We thought we'd start our vacation blog entries with the REASON for the visit - the wedding and marriage of Wendy & Annemiek:)
It was a gorgeous day, a beautiful wedding, a joyful crowd and a serene, happy and celebrated couple.
Wendy and Annemiek met through their love of biking and their support of causes like AIDS, Breast Cancer and MS through their biking efforts. That, and given they were getting married in Annemiek's hometown of Leiden - The Netherlands (biking capital of the world), its no surprise that biking played a central theme of the day.
The 1st order of events? Cake & tea at Brian and Jeroen's home. A small group of family and friends showed up at 1:30pm for a "surprise" pre-wedding gathering. Brian & Jeroen's home is a reconditioned "row house" on one of the main canals in town. Its gorgeously modern and was the perfect place to start the festivities. Upon arriving everyone was asked to pick out and where a bicycle pin from either Kay or Billy and Femke (AM's niece). Jimmy was working the room with the guest book and everyone was eye-ing the gorgeous chocolate cake. The brides arrived on bike with Andre (AM's father) and it was fun to give hugs and meet all the people that are important in Wendy & AM's life. The highlight of the tea? Billy lost his 4th tooth, what an auspicious start to the day! (he lost the tooth directly above the current lost tooth he has, in the Netherlands, this is calling having a "bike rack" - cute).
At 2:45, the group rallied on their bikes and everyone bike caravanned to the court house for pictures and the wedding. The courthouse dates back to the late 1600's and its wonderful architecture, very grand and formal. It sits on a courtyard that overlooks the main canal, a perfect setting for a wedding. Kay walked Wendy down the aisle and Femca walked Annemiek. Billy was ring bearer and Tom & Eric (Annemiek's brother) both gave a speech. I was a witness along with Petra, Kurt and Cate, a feat that entailed signing the registry and office marriage license. The woman who presided over the wedding also had married Brian and Jeroen so she was very personable and did a nice job of bringing warm, humor and formality to the occasion. It was a shining success and both Wendy and Annemiek had smiles on their faces the WHOLE time. (we dont have any photos of this part as only the official wedding photographer was allowed to snap photos. We'll try to secure some from W & AM when they are back from their honeymoon and will add them later.)
Post the wedding, Jimmy circulated once more with the guest book and then the brides led the bike caravan to the reception. HOWEVER, this time it was on a tandem bike for 2 that was heavily decorated by AM's nieces for the occasion. I will say, this got a TON of attention from everyone in the square, lots of paparazzi taking photos:)
We biked about 20 min's through town to the reception - a local/organic restaurant with a garden area and food, drink, appetizers, singing and more well wishes and speeches. Kay spent her time collecting clover and making each woman at the reception their own bouquet. Billy played legos and helped Kay out. Jimmy played PSP and then warmed up to the crowd and began entertaining people with his knack for trivia. We tried bitteballs, which are small bite sized deep fried heaven. (imagine sausage, garlic, butter, mashed potatoes rolled into a ball an deep fried....Kay must have eaten 12 herself!)
From there, a small group ventured back out on our bikes, following Wendy & Annemieks lead again, to Eric's house for the dinner. We had a "walking" dinner - basically a buffet style dinner where you stand and visit. The food was AMAZING (again) and now it was time for presents, video well wishes from the states (thank you Jim F, you DID make Wendy cry:)) and the lighting of paper lanterns into the sky. It was so wonderful to relax and reflect with W & AM's close friends and family on the day. It was too perfect.
We socialized much past our bedtimes and Kay managed to get ahold of the camera and took some very candid but also very good snaps of the celebrators. She does have an artist eye!
Then, at 12:15am, it was time to head home to bed. We were 45 min's from home, on bikes, dressed up, with 3 VERY tired kids. AND...we had no idea how to get home. THANK GOD for the kindness of strangers. AM's good friends heard our dilemma and volunteered to lead us home as they live just past where we were staying. I am not sure how "true" that is, but I will say, we wouldnt have made it home without them. It was nice to bike home, in the dark peaceful streets of Leiden and have time to absorb the day.
It was a perfect day for a perfect couple and a perfect start to their married life together.
All our love to Wendy, AM and all their friends and family. Thank you SO MUCH for asking us to be a part of this day and to bear witness to your "official" start as a married couple. We feel so blessed have you in our lifes and to share these wonderful moments with you.
We love you!
(And, yes, the kids really were THIS GOOD. Which... they arent letting us forget and are using as currency to get everything they want lately - ice cream sandwiches for breakfast, etc. but... they deserve it. They were wonderful!)