Saturday, November 29th my baby got married.
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.
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.
have all of their commercials on a videotape if you'd
like to see them.
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
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?"
Bellman said, "Si Signora."
I asked for a Smoking Room," she said.
be right back," said the Bellman who returned in a couple
of minutes and handed her an ashtray.
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.
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
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
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.
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."
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?"
had decided that I would respond, "On behalf of her
family, I do."
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
told me she thought I could handle it. I was as nervous
as I've ever been.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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"
Saturday, November 29th was a beautiful, picture perfect
day. Bright, if not warm, sunshine and not a breath
of wind. Thank you, Lord.
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!!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
audience rose and faced us as we approached. "Look,
Dad," Julie said, "They're standing."
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.
course," she said remembering the many weddings she
has attended over the years.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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."
I didn't turn blue!
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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
think a really good time was had by all.
TOAST: David and Marissa delivered heart felt toasts.
Then it was my turn.
told the following story in prelude:
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
Brother's name was Wallace," I said, "Where are you
Dad was from St. Paul" I said, "we simply must be related."
even looked like me, old guy, chubby and bald. So we
arranged to meet for breakfast one day to compare family
at last we met, I started with my research. "I'm English,"
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.
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."
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?
delivered the following Toast:
to a very Bonnie Lassie
a very Handsome Laddie
long life together
Babies for us to spoil
their love affair last a lifetime
love you AND SO WE DO!