Another one bites the dust

Hello, Hello, from the other side of the wedding chaos – and chaos is a great way to describe it.  It was a fantastic three day event, with a family dinner on Friday where we met Winston’s family, and welcomed them to ours, and then the wedding day itself, and then a family brunch yesterday to wind things up.  Today we’re looking at pictures, resting, laughing and remembering, because it really was a wonderful day.  The weather was spectacular – completely out of character for the end of September in Toronto. Warm and sunny, hot even – and it was the perfect makings for a wedding by the lake. So many parts of the day were wonderful, but three parts stand out for me. First- Erin’s shawl was as perfect with her dress as I’d hoped- pictures are forthcoming – for reasons that will be clear in a minute, I didn’t have time to take them myself on Saturday. Then there was Hank, walking his mother down the aisle in a suit and looking like the wonderful young man he is, and then finally, there was my gift to them.

downtheaisle 2014-09-29

I don’t know if you remember, but two summers ago, when Kate and Carlos married, I pulled together a musical surprise for them.  It was awesome – and at the time, Erin said to me that if she ever got married, she wanted a wedding flashmob too.  I agreed, because frankly – I didn’t think it was going to come up. There was nobody on the horizon, and I felt pretty safe. Enter Winston, and suddenly here we are, and I realize that she’s actually going to marry him, and I’m actually going to need to come up with something and I started planning. I decided on one of Erin’s favourite songs, I hacked her invite list, I made contact with her planner, and I set the wheels in motion. An email went out to everyone attending the wedding, asking anyone who knew how to play an instrument to step up, and pretty soon the replies were flooding my inbox.  This person could play the guitar, that person could play the piccolo (really) and so on, and so forth and with some work, I had a plan.

practice 2014-09-29

We held a secret rehearsal on Thursday night – and to get Hank out of the house, Joe and I pretended to take him sailing. I asked him if he would have trouble lying to his mum, and he said it was “no issue”.  (I am a nice aunt, so I didn’t ask how much practice he’s had, but after the fact I did let Erin know he was pretty smooth, for a 14 year old, and she might want to keep any eye on him.) We picked him up, drove him across town to the marina, whacked a lifejacket on the kid, motored out of our berth, took 89 pictures of him, texted them to Erin, and then parked the boat and drove back across town in time for the rehearsal at Ken’s.

hankboat 2014-09-29

We had it down by the end of the rehearsal, but I was still nervous. Only about 20 people made it to practice, and there was more than 100 people coming to the wedding, and that’s a lot of wild cards. Would it come together? I had no idea – and I was worrying that someone would tell Erin – when this many people are in on a surprise it’s hard to keep quiet.  By this time I was lying to Erin about every 15 seconds about why I was busy, I’d developed an intimate relationship with half of Winston’s family by way of email, we had an unreasonable number of Kazoos and Joe was spending all his time practising on the guitar.

I sent out reassuring emails to everyone involved assuring them that it was all going to be okay – that this thing would be more about enthusiasm than skill, that we weren’t trying to do the song perfectly, and that it was about how it would make Erin feel, not how we sounded.  “Stay chill” I told people.  “Relax into it.”  Then I would quietly, and by myself, have another stroke.

kazoos 2014-09-29 (1)

The day of the wedding arrived, and we began to execute our plan. I went to my mum’s to be with Erin while she got ready, then split so I got to the wedding early (thus missing my opportunity to photograph the shawl, but I think the photographer got some.) There I met up with incredibly sneaky wedding planner, and we started hiding instruments with the musicians.  The plan was this:

Erin and Winston would have a beautiful ceremony, as it ended, their recessional music would start, then stop suddenly.

erinwinston 2014-09-29

As they grew more confused, Sam’s boyfriend Matt would pull out his ukulele and start to play. My girls (Erin’s nieces) and a few helpers would start to sing. Then Hank and Winston’s kids Edi and Zoe would start to sing. A few bars later the family would join in, then everyone, with musicians coming on board as they were able to grab their gear.

