Here it is, Volume II in my little mini-series of tributes and homage to the wedding of my close friend Mark ‘Mookie’ McGrath and his lovely bride, Kerry Logan. In my first post, I touched upon a few details of the big day while reserving the bulk of space for the text of my Rehearsal Dinner speech.
I’d like to use this space to color in the corners and bring to life the various elements that came together so perfectly to craft a picture-postcard wedding. I’ll bring you from Friday evening’s rehearsal to Sunday afternoon’s wedding and reception and if you are lucky, perhaps a peek into the boudoir. (Mark – ya’ better start scouring the area for cleverly concealed Nanny Cams. My readers demand Mookie Booty!!!)
All joking aside, one of my goals in drafting these posts is the simple desire to create an on-line scrapbook for Mark and Kerry. While I have tried to document some of the highlights as my eyes caught them and my memory catalogued them, there’s no way I saw it all. So, if you were a guest of any of the events and have an anecdote you would like to share, please use the Comments section below and add your own fabric to this great tapestry. Even if you don’t have a story to share, please feel free to use the Comments to wish Mark and Kerry well or apply your signature to this virtual guest book. (Or, in the great Internet tradition, simply use the space to pimp some products. I’m sure someone among my dozens of readers is just dying to purchase 14 Cases of Ephedrine).
Anyway, this two-post approach is fitting as the entire wedding weekend was filled with such fun, love and laughter that a mere smattering of paragraphs just doesn’t do it justice. We gotta’ raise the roof on this one.
On with the show.
We kicked things off Friday evening with the rehearsal at St. Agatha’s Church in East Milton. The church was simply beautiful – elegant stonework giving way to a warm, welcoming sanctuary. As a monsoon had swept in at just the right time to give anxious commuters and Brides-to-Be severe pause, there was a slight delay in assembling all of the varied personalities that made up Kerry and Mark’s wedding party. Andi and I report from experience. It took us 28 minutes to travel .5 miles from the I-93 off-ramp to the church parking lot. Still, everyone made it there eventually and when we all assembled, the rehearsal went off without a hitch.
Immediately following the rehearsal, the party train departed for The Common Market in Quincy, MA where Mark’s parents hosted the Logan Family, as well as a grand assortment of friends and relatives, for a bountiful celebratory feast. There, in a second floor function room that gave off a comforting New England vibe, we all enjoyed safe haven from the storm that raged outside as we looked to the sunny days ahead.
As I detailed in my last post, several of Mark and Kerry’s friends and family took this opportunity to rise and give voice to their most cherished hopes and dreams for Kerry and Mark – and to a projected lifetime of good fortune and cheer.
To insure that we ended the night on an especially high note, a baker’s dozen of the party guests adjourned to the first floor tavern where we toasted the night away, backed by a soundtrack of extreme drunken warbling. In honor of Kerry and Mookie – or Kerryookie as those damned paparazzi have dubbed them – we gathered en masse and allowed the smooth, mellow vocals of Mark McGrath to play us off well into the night.
And of course, I was sure to play the role of good Groomsman and joined Mook in a little impromptu rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s greatest hits which I chased with my own solo shot of ‘Just a Gigolo’.
It could have been much, much worse. Mark was angling for ‘It’s Raining Men’ but we didn’t want to give everyone the wrong idea. Nope, for my money, it doesn’t get any more butch than ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’.
He also wanted me to sing ‘Rehab’ but I said “No, No, No.”
Before we pulled the shutters on the night, Mark decided to fly solo and gave Kerry a little preview of her life with him by ordering the DJ to queue up Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler.’ It was a risky gambit – after all, ya’ gotta’ know when to hold ‘em – but Kerry stood by her man. Of course, had he busted out the ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘Locomotion’ that he was so keen on crooning, this story may have spun its way to a very different conclusion but we were able to dodge that ball and keep Mark on track. Next stop, Twelve Step Program. (I kid, of course. The closest Mook has come to gambling addiction is his infatuation with ABBA’s ‘Take a Chance on Me.‘)
The nice thing about the weekend set-up is Saturday existed as a little buffer between the rehearsal activities of Friday evening and the main event scheduled for Sunday. Therefore, most of us scattered to parts unknown and used Saturday to do a little shopping, complete some errands, take in a movie and of course, cap the night with the Red Sox Game 6 victory over Cleveland – thus setting up the potential for a truly memorable Sunday.
