Frank R. Hall and Associates
   382 E. Montecito Ave
   Sierra Madre, Ca 91024


On Saturday, November 29th my baby got married.

OK, OK, so Julie's not a baby anymore, she's 32 years old and her new husband, Scott Whitmer, is a few years older. Julie is the General Manager of a chain of Video Stores in the Palm Springs area called Video Depot and Scott is Vice-President of the company. So, they've known each other for a long time and have been going together for quite a while. They didn't exactly rush into this thing, but still, when your youngest child marries it is the end of one of life's cycles.

Julie and Scott used to do television commercials for Video Depot during which they would extol the virtues of their stores. At the end they would raise their thumbs in a sort of a Siskell and Ebert salute and say, "Thumbs up." Once when we were out to lunch at Las Casuelas a lady walked up to Julie and said, "Aren't you the Thumbs Up Girl?" So she is sort of a local celebrity.

We have all of their commercials on a videotape if you'd like to see them.

Julie was born on Thanksgiving Day, which was November 26th that year. I suggested to her that having a birthday and an anniversary only three days apart, then only a month before Christmas could cause her to get short changed when it comes to expensive present opportunities. She assured me that Scott would gladly dive into his Home Equity Line to make sure she doesn't suffer any hardship.

PLANNING Julie and Scott did all their own Wedding Planning and paid for the vast majority of it themselves. They arranged to book Mission Hills Country Club for the wedding and reception and invited 100 guests to join them for their happy day.

My own planning for the event involved getting a proper outfit. My tux was old and Patricia said it made me look like a headwaiter - a very portly old headwaiter at that.

Because I'm required to attend a lot of "Black Tie" events, we made the decision to purchase the outfit. We thought it would be a "slam dunk" but discovered that all those Tux Shops that advertise "Sale or Rental" have a very limited variety for sale. All the really neat stuff is rental only.

We finally found a tux at Nordstrom, but we couldn't seem to find a vest and "four in hand" tie. Ultimately we went to Carroll and Company in Pasadena and they agreed to have a vest and matching tie made in time for the wedding. We arranged to pick it up the Saturday before the wedding.

On the appointed day we showed up to pick up the vest and tie, only to discover that it hadn't come in yet from the manufacturer. Since I had told Patricia I was willing to buy a new Tux only on the proviso that I could throw away my cumberbund and bow tie, it looked like disaster was in the offing. After much hand wringing and many calls, the Tie and Vest showed up the day before Thanksgiving. Not a moment too soon.

The only other planning I had to do was to arrange accommodations for us and our friends Bob and Patty Misen, John and Mary Ellen Mohler and Dick and Sally Deniston who were coming to the wedding. I discovered that many hotels were booked because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Three couples ended up at the Westin Mission Hills Resort, a reservation I arranged through the Expedia website.

If you haven't used it yet, the Expedia site will get room discounts for you from hotels, but you are required to pay in full in advance and there is no refund or altering the reservation. You get what you pay for. The discount wasn't worth the aggravation.

DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING On Friday after Thanksgiving we left our home in Sierra Madre early so that we could stop at the Cabazon outlet stores on the way down to Rancho Mirage. The Rehearsal was scheduled at 3:30 that afternoon and Scott's Father and StepMother, Bill and Marti Whitmer, were hosting a Rehearsal Dinner to follow.

We thought the traffic would be light the day after Thanksgiving, but we couldn't have been more wrong. From Redlands to Cabazon, a distance of about 30 miles, it was "Bumper to Bumper." When we finally reached Cabazon we discovered the problem. Cars were lined up in the right lane for more than two miles to go to the Outlet Stores. As we passed, (yes we elected not to try to stop) we saw every parking space was full and there were hundreds of cars wandering aimlessly looking for a space. If you're ever thinking of going to an Outlet Mall on the day after Thanksgiving, think again.

We decided to delay lunch until we got to the hotel, or should I say "Resort." We arrived about 1:30 PM. At the Reception Desk we were told that our room wasn't ready and that their normal check in time is 4 PM. The rehearsal was scheduled at 3:30 and we weren't dressed. Have you ever heard of a hotel that has a check in time of 4 PM? Well, neither had we. If you are ever in such a predicament I suggest you take Patricia along to negotiate for you.