Here’s what actually happened.

(You have to click to watch.)

All you need is love

It isn’t perfect, I know, but it was totally perfect for Erin, and she sobbed ecstatically through the entire thing. (As one of her friends said, we know she was surprised because she was ugly crying.) You can hear her losing it through almost the entire video. I know for a fact they loved it (which is always a gamble- once you start screwing with wedding plans) not because it was musically profound, but because it was what we all wanted for them – a chance to show them we love them, and we want only their happiness.

erinwinston1 2014-09-29 (2)

Their whole community came together to hijack their wedding and make it a special, special day. Not a dry eye in the place.

ourfamily 2014-09-29 (1)

Special thanks to the musicians for doing what they could with over a hundred rookies, and great big thanks to Hank, Edi and Zoe. They really stepped up to show their parents that they love them.

Congratulations Erin and Winston.

PS. I totally earned myself the sister-of-the-year award. You might think that would be an simple thing to nail, considering that I’m Erin’s only sister, but truthfully, she likes to mostly bestow that upon herself, and she’s pretty awesome, so the competition is tough.

meanderin 2014-09-29


178 thoughts on “Another one bites the dust

  1. Not a dry eye in this office, either. If I ever get married, I will email you the guest list EARLY so you won’t have a stroke preparing for my flashmob.

  2. Gorgeousity! Love it, love the cleverness with Hank on the boat, for hacking the email and organizing the wedding flashmob, just so terrific! And everyone looks beautiful and happy, and really, what could be better?

    Best wishes to the happy couple and way to go, Best Sister!

  3. Your family certainly knows how to celebrate. The wedding sound wonderful. And now we know why you were so stressed the week before the wedding. Its awesomeness is your reward.

  4. Jeez – that’s awesome (again) and just like last time I got some dust or sonething in my eye when I was watching.

    I don’t have a sister. Are you available for hire? I can pay in yarn…

  5. Oh so beautiful, I’ve got tears in my eyes and a stupid soppy grin all over my face and I’m a total stranger. Erin looked stunned but in a very, very good way. You and your entire family are amazing.

  6. I’m crying and I haven’t even watched the video. That was so thoughtful of you to organize. I’m sure she’ll never forget it!

  7. No dry eyes left here either!!! What a sweet and thoughtful sister you are! Congrats and blessings Erin and Winston – you have an amazing bunch of family and friends rooting for you!!!

  8. That is just fantastic!! Well done, you, and kudos – or kazoos – to the rest of the gang for pulling it together!. Honestly, Hank singing to his mom… that was my lose-it moment. Love it!!

  9. What a beautiful gift to your sister! Totally made me cry too. Also the shawl is beautiful. You really outdid yourself as sister of the year! (My sister and I have that game too: “you’re my favorite sister!” “I’m your only sister!” “Doesn’t matter!”)
    Mazeltov to the happy couple.

  10. The shawl looks perfect with her dress. And your dress looks lovely too. How were the shoes? I seem to remember a quote from somewhere in my past, which went something like “how we must suffer to be beautiful…” I hope that was not the case for you! I love that your family can get together and pull off musical numbers. My family is also noted for rowdy singing at family reunions, usually a familiar tune with words written by one of my aunts. We’re musical and poetic. And most of us knit too.

  11. Awesome! Absolutely, stunningly and adorably AWESOME! And that picture of the two of you is beautiful — and the shawl too, of course!
    Congrats and best wishes to the lovely couple! And congrats to the family for pulling off your stellar WeddingMob!

  12. Thank you for sharing the happiness and the special moment with us. And tell your sister congrats on our behalf! Im sure she found a good one! 😉
    She looked lovely and the shawl was as perfect as the moment.

  13. Brilliant!! I can’t believe Hank is 14. In my mind’s eye he is always between 8 and 12and baking cookies in a hand knit sweater. What a wonderful family you have.

