The wedding is over, the vows have been exchanged, and now it's time to let loose and par-tay!
I suppose the best way to start is with a video of two excellent speeches made in honor of Erik & Cari. First up was Erik's best man, Buddha, who gave a heartfelt speech for his friends. Next up was the maid of honor speech which held promise to be a classic. Cassi did not disappoint.
A maid of honor speech up there among the best, that's for sure.
For me, the overall theme of this wedding reception would have to be Cousinpalooza. Now that we're all busy with our own families and spread out among three state, it's not very often that all of us are together and we tried very hard on Saturday night to make up for it.
First, I got some long-awaited snuggle time with three month old Gizmo. If you can believe it, she is even cuter in person than in pictures and when she started cooing at me and my crazy baby talk I thought I might just die on the spot from the sheer adorableness of it.
This little girl and her strawberry blond curls belongs to my cousin, Coral. Miss B is about as sweet as they come and her serious face simply cracks me up.
Most exciting news of the night: Miss B is going to be a big sister come June. A new Poke cousin coming this summer - hooray!
Making good on two missions set for the cousins, we managed to capture a picture of four of the five great-grandchildren. The only one missing is our lone boy, Tre, who was not there Saturday night.
The picture below better captures what was really going on during this photo op: Shortcake tenderly trying to get Miss B's attention back to the cameras, Miss B giving Punkin her most puzzled expression, Punkin screaming "CHEESEBOOGUH" every three seconds, and Gizmo just looking relieved that she lives eight hours from this insanity.
It doesn't seem like all that long ago that it was me and my cousins torturing our parents with picture taking efforts like this.
Also accomplished, an updated picture of all the Poke cousins (minus my uncle's stepson, Tim).
Damn, we're a good lookin' bunch of people.
Of course, Erik & Cari were also highlighted Saturday night too. Here they are during their first dance.
Aw, cute. Now back to the real action!
She's agile, she's talented, she's coming at you in living color (no racist joke intended). It's the MARIA SHOW!
Following the stellar line dancing skills of Maria & Company, it was time to break out the big guns. Straight from the Florida Keys, the guests were treated to a little Dolly Parton. Break it down "9 to 5" style, Winnie!
When he hasn't grabbing the butts of grandmas or using his teeth to fish out dollar bills stuffed in cleavage, Erik also entertained his guests with a little karaoke. The vocal stylings of my brother did not disappoint with his extended remix of the classic "Baby Got Back". Is there video? Yes, a snippet. Am I showing it? Um, I'd prefer not to broadcast it for the world to see. Maybe later.
You will be able to tell with the following series of pictures which individual I did not stray from for the majority of the night. As I explained to her patient husband, my soul was empty and the only thing that could fill it was a little Tina love.
We let Jason in on this one because he is a fellow U of I alum. The three of us lived two years in close proximity of each other - Jason living directly above my apartment (a very courteous neighbor unless he had a hankering for a little "Saving Private Ryan" movie viewing; we couldn't always decipher between a violent thunderstorm and the boombasticness of his massive sound system) and Tina living in a swanky new complex within shouting distance just down the pot holed filled alley.
This is about the point in the evening when Tina and I started chanelling our inner Kim and Marsha. My mom and her first cousin are notorious for crazy hijinz and fits of uncontrollable laughter (not to mention accompanying loss of bladder control) when they're together. I can recall several events during my childhood when I would stare at them and wonder how any two people could laugh so hysterically at virtually nothing. I'm here to say that I totally get it now.
This is when is really started going downhill immediately after surviving a Spanx incident together. We're closer now than ever, right Tina?
And who should we hold responsible for all our goofiness?
At the end of the night, the baby bottles and sippy cups were packed up and we somehow convinced some, shall we say, reluctant party goers to join us next door at a local watering hole.
Michigan was in the house:
But Minnesota had to flee the scene soon after arrival for good reason. A 10 am takeoff from a Chicago airport doesn't really jive with late night boozing especially when you're carrying precious cargo (i.e., Gizmo).
We made our feelings about it being the end of the night very clear. It's only been three days, but my soul is dead already.
My expectations for fun were far surpassed. It was a beautiful day from start to finish and somehow I came away from that evening even more blessed than I already was. I suppose gaining a fantastic new sister-in-law has something to do with that.
Congratulations again, Erik & Cari!
A special thank you to the crew from Seventh Heaven who so graciously took our exhausted children home early in the evening for a sleepover and cousin bonding time of their own. For allowing us to enjoy most of the night child-free, we owe you big time!