So This Is How They Do Weddings in Texas

I had the pleasure of spending the last few days just outside Austin, Texas to celebrate the wedding of my brother, Andrew, and his fiance, Margaret. It was a unique experience on many levels, so I thought I’d share it with you via a series of photos:

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I stayed in a hotel in Georgetown (north of Austin). What they say is true: Everything is bigger in Texas. The room was huge! It’s so rare that I get a hotel room all to myself–I really enjoyed it.

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The wedding reception and all festivities were held at Margaret’s family ranch, which was about a 30 minute drive from Georgetown. Apparently the bride and groom invited everyone they knew–no culling of the guest list–so they had friends and family attend from all over the country. Many camped out on the ranch.

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The first evening consisted of the rehearsal, Texan chili, and hanging out around a bonfire. It was about 80 degrees during the day, but the temperature dropped to 50 at night–I was really cold! My brother (who is from Virginia) is shown here in full Texan garb.

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It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but Andrew and Margaret are sitting face-to-face with their hands together for a “handfasting” ceremony. It involved everyone writing a special wish for them on a piece of paper and then looping a ribbon around their fingers while whispering something to them. My advice was, “You should get a cat.”

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My niece and nephew were in attendance, so I got to spend lots of time with them. Anna had me take this photo of her in the car ride to the wedding on Saturday.

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Here’s Anna again with Uncle Mike. Like many of the guests, Anna was sporting cowboy boots. Anna was the flower girl, and she impressed the crowd with her ability to only drop a single flower (as she walked, she tore petals off one flower and scattered them to the wind).

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I let Anna use my phone to take a photo of me. She did a pretty good job! I was one of eight groomsman (almost the best man).

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My nephew James was at the wedding too (pictured here with Aunt Patricia). He’s been walking for a few months, so he spends most of his time picking up things and walking over to hand them to you.

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It was an outdoor ceremony, and the weather was perfect. I’ve only been to one other outdoor wedding, and that was at a park. It really felt like we in the middle of nature for this wedding. I also really liked that it was inclusive to people of all faiths.

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It’s hard to see in the photo, but Margaret’s sister, Molly, is playing a saw. Like, the kind of saw you use to cut wood. It was awesome.

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Just in case we forgot we were in Texas, we could hear shotgun blasts throughout the wedding. They probably came from miles away, but they were quite audible.

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As we processed out of the wedding area back to the reception tent, we were led by Margaret’s father on the bagpipes. I was near the front of the line, so I turned around at the end to see hundreds of people walking through down the path. It was really beautiful.

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About 5 minutes before the toasts began, Andrew’s best man came up to me and said, “Okay, so your toast is near the end, right before your parents.”

I replied, “You’re joking, right?”

Why would I say that? Because no one told me I was giving a toast. It turns out that someone dropped the ball and should have told me months ago, but they forgot.

So I talked my sister into joining me for the toast. She told a great story about Andrew, and I added some touching comments at the end. It was short but sweet…which turned out to be a good thing, because it turns out that Margaret’s siblings are competitive toasters. Many had prepared lengthy toasts ranging from 10 to 20 minutes.

The photo you see here is at the very end of the toasts when Andrew’s Yale acappella group gathered to perform several songs. They’ve traveled the world together, so it was need to see them convene to be with Andrew on his special day.

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I have one more story about the wedding to tell tomorrow, but this ends the overall Texan wedding story. Have you ever been to a wedding in Texas?