  14. you totally rock.
    She is so lucky to have a sister like you … the shawl was gorgeous, but that you remembered her request probably made the best gift of all.
    Well done.

  15. Not that was WONDERFUL!!!! What a grand idea! And congratulations on pulling it off so splendidly! (Loved the last picture best! Sister Love! and the shawl looked great!)

  16. You are truly amazing to have pulled that off in the midst of your busy schedule! It was wonderful! And what I could see of the shawl was gorgeous!

  17. Best wishes to the Erin & Winston!

    Way to rock the family & friends flashmob.

    And while the shawl is gorgeous, the sweetness of the sister smooch (okay, and the newlywed smooch) photo is transcendent.

  18. The piccolo surprisingly rocked! That was awesome.

    I cannot get my head around Hank. Yesterday, he was an adorable little kid whose biggest thrill was the skein winder. Now he is a handsome young man. When did that happen?

  19. Dang it, Stephanie! I was crying even before I played the video! That was so beautiful. Great job and congratulations on winning the sister-of-the-year award.

  20. What a beautiful wedding! Your family sure is awesome, such lovely lovely people. You look great in your dress! And the shawl is beautiful. Can’t get over Hank, I remember when you knit him those cute crocodile or dinosaur mitts. Your girls are all grown up too! Best wishes to the newlyweds!!

  21. Soooo freakin’ wonderful. It may also be the first flash mob with a piccolo, which rocked. The amount of love in your family is a thing to behold.

  22. The shawl is lovely (I just finished my second one of that pattern) and you look fabulous in your dress and lipstick! Beautiful wedding and fantastic flash mob! Well done, all.

  23. Seems like just a couple of weeks ago that I was reading about Hank being entertained by endlessly rewinding the same hank of yarn on the ball winder. He has turned into a fine young man.

    Perfect wedding. Wonderful sisters – both of you.

    • I too am shocked by this. I remember him as about 7 in a cute little red cardigan I think. What fun to HEAR all of these people we have SEEN for so many years. Very generous of them to share. Congratulations to the new family!

  24. Did you steal that idea from my favorite movie, “Love Actually”? Anyway it was beautiful and perfect and made me cry. Mazel tov to Erin and Winston.

  25. Can I be adopted by your family? What a generous, fun, loving bunch of folks. You should be proud. (and Erin looks stunning and stunned!)

  26. Nope. Not a dry eye at my desk either. Can’t trust myself to watch the video until I get home. We are told we must maintain a Professional Demeanor, and I doubt I could pull that off.

    Congratulations to everyone!

  27. Brilliant!! Loved the video, fabulous to see your legendary family moving, singing, being happy in the (virtual) flesh. You didn’t make me cry — you gave me a great happy boost, which is just what I need, having returned from hospital where my mum has just been readmitted … it really did me good. And you look absolutely gorgeous in that dress, and the shawl looks perfect, and you’ve just rescued an abysmal day. Thank you!

  28. Two things: 1. We are laughing and crying right along with you. Thanks for sharing your life with us. 2. When did Hank get to be 14?!! He’s so big now!

  29. What a wonderful surprise! I would have cried my eyes out, too–those are the best kind of gifts.

    And how the heck is Hank 14 years old? Seriously, did you put him in a time warp or something? I swear he was just 5 a minute ago….

    Congratulations on a lovely day.

  30. What a lovely tribute, and thanks for sharing it. What wonderful memories (and what a beautiful shawl). Congratulations to Erin and Winston!

  31. Beautiful, just beautiful – the song, the bride, the shawl, the mother of the bride, the sister of the bride, the dress, the shoes, the appropriate and completely invisible underwear… Thank you for sharing your beautiful, talented, loving family with us!

  32. I laughed and cried…so wonderful. But wait, Hank is 14??? He’s supposed to still be a little boy with the winding yarn or baking cookies or going Christmas shopping with you. Oh my…I’ve been claiming your family as an extension of mine for a very long time..but obviously not paying attention to calendars.

