(As usual, rest mouse pointers on photos for captions. Photos courtesy Warren, Sabrina and Jimmy, and Mr. W. And my cameraphone.)

Two days before the wedding, on my way home from work, I went to my favorite mani/pedi salon and they actually buffed the dye out of my left hand’s nails. I ended up with a nice-looking clear French manicure. My bangs had also grown noticeably by then so I was feeling better. Although Pearly insisted, after she dyed my hair DARKER instead of lighter like I’d wanted, that it’d lighten on its own in a week with more hairwashes and sun exposure, it did not. I finalized my maid-of-honor speech, printed them out in 3.5″x5″ format, taped them onto index cards, packed, and was ready to leave for Northern California the next day. It had rained in NorCal around the Carmel area that day, so everyone was a bit nervous on weather watch. However, dry sunny weather was predicted for the weekend of the wedding, and it came true better than anyone had anticipated. I was probably as relieved as the wedding couple, because my dress was a short and sleeveless v-neck, I’m more sensitive to cool weather, and this was outdoor oceanside CARMEL in mid-January. I even wore my wedding attire and then walked outside my house in 55 degree weather at night just to make sure I can stand it.

Friday morning around 9:15 a.m., we were off. We got to Diana’s around 4:30p having made a few stops for gas and lunch, and went straight to Target as she was the ever-hardworking athlete getting a last workout in before the wedding. I bought a white French tip polish pen to touch up the chipped tips (yes, they chipped the first day; why do people get manicures?!), then downed a hot toddy at an Irish bar while waiting for Diana to come back. I think that beat back the rest of my cough for the night. For the first time hanging out with Diana, we all went to bed early (10:30ish). Mr. W was happy about that, I’m sure. Eric was already in Carmel with some relatives, having brought down much of the wedding materials (photos, slideshow, etc).

Saturday morning, we were up before 6am and quickly on our way to the hair/makeup appointment in Mountain View, about 10 minutes from Diana’s house.

There was a tiny snafu as my hair/makeup artist forgot about this appointment and was up all night watching Chinese soap opera episodes, and Diana’s hair/makeup artist had to call her and wake her up, asking where she was. Luckily, she was at the salon less than 15 minutes later. My girl did some crazy magic and fixed my bangs with only hairspray. “Don’t touch these bangs!” she warned. “You’ll mess them up and they’ll be uneven again.”

We left for Carmel a little later than scheduled, but got there only 5 minutes later than sheduled. Good thing Mr. W was driving. A funny moment was when we were pulling uphill into the wedding site Highland Inn‘s turnaround driveway, and the sun shone straight into the windshield, blinding us for a moment. We suddenly noticed a man stepping off the sidewalk to our right and darting across the front of our car to the left. Mr. W slammed his brakes. It was Diana’s dad. Good thing we didn’t kill the bride’s father, that’d be a damper on the wedding.

Many of Diana’s friends were there super-early, and she greeted a bunch of them as we made our way to the bridal dressing room. While there, we proceeded to get ready, as many more popped in to say hello. I ended up hugging someone hello while in my bra. I think that was a first. Jimmy, another Bruin whom I’d met the same time I met Diana and remained good friends with, didn’t recognize me when I opened the door to the dressing room. (Not because I was naked, which I wasn’t by this point, but because, as the makeup artist said, “Wow, you look like a completely different person from when you walked in here!” I guess it was true.)

In a quiet moment, Diana and I peeked out at the crowd gathering below and noted the glorious day — brilliantly clear blue sky meets dazzling sapphire ocean.

Diana was remarkably calm, in a pleasant mood the entire time, and only admitted to some beginning nervousness as we stared at the full-length mirror attached to the back of the door, turning our bouquets in front of our dresses for the best placement. My yellow tulips completed the Bruins theme colors of blue and gold, the way the Bruin couple wanted it. Then it was time to assemble for the procession.

Diana’s dad picked us up at the door and we walked out with the coordinator. We stood in order around the turn of a pathway, hidden behind view of the wedding guests, waiting for the coordinator’s clearance as a harpist played on a balcony over the scene.

We hadn’t rehearsed, so I kneeled down and whispered to the little godson of the groom who was the ring bearer. “Aidan, are you nervous?”
His eyes wide, he said, “No.”
I said, “Did they tell you how fast to walk?”
“Okay, just wait for her to wave you out, okay? You see her hair? Yup, that’s her. And when you go, don’t run, and make sure to smile because there’s going to be lots of people taking pictures of you, okay?”
“Okay! I see her there with my grandma.” She cued him, and off he went, the ribbons on his little pillow trailing behind him. He did great, even with “his little fake smile” as the groom described it. But he smiled and got to the right place at the right time.

And then I went…

I saw Eric standing at the altar, his brother, the best man, behind him looking so like him I did a double-take in confusion. The smile of recognition was the first thing that helped me identify Eric, as I had never met his brother Kevin before. I smiled and nodded my greeting at him before taking my place opposite the guys’ side.

And then, as everyone stood on cue of the harpist’s strumming of “Bridal March,” the beautiful bride marched into view…

Here was the picture formed at the altar:

L-R: MOH me, officiant Gene, bride Diana, groom Eric, BM Kevin

The officiant’s face is blocked in the above photo, but I’m posting it because Diana’s veil looks cool. 🙂 (Actually, it’s my veil, as Diana’s “something borrowed.” I joked that I was her “something blue,” although she does have a blue flower in her hair.)
Look at that glorious backdrop. The day turned out to be about 80 degrees in the direct light, and Diana’s shoulders got a little pink from the extra attention the sun paid her. At 11am in mid-January! I said she must’ve done something right and made someone very happy.

