The Biggest Adventure Begins

The best way to describe our wedding was simply… fun.

I love being in the wedding saturated years of my life. Yeah, definitely because I’m happy for my friends (and me) who have taken themselves a luv-ah, but also, because with the people who matter to me being spread out across the map, I love the weekend long come-together.

Of course it was overshadowed by the fact that I was getting married but a big fun thing from my own wedding was splitting up a house among a bunch of dudes who came as strangers and left as (at the very least, Facebook) friends with one weekend’s worth of fun and very weird experiences.

This was the most ridiculous and random assortment of guys to have thrown together in a single house for the weekend of my wedding. A lot of them didn’t know anybody else in the batch prior to everyone getting together, but I had my hunches that this motley crew would mesh in odd and chaotic and interesting ways.

Still, as a little insurance to make sure everybody would get along just well, I got them all ninja stars.

This place was a gorgeous venue, one I’m glad I kept in the back of my mind for years.

One of the most fun parts of the wedding was the spread of people from so many different parts proud life all gathered together in a single mixed batch.

Of course I first got to enjoy the sight at the wedding rehearsal, especially with how many different friends we had in the party or playing some sort of role. Making it to the top of this breezy mountain and seeing all the reunions and getting-to-know-yas was a smilemaker.

Alex provided my bachelor party weekend with a soundtrack of Sia and SpongeBob ratchet remixes, taught the rest of my groomsmen how to whip, and was his wonderful dark, silent, awkward self

This kid’s been a part of my life since he was two, but he’ll finally be my nephew.

The rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner was so much, so much fun. Such a good shot of one of my favorite things about weddings.

Different people from so many different parts of my life, all the many different worlds God has given me to discover… cousins and roommates and Gauchos and Bakersfield friends and Deanna’s high school friends and LiNKers and almost-in-laws and aunts and Perlas and Arners and Fitzpatricks and Lazaros. This moment was exactly what I saw the instant I turned around in my seat and felt elated at how good it all was.

One of my favorite photos that I’ve seen from the wedding day so far– this shot my cousin Ivy grabbed of Deanna as the girls were all getting ready.

It goes without saying but Deanna was as stunning as brides get and then some. I had zero doubts that I would be impressed by however she decided to fix herself, but I know she put a lot of thought into it, and it was a work of art.

When Deanna and I get to thinking about people we want to host up here in Oregon, this is one of the first people to come to mind. Bre freakin’ Reed.

Perhaps all the race training now has made Deanna miss her last marathon partner. Or perhaps we just can’t get enough of that one night we tried to have one of our first in-depth conversations about our day-old relationship, and we ended up spending it all hanging with Bre.

Either way. Bre rocks. Hope it’s not too long before we see her again!

Bryce was one of my earliest friends at UCSB. I’ve met few people who are as good at being inviting and welcoming to new faces no matter the situation.

And he’s not just good at being a new friend. The longer you know Bryce, the more you get to discover his thoughtfulness, cleverness, and weirdness. Living with him for a year in college was a total blast.

Missing this dude today. Haven’t gotten to see Bryce since the wedding and hopefully that gets fixed soon. Let’s catch up soon.

It’s easy to remember but impossible to describe the moments right before the wedding get started. The steady influx of friends and family appearing, one familiar face after the next. The lightly salty scent of the ocean yards below us. The glowing gray of the sky and the cool breeze on skin.

One of the big fun parts of getting married was getting to meet the family members and family friends I’d heard plenty of but didn’t really have the faces to match with the names I’d heard so much about beforehand. Minutes before the ceremony, while Deanna was in hiding, I got go mingle for a little while and finally make those connections.

One of the most interesting people I met for the first time was Jim, Deanna’s grandma’s date! He ended up being one of the most active people I would see on the dance floor later on. Shouldn’t have underestimated his Uptown Funk.

Leading up to it, he kept my family entertained with his Tagalog phrases, baseball talk, and his big-time energy. You never know who’ll show up at your wedding.

Deanna and I had a really easy time picking somebody to officiate our wedding.

From doing pre-engagement counseling with us when each of us barely knew that was a thing to letting a bunch of bridesmaids turn a church building into a makeup studio to being a consistent part of our lives for years, it was a pretty obvious choice, actually.

Of the words that exist, the closest fit is the word thankful. Thankful for the start of our marriage. For the most fun evening spent chatting, dancing, and roasting s’mores with the most incredible people. For the spectacular view behind me at our ceremony that didn’t compare to the one in front, walking towards me. For Mrs. Deanna Lazaro.

After our wedding ceremony, the winds picked up even more, making it all the more chilly for the bridal party as we took turns taking group pictures.

The bridesmaids all his behind our decorative doors until they were taken away, then they huddled in a Prius. Meanwhile, to keep warm, my groomsmen fought each other.

A lot of people say, that the wedding is totally the bride’s day, which, sure, nobody’s gonna argue with that. Some say that these things are really more about the family, which is also hard to argue with, especially if they’re footing the bill. Then some people say to go in the opposite direction and make it about the two of you.