  33. You guys definitely rank among the coolest families (and extended families) out there. I love it. I particularly love the glimpses of you, Harlot, squinting in to the sun to make sure the bride is happy crying. Awesome job!!

  34. Agree-thank you for sharing this with us, and OMG is that HANK!!??! I’m guessing his fascinated-with-ball-winding days are over 🙁

  35. Amazing. What a fabulous gift to your sister! And bully for all participating! The love was evident and near about visible in that video. Congratulations for pulling it off! The shawl is beautiful and you look terrific! Happiness and love to all!

  36. That was the most meaningful present a sister could ever give!! It was certainly a testimony to the love that you feel for Erin.

    Wonderful that your mum got really into it!

  37. Wonderful wedding! Wonderful flash mob. I would love to have you for a sister. You are amazing!
    The bride and groom looked so happy.

  38. What a lovely idea … and I’ll bet you earned that award big time! I especially love the last picture of you and Erin, and what I can see of it, the beautiful shawl!

  39. I’ve got tears in my eyes. You are really diverse – flash mob organizer, wedding shawl creator, author, bicycling warrior… the list goes on and on. Thanks for sharing such a sweet and joyful time.

  40. That was Incredible!!!!! Made me tear up, and it’s not even for me. The imperfections made it more perfect if that makes sense. What a fabulous surprise for your sister. Thinking that sister of the year award might just go to you this year.

  41. Erin makes a lovely bride, Winston makes a handsome group, they make a wonderful, happy couple, and you look lovely in the dress, Stephanie. Loved this whole post!

  42. “We had an unreasonable number of kazoos” – what a line!
    It sounds like the most wonderful wedding day. Congratulations to all involved and well done on a wonderful surprise music event – a perfect memory in a day no doubt filled with memories.

  43. Wow.

    Congratulations to the bride and groom. May their marriage be a long and happy one.

    Hank is shooting up and becoming more handsome every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his classmates are already drooling after him!

    The idea and the choice of song worked perfectly together. It seems these type of things always work better when everyone knows the music or song — and who doesn’t know the Beatles?? I think I’m going to e-mail a link to the video to my brother, the high school band director, to (maybe) inspire him when our nephews and nieces start getting married!

  44. Whether or not everyone was all on the same musical measure throughout, your hearts were all in the right place at the right time. 🙂

    Lovely moment, lovely wedding, lovely shawl, lovely pictures, and lovely dresses (all around). Mazeltov!

  45. That’s adorable. I especially like the part where you can see Sam laughing because there’s two versions happening at once! Truly a wonderful gift.

  46. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    ps. Gorgeous dress, perfect shoes. You looked downright comfortable in them, too.

  47. Thank you so much for including ‘the blog’ in your family celebration! I feel weirdly connected to you all at this moment (sniff-sniff). Congratulations are due all around – to the beautiful bride & handsome groom, their charming children, the fabulous shawl, and to you and your lovely family. Blessings all around!

  48. Oh my goodness that was sweet! Made me cry! The shawl is gorgeous, can’t wait to see more pics of it. What a beautiful couple your sister and her hubby are.

  49. Dear Stephanie–

    I’ve never commented before, but I gotta say, when the video cut to Erin crying, I started crying too. Super, super way to go, and blessings on your head for stirring it up. And Winston, hey, look at the way he’s lookin’ at your sister. Man *loves* her. So lovely to see, and thank you for sharing it with us. Right on with the right on’s,

  50. Flipping my male co-worker out by crying at my desk – had to explain that they were happy-based tears!

    Congratulations to the newlyweds and a hearty “Huzzah!” to all the performers!

  51. I am quite surprised that I was ugly crying at 6:30 this morning. That was just beautiful, your shawl as well. Thank you for sharing that wonderful moment with the rest of us.

  52. That is the most perfectly endearing thing I have seen in a while. Congratulations to your sister on her wedding; she looked stunning. And Hank (good lord, is that little Hank?) looks like he’s grown up to be a fine young man. I wish your sister all the happiness in the world, and it looks like you guys gave her a good start.