She explained to the desk clerk that we had to have our room "now, not 3 hours from now" and demanded to see the manager. After about a 10-minute wait a man showed up and Patricia engaged him in conversation for about 5 minutes. A few minutes later we had our room key. I have no idea how she does it.

We decided to try to get some lunch in the Hotel dining room. We were seated by the hostess but ignored by the servers and even the busboys all of whom seemed busy although there were hardly any customers. After about 10 minutes we left and went to the room.

We were surprised at how shabby the rooms are in the Westin Mission Hills, a $400 a night "Resort." Carpets were worn, furniture threadbare, curtain rods in need of repair and our "Non-smoking room" smelled distinctly of stale cigarette smoke. It reminded me of a time when we checked into a hotel in Italy. Patricia, who smoked at the time, was ushered into a "non-smoking room." She asked the Bellman, "Is this a Non-smoking room?"

The Bellman said, "Si Signora."

"But, I asked for a Smoking Room," she said.

"I'll be right back," said the Bellman who returned in a couple of minutes and handed her an ashtray.

Back in our shabby Mission Hills Resort room, we opened the mini-bar, still hoping to have something, anything we could call lunch. Patricia opened a can of Pringles and I had a little bag of Popcorn.

THE REHERSAL I have to admit to being a bit apprehensive about the rehearsal because although Patricia and I had gone together for 13 years before marrying 6 years ago, she had never met Julie's mother, my first wife, Linda. But I needn't have worried, Linda was extremely gracious and excited - Patricia was charming and excited and they got along famously. They both love my kids very much.

Julie and Scott introduced us to the others in the wedding party. The Best Man was Scott's brother David who works for Sotheby's in New York City and the Matron of Honor was Julie's childhood friend Marissa Remiker, whom I had last seen when they were in Junior High School together. She is now an attorney with the Public Defenders office in San Diego and her husband, Gary, is a high school teacher.

The ceremony was to take place on the first tee of the golf course which gave Julie and me a rather long walk out the backdoor of the club house, down two flights of stairs and out across a rather large expanse of grass to get to the wedding site.

When we arrived at the tee, the Planner and the Minister talked to us about our roles. The Planner said to me, "Now when you arrive here, Scott will walk down from the elevated tee. You will kiss Julie, shake hands with Scott and place her hand in his."

The Minister told me that I was to stand in place until he did several things then he would ask, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

We had decided that I would respond, "On behalf of her family, I do."

Afterward I told Patricia, "I have too many things to remember. I thought all I would have to do is deliver my line. What if I get mixed up and shake hands with Julie and kiss Scott."

She told me she thought I could handle it. I was as nervous as I've ever been.

It's not that I hadn't had experience in "the Walking the Bride down the Aisle Department." When my son John married his boyhood sweetheart Annabell, her parents were unable to come up from their home in Ecuador, so I had the privilege of walking her down the aisle, too. Still I was nervous.

The rehearsal dinner, hosted by Bill and Marti, was held at the Augusta Restaurant on El Paseo in Palm Desert. It was great fun to get to know Scott's family and the food was really excellent.

THE BIG DAY ARRIVES - THE WEATHER People who have not actually lived in Palm Springs are under the impression that it has nearly perfect weather. Take it from me, it doesn't. I know you are aware that the summers are blistering hot and, because of all the golf courses being irrigated, often very humid. Winter days can be sunny, but the temperature will often dip below freezing at night. As to fall and spring, it's a "crap shoot."

While rain is not unheard of in fall and spring, it is not wet weather that Palm Springers dread, it is the wind. The so called "Santa Ana" winds that provide the propulsion for Southern California's fabled wild fires are born on the desert. And when the wind blows hard it carries flying sand along with it that can take the paint off your car in a matter of minutes.

When Julie told me that she and Scott planned an outdoor wedding in late November my greatest fear was the weather, and like a good special event planner, Julie had a "Rainy Day" Plan. In Palm Springs that would be a "Windy Day" Plan.