Here’s what I liked about our own wedding– it was all those things and none of those things at the same time. It wasn’t just about the sum of the two of us, but it was about the union, and everything represented by the ampersand between our two names. All the camping trips and inside jokes and meals shared and milestones and more.

Guest list omissions, pockets of stress, and unexpected costs– those are all for the most part, inevitable. But what we did do successfully, was make the day as fun as possible, and all the little touches we put on everything made it all the more special and personal.

Old era travel postcards and posters have a lot of my favorite design elements.

Deanna and I decided that instead of numbering the tables at our wedding, we would name them after some of our favorite places we’ve been to together

That gave me the fun activity of getting to design up retro style postcards of 16 different places from old photos.

“A journey is best measured in friends, not miles.”

–Tim Cahill

We could’ve gotten people to sign a frame, but it’s easy to accumulate wall-hanging type stuff to deck out a house with. It’s a bit more challenging to find interesting 3D items, so we decided to make one into our wedding guest book. At first the black sphere looked creepy, but everyone’s signatures made it a lot better.

We also framed the Tim Cahill right next to our guest book at our wedding the reception. We left out the fact that it was from a book called Jaguars Ripped My Flesh which now I really wish we included.

It was just three days before the wedding and Shelly and Andy insisted that there was something we needed to see. “Watch what the boys do,” they told us. They put on a symphonic metal song by the band Nightwish called Planet Hell. Luke just started bouncing around in his diaper, and Simon started doing laps around him with an imaginary sword. It was like a really, really epic aerial demonstrationmixed with some LARP-ing, and some really, really avant-garde ballet.

So, even though we were planning to have our bridal party march into the reception hall to AC/DC because of Simon’s love for Thunderstruck, we called an audible and switched the song to Planet Hell. And we told our whole bridal party not to stress themselves out too hard about what dramatic entrance to do… just do whatever the boys are doing, they’ll walk in first.

Night of our wedding reception, Simon and Luke were avant-LARP-ing all over the center of the dance floor, and everybody followed as instructed. I may be biased here, but that was the most fun bridal party entrance I’ve seen.

This was a great moment. I loved every second of our wedding. The traditions. The rites. The wacky unplanned surprises along the way. It was a night full of firsts and celebration.

It’s kinda crazy to think that as big of a celebration that day was of our togetherness, we’re gonna get even closer. I’ve known Deanna for such a long time, but our courses are set for an even longer amount of time ahead, and a deeper sort of knowing. There’s a sort of closeness that doesn’t come overnight, but only after hundreds of nights, testing patience and sharpening commitment.

All that to say, it’s crazy to think we’re gonna grow even closer, but since this day, we’ve already started.

This moment. At our wedding. Other than my wife, my newly minted father in law was one of my favorite people to keep an eye on during this day… because moments like this kept happening.

He isn’t a man of many words, and now it all makes sense, because a lot of the looks exchanged between him and Deanna on that day don’t have any adequate words to describe them.

I picked out the perfect song for our mother-son dance at the wedding. Go Where The Love Is. Last April, when the two of us took a trip to Arkansas, I taught her some basic salsa steps so we would be ready to go when the wedding day came and it was time to take to the floor.

My mom arrived, and could. Not. Wait. To be done dancing. I probably could’ve predicted this ahead of time, but dancing for a crowd of everyone watching her wasn’t exactly her thing! And the song went on a lot longer than I remembered.

It might not have been the most comfortable moment for her, but it was a great one.

Rich got up to make an epic speech that made a lot of people cry a good cry. He even explained why he would’ve rather had me as a son-in-law than Tim Tebow. Such a compliment! Slightly less of a compliment than it would’ve been circa 2012, but still a compliment I’ll take.

We loved our wedding reception and found this part of it to be very, very funny. But this is kind of our norm.

Toasts are usually one of my favorite parts of a wedding reception… even if I don’t know the bride or groom that well, I feel like I do a little bit better after hearing all the toasts from their friends. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that we had a whole bunch of toasts.

The best men and maids of honor, plus Deanna and myself, her dad, a cameo appearance by our ringbearer, and a stand up comedian, because, why not.

It’s impossible to pick a favorite out of this batch, because they were all really, really good. You end up saying quite a bit in a wedding toast that you wouldn’t in real life.

This was easily one of the best moments of the wedding reception. Easily.

“Hi! I’m Simon. I’m five. I have TWO things to say. One is that I like my Aunt Dee because she plays with me. And I like Uncle Philippe because he played with me in the pool. One time.”

Advice for newlyweds from newlyweds: Whenever people ask you when you’re gonna have kids, it’s a lot of fun to respond with a really, really specific date and walk away.

More advice: Even some of the areas in your life that seemed like strengths reveal their areas for improvement

Cake is cool and all, but to be honest, I’d take s’mores over cake any day, so that’s what we had at our wedding! We also ended up having a personal cake for the sake of having something to cut, and it was actually fantastic as far as cakes go, but since neither myself or Deanna are huge on cake, we decided to give everybody else s’mores.

