Thursday, June 27, 2013

Belize 2013: Saturday - Part II - Darling, It Wouldn't Be a Party Without You

Congratulations, hugs, and pictures followed the ceremony.

The newlyweds then departed with their photographer for a brief shoot while the wedding party continued on to cocktail hour.

We all gathered back in Cocoblanca, the site of both the rehearsal dinner and wedding reception. Drinks started pouring as appetizers were set out. The lower level of the restaurant buzzed with excitement for the events to come. Cheers and clapping exploded as the new Mr. and Mrs. Munhall entered through the main doors. The party had started.

And oh, did we party. Of the many awards doled out that night, I'd like to grant my sister "The Hardest Partier" trophy, with Kevin coming in at a close second.

But the partying, of course, came after dinner and speeches. Because nerves had taken over every cell in my body, I asked my father if I could skip ahead of his "Father of the Bride" speech and give mine first. Thankfully, he obliged. Of course he let me go ahead of him, because that gave him more time to perfect what was The. Best. Father. Of. The. Bride. Speech. Ever. He moved many a grown man (and woman, obviously) to tears.

My favorite part of the night? Sitting around Papa O' with my siblings and our spouses while he charmed the socks off of the room with his vocals.

There's nothing more special to me than gathering together around a piano or song book at family events. This was much more common when we were younger and hasn't happened in some time, so it was especially nice to sit with my sisters and our husbands and attempt singing along to Irish songs that none of us knew the words to. This memory will forever stay close to my heart.

My second favorite party of the night? Seeing my sister party HARD. God, she partied so hard. Like a champ. If only I could post some pictures without getting in trouble...

All in all, the wedding was a success, and not just because they both said "I do". Lizzie and Kevin were the most beautiful, happy and fun newlyweds that I've ever known. And man, did they throw one hell of a party wedding. I can't wait for round two.

If that's not love, what is?

If you missed earlier postings, read about the wedding week (day by day) below!
Sunday: Two Planes, a Puddle Jumper, and Water Taxi Ride Later...
Monday: Happy Hearts
Tuesday: Finding Romance in Bonefish
Wednesday: Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay
Thursday: Barbeque and Bar Dancing
Friday: Only You Two
Saturday, Part I: Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Munhall

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Belize 2013: Saturday - Part I - Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Munhall

They say that having rain on your wedding day is good luck, and, as it went, it rained the morning of Lizzie and Kevin's nuptials. Black clouds rolled in over the ocean and filled the horizon. Surprisingly cold drops of rain came down with a vengeance as people scrambled for shelter from the storm. Garrett, Bubby, Kurt, Mark, my mother, and I sought cover under the snorkeling rental roof on one of the docks.

I'd been saying "not right now--later" all week long to Garrett's pleas of snorkeling out to the Belize Barrier Reef, and "later" had finally arrived. I knew that snorkeling was a must-do activity while on Ambergris Caye, but my fear of sharks, sting rays, and all other imposing sea creatures kept me from saying yes earlier in the week. (My worst habit is saying no to things. Garrett's best habit is saying yes. It's one of the reasons we work well together.)

Once the rain passed and the seas smoothed over, we rented snorkeling gear and hopped in kayaks to paddle out to the reef. Five minutes later, we clipped our kayaks onto buoys and flopped into the water. With a racing heart, I asked Garrett to hold my hand and not let go the entire time. He complied.

We saw large fish and small fish, red fish, blue fish, green fish, and brown fish. Striped fish, spotted fish, neon fish, plain fish. Some darted in and out of the reef while others swam along with us. It was beautiful, but panic rose in my chest every time I saw a flash of something white and long out of the corner of my eye. Bracing myself for a shark each time, I was instantly relieved to see that it was not, in fact, a shark, but actually Kurt.

Happy to have taken advantage of snorkeling the second longest reef in the world, and overcoming (somewhat) my fear of the ocean, we headed back to shore. It was time to get ready for the reason we were all there: Kevin and Lizzie's wedding.