But, Saturday, November 29th was a beautiful, picture perfect day. Bright, if not warm, sunshine and not a breath of wind. Thank you, Lord.

The fact is, now I had something else to worry about. I'm taking medication to control my heart rate and my Cardiologist says it may cause my skin to turn blue if I'm in the sun too long. I couldn't exactly wear my Panama hat with my tux as I escorted Julie down the aisle. I had this nightmare in which Julie is strolling down the aisle on the arm of an elderly bald 'Smurf." Disgusting!!

THE MORNING Because the wedding wasn't scheduled until 3:30 PM we had plenty of time to explore Palm Desert, have some lunch and dress before our scheduled arrival. Patricia and I went to El Paseo (the Rodeo Drive of the Desert, is how they like to bill themselves) for some shopping and strolling. We found many specialty gift shops and clothing stores. When we shop I particularly enjoy Talbots. Patricia likes the clothes and they always provide comfortable chairs for husbands to wait in as they contemplate the damage being done to their Visa Cards.

We had lunch at a busy restaurant across from Saks 5th Avenue and while the food was OK, the service was awful. I think all Coachella Valley Restaurant employees should serve an apprenticeship in New York City to learn about giving good service.

A CONFESSION Here I'm going to confess my biggest blunder of the affair. I forgot my digital camera. Scott and Julie, of course, had a photographer to record every nuance and two video cameras were aimed at the happy couple at all times. They are in the video business after all.

They even went one step further and provided disposable cameras to all the guests so they could snap away at the ceremony and the reception. Disposable cameras were collected at the end of the evening.

So, there were plenty of "photo ops", but still not having my own camera was disappointing. Our friend John Mohler, who never forgets to bring his digital camera, volunteered to handle this for us and two days after the event presented us with a pair of CDs (one for us and one for the happy couple) with more than 120 candid photos. John you are a prince, we will be forever in your debt.

BEFORE THE WEDDING We arrived at Mission Hills, me in my new Tux, vest and matching tie and Patricia looking beautiful, as always, an hour and a half before the ceremony. Patricia immediately joined all the female members of the wedding party in the women's locker room for the official "Dressing of the Bride." That left Scott, his father, brother and me standing there in our tuxes with not much to do. The photographer took some photos of us, but that was about it until the early guests began to arrive.

After we'd been there about 20 minutes I noticed Marissa standing out in front of the clubhouse anxiously watching cars pull into the driveway. Having nothing else to do, and being under orders not to sit down so as not to wrinkle my Tux, I wandered outside to see if I could be helpful.

Marissa told me she was waiting for Husband Gary who'd been sent off at high speed to retrieve a certain item of clothing that Julie had forgotten. I learned later that it was one of, what her Grandma Claire, my mother, always referred to as, "her unmentionables." Julie's a chip off the old block, isn't she?

The guests all arrived, including our friends the Mohlers (with John snapping away), the Misens and the Denistons. All the guests were ushered outside and to a group of chairs positioned at the foot of the 6 foot embankment leading up to the first tee where the Bride, Groom and minister were to stand under a wedding arch brought in for the occasion.

A few minutes after the appointed time, 3:30 PM, Marissa emerged from the locker room followed a moment or two later by the most beautiful bride ever to walk the face of the earth. Perhaps I should say, one of the TWO most beautiful brides to ever walk the face of the earth. (Whew, that was a close one).

I was a nervous wreck, but Julie was as cool as a cucumber. I had warned her earlier that I couldn't promise her I wouldn't cry, but I would give her my solemn oath not to sob out loud. I suggested that if she heard her old man snuffling and sniffing as we approached the altar she was not to worry about my being in respiratory arrest.

We chatted about the event as we walked out the back door of the clubhouse and down the two sets of stairs leading to the Golf Course. As we walked onto the grass of the approach to the tee, Julie's heel began to sink into the well-watered sod.

