The following year, at a San Jose Giants game, Michelle mentioned that she and her best friend had a bet; would Andy would "pop the question" before or after his birthday. I didn't answer, because I knew that she and Andy were going to go to Disneyland over Labor Day weekend (as part of a trip to watch Cal play at San Diego State). I suspected that Andy would ask her at the park. It turned out that the Disneyland portion of the trip had to be postponed, so, on the day after her birthday (but several weeks before his), Andy popped the question at the top of Mount Livermore on Angel Island as part of a poem he wrote. She was speechless, and eventually said yes.
Eventually, Andy asked me to be a member of the wedding party; I was honored. The wedding was to be held on Sunday, December 1, at the Westin in Millbrae.
I got to the hotel at about 3, and the rehearsal was supposed to start at 3:30. Check-in was kind of strange; Unlike most hotels, the Westin has a series of high desks instead of a counter. It took about 10 minutes to get my room key and "gift bag" (Andy and Michelle left small bags of snacks and the days' schedule with maps showing where certain events were taking place). I got settled in...the room was pretty nice and the fridge had space for the items that were in the gift bag.
At the rehearsal I met all of the participants:
Groom: Andy Gross Bride: Michelle Harris Best Men: Andy's brothers, Gary and Kevin Maid of Honor: Michelle's sister, Robin Matron of Honor: Michelle's best friend, Michelle Atno-Hall (I had met her and her husband John a year earlier at Great America) Chuppah (wedding canopy) holders: Dori & Larry Hoffman (who Andy and I both met in Rally Comm and have been friends with ever since) and two friends of Michelle Rabbi: Mark Blume (who has been friends with Andy for a very long time. In fact, when met Mark at the Citrus Bowl on New Years Day of 1992, Andy told me "He's going to officiate my wedding.")
During the second run through, the Chuppa holders, who had the Chuppah poles bit not the Chuppah itself, started singing the "Oh-WEEE-oh" song from The Wizard of Oz. Michelle A-H and I pondered singing "We're off to see the Wizard" and skipping out of the room, but we didn't.
After the rehearsal, Dori, Larry, and I caught up with everything that had happened since the previous week (of course we had to say "Hey! Long time no see!") They also told me about the Saturday morning service, which they attended because they flew up from LA on Friday. Dori and Larry's room was almost across the hall from mine. While I had a view of some buildings and the freeway, they had a view of the bay, and two SFO runways; In fact, while we were chatting, we got to see a Singapore Airlines 747 abort its landing (how often do you see that happen?).
But back to the story. That night, Andy's parents hosted a pre- nuprial dinner at the Villa Hotel in San Mateo. Most of the wedding guests who were in the Westin met about a half-hour before the dinner to arrange car pools. After about 10 minutes (which wasn't bad, we divided up, with Robin and myself riding in Dori and Larry's car.
When we got to the Villa Hotel, we saw a sign outside that said "Congratulations Andy & Michele". Dori took some photos. Only when we walked inside did we find out that the sign was mis-spelled; When we walked in, Michelle's father (who I first met at a Giants game about a week after Andy popped the question--he invited Andy and me to his company's Luxury Box) was telling the front desk about the mistake.
Before the dinner everyone celebrated Havdalah--the end of Shabbat (the Sabbath). The celebration included a ceremony in which everyone sings, says the blessing, and in which Andy and Michelle dowsed a candle in wine. Even though I didn't know the words to the songs that we were singing, I tried to sing. Dori and Larry told me that I did a good job in faking it.
We then sat down for dinner. I was "the odd man out" at my table, as the others were Andy & Michelle, Dori & Larry, Michelle & her husband, and Mike and his wife. Oh well. Dinner was quite good--Salmon and other stuff.
During the dinner, we were treated to testimonials and stories. I can't remember all of them, but some of the points included:
Following the dinner, we walked back out and saw that the staff had fixxed the sign. Dori took more photos, and then we drove back to the Westin. Back at the hotel, Andy asked us to visit his room first before retiring. There we met the rest of the wedding party, and Andy surprised us with gifts. Each of the men received a large desk clock with our names engraved on the base. The women were given pearl necklaces. We ended up talking for a little while, and we even mentioned the Casablanca story. Someone suggested that we should find a video store and rent it, but the rest of us knew that the next day would be long, and that it'd be good to get some sleep; so we did.
