Monday, April 10, 2006

Hello again from Jim and Amy Rennie!

Wow... not posted for AGES, but that's cause things have been happening. Good things!

First off, thank-you everyone for all your cards and phonecalls and good wishes before our wedding. We had a truly lovely weekend. Monday definitely came too soon, especially for the work-returning Amy.

Friday began really early, and we were both pleased to see that the sky was blue, and the sun was beginning to shine. All sorts of storms and tornadoes had been forecast for Friday, but thankfully it seemed they had by-passed us. Amy awoke to go to work at 6:00AM as usual, and as is often (but not ALWAYS) usual I woke too. Amy was due to work until 11:30, but it was a lovely surprise to see her come back through the door at about 7:00 to tell me the boss at her daycare had arranged for someone else to take her classes. So Amy took a well-deserved nap, and I tried, but found I was far too buzzed and nervous to sleep, so I read a Tim Allen book (funny!), collected together the stuff we would take to the hotel ("Where the heck have all my pants gone?"), and visited the bathroom a great many times (nerve-induced). The wedding was at 3:15pm, so at about 2:15 after getting dressed we set off for Amy's Mom and Dad to pick up Amy's flowers, and from there to the courthouse in Pekin, with Amy's Mom and Dad, sister-in-law Ashleigh, and brother Joel and his fiancee Sarah following. My excitement had well-and-truly rubbed off on Amy by this point, but after mounting the pavement three times on the way, we safely arrived, sun still shining at the courthouse.

First we had to book in, then we all stood on the ground floor and took pictures and chatted. It was getting nearer 3:15, so I went to ask if things were on schedule, to be greeted by a hilariously rude response from the woman, if that's the right term, behind the desk. "We do two every fifteen minutes." Swivel of chair, back turned. Oh, okay! Finally, we were called to go up to the third floor of the courthouse, and then the wait began. We watched three or four weddings and their attendees emerge, until finally at 3:45 (I made a note to remember to send the rude desk woman 345 severed horse's heads in the mail, then decided that would be very heavy on postage, so made another mental note to research seahorses, purchase and beheading of) we were called, and we stepped into the room where we would be married.

We were greeted by Judge William J. Reardon, who was, at first, a little too inadvertently amusing for comfort. The were several among our party who found themselves unable to stifle this amusement, but nevertheless a good show of throat-clearing was made. We think he was probably in his eighties, and told us he was retired as a judge but continued to perform weddings, which was really cool we thought. He then proceeded to apologize that everything was running so behind (I thought of the seahorses again) and then explain, quite slowly, every single aspect of the ceremony we were about to take part in. I for one reached terminal giggle velocity when he began to explain that "the marriage certificate itself has a space for your names here, and here, and a space for my name here. I will proceed no to fill this space in - don't worry, I will be trying very hard to spell it correctly. Now some couples like not to fold their certificate in order to keep it flat for framing. You may wish to do this. However you may wish not to do this, and so in anticipation of that possibility we have provided for you [here he produced an envelope as a magician would produce a rabbit, or seahorse] a stiff, white, card envelope. Simply by folding it in thirds, you may keep your certificate safe in this way. For many years." And this was a good sample of his marrying technique which, the longer it went on, we became less amused by and more gratified for. We both envisaged the ceremony being more of a signing ceremony, and after the phrase "two every fifteen minutes" had been well drummed into us, nothing very personal. But Judge Reardon seemed genuinely interested in us, the step in life we were taking, and the emotions involved. The way he delivered the vows portion was so sincere and personal, and the fact that this was a man who must have performed so many weddings in his life, seen so many bright, hopeful couples stand before him, and wished them the same success, that by the time he talked of "through trials and days of trouble, times of happiness and joy" tears were certainly knocking at the door. And so, at the prompt, as Mr. Reardon had said, we passed the rings, said our "I will"s, and then we were married!

After the ceremony we went to Wal-Mart and bought some chalk-paints to decorate our car, then went right to Springhill Suites, a really nice hotel in Peoria, where we had booked a suite for the night. We had looked at a few choices online, trading hot-tub-in-room for location for more space for price, until we decided Springhill was the best looking of the bunch, and I think we were right - it was a great place. I especially was extremely enamored of the view across Peoria, and mentioned it a number of times. That number is 47. We got the "Romance Package" which for nine dollars atop the original price we got a late checkout of 1pm (VERY nice) a complimentary bottle of champagne (alcohol-free on request) and a free movie. So, at 8:30 after watching our movie, sipping our champagne, and even having a swim in the pool we went to Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, also in Peoria, and just three miles from our hotel. Seriously, if anyone reading this is ever kidnapped, dropped in Peoria, IL before 11pm with a little money and an empty belly, I can suggest only one place to go: the cops, clearly. But the NEXT DAY pay a visit to Johnny's. Everything about it is top-notch including, thankfully, the food, of which much was consumed by all of us (Amy's Mom and Dad, Joel and Sarah, Amy's Grandma Sherrilyn, Keith and Ashleigh, Mark and Marsha, and Amy and I) in a really lovely atmosphere. By the time we had all said goodbye, and Amy and I returned to the hotel we were as pooped - as Capt. Blackadder might say - as the Chinese weightlifting team's official rickshaw driver.

Next day we went shopping, visited the Peoria Guitar Center, had a lovely drive around the countryside and that, as they say, was that. It's hard to explain in details such as these what a great weekend it was, but the two things that stand out for me were firstly that everyone around Amy and I - Amy's family, strangers, indeed the world itself - seemed to be sharing in our good feelings for the day. Secondly, I realized at the end of the day that I had a little scrapbook already made in my head of a selection of really special moments from the day which I will never forget. Top of that pile is the look in Amy's eyes during the ceremony which I will truly strive NEVER to forget. Next would possibly be swimming end-to-end in the hotel pool in only eight seconds. Maybe. :)

So thanks to EVERYONE in our lives for not only your good wishes on the day, but also all your support through this whole long journey of Amy's and mine. We will always love you for that.

We have a whole bunch of pictures ready to go online and be printed out etc., but they will take a few days to get shuffled and sorted, so we hope the little selection in this blog may tide you over. There WILL BE MORE, we promise. :)

Thanks again, everyone, so much, and we hope our happiness sends out a ripple through all of you. And, at the risk of getting corny, follow your heart. As a guide-dog it may not be so well trained, and will drag you through the odd hedge along the way. You'll probably even have to carry it the flippin' thing yourself sometimes. But, in the end, it knows better than you where you really want to go.


Jim and Amy (Rennie)

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