My son is a married man.
My firstborn twin, Wes, got hitched on September 26. Done deal.
I have gained a gorgeous daughter-in-law with a beauty that radiates from the inside out, and I am thrilled to death that I can now claim Leigh as such with impunity – and her parents and family are second to none.
What amazes me about major events like this is that time seems to compress the closer you get to the event – like what was 18 months away is now in the rear-view mirror.
The wedding took place at Pine Lakes Country Club, known all over the golfing world as “The Granddaddy” (it was built in 1927). Somebody told me that Sports Illustrated started right there under command from iconic publisher Henry Luce and it’s true.
Being the father of the groom is wonderful in itself, but I was also honored and humbled that Wes chose me as his best man and that the couple asked me to officiate. Does that count as a triple threat?
Our friend Aly caught the groom’s reaction as he first catches sight of the bride. Pure love.
THE BACHELOR GETAWAY
Wes didn’t want a traditional bachelor party, per se. He wanted to get away with me and Xavier, his best friend since middle school. The plan was to see KISS in Raleigh earlier in September, but the COVID-19 situation had other plans, and the show was postponed until next year. I am holding on to the tickets.
As an option, Wes chose an overnight trip to the Fayetteville area in North Carolina. The “three amigos” spent the first day shooting at an outdoor range called 37 PSR Gun Club. Wes, once-a-Marine-always-a-Marine, was in hog heaven – and I felt good being with him. He was methodical in making sure Xavier and I handled our weapons properly. Somehow, shooting with a Marine makes you want to shine.
But we were there to have fun, and we did. Afterwards, we checked in to the Hampton Inn Spring Lake and headed out to eat Mexican food at a great place called El Cazador.
The next day found us engaged in airsoft battles with maybe ten young people at a place called Black Ops Paintball. For me, this was much more fun. Shooting downrange is OK, but after a while it gets old. Airsoft battles in teams was more the ticket for me. I reconnected with that inner kid who used to play guns in the neighborhood.
We’ll likely do this again at the outfit’s Myrtle Beach location. The kid at the counter talked us into way too much ammo. Sorry, Xavier.
One caveat: Airsoft ain’t soft.
THE REHEARSAL DINNER
My girlfriend, Brenda, graciously offered to handle all aspects of the rehearsal dinner – from planning to execution.
Early on, we chose the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot for the event. I have written about this place before. It’s a cool old brick building that is now rented out by the City of Myrtle Beach for all sorts of functions. Problem is, because of COVID-19, the maximum attendance was reduced to 21 people.
Because family was coming in from out of town, there was no way that would work…
Before we had the chance to fret about this too much, Leigh contacted Brenda and offered the use of the soon-to-be newlyweds’ backyard.
Plans were put in place for tables, chairs, dishes, linens and flatware. Brenda set up the catering with Fiesta Mexicana, a favorite local eatery – and began putting together ancillary items like votive candles, floral plans, photo booth balloons and much more.
But a potential shit show was looming. Rain – and lots of it – started showing up on the weather apps.
We ordered a 15×15 open tent, ostensibly to cover the food – but mother nature peppered us with rain all day and into the evening. I will forever be grateful for the time and effort Brenda put into this event – and thankful for the help of the friends who rolled up their sleeves and jumped into the fray…and transformed the newlyweds’ home into a dining showplace. We couldn’t have done this without them.
That night, I made my speech – a combination of best man and father of the groom – and I almost made it through without choking up. I said almost, didn’t I?
During dinner, things began to clear up enough for folks to head outside – some to eat under the tent, some to mingle, play cornhole, throw axes and listen to Wes’ awesome playlist.
THE BIG DAY
I gladly accept the rain the night before – because the wedding day was absolutely gorgeous.
The guys got together at the newlyweds’ place – to get into our tuxes and have some pre-wedding photos done, coincidentally, by my friend Scott Smallin, whom I first met and worked with in our Weekly Surge days. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out Scott would be handling the wedding photography. I think he took like two million photos.
The wedding? Stunning – from start to finish.
Kudos to Leigh’s parents, Michael and Cathy, for putting together such a wonderful day. Michael might tell you that all he had to do was show up, but he and Cathy are straight-up doers. While other people talk, they take action. I can learn a lot from them.
I can’t imagine the depth of planning that goes into a wedding like this – but everything seemed to go off without a hitch – in the serene and beautiful setting that is Pine Lakes.
The bride was a vision of beauty – absolutely flawless. And my son the groom, gorgeous. Together, they took my breath away as they stood in front of me for the vows. The honor of joining these two beautiful young people in holy matrimony is something I don’t take lightly, and I will never forget it.
Here are some great photos from my friend Brendan Wright:
Did I mention that the JAVA Band was off the hook? I did now. Unbelievably so!
Friends, family. New friends, new family. That’s what it’s all about.
The following day, many of us got together for brunch and go-cart racing at Broadway Grand Prix in Myrtle Beach. This, from what I understand, is a family tradition.
What was 18 months away is now a reality. May God richly bless the bride and groom, and may their love know no bounds.