Rebecca and I traveled to Orlando, FL this past weekend to participate in the wedding ceremony of our mutual college friends, John and Leah. I officiated the wedding, my second ceremony to date; but my first as an ordained minister. The setting: The Ritz-Carleton Hotel, outdoor gazebo, sunset, lake view, small gathering. As you might expect, the wedding was elegant and beautiful. I was excited to wear my new robe and stole, but, as you can see from the pictures below, I managed to forget my stole during the packing process.
The reception was equally gorgeous. We enjoyed good food and drink, danced, and I even remembered to sign the marriage certificate. In addition, a high school friend of mine, Ashlee, attended the wedding with her husband, Sean; and we all celebrated while catching up.
The whole wedding experience was delightful. In addition, we enjoyed a few surprises at the hotel: in the lobby we witnessed 19th century dressed carolers singing to hotel guests sipping hot chocolate and, nearby, stood a gigantic ginger bread house. The ingredients for the whole house were astounding, including 100 pounds of butter. Rebecca and I each took a picture next to the house; and yes, those are gingerbread bricks…
The day after the wedding, Rebecca and I took the opportunity to drive over to Tampa Bay and visit with my grandparents.
We only had a few hours to share with them, or at least that is what we thought during our hasty trip to Tampa and back. That is when our otherwise relaxing trip turned into a travel-nightmare. The crazy midwestern snow storm wreaked havoc on planes and airports, causing significant delays all over, including Orlando. So, once we returned to the airport, we discovered our plane would not make it to Memphis in time to make our connecting flight and that we needed to stay in Orlando until the morning. Disappointed that we didn’t spend longer with my grandparents (we could have enjoyed a bed at their place, too), we began the “rugged” experience of an overnight stay in an airport (the nearby hotels were much too expensive for us, and we had to be at the airport at 4:30am to check in to our flight). Rebecca managed a few winks of sleep, I never settled in enough to snooze.
We found a comfortable couch at a lobby of the airport hotel (located inside the airport), but (after Rebecca nodded off) the morning hotel manager informed us we could sit but not sleep in the hotel lobby. So, we walked the airport a few times and found a few places to take goofy pictures.
We tried to pass a few more hours with bananagrams and canasta, but we were thoroughly exhausted. Once we could finally check in for our flight, we discovered that it was delayed another 2 hours and that, because of the delay we would (again) miss our connecting flight (this time in Atlanta). We were given hope that we might make the next flight, so our names went on standby and we went through security. Thankfully, after 17 hours in the Orlando airport, we departed safely for Atlanta. In Atlanta, the flight to Austin was, no surprise at that point, delayed. But, after a few hours of waiting, our names made it from the standby list to the cleared list. Travel-weary, we landed in Austin just after 2pm on Monday… thankful to be home at our Extended Stay hotel.