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I hate to be so cliche, but that’s exactly what it was. Grab a drink, maybe a snack and get comfortable because this is going to be a long post!

Let’s go back to Saturday, August 11th.

Carolyn and Neal arrived at about 11AM.  I picked them up from the airport while Wade got his hair cut.  Once we arrived at home and Mack and Archie freaked out for about 30 minutes, my Mom came to meet us and we went to lunch at one of our favorite places, Chuy’s.  After lunch, we came back home, hit up the grocery store, ran other errands and then, we relaxed at Nancy’s pool.  It was fantastic!

On Sunday, Wade and Neal went to the Rangers’ game with our friend, David from 4-Day Weekend (the Improv Club that our rehearsal dinner was at) and his son.  The guys had a blast!  That night, we just relaxed at home.  Wade made his famous orange chicken.

On Monday, we got into cleaning mode (mostly Carolyn did).  Both, Wade and I had to work, but we helped as much as possible.  We all watched the Rangers’ game on Monday night and then, on Tuesday, the cleaning and projects continued.  Neal patched some concrete on the front porch, cleaned our front window and kept us abreast of the weather.  That night, an Arlington restaurant called Chophouse Burgers was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.  We got a call from one of Neal’s friends in Ohio saying we should try it and a call from Stephanie saying that we should go there.

On Wednesday morning, Neal and I went to the airport to pick up Corey (19) and Frankie (15), Wade’s cousins from Florida.  While Nancy and Carolyn went to get their nails done.  We all went to breakfast at Original Pancake House, where Frankie took 800 years to eat.  Wade had a half day at work and he got home at 11, which happened to be about 15 minutes after we got home.  The Graf games began immediately.  It started with timed laps around the neighborhood.  Frankie won that.  We quickly transitioned to Polish washers, where Wade and Frankie also won.

Frankie is on the left and Corey is on the right.
They are between the backs of Neal and Wade’s heads.

Nancy and Carolyn came back around 2:30.  We decided to try out Chophouse Burgers and what a treat?!?  Just typing about that burger makes my mouth water.  I had the Carolina Pulled Pork Burger.  It was a patty topped with cole slaw, pulled pork and a goat cheese butter.  YUM!  Wade had the Chophouse burger and that was delicious too!  After some laughs at dinner, we went to Nancy’s where the guys had a breath-holding contest (Neal won), lap swimming contest (Corey won) and played their own version of water polo.  It exhausted me just watching them play.  Needless to say, we all slept well that night.  The dogs cuddled with Corey and Frankie downstairs.

As you can see, this was crazy!

On Thursday, all of Wade’s friends, his grandmother and two aunts (from Ohio) and his Uncle Bart and Aunt Christy (Frankie and Corey’s parents) arrived. Thankfully, all at different times.  Still, Wade and I got a little stressed Thursday trying to coordinate transportation, etc. Carolyn and I went to pick up the Ohio ladies (Grandma Miller, Aunt Bonnie and Aunt Debbie) at the airport.  My mom followed us so we could all fit.  Their flight landed right on time and we headed back to the house for lunch and to give them a tour.  Once that was over, Wade, Carolyn and my mom and I took them to their hotel in Fort Worth.  My mom dropped them off and went home.  Wade and I spent some time with them, looking at pictures and opening gifts.  After a while we went to have a few drinks while they settled and by that time, his friends had made it into town.  One of his friends, Palmer, sells buses.  He flew from Ohio to Houston and drove a bus from Houston to the airport to pick up a group of about 12 people.  What a saint?!?  I don’t know what we’d do without him.  We got over to the hotel just in time to see him almost hit a guy in the crosswalk.  Once everyone checked in, we all went to Jakes to have some beer.

This is Shelly Miller (Wade’s cousin’s wife) and me at Jake’s

The guys left to pick up their tuxes and the girls went to the free happy hour at the hotel.  It was great!

The girls hitting up the free happy hour at Embassy Suites.

We spent the whole evening in Fort Worth hanging out with the Ohio friends.  I made a responsible decision to take a cab home at 10PM.  I was exhausted and I knew I needed the sleep because of what was to come.