When dawn broke on Sunday, the stage was set for one of those storybook days. The mercury hovered somewhere just shy of 60 degrees at daybreak and the forecast called for sunny skies and a temp in the low-to-mid 70’s; this last blast of Indian Summer coming a mere week away from November. October can be dicey – hell, The Perfect Storm hit on Halloween – but for Mark and Kerry’s wedding day, the clouds parted, the sun shone bright and the sky beamed a brilliant shade of deep blue.
The wedding was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. EST at St. Agatha’s. Groomsmen were instructed to arrive at the church by 1:30 p.m. EST to begin seating guests. Not wanting to repeat Friday evening’s driving debacle, I loaded up the car with my son, Kerry and Mark’s ring bearer – Colin, and we made tracks for the sanctuary a bit early. Pulling into St. Agatha’s parking lot, I had the radio tuned to 104.1 WBCN, which was broadcasting the Patriots-Dolphins game. At 1:20 p.m. EST, the Pats were up 7-0 and had just recovered a fumble deep in Miami territory. Knowing that another Pats victory was at hand, I bound into the church with an extra spring in my step.
This was going to be one fantastic day!!!
The entire ceremony was spectacular. The bridesmaids (all Kerry’s dear friends) and Maid-of Honor (Kerry’s sister Amy) were beautiful and the Groomsmen were equal parts, dapper and debonair (special shout out to myself for really stepping up, shearing my dome and setting the tone!!!).
From my perspective, Clan Humphries was well represented.
As I mentioned, I was privileged to stand alongside Mark, his brothers and Sean and Joe with one firm directive in mind. Bride side on Left. Groom side on Right. Of course, there were a few people who said they were friends of both so I just called an audible and directed that they sit right down the center aisle. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a Bride hurdle.
My wife Andi was asked by Mark and Kerry to sing several pieces during the ceremony including Ave Maria which accompanied the seating of the maternal members of each family. Her voice like an angel, she set the perfect tone. This is the moment when hearts soar.
Andi’s performance provided ample evidence that I really do drag her down a few notches in the talent department – although to be fair, I do a mean ‘Baby Got Back’.
Colin rounded out our representation, playing his role as ring bearer like a pro – although he was a bit taken aback when he discovered that the rings on his pillow were simply for show. As he was being escorted by Andi to a few rows back, I heard him denounce, “This is a conspiracy.” I think that may have been a little payback from Kerry and Mark who earlier this month were on the receiving end of some last minute demands made by the ring bearer. In a tense phone call, Colin issued his ultimatum. If he was going to take this gig, there were certain ‘riders’ to his contract that needed to be attended to:
Colin: If there isn’t any chocolate milk, we’re not coming to the wedding.
Mark: Chocolate Milk. Got it.
Colin: And chicken fingers.
Mark: McNuggets. You got it.
Colin: I said chicken fingers!
Mark: Right, right, right… chicken fingers.
Colin: Oh… and there’d better be Karaoke.
Mark: Kid… NOW you’re speaking my language!!!
Before moving on to my coverage of the reception, I wanted to drop two quick anecdotes that made me smile.
As we stood at the head of the church, awaiting our marching orders, Colin alerted Kerry that “Mookie is hiding somewhere in the Church”. No problem. We simply amended her vows to begin “Come out, come out, wherever you are” and the crisis was averted.
