I know, I know! Several of you have been waiting for quite a while for my post about our son, Alex and Erin’s wedding! I put my phone and camera away for most of the wedding events, so I had to wait until the professional photographer, Heather McBride, posted her photos. And what amazingly, beautiful photos they are!!!
We arrived in Pennsylvania in mid-July, after a quick stop at Natural Bridge in Virginia, five weeks before the wedding so that we could help with all the pre-wedding preparations but as it turns out we had very little to do. Since both the bride and groom are professional event planners, they had just about everything under control and it left us with lots of free time.
To fill that time, we I found pickleball courts near by and got in a few games, we took a hike around Marsh Creek State Park which was just across the creek from the campground, did a lot of shopping, and we went to a Lithuanian Festival and the PA Renaissance Faire. I must say the Ren Faire was probably one of the best we have ever been to during our travels. We also took the time to make a repair to the roof of one of the living room slides applying a couple of coats of Flex seal.
We were staying at the Brandywine Creek Campground which is the closest RV park to Philadelphia where all the wedding events would be happening. This is a perfect place to camp if you want to explore the city. It was also very close to Erin’s family, so we were able to get together with them for several outings.
First up, I took the train into Brooklyn to spend the weekend with the happy couple. We spent time on wedding planning and running errands, but also got out for some sightseeing in Central Park and the Natural History Museum plus we went to the Barbie movie.
The down time also gave us a wonderful opportunity to get to know our son’s future in-laws, Jeff and Rebecca. I spent a day in Philly with Rebecca checking out the Welcome Dinner venue, meeting with the florist for that event and having a lovely lunch at the PS & Company a great vegan restaurant. (Just a quick side note – we now have three Rebeccas in the family so for clarification I will call our daughter Becca, her mother-in-law Mama Panzer, and Erin’s mom will be Rebecca.)
For our second outing, we had a lovely time with the Erin’s parents at Longwood Gardens walking the pathways and chatting, then we had a delicious lunch at the Garden’s café. (So glad our visit was long before the prison escapee shut down the Gardens. He was also hiding out in the same area as our campground!)
The wedding events got started on Thursday, August 24th after Jason and Becca arrived from Seattle. We had a bit of time for some sightseeing, so we picked them up and headed over to the Wagner Free Institute of Science & Victorian Museum and then headed out to Phoenixville where we got together with Erin, Alex, Rebecca, and Jeff for a family dinner. We then got settled into The Notary Hotel in Philly where we stayed till Sunday afternoon.
We again had some free time on Friday morning, so we took a walk around downtown Philly and low and behold what do we find?!? The Disney 100 Year Exhibition at the Franklin Institute! We drove all that way north to see another Disney show! It really is a fantastic collection of Disney memorabilia. If it comes to your town, you should really check it out if you are a Disney fan.
Friday night we hosted the Welcome Dinner for 24 of Alex and Erin’s closest friends and our immediate families. My brother, Skip and his wife Paige came up from Florida and were able to join us for this happy weekend. Their daughter Madison was able to come out on Saturday from New York for the wedding, too. The dinner was held at Charlie Dove, a small event venue, in a beautifully restored area of the city. The space was perfect for a small event, the food was delicious, the atmosphere was cozy, and the service was outstanding! If you ever need to host a small event in Philly, this is the place to go!
Saturday dawned sunny and hot but that didn’t stop the bride from running a 5k from Love Park to the Azalea Garden with a dozen or so of her friends and family. Jon and I went with Rebecca and her brother and sister-in-law to help with the brunch that was held in the Garden for the runners where we served up croissants and mimosas. While Erin was working off the wedding jitters by running, Alex was getting his worked off by going climbing at The Cliffs at Callowhill. Several adventurous souls joined him for the climbing and then bagels to restore their energy.
In the afternoon we met the couple at their hotel, The Mulherin for the “first look” when Alex got to see Erin for the first time in her dress. We were going to walk over to Martha, the wedding venue, from the Mulherin but it was decided it was too hot, so we all grabbed Ubers and got to the venue just in time.
Martha is a bar with a back patio that was ideal for the wedding. It is in an area of Philly that is just being gentrified so from the outside it looks a little rough but inside it was beautiful, especially with all the lovely flowers.
And what an amazing wedding it was!! It was just perfection with lots of love, laughter, sweet moments, and just a few tears! In so many ways, it was a very unconventional wedding. Erin’s two best friends from her childhood, Kendra & Casey, were the officiants who told hilarious stories about how Erin and Alex met, then Rebecca read a beautiful poem and I told a story centered on what it takes to make a good marriage. They followed that with vows they each wrote which had me in tears they were so sweet. After the obligatory kiss or two or three they were officially married!
Again, the staff at Martha were outstanding, setting up for the wedding, then resetting the seating for the reception. The food and drinks were scrumptious, the jazz quartet, the Alex Levin Trio featuring Fareed Simpson on trumpet was excellent, and the time spent with family and friends was delightful! It was fun catching up with several of Alex’s college friends I had met when he was at Hofstra University and getting a chance to meet all the new friends he and Erin have made while living in New York.
The wedding buffet was centered around hoagies, a Philly staple, with delicious salads to compliment the sandwiches and then it was all topped off with Joe’s Water Ice, another Philly tradition. Just think Italian Ice and you are very close.
The food was followed with heartfelt and funny speeches from Erin’s sister, Hana, and Alex’s sister Becca. Then the Jazz quartet soon had everyone from the smallest to the tallest dancing and celebrating.
Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye as the newlyweds headed off to the Poconos for their mini honeymoon. Alex just started a new job as the Corporate Engagement & Events Manager at the NY Food Bank, so they only had a few days off for the big event. For the extended honeymoon, they will be taking a trip to Portugal sometime in the near future.
You put so much time into planning these events and they go by so quickly! Looking at the pictures I see things I missed, and I wish we could go back and do it all over again!
On Sunday, we closed out the weekend with a brunch with Skip, Paige, Madison, Becca, & Jason at The Notary before saying goodbye to the Yauger family contingent. Then it was time to checkout and head back to the RV park. Becca and Jason stayed in the city for another couple of days, so we got in one great morning of kayaking at Marsh Creek before it was time to pack up, saying goodbye to loved ones and the new members of our family and starting our trek south.
Real Time: We are almost back to Umatilla for a second winter at the Olde Mill Stream Resort. We drove down the Atlantic coast stopping several times along the way, but I think I will leave that for another post.