New Jersey Wedding Weekend

The weekend before last, Jan and I went New Jersey. One of his friends from school, Chris, was getting married and Jan was the best man.

Jan left earlier in the week, and I came on a late afternoon flight on Friday. There was some turbulence early on, but fortunately it didn’t continue past the first 40 minutes. This flight was just over a year since my flight that returned me home from South Korea. Other than the turbulence, it felt good to fly again.  The first night we stayed at Chris’ family’s house in Northbergen. I got settled in that evening.

Street view from Chris's house
Street view from Chris’s house

The next day, Jan and I went for a healthy run of 6 miles. Jan was shooting for 10, but breakfast and taking out time left us with less time to work with.  We planned to join his friend Amit and his wife Kajal at a street fair early in the afternoon. We had a good run.  Amit and Kajal came over after. We picked up another friend,  and we went to the street fair. It was held in Jersey City. We ate good food and saw vendors selling local (and unique) products. At the beginning of the fair we saw Vito and a few other friends. Jan has a picture he took of when Vito was noticing us for the first time as we walked up. Jan’s friends were all jovial and fun to be around. Christian shared his food, and was continuously eating throughout our walking. After chilling in this Arcade/Bar (I think it may have been called “Barcade,” haha), some of us went to a pet store. Then we left for Manny and Vito’s apartment. Manny and Vito had a hookah and everyone sat drinking while they shared it. We stayed here for a bit and everyone talked.

Eating at the street fair
Eating at the street fair
A catfish at the pet store. How cool is this little guy? I couldn't see him as a pet though..he looked tasty ;)
A catfish at the pet store. How cool is this little guy? I couldn’t see him as a pet though..he looked tasty 😉

Next Jan and I rode to a Thai restaurant in a neighboring town. I got to meet Naveen, Amit’s brother, and his wife. They met up with us at the restaurant. The food was really good. I ordered a Pad Thai, my go-to food at Thai restaurants. Amit and Naveen graciously paid the tab for Jan and myself. We still needed to get the rental car, so we headed to Newark Airport to do so. We got a Ford. Then we headed to Amit and Kajal’s apartment in Parsippany. Along the way there were toll roads, and unfortunately the “Cash Only” ones were closed. This happened twice. Fortunately the second time around we got on the phone with Amit, who suggested we ask the person behind us. They came up to our window after I asked and gave us some change.

I woke up to the sound of Jan washing Amit and Kajal’s dishes. I didn’t want to get off of the comfy blow-up mattress, even to get the day started. When Amit got up, we went for a two mile run with him. He had been joking around with us, saying how he was going to run a 4 minute mile. When he set out on our run at a 7:00-7:15ish pace, we were laughing. He was playing along with his joke, we thought. When he maintained a pace in the 7s, we stopped laughing and followed. Around the  mile mark, Jan and I sped up to finish. We got lost on the way back to the apartment after we stopped running, and so Amit was already showering when we got back. We took turns with showers and then left with just enough time, running late for getting to Chris’s house.

Cool view on the way to Chris's house
Cool view on the way to Chris’s house

As soon as we got to Chris’s Jan had to change into his tuxedo. He walked with Chris and the groomsmen to the church for pictures. A little while later, I rode with Chris’s aunt Theresa and her husband to the church. As we waited for the ceremony to start, more family and friends trickled in. After being allowed to sit in the church, I took pictures of Jan and the groomsmen using his camera and used my own to take some of the church.
In the back of the church was a huge stained glass window. It was beautiful. Along the sides of the church there were figures, possibly saints, spaced evenly apart.  Once the wedding party arrived, the ceremony began.

Jan waits to come into the church with another groomsmen in the background.  :)
Jan waits to come into the church with another groomsmen in the background.

This was my first Catholic wedding. The priest said the usual wedding things, but I noticed he spoke several times about the welcoming of children. He spoke personally about the couple and spoke about his hope for their marriage. There was a reading from the bible and a singer sang a few songs.  It was finally time for the bride and groom to kiss! After they were wed, they walked down the aisle and greeted family and friends leaving the church. We filed out and were given little bags of beads to throw as they exited the church. I imagine the beads hurt if the ducking was any indication 😉

Beautiful stained glass windows in the church
Beautiful stained glass windows in the church

The reception was an our later at The Fiesta in Woodridge, NJ.  It was a multi level establishment and we were in one of the main halls. Appetizers were served and there was a happy hour.  During this time I got to hear all the cool New Jersey accents of various family members. I enjoyed being immersed in it. The wedding party took some more pictures. Well-wishers continued to arrive, as the couple invited the bulk of their friends and family to the reception.  Inside, there was food and dancing. I ordered Salmon and Jan ordered Filet Mignon.  The dancing was the biggest takeaway for me, as this family really knew how to get down. I enjoyed watching them. There was a DJ spinning a list of tunes and occasionally they took a request. My request for “What is Love” by Haddaway was sadly denied. 😛  There was also a photo booth, which we took advantage of. On the tables were blank sheets of paper encouraging party-goers to “draw a picture for the bride and groom.” I of course drew the couple and thought of a cheesy line to go below. It read: I hope you get losts in the forest of love. 🙂

Dancing time!
Dancing time!
Drawing a picture for the couple
Drawing a picture for the couple

We continued eating and dancing for a few hours. Sometime around 11 we took our respective rides home.  It had been a long, fun, and jam-packed day.

Jan and I with the newlyweds
Jan and I with the newlyweds

Was it really time to go already?!
That was my thought. We got up and had breakfast at the O’Donnell’s again and packed. We said our goodbyes and got into the rental car to drive to the airport. The views out of the windows as we drove there were really cool. Out in the distance I could see New York City, or “The City” as the locals call it. When people would ask me if I had been to New York City, they would usually ask if I had been to Manhattan.  Jan and I went through security, and they didn’t take our PB&J sandwiches! That was awesome. We ate at this cool Mexican themed restaurant while we waited. We tried some of the hottest salsa I have had and split a dish. The flight back to Nashville was turbulence free. There was a noisy kid who periodically would throw some kind of tantrum. The last one he threw woke Jan up, and the way he woke up so suddenly and annoyed was the source of some amusement during our ride home.

This was a cool trip. I loved meeting most of Jan’s New Jersey friends and getting to see some local businesses. I also liked going to my first Catholic wedding.  This was Jan’s 7th wedding of the year and my 5th. 🙂 New Jersey was also my 50th state.  25th state! I’m halfway through.


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