  53. That is now my second-favorite. Flash. Mob. Ever. Second only to the one at Sock Summit Ii in Portland OR in ’11, honoring our own dear Harlot.
    What a wonderful family and fantastic event. (Beautiful shawl, too!) But how will you top that when your daughters marry, Steph?

  54. Lovely gifts, the shawl and song. I was ugly crying while watching the video, and I’ve never even met you people! What a perfect send off to a new marriage.

  55. It may be cold medication but I totally teared up and got happy weepy over the video. Ok…it wasn’t the medication. I’m a big cry baby. it was beautiful and happy and awkward and wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  56. Thank you Steph and Erin for bringing a happy joyous tear to my eye this morning, and for letting us all be part of a beautiful outpouring of celebration and love!

  57. Love your dress, Erin’s dress, Erin’s shawl, Hank’s suit, the cool video, and the socks that the guy on the couch with the green guitar is wearing.

  58. GAH! I totally teared up. Watching BOTH videos! What a fantastic family! That is the best kind of wedding gift. So SO beautiful. (you clean up nicely, Stephanie! You and your mom and girls (AND SISTER!) all looked so lovely! Also? Hank has the most fabulous shoes!)

  59. Stephanie, thank you SO MUCH for posting the link to the video! I felt as if you’d given us invitations to your family wedding. I’m afraid I’m echoing what’s already been said: your sister looked gorgeous; her shawl was perfect (kudos, Steph!), Hank is so TALL (taller than you now!), your dress and shoes both looked great, your daughters looked wonderful. And this was the first chance I’ve gotten to see your wonderful mom in action! She looked wonderful, and totally into helping that song along, bless her!

    Beautiful shawl? Carefully planned flashmob to start the new couple off right? You totally rocked as Bestest Sister of the Year!

  60. Congratulations to Erin, Winston and their new family – happiness always. Loved the video, loved the shawl (perfect), great dress and shoes BTW – your picture with Erin – priceless!

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  62. so VERY wonderful! Love and family and love. And omigod. HANK. All grown up. In shock here. congratulations to all! and gorgeous shawl…

  63. I hope Hank doesn’t think he is too old now to bake Christmas cookies with you.

    I don’t care if I am redundant. Thank you for allowing us a view on so much love.

  64. So perfect – just like Love Actually. It is a perfect song for a wedding. And it’s so unfair that Erin looks beautiful even when she is ‘ugly crying’. Amazing event.

  65. 1) Love your dress – gorgeous color and sexy cut!
    2) When did Hank go from a boy to a young man? It’s magical, isn’t it, what happens between 12 and 14. Went through that with my daughter and still can’t get over it.
    3) The shawl is amazing.
    4) {sniff}

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  67. Damn it was dusty in here when I watched that video. Wedding shawl and a surprise flash mob? You are the world’s best sister.

  68. Technically, there’s no such thing as “an unreasonable amount of kazoos.” Particularly for an occasion such as this.

    GREAT job pulling it off. Made me cry (a nice cry).

  69. Wait a minute – Hank was 4 years old only yesterday! What happened? When did that kid grow up? Boy, time flies!

    Also, please clarify for me. Erin is your sister, right? And Kate is Joe’s? Just trying to keep all you Pearls & McPhees straight is an effort!

  70. I was at a family wedding myself at around the same time. It was lovely in Cleveland too. No flash mob at this one.

    I could have loaned you the “tower of power” brass we had when we sang this song in church a few years back. But the piccolo was particularly marvelous.

    And so is the shawl.

  71. And all I can think about is… I remember when you were blogging about Hank and he was like, 2. Now my child is almost 2. Don’t tell me it goes by that fast. I refuse to listen.

  72. Holy cow, i’m sobbing like a child right now. but in a smiley way. super cute and what a fabulous accompaniment! great job, steph. i know your sis was so pleased.

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