Check out was a snap...so I went to where the photos were being taken. Andy wasn't nervous the night before, but was a bit nervous this morning. The photographer took a couple of shots of us, and then shooshed me out the room. The other members of the wedding party started arriving and eventually everone was ready.
Just so you know what people were wearing--Larry and the two other male chuppah holders wore suits and Dori wore a nice dress. The men of the wedding party all wore traditional tuxedos with black ties. The maid and matron of honor both had blue dresses that looked lovely (though the two dresses were different styles). Finally, the bride wore a traditional white wedding gown with a six foot long train. We were concerned that the train might interfere with the part of the ceremony where the bride circles the groom, but it didn't.
Back to the story. We went into the ceremony room, and were directed by the photographer. the photographer reminded several of us of the "soup nazi" from Seinfeld as he ordered all of us around saying things like "Sit in any of the seats well behind the tripod, and DON'T TALK." Michelle, the matron of honor had the worst of it, as she had to move things around, and at one point, was ordered to take off her shoes. We really couldn't believe that one, but I guess it's because she's a little taller than Michelle and Andy (who aren't that tall). The photographer then sent us out of the room. It turned that the Chuppah holders were not needed for photos, because things were running late, and the guests were arriving.
We all snuck out the side door and went into a "staging room" to finish our preparations.
The first part of the ceremony was the signing of the Ketubah--the wedding contract. They signed this in the "staging room" where all of the wedding party had gathered (the other guests didn't get to see this part). When Larry signed the Ketubah as a witness, he gave his pen to Andy as a momento. As soon as the Kattubah was signed, Andy and Michelle were married--all the rest was for show.
Next, the banquet hall doors were opened, and we went in to grab our tables. This time I was not the odd man out, as I ended up at a singles table with Yumiko and John, while Dori & Larry and Sam & her SO ended up at the next table with Michelle A-H & her husband John, and one other couple. I personally would have preferred all of us Cal people to be at the same table, but I guess the numbers wouldn't work. Oh well.
Just before lunch was served, I had to go back outside so that I could be introduced with the rest of the wedding party. I ended up escorting Michelle A-H again; This time it was a little awkward, as the two of us were the only wedding party members not sitting at the main table. We managed to walk in ok though.
During the salad portion, the band played a few light songs; to which some of the older people danced. I spent the time catching up further. The lunch itself was pretty good (especially by hotel catering standards).
Then, members of the families made more speeches and toasts, and then we all danced and talked and danced and mostly talked. If there's one thing I'm going to have to do next year, it's to learn how to dance. Fortunately for me, another nice thing about Jewish weddings is that the most important dances are done in circles of people, which wasn't too tough.
By this time it was getting late. Andy and Michelle cut the cake and fed each other slices of cake (no, they didn't smash the slices in each others faces). The cake had two flavors--lemon and chocolate. I ended up getting a slice of lemon cake, and it was good.
Then the emmcee called all of the "single ladies" to the floor. I ended up pushing Yumiko out to the dance floor for the bouquet toss. It turned out that the "fix" was on--Robin was engaged so she caught the bouquet.
For the garter toss, I ended up standing to the left of Robin's fiancee. When Andy cocked the garter, I saw that he was aiming to the left of ME! I tried to yank Robin's fiancee to where I though the garter would end up. It was a moot point--Andy's first attempt went straight up and then back down. When his second shot also fell short--in front someone who was on my left--I picked up the garter to hand it back to Andy for him to try again. All of the other guys said "Oh, you can have it!". This is the second time I've ended up getting a garter that was supposed to go to somebody else. The first time, at my Cousin Roy's wedding, my Cousin Ann's fiancee at the time (now her husband) Bryce was supposed to catch it. I stood behind Bryce, who ducked out of the way when Roy shot the garter. Oh well, it's not like catching the garter has done anything for me. This time, people asked me "So, when are you going to get married". My answer, "When I know I've met the right woman."
After that, things wrapped up and we all went our separate ways. Dori and Larry flew back to LA, Sam and her SO drove back to San Jose, Yumiko drove back to the city, John drove back to Fremont, and I drove back to Berkeley while Andy & Michelle walked up to their suite (They took their honeymoon--a Caribbean cruise--later that week.) Of course, we're all wondering who the next wedding will be for.
Of course, I did reallize something else, as I began writing this. One of my first "logs" was a description of Gretchen and Kendall's wedding...I'm going to have to see if I have a copy of that one somewhere.