Fresh off of the beach, my bathing suit still wet, I went to sit with my sisters as Lizzie got her hair and makeup done. We sat happily together, excited that this day for our beloved Lizzie had come. Lizzie was calm, much calmer than any other bride-to-be on their wedding day that I've come across. She and Kevin had waited a long time for this day, waited only so long to make sure that they were each where they needed to be, together and separately. No two people have been more ready to marry. Nerves were not necessary.

With about an hour left until go time, I darted back to my room to shower. I came back quickly to find the condo filled with Lizzie's dear friends and family. Friends from childhood, college, and San Francisco gathered with mothers, sisters, and daughters. The room was filled with love and excitement for the beautiful bride and happy couple. Anticipation filled the room as Lizzie stepped out of her room, one foot slowly in front of the other, to reveal her gown. Gasps, cheers, and clapping abounded as we all laid eyes on one of the most beautiful brides the world has ever seen.

She was a stunning bride. Breathtaking. Old Hollywood. Feminine. Glamorous.

The time came for all of the women (and Bubby and Kurt!) to leave and take their seats. My father, Annie, and I stayed with Lizzie as she looked on to watch Kevin approach the altar...

...which, in true Kevin style, he did so smiling.


Father and daughter proceeded slowly, closely together toward the altar, hearts full and happy. This was our father's third and final walk down the aisle with one of his girls. 

He was the first man we all ever loved; the bar was set high from the start. We three have been so lucky in love, and I think we owe a big part of that to our father. In the words of Sam from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, "we accept the love we think we deserve". And our Papa O taught his girls that we deserve the best.

And so my father passed Lizzie on to Kevin, the man that can give his daughter the best. The ceremony was peaceful, intimate, and quiet. So quiet, in fact, that you could hardly hear the officiator. With his gentle voice and the waves lapping in from behind, he led Kevin and Lizzie through their vows and joined them together as a married couple. Tears rolled from the eyes of the bride and groom as they exchanged rings, words, and the sealing kiss. 

Love and happiness swept up into the Coco Beach air as Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Munhall were officially announced. Kevin and Lizzie are MARRIED!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Belize 2013: Friday - Only You Two

As could have been expected from the previous night's activities, I woke Friday with a hangover and heavy case of PAD (post-alcohol depression, a term coined by one of Lizzie's friends that I will forever go on to use). I sadly decided to forego the scheduled catamaran and snorkeling trip, as my sunburned skin and upset stomach most likely wouldn't have been able to withstand the hot sun and rolling ocean. Anyway. As I slept the morning away and stayed indoors, people swam with large schools of fish, sharks and stingrays. Garrett and my dad went out on a trip with Nester and caught fish that looked like this:

I missed out.

With a head held low I emerged from our hotel room around noon. I was happy to be greeted by members of the Boston crew that had stayed back from the snorkeling trip and hear stories from the night before. It was nice, and relieving, to learn that I wasn't the only drunk kid at the party.

People eventually filtered in from snorkeling and fishing, tired from the morning's (and I bet from the night before, too) events. The remainder of the day was spent lazily napping indoors, drinking water in abundance, and reading in the shade. Well, that's how my day went. Some swam, some sunbathed, and some continued to party. Garrett, of course, decided to fish off of the docks some more (shocker!) and climb palm trees to retrieve coconuts.

Friday evening was the night of the rehearsal dinner. We all gathered in Cocoblanca, the resort's beautiful restaurant.

Speeches filled the air as friends and family paid tribute to the beautiful couple. A theme of recognizing the ability of Kevin and Lizzie to bring people together circulated the room all night long. Not one of us in that room ever second guessed saying yes to traveling to Belize for Kevin and Lizzie's wedding; had it not been for them, though, many of us never would have gone there--at least not at this time and point in our lives. Thank goodness they chose Belize as the place to hold their wedding, and thank goodness they're such lovable people, because I know that for most of us, if not all, it was a trip of a lifetime.

So thank you, Kevin, for always being kind, full of smiles, loyal, and up for anything. And thank you, Lizzie, for being funny, wise, devoted, and caring. We all love you both so much and are grateful for the impact that you continue to have on our lives. And for inviting us to your wedding in Belize.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Belize 2013: Thursday - Barbeque and Bar Dancing

Garrett woke up before me on Thursday morning. He and my dad had a full-day fishing trip planned. However, as Garrett had feared, the guide never showed. His American self had scheduled a trip with the guide while we were still home, as he was eager to secure at least one day of fishing in Belize. It wasn't until when we met Nester and went out with him on Tuesday that Garrett started to doubt the scheduled Thursday trip.