Later, as the guests mingled at open bar cocktail hour inside with a live pianist at the grand piano, Diana and Eric took some posed photos around the beautiful grounds of the Hyatt’s Highland Inn.

This is what I all The Picture of Contentment:

The lunch reception was in a different room of the giant resort, and I love going to the weddings of foodies, because they can pick food! Mr. W and I split each others’ salmon (a touch rare in the center, perfect) and spare ribs (chunk of fall-apart tender beef). I made him match me for once:

I wish I knew how to shrink vertical photos. =P

The tastefully Bruin-themed cake:

Before our wedding, I “conditioned” Mr. W about one thing: if he smashed cake on my face, it would be the equivalent to pushing the “Instant Annulment” button. I repeated this a few times leading up to the wedding. He was a perfect gentleman day-of. Diana did no such conditioning, which is how we get great shots like these:

Don’t worry, she forgave him.

I wonder if Diana would’ve let me change right after the wedding, too. Hmm, maybe not. 🙂

Oh, and somewhere in there, before we dug into the food, I gave my maid-of-honor speech. I had ideas popping around my head for months now of things I wanted to touch on, and the weekend before the wedding, I finally decided to jot them down on my phone. Then all there was left to do was flesh the outline out. I got a lot of positive feedback afterwards about my toast, my favorite being the bride’s, which she wrote me yesterday: “We just watched the videos from the wedding; wow, your speech was so
good. Touching but amusing; casual but well prepared. Thanks for taking it so seriously.” In case you want to read it, click on “more” below.

Congrats, Eric & Diana! I could not have found a better match for Diana if I got to hand-pick him myself.

I modified bits of my speech spur-of-the-moment and I added what I remembered from the mods, so here’s the bulk of it:

Hello everyone. I’m Cindy, and I was Diana’s college roommate for sophomore, junior and senior year. We met at college orientation before starting UCLA in 1994. For those of you who can do the math…please don’t.

It’s kinda funny for me to stand up here now, because on our last day of orientation, Diana said to me, “Okay, I’ll see you in a few months when school starts!” And I said, “What if we don’t remember each other or we don’t recognize each other, and we never see each other again?” She just laughed at me and said, “Yes we will! You know I’m gonna live in Rieber Hall and I’ll remember you and if you forget what I look like, just remember your hair looks sort of like mine in your UCLA ID photo.” It must’ve worked, because here I am! Diana and I have been a close part of each others’ lives since.

Living with Diana for 3 years taught me a lot. She taught me balance, such as if you work hard and study hard, you get to play hard. If the fraternity boys next door won’t be quiet when you’re trying to study, you get to throw frozen grapes through the window at them. If you exercise and work out hard every day, you get to eat an entire Trader Joe’s New York cheesecake straight out of the box with a fork. One a week.

Watching Diana with Eric taught me a few things, too. They taught me that individuality can exist within a couple, and that if the couple is right for each other, then 2 separate individuals will harmoniously rejoin together again, and it will all be perfectly fine. I’m not just talking about ski trips or whitewater rafting trips that Eric has taken with his friends, or dinners with friends that Diana has gone to without Eric. I’m also talking about larger things, such as when Diana and Eric first dated in 2007. I’d hear about this “Bruin Eric” in emails and phone calls from Diana, and then after a couple of months, nothing. So I asked her, “Hey, whatever happened to Bruin Eric?” She said, “Nothing. I don’t know. Nothing happened. But we just sorta stopped hanging out.” And then a year goes by, Bruin Eric called Diana up out of the blue, and it was just back on, very naturally, very easily. No drama. A whole year — I’ve heard that Eric moves slowly, but that’s some patience there. I’m not trying to say that Diana and Eric don’t care whether they spend time together or not, because it’s very evident that they do. Last April, Eric was on a business trip in Europe, and Diana was going to meet up with him in Spain for a vacation after his business was over. Unfortunately, this was when Iceland had that volcanic eruption and all the ash in the air grounded all planes, and Eric could not get from London to Spain, where Diana was already waiting for him. Flights were canceled, and trains, bus stations, rental cars were overbooked. Diana spent the next few days checking transportation statuses, feeding Eric information on when to try for a ticket, booking hotel rooms for him where he was stranded, and Eric got up early every morning to try to get on stand-by transportation. He ended up moving mountains to get to her, and he was ultimately successful, although just four days late. They made a great team in that transportation disaster. Eric in his own words called Diana his “lifeline on [his] amazing race.” If you’ve never heard the story, you can ask them how they got engaged. MY engagement story is not that epic. But it goes to show, they can be very effective when they’re apart, but nothing, not even a volcano, can keep them apart when they are determined to be together.

When Diana sets a goal, she accomplishes it. Such as, graduating with honors as a Chemical engineering major from UCLA. Or when she decided, “I wanna get into law” and did so well on her LSATs that she got into UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. And when she decided, “I want a 6-pack.” I’m not talking about beer. Or when she decided, “I’m going to fight that traffic ticket.” …And now, Diana has decided to be Eric’s partner in life, as his wife.

If history holds true, Diana and Eric will have a wonderful, successful marriage; one that will be balanced, based on compromise and teamwork, trust, a no-nonsense approach to issues, and at the end of each day, a harmonious rejoining of the two individuals. May you always remember how you felt when you were at your best together, and be quick to forget the small human imperfections. Know that you have survived many tests of a relationship to have gotten to this point, and be confident that you will pass any future tests together, so long as you love and nurture this new marriage and give it the priority that you are giving it today. Being married to the right person is like being on a long wonderful date, at the end of which, neither of you has to go home. Eric and Diana, congratulations on the start of your long, wonderful date. Cheers!