"Dad, I'm sinking" she whispered to me without altering the big smile on her face. I applied a little fatherly tug and rescued her from that quagmire, but we both were careful of our footing from that point forward. Someone told me afterward that all the pictures taken of us approaching the wedding site showed one or the other of us looking down at our feet. For the record, this had nothing to do with humility.

The audience rose and faced us as we approached. "Look, Dad," Julie said, "They're standing."

I said, "Julie, the guests always stand as the bride approaches." Afterward I was sorry I didn't let her think she was getting a standing ovation that other brides don't get.

"Of course," she said remembering the many weddings she has attended over the years.

We reached the spot at the foot of the tee where we were supposed to stop; Scott walked down the hill. I kissed Julie, shook his hand and put his hand in hers just as we had rehearsed, feeling, I might add, a great sense of relief that I had gotten it right.

However, disaster lurked, as soon as they reached the top of the tee, without fanfare, the Minister said, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"

I was dumbfounded. I clearly remembered him telling me at the rehearsal that several things would happen before he asked me that question. I thought perhaps I had misunderstood him. I am hard of hearing, and wear a hearing aid which Patricia says malfunctions all the time.

I stood there for a few seconds without saying a word, but he was looking at me hopefully, eyebrows arched. I finally blurted "On behalf of her family, I do" and took my seat.

I admit I appeared a complete dolt, but in my defense, just imagine how awful it would have been had I delivered my line after he said, "Let us pray."

But I didn't turn blue!

The ceremony was lovely. Very traditional and religious. I was pleasantly surprised, you never know these days whether your kid is going to decide to get married by some Yogi.

There was one point however when the minister began to go on at length about their lifetime commitment. "There will come a time when one of you dies and the other will remove this ring from their beloved hand," or words to that effect. I thought that a little morbid for a happy occasion like this one.

One final thing happened during the ceremony that I will remember. About half way through a lone golfer dressed in a bright red sweater approached the tee carrying a small bag of clubs. He mounted the tee about 20 yards in front of the Bride and Groom in mid-vow and teed off without ever taking any notice of what was happening behind him. We all know golfers capable of such a thing. What a game!

THE RECEPTION: Scott and Julie planned a wonderful dinner reception. All the guests were assigned seats near people they knew (That's my girl!) and the disposable cameras began to pop almost immediately. The excellent dinner was followed by dancing. The deejay played an impressive number of tunes for us old folks and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

I even had a chance to dance with my daughter in the traditional "Father-Daughter" dance. We agreed that we didn't think we had ever danced together before. We vowed it wouldn't be the last. It was a thrilling experience for a Dad.

Scott and Julie showed a lot of class and avoided shoving wedding cake into each other's mouths, opting instead to take a small amount on a fork for the traditional "Photo Op."

I think a really good time was had by all.

THE TOAST: David and Marissa delivered heart felt toasts. Then it was my turn.

I told the following story in prelude:

Several years ago at one of our hospitals I met a volunteer named Wally Hall. My brother's name had been Wally Hall. I asked him if his name was Walter and he said, "No Wallace."

"My Brother's name was Wallace," I said, "Where are you from?"

"Minneapolis," he responded.

"My Dad was from St. Paul" I said, "we simply must be related."

He even looked like me, old guy, chubby and bald. So we arranged to meet for breakfast one day to compare family trees.

When at last we met, I started with my research. "I'm English," I said.

"The Hell you are," he responded and went on to tell me that the Halls were a "Border Clan" occupying the border area between England and Scotland. Of course, the English Halls hated the Scottish Halls and vice versa. He went on to say that all the Scottish Halls named their first born sons Wallace after the great Scottish hero, William Wallace of "Braveheart" fame.

"So," I told the assembled wedding guests, "on the way home from work I phoned Patricia and said, guess what - we're related to Mel Gibson."

So I told Scott that he was now related by marriage to Mel Gibson and welcomed him into the Hall Clan - With a name like "Scott" he'll fit right in, don't you think?

Then delivered the following Toast:


Here's to a very Bonnie Lassie

And a very Handsome Laddie

We wish them

A long life together


Good Health

Healthy Babies for us to spoil


May their love affair last a lifetime

We love you AND SO WE DO!



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