I was surprised when Garrett returned to the room 20 minutes after he should have left to go fishing. Undeterred, he placed his fishing pole in the corner.

"What happened?" I asked.

"The guide stood us up," he said, "I'm going for a bike ride with your dad. Want to come?" he asked, one foot already out the door.

I was half-asleep and still in bed. By the time I answered no, he was already gone.

I fell back asleep and later arose to a peacefully quite room. Annie and Frank (my other sister and brother-in-law) get here soon, I thought to myself. After completing my Belizean morning routine (wash face, brush teeth, put on bathing suit), I ran to Kevin and Lizzie's to eat my breakfast burrito and watch for the water taxi that would bring in the rest of our family for the wedding.

Waiting for family and friends to arrive never got old; we were much like young children waiting for the daily return of an ice cream truck. As adults, though, the delivery of family and friends is much, much sweeter than any Chipwich or Flintstone Push-Up.

Our family greeted Annie and Frank with an overload of happiness. Like the other guests, it was hard to let them go on to check in and get settled. Lizzie and I headed to the back pool, a prime position for seeing our third sister emerge from her room.

Another day of swimming, drinking, and playing in the warm Belize sunshine passed. We all parted ways in the late afternoon to ready ourselves for the start of the wedding weekend events, the beach BBQ.

Before Thursday night, when I heard "beach BBQ", thoughts of of hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill accompanied by beer and coke in a cooler came to mind. Silly me; I should have known my sister better than to expect picnic blankets and sloppy condiments.

If I had to describe the welcome beach barbeque in one word, it would be elegant. White-clothed tables donned with centerpieces of driftwood draped in blue fairylights were set out under an open-aired white tent. The moon, full and high, cast a soft blue light over the crashing waves of the ocean. The “barbeque” food was actually a delicious layout of Central American cuisine—corn tortillas, avocado salad, pulled pork, chicken, and shrimp, pico de gallo, tortilla soup…the fat kid inside of me could go on forever.

Everybody dressed in their tropical best...

...and my sister, my beautiful sister, looked the role of bride-to-be utterly perfectly. Wearing a sway-backed beaded white dress and a long strand of pearls knotted between her shoulder blades, Lizzie looked as if she had just stepped off of a vintage Hollywood movie set.

Isn't she perfect? And Kevin, as always, was dressed all night in the most important thing you could hope for a would-be groom to wear: a smile. We O'Carrolls have become quite fond of that smile.

Kevin’s smile and Lizzie’s laughter were infectious. Not one unhappy face was in sight.

After dinner, the good mood continued as people got up to dance to the live-music duo before heading to the pool bar.

And when I saw glasses of champagne and wine held in the hands of my sisters, two women that rarely drink, my excitement for the evening rose. As the copious amounts of food from dinner were settling in my belly and absorbing my glasses of champagne, I decided to play catch-up and bring a bottle of wine to the pool.

 Whoops. Not one of my better ideas. The rest of the night was a blur, but let's just say the women of the wedding party took full advantage of Coco Beach's no-rule policy. We settled in behind the bar, on the bar, and maybe even inside of the bar. God, there are so many good pictures out there. I feel like I'd get in trouble for posting them, though, so I'll spare all of you professionals out there (consider this me asking for permission...).

We drank, we danced, we laughed, we drank. Thank goodness I was carried to bed before the rest of the party was moved to the back pool and waterslide. Tales told the next morning of a bloody nose and ripped dress, both casualties of the waterslide, made me glad my husband put me to sleep before things got extra rowdy; though I'm sure I didn't feel the same as he lifted me into his arms on Thursday night.

I think it's safe to say that we started the wedding weekend off with a bang. Thank you, Kevin and Lizzie, for giving us one of the most magnificent beach barbecues ever to be had. And thank you, Coco Beach, for giving us a spectacularly wild night, details of which many of us may never remember.

Read about Friday here!