As I write this post, I can hear waves crashing on the shore. I’m in a hotel room in Newport, Oregon, with the balcony door open and the cool salt air wafting in. I can hear the occasional cries of seagulls over the roar of the surf. It’s been a constant in my ears since Friday night, as has the impenetrable gray overcast. I’ll miss these things when I return to civilization, but you know what? I’m taking back a pretty good souvenir.
I’m bringing home a wife.
This long weekend has been absolutely perfect. Back when I proposed to Tara on February 1, I had given no thought to the actual wedding part of our marriage. I was so relieved she said yes, I figured those details would come later. Neither of us wanted a big wedding, and we decided early on to keep it casual and fun. Just an intimate gathering, immediate family only, on the Oregon coast. So I found a beach house that would sleep the appropriate number of guests, and we picked a date. September 14, of course. Our two-year anniversary, and our lucky number. It couldn’t get more perfect than that.
Only it could, because there were 14 of us total, and we got married at 2:00 PM on the dot. 1400 hours.
Friday morning, our first stop was Portland. We decided to take advantage of a weekday off and hit up Bijou Cafe for brunch. The Rose City is notorious for long lines at brunch. There was even a Portlandia episode spoofing this. On a Friday morning, we were seated right away, and enjoyed a delicious meal. My chorizo hash with roasted red peppers and eggs over easy was fantastic, but the star of the show was the homemade organic ketchup. Tara loved her fluffy French omelette with mushrooms. Then, we walked to Voodoo Doughnut, where we had ordered a wedding “cake.” Only it wasn’t really a cake, but an assortment of heart-shaped doughnuts personalized with our names, because we wanted to keep the theme quirky. After waiting in line nearly half an hour we got to the counter, and told them we were there to pick up our order.
They had no record of our order.
And this is what separates good places from bad. We were devastated, and Tara was near tears. We told them we were getting married the next day and on our way out of town, and the manager came out and said he would make things right as best he could. We didn’t get the heart-shaped doughnuts we wanted, but we did end up with cream-filled doughnuts with blue and orange highlights (go, Broncos!) and our names on them, plus an assortment of others – Maple Bacon Bars, Voodoo Dolls, Blazer Blunts – and were only charged for two doughnuts. It cost us a whopping $3. They may have screwed up our order, but they made it right, and that’s what counts in the end. I love Voodoo Doughnut.
Then it was on to the coast. We arrived at the beach house about 3:30 in the afternoon, slightly ahead of my parents, Scott, and Esther. We did a quick walk through and were blown away by the beauty of the place. It’s a tri-level home on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with five bedrooms. Ours upstairs featured a king bed with a pillow top mattress sitting on a platform immediately next to the window, with an incredible view of the ocean. It was so relaxing sleeping there with the window open and the roar of the ocean in our ears. Tracy, David, Anne, and little Anthony arrived a few hours later, and we had a blogging friend from Seattle, Nancy, and her friend Brian stop by for a visit. They happened to be vacationing on the Oregon coast at the same time. Papa Murphy’s pizzas were consumed as everybody chatted it up and got to know one another. Finally, Tara’s dad and his girlfriend, and her sisters Maggie and Jessie, showed up about 10 PM after a flight from Vegas and a long drive to the coast in the dark. We stayed up until nearly 1 AM before finally making our way to bed.
Saturday morning dawned. Our wedding day. Tara handed me a card that nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was, after all, our anniversary, and the start of the most special day of our lives. The morning was a blur as we ran errands and the clock ticked down to Zero Hour. Her dad is an avid fisherman and had chartered a boat for their group to do a little fishing. “A little fishing” turned out to be 30 dungeness crabs and about 40 lbs. of ling cod and sea bass. Perfect for our clambake that afternoon! Suddenly the officiant, Elizabeth, was there. And then it was time.
We stepped out onto the back deck. There was a perfect spot on the landing for Tara and I to face each other and recite our vows while our guests gathered on the deck. What an amazing and beautiful spot for a wedding; I get shivers still just thinking about it: the Pacific Ocean stretched endlessly behind and below us, the crashing waves, the windswept trees, and the two of us, surrounded by the people we care about the most in our lives. There was no wedding dress or tuxedo, because we wanted it casual and quirky; I wore a tuxedo t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops, and Tara wore a simple but nice dress shirt and capris. She immediately started crying so I slipped on my checkered sunglasses in order to keep it together myself. Which I did, thankfully. I had been very nervous about reciting vows, because we each wrote our own, and that’s a scary thing, pouring your heart out in front of everybody. But they were perfect, and the whole ceremony was quick, lasting about seven minutes.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife,” she said, and introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Mark Petruska.
“Whoo-hoo! Let the party begin!” somebody shouted, and it did. After filling out paperwork the officiant went on her way, and the rest of the afternoon included a wine and food pairing demonstration by David, who is a sommelier by trade, and our clambake, with fresh crab that had still been swimming around (or whatever crabs do in the ocean) earlier that morning, along with clams, shrimp, red potatoes, and corn. Tracy made a delicious batch of clam chowder that was as tasty as any restaurant’s, and we all just had a lot of fun well into the night. And a lot of drinks. A certain bride of mine who shall remain nameless partook of a bit too much alcohol and was delayed in climbing into bed, but she did have a lot to celebrate.
Sunday morning we had fresh fish for breakfast (hey, why not?) and we sadly bid farewell to our guests, who left in groups. It was just Tara and I left, and we locked up the house before heading south to Newport, where we had a reservation at the Elizabeth Street Inn, a hotel we discovered last December. We splurged for a jacuzzi suite and were able to talk them into an early check-in, so we climbed into the hot tub and watched the Broncos game on TV. Then we, and, and then we, and…well, never mind. We drove down the coast for a bit, then stopped in at Georgie’s Seafood Grille for dinner. We had a table next to the window with a view of the ocean, and some pretty damn tasty seafood. Then it was back to the room for a relaxing evening, more jacuzzi time, and a very intense episode of Breaking Bad. Some time later we tore ourselves away from the balcony and the ocean and the mist to go to bed.
And here we are. All that’s left is to check out, grab breakfast, and make the trek back home. Reality intrudes tomorrow, and I’m not happy about that, but in the end, I could not have asked for a more perfect wedding. Everybody had a great time and got along wonderfully, and they all really liked the beach house and the setting. Our wedding was perfect for us: not at all stuffy or formal, but still serious and romantic and, I can’t stress this enough, FUN. Best wedding ever. By the way, the officiant told us that 90% of the people she marries these days meet online. I thought that was pretty interesting. A lot of them opt for fun and quirky weddings like ours, too. Why not? Life is short – you might as well do what makes you happy!
I did. I married my best friend, my soulmate, the love of my life. Nothing could ever make me happier than that.