The s’mores bar turned out to be a big hit, with some Nutella and peanut butter as options to boot. Go s’mores!

A mini flashback to last summer and the wedding and one of my favorite shots.

I went to college with some of the coolest people. It surprises me a lot how long it’s been since we were all together in that same college town. It also amazes me how much everyone’s done since that time.

I’m glad I’ve stayed close to so many people four years after and I hope to keep it up. I haven’t quite found such a level of interconnected living since that time. A good part of that is simply meant to be for that season of life, but it’s also opened my eyes to what it’s like to be connected to people in such a full way.

The key to a great wedding reception is to find a great emcee.

The key to finding a great emcee is having friends who know how to party.

And if you want a friend who knows how to party, be friends with Gabe.

Luke gets plenty of attention.

He loves it.

Wedding flashback to some excitement. This one ended in a tie and we didn’t quite know the proper protocol for overtime. Somebody should make a definitive procedure for that though.

Bouquet toss ended in a tie and we didn’t quite know the proper protocol for overtime. Somebody should make a definitive procedure for that though.

This picture speaks for itself.

The garter toss is one of the strangest wedding traditions out there. I have no idea how it originated, and don’t really care to look that up. I don’t even have any decent guesses. The more you think about it, the weirder it gets.

Actually, I think that when it comes to the garter toss, the best thing is to not even think about it. Just totally lean into its weirdness and go all out.

Sometimes that calls for throwing on Gangster’s Paradise, realizing that you know way more of the lyrics than you thought you did while lip-rapping to each other, and using an actual garter belt instead of the scrunchie that usually gets tossed. Just to give the recipient an added surprise.

The best way I could describe our wedding day is the most simple way. It was fun. A whole lot of fun, from the beginning to end. We wouldn’t have changed a thing.

We have so many great people in our lives. Seeing personalities meet and mesh and then spend hours dancing was our favorite wedding present. And that’s saying something, because we got board games, camping equipment, and cookbooks galore.

This is one of my favorite, simple, wedding shots. My Auntie Ella is one of the people I look up to the most in life. It was great getting to have fun with her at our wedding.

It’s funny how random, periphery moments can also stand out on such a big day. Here’s hoping more in person visits to my aunts can happen sometime soon.

Oh hey, it’s a fun pic of Uncle Steve dancing it up at our wedding reception.

I may be a bit biased here, but I don’t think I could’ve gotten a crowd that was more dance floor happy than the bunch we had at our wedding. It’s in our genes and friendship-genes I guess.

One of the fun parts of our reception that totally brought me back to college mode was the little line dance session we managed to have in the middle of dancing. Slappin’ Leather is the only line dance I can manage to remember still, so Slappin’ Leather we did.

Oh and it was great getting to have Ally teach everyone the basics.

Having a stand up comedian perform at your wedding is kind of a risky move, and honestly I don’t think I would recommend it to most people.

That said, if that stand up act happens to come from Jihyun, that changes everything. Possibly the only person I would totally trust in this oddly specific role.

If you also have the pleasure of knowing this guy the way I do, you know that I don’t really need to explain why Jihyun is one of my favorite people hands down. I don’t think I’ve really gotten to know anybody who is so consistently positive while being grounded in real life.
I’m so glad I’ve gotten to have Jihyun as one of my groomsmen, even though I asked him before I was totally sure everything would work out with him being in Korea and all. Glad that I’ve been able to see him pretty regularly even while we’ve lived in different countries. It’s been worth it, so I can try to get enough of his Jihyun-ness to rub off on me.

Whether it’s getting to enjoy showing each other around places where we live and flying overseas to visit each other, or just doing our best to Skype as regularly as we can despite crazy lives, it’s a real treat.

Morning after our wedding, we got breakfast as husband and wife at one of our favorite places in Santa Barbara.

It’s a sweet, funny feeling having known Deanna for six or seven years and having dated for three but being just at the start of it all. And it’s been one marvelous start.

The day after our wedding we wound up getting Daniel to be our driver and chaperone for the day, as I long speculated would happen, many years ago.
Here’s to that wacky day, and Lil’ Toot, the tiny tourist trap speedboat that somehow Deanna decided we should all ride. Little did we know that the tickets were a one way ride and we’d have to walk all the way back to State Street for our car. Daniel loved that whole experience, lemme tell ya.
It’s been three years since I’ve lived in SB but it’s still always been an important place to me. I was raised in other cities and have more recently lived in other cities. But SB will always be the special place, in a life full of significant places.
One big win from this year, finally taking a flight out of the Santa Barbara Airport.

A handful of gates, the smoothest and easiest time getting through security, and some sweet Spanish charm.

It was everything I thought it would be.

So we’re on our way to the honeymoon via the Phoenix airport when who do we run into other than our friend and cameraman, Lei on a layover returning to Atlanta!

So happy to have gotten you to take video and spend some time with us during the best weekend of our lives, despite flight delays and general chaos. Loved chatting about dream chasing… Hope it’s not too long before we do it again!

Cheers to the very best night!