That got Mark’s beautiful bride, Kerry, laughing about a close call she had a few moments prior. At one point, as she awaited the call to begin that final march forward towards the start of her new life, she looked up and gasped. There, standing before her, she thought she spied a smiling Mark, mere inches away. Quickly her mind raced. Across town, a black cat ran under a ladder and broke through a mirror. Ah, but her eyes DID deceive her. It wasn’t Mark… but his look-alike brother Kevin. When she recounted the tale, we all laughed, but inside we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Had the deception continued – had she exchanged vows with Kevin instead of Mark – we may have all been witness to the world’s first rapid fire Marriage-Annulment-Marriage.
One other observation. I have polled my fellow Groomsmen and we’re not completely certain that anyone was actually married that day. You see, we couldn’t hear one word Mark said when he was giving his vows. And I don’t mean that in the sense that his speech was muffled or whispered. I mean, it was sub-audible and we were literally feet away from him. I asked his brothers, who sat one pew ahead, if they heard anything and they confirmed my suspicions. Mark, caught up in the Karaoke high from a few nights before, may have been exposed as the Milli Vanilli of the group and lip-synched the entire thing, only someone forgot to kick start his vocal track.
Well, fortunately the priest heard enough, and he did in fact unite Kerry and Mark in wedded bliss. As I mentioned in volume one, that’s the exact moment that hearts broke and tears blossomed as the world said goodbye to two incredible individuals and hello to Mr. and Mrs. Mark and Kerry McGrath – one incredible couple.
From there, it was a quick hop via a spacious stretch limo to Granite Links in Quincy for the official wedding photos and the reception. The limo driver did his best to insure that our spirits continued to rise when he reported that at half-time, the Patriots were leading Miami 42-7 with Brady having thrown 5 touchdown passes. The football scores were simply the icing on a pretty rich cake of a day – a day that would only continue to grow sweeter as the time and good tidings piled on.
The reception at Granite Links was amazing. For those that don’t know, Granite Links is a top-tier golf course and country club built atop the remnants of the old Quincy Quarries. The earth carted out from the Big Dig was diverted to two destinations – the first was to fill the quarries and provide a solid foundation for this world class resort and the second was to construct a second Moon for the Earth (scheduled to open in 2010).
Thus, Granite Links rests atop a vast plateau which looks out over a generous expanse of wooded countryside before delivering your eyes to the majestic visage of the Boston skyline rising in the distance. With the calendar turned to a few days shy of November, the surrounding landscape is painted an autumnal mosaic of magentas, greens and golds. In the evening, the glow of Fenway Park rises over the horizon – providing expert navigation to the direct epicenter of that mythic ‘Land of Hopes and Dreams.’
The setting provided a stunning backdrop for Kerry and Mark’s wedding photos. As the guests enjoyed a fine cocktail hour under the generous expanse of an outdoor canopy, the entire wedding party posed for pictures and mingled alongside friends and family.
I was thrilled to spy some festive gourds decoratively placed on the server trays. Here is where we trek slightly into inside joke territory. You see, on Friday night, I was issued a stern warning from Kerry.
This is a shout back to a wedding that we all attended one year prior in Albany, NY. That too, was an October wedding, and the reception hall was decked out in festive Fall attire. At some point, as the band played and we all ‘got our groove on’, I co-opted a handful of mini pumpkins and gourds and used them as props for my makeshift Riverdance. (Hey, Papelbon wears a Bud Light box. I juggle produce. To each his own.)
So, when that server approached me with a delectable spray of mouth-watering Asian Chicken skewers, I smiled and replied, “I would love one” and promptly scooped up the gourd. Of course, it was an idle threat. I waltzed by Kerry once or twice brandishing the offending vegetable (fruit?) before security moved in and smashed my pumpkins.
All in all, an absolutely wonderful day was capped by a truly fun reception.
Mark’s Best Men – brothers John and Kevin – set the mood right with a poem that teased the sweet with a teeny-tiny bit of sour (or more-to-the point, good natured kidding). I’m fortunate to have scored a copy of the speech from John; a toast that brought the house down in laughter and boasts the line of the night.
As we join together for your wedding day,
I have a few things that I would like to say.
Through the course of my life I have met no other,
So Kerry here is the real story about my older brother.
He is difficult, he is anal, and he is almost always late.
