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The Untold Story of Our Wedding

It occurred to me awhile back, while I was reviewing some old Road Scholars posts, that not everyone is in the loop on the chaos that ensued in the days leading up to our wedding. As we celebrate our four year anniversary, I can't help but remember the sequence of events that finally culminated--through the grace of God--in the big day.

To tell the story properly, I must begin at the beginning, our relocation to Texas. Because we were living 1200 miles away from the city in which we would wed, we had to make the most of our holiday visit to California in December. Our highest priority was, of course, finding a reception venue and we executed beautifully. There were only two caveats--deal breakers, if you will. Jen was adamant about not having the reception at a country club. She didn't feel that was the atmosphere that properly suited the mood we wanted for the party. I was against a traditional "banquet room" setting for the same reason. At the time, my dad was gigging regularly at a restaurant in the gated community of Coto de Caza called Cynthia's Steakhouse. We paid it a visit. It was perfect. Elegant, but not too pretentious. Ample opportunities for photos, and as an added bonus, we had an "in".

Cynthia's SteakhouseOver the next six months, we coordinated the rest of the details of the wedding from Texas. 2006 was a busy year for weddings. One of Jen's friends got married in June, one of mine in July, and ours was in August, all in California. To reduce travel costs, and since she wasn't working during the summer, Jen flew to California in June and stayed until our wedding, taking care of any remaining details that needed to be done in person. Everything was going great. The invitations went out as scheduled, Jen's prolonged visit allowed her an opportunity for a shower and bachelorette party, and when I flew out for the July wedding we took our engagement pictures. Then, on August third, just over two weeks away from the wedding, Jen got a phone call, and I got in big big trouble.

Sometime after the July wedding, after I'd already returned to San Antonio, my dad called me. The lease on Cynthia's Steakhouse was up for renewal and Cynthia, the owner, was having some trouble negotiating terms. It seemed there were some parties within the community that, for whatever politically motivated reason, were not too keen on seeing Cynthia's stick around. Cynthia believed it would all work out and, even if she was unsuccessful, our reception would more than likely not be at risk. In the interest of full disclosure, my dad wanted me to know. We both agreed that it was neither necessary nor prudent to burden the bride with the issue. After all, the odds, I was told, were in our favor.

A few days later, Jen's phone rang.

"Hi Jennifer, this is Tracy from the Coto de Caza Country Club. I just wanted to call and discuss the details of your wedding reception for August 19th."

Oh shit.

I doubt this is how she looked after the phone call.My phone rang. It was a woman. She was frantic. She sounded vaguely like the woman I was supposed to marry in two weeks.  She told me about the call she just received. I made a fatal error and said something to the effect of "Oh. Yeah. Um...about that."


She sounded less like the woman I was supposed to marry. In truth, I actually did not know events had transpired causing our reception to be moved. I only knew of the possibility of such events. I confessed as much, thankful I was 1200 miles away. I made a few phone calls and learned the rest of the story.

Cynthia had not been successful in renewing her lease (obviously). To her credit, she had friends at the Coto Country Club and arranged for them to honor the contract she made with us, sans the venue. And the venue, arguably and in retrospect, was better than the original. What is not arguable is the speed and efficiency with which the country club moved once they got word from Cynthia that the favor would need to be called in. They were so efficient that they called Jen before Cynthia had a chance to call me. I had a little trouble successfully spinning the situation to Jen as a testament to efficiency. 

The Coto Country ClubAlthough everything worked out OK in the end, there was understandably some angst about such a last minute change. The biggest factor was that this new venue would be the middle of August. Climate was most certainly now a concern. And then there's that little matter of the one thing the bride requested of a reception venue: that it not be a country club.

As if things weren't complicated enough, I chose my brother to be my best man. He was in the police academy. I was in Texas. There would be no bachelor party. The weekend before the wedding, four days before I was to fly out to California, I was scheming up some good last minute bachelor activities with my buddy Jeff who had just gone through a divorce. Is this starting to sound like a plot for the next "Hangover" movie? Now that I write it all down and read it out loud, it sounds like a bad idea. Even so, it was a tame day. We could have gone to a strip club, but we didn't. We could have gone "guy shopping" to an electronics store. We didn't. Instead we decided to go shooting.

That evening I again found myself in a telephone conversation I did not want to be having.

Sean: "Sweetheart, the important thing is that I'm OK".

Jen: "What happened?" 

Sean: "There's only three stitches". (I set the phone down on the counter and turned my head).

Jen: "(Incoherent) did you get three stitches?"

Sean: "Weeeell..." At this point, I kept hearing the teacher in "A Christmas Story" telling Ralphie "you'll shoot your eye out".

I casually (I think I was slightly drugged, maybe drunk) described how Jeff and I had gone to the range to fire his .223 rifle. The last time I shot anything close to a rifle was at Camp Cherry Valley Boy Scout Camp on Catalina Island in 19...well, you get the idea. It was a .22. For the record, a .223 has a little more "kick". Not realizing this, I put my head a little too close to the scope and BAM!; blood everywhere.

The other guys on the range with us were great. As I reeled back, hand to head, trying to figure out what the &^%$ just happened, they unloaded and packed up Jeff's rifles for us. I made the walk of shame from the rifle range, past the pistol range, back into the range office, past the line of people waiting to pay and into the bathroom--with my hand on my head, red blood oozing down my face.

I closed the bathroom door, looked in the mirror and took my hand away. Someone had handed me a first aid kit. Up to this point I was hoping a band-aid would do the trick. Staring in the mirror at the gash above my eyebrow I knew I was out of luck. As I walked out of the bathroom I told Jeff we were going to the hospital. During the drive (which seemed to take forever) the truck filled with anxiety. My head didn't really hurt that much, but my stomach was in knots about the phone call I knew I would eventually have to make. Jeff was worried too, but he knew I would be OK. He wasn't sure that he would be OK once Jen finished with him. He cried a little just thinking about it. 

Makeup!It all worked out in the end. We provided maps to the reception at the ceremony, so most of the guests didn't even realize the venue had changed. My mom removed the stitches right before the rehearsal. The day of the wedding, my mom periodically touched up my head with concealer.

Jen's reaction was very moderate, she was just happy I didn't "shoot my eye out" and the ordeal distracted her a bit from the reception venue debacle. She even agreed to uphold a cover story involving a cabinet door and a clumsy Sean. Until just now, that remained the official account of what happened. In retrospect, I suppose it was better for all the drama and disaster to occur before the wedding and not during or after.

Even still, Jen and I both agree; next time we're eloping.