’m surprised she didn’t have to stop for water halfway through.
[This is the face I made when Viki incorrectly stated that Pittsburgh weddings don't have cake. I have ZERO poker face, people.]
Then three of my BFFs from the Hootennany, Abby, Regina, and Liz, toasted us with metaphorical lessons to give us a strong marriage. Regina compared marriage to a road trip, because Regina crossed the country with me twice. Abby and Liz used the card game bridge as a metaphor, because Abby’s parents, like mine, met playing bridge. “‘Don’t trump your partner’s ace,’” Abby relayed from her dad. “And I asked him what that means, and he said ‘don’t be an idiot.’ ‘Oh, Bern.’ added my mom.” Abby’s impression of her parents brought down the house, even though 95% of the crowd never has and likely never will meet her parents. Abby’s just that good.
[Please note the waiter's epic yawn.]
Then Bait & Switch performed a set. Bait & Switch is my friends Sean and Addi’s band, but even if I didn’t know them, I’d be a groupie. [I can prove it! The first time I saw them perform I really didn't know them, and I still thought they were the best thing to happen to funny music since the keytaur.] They perform genre-switched covers of pop songs that benefit from their serious musical chops as much as their cleverness. GO, LISTEN TO THEIR MUSIC! When the video gets back I will regale you with their performances of “The Final Kazoodown” with the whole boat joining in on the kazoo parts and their world-premier medley of boat songs. Needless to say, it was a hoot.
[Photo by Mike Rubino]
Oh! One more thing: my wedding didn’t have flowers, but this party did, arranged by my wedding planner Shannon. I offered ZERO input into these arrangements because I didn’t even know they were going to be there. That said, if there were flowers at my wedding, this is what they would have looked like. Statice is one of my favorite flowers. [Yes, my favorite flower is bouquet filler. This is why I didn't have flowers at my wedding.] She used beakers for bud vases because Collin is a scientist. It was too. freakin. cute.
When the party was over, Collin got in some quality time with his college friends and I got in some quality time with my friends and a large glass of whiskey. I felt as relaxed as I possibly could on the eve of such a monumental day, which is maybe the most I could have asked for. So thanks again to Viki and Tom for throwing such a wonderful pre-wedding party, to our friends and family for being such wonderful guests, with extra thanks to Addi and Sean for rocking the casbah.
[Photos by Louis Stein except where otherwise noted.]