I still can’t believe he found such a perfect mate.
He is kind, he is caring, but when he invites you out to eat,
Just don’t expect to hear, “Don’t worry this one is my treat.”
He is nervous, he fidgets, and he acts like the karaoke king,
But if you ever need something he’ll drop everything.
As for prior love interests, you are more than a suitable replacement,
No other girl could get him to move out of my parent’s basement.
The whole family was so excited to hear about Mark and Kerry’s future plans,
Could it be? Someone was actually going to take Mark off our hands.
It happened so fast; it was all such a blur,
I kept asking my father, “How much do we owe her?”
As time went by it became clear to me,
This girl Kerry, she did it all for free!
I tried to keep this poem from being too sappy,
But I have never seen Mark acting so happy.
She is sweet, nice, beautiful, and kind.
She actually helps Mark, when he can’t make up his mind.
These two are so perfect for each other words can’t explain
So ladies and gentlemen please raise your glass of champagne.
Here is to Kerry and Mark, and a long, happy, and healthy marriage.
That parent’s basement line kills me!!! It’s funny because it’s oh-so true.
I’d be remiss if I closed out without extending my deepest gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Logan (and their entire family) as well as Mr. and Mrs. McGrath (and their whole clan) for a truly heart-warming celebration. Everyone made each of us feel so warm and welcome. We never wanted it to end. And, of course, a special thank you to Mr. Logan for arranging a viewing party of the Red Sox Game 7 in the Granite Links private club house following the wedding festivities. To soak in that thrilling victory, surrounded by a group of people intoxicated on good cheer, was truly special.
My World Series prediction – Sox in 6. Let’s celebrate this one at home.
If there are any regrets to be found anywhere in this glowing tribute, it’s that the entire event had to come to an end. I know – in life, all good things must come to an end – but that revelation never makes it easier. Maybe I’m just a sentimental fool but there is something inside me that so enjoys every minute of the time I am fortunate to spend surrounded by family and friends (both longtime and newly minted ones). When you gather together groups of people who come from their own unique backgrounds and share common history amongst themselves and then get to bear witness to complete strangers making fast friends (in the process, adding greater value to their lives), it is bittersweet to see it all come to its inevitable conclusion.
I refer back to a piece I wrote last year, following my father’s marriage to my step-mother Missy. In that piece, I talked about The Impossible Dream. Here’s an excerpt – which I think echoes what I’m trying to say now.
For me, that dream is of a life where every single person I’ve ever made a connection with – be they friend or family – never had to mosey on. I wish my life was so wide open – my responsibilities so few – time so malleable – that I had room enough to keep in touch with every single person that I’ve ever whiled away an afternoon engaged in the simple pleasures of good conversation. Whether it was a BBQ chat about the Sox and how it might not be the Yankees that suck – or those vital whispers of encouragement on the eve of your wedding day – or those great midnight chats you have with your close friends and family, where the topics meander so far astray that you pray someone sketched a roadmap on a cocktail napkin so you can figure out what the hell you were talking about in the first place. It’s those people that I wish I never had to bid a fond adieu. Not even for an instant.
Of course, reality bites. Details of the dream are fleeting and by breakfast, it’s a distant memory. The euphoria you have when in the company of your beloved friends and family soon fades as you merge back into the traffic of your everyday routine.
Hey, I can be as Man’s Man as the next man but I’m not afraid to give you all a little peak into the clock works toiling away in my heart and let you see a little bit of what really makes me tick. You know immediately when you’ve met great people. You realize that even if your time is fleeting, your life has been enriched in some way and it’s wise to take notice of that. To realize that this is what this life is all about.
Making those connections.
As we bear witness to two great families coming together in celebration of the love that has sparked between two very special people to them, we can’t help but take a step back and feel fortunate that we got that rare opportunity to take it all in. Appreciating that love and those bonds is what makes us better people.
And that’s where I draw these observations to a close. I’ll let the camera draw in nice and tight on the two people who mean the world to us.
On Mark and Kerry…
May they live, laugh and love forever.