My night was winding down at this point and Wade’s was just beginning 🙂

When I got home, Bart and Christy hadn’t arrived yet.  They stayed at our house all weekend, which was perfect because they saved money not having to get a hotel and they were able to take care of Archie and Mack.  I went right to bed.  I woke up at 1:45 and Wade still wasn’t home.  I called him and got no answer.  I was worried.  Finally, he called back and shortly after that he arrived at home via cab.  He crawled into bed and I though everything was fine until he got up and got very sick.  I basically mopped, washed, and wiped-down our bathroom from 2-6am.  It was not ideal and I did not get any sleep like I had planned.  He NEVER gets to see his friends though and I’m glad he had fun with them!

I was up at 7 on Friday to pack for the weekend and spend some time with Christy and Bart, who had arrived just after Wade got home.  It was so wonderful to see them and even get to catch up with them. I got packed and made my fiance’ (not for long) breakfast.  He had arranged a surprise for me on Saturday and after Friday night’s festivities, it was much needed.  I was a zombie and at 9:45am, my two best friends, Courtney and Stephanie pulled into the driveway.  They whisked me away to Fort Worth for a massage and some lunch.  It was perfection!  I adore them.  I got a good laugh because while I was getting my massage, they pretended to be a lesbian couple looking a lofts in the area because they were bored.  At lunch, we were joined by Steph’s sister, Sarah (a bridesmaid) and Kristen (my other best friend) and her 7 week old son, Ethan.  It was exactly what I needed.  They laughed at my totally bitchy attitude and made me feel better about getting 3 hours of sleep.

After our lunch, I had a manicure, pedicure and I got my hair done for the rehearsal dinner.  It was perfect.  When I finished up, I called a cab to get me back to the hotel (where the girls were) so I could change.  I waited for that damn cab for 30 minutes.  It was hot, I was late and I was pissy.  No way around it.  I was one unhappy bride-to-be.  Well, I wasn’t unhappy actually, I was just too tired to be in a good mood.  Thankfully, I got back to my room at the hotel and all my friends were there.  I changed and we headed over to Bass Hall for the rehearsal.

Since I was in no mood to play around, I may have been a little short.  Wade got a laugh about my very bossy directions to people and as always, he really put me at ease and made me laugh.  One bridesmaid didn’t make it to the rehearsal and, of course, Wade’s friend Mainord, the reader didn’t make it.  It’s kind of a running joke with Wade’s friends.  He was 0 for 1 in wedding’s and his lack of presence didn’t bode well for him.  The rehearsal with everyone went fairly quickly.  Bass Hall looked beautiful.  Wade and I had to stay after to practice our surprise first dance.  The band was on the stage and the curtain was down.  We walked on the stage and they played the video.  When it was over, the curtain went up and the band started playing our first dance song.  We both lost it right there.  The wedding planner and florist cried as well and there weren’t even decorations up yet.  We knew it was going to be awesome!

After our extra rehearsal, we headed over to 4-day Weekend for the rehearsal dinner, which was Papa John’s pizza (50% off because the Rangers hit 7 runs the day before).  It started pouring the second everyone got there.  The timing was perfect.  We gave out gifts; TOM’s shoes for the girls and Nolan Ryan autographs for the guys.  My dad gave a speech and one of Wade’s best men gave a speech and then, we went into the theater.  Those guys didn’t hesitate for one second.  The very first skit was ME.  David, one of the co-founders of the troupe, started asking me all of these questions about Wade, work, etc.  Once he was done, the 4 other guys came out and sang a song about what we had just talked about.  I don’t remember a lot of it, but the chorus was “she sleeps with her staff.”  It was hilarious.  I was already crying I laughed so hard.

Wade, Coty, Shelly and Jeff (Wade’s Cousin) at 4-Day Weekend.
Also, that’s my Grandma’s belt I’m wearing.

It was one of the best shows I had seen there and then, they outdid themselves when they picked my Uncle Charley to be a “Big Brother”  I can’t even begin to describe the skit, but it was a riot.  Everyone had such a great time and I could not be more thankful for our friends at 4-Day Weekend who made this happen.  After the show, Wade and I went right to bed (in our own rooms, of course).  It had stopped raining by then, again, PERFECT.

Wade had to get up at like 4:45 to go golf at Cowboy’s Golf Course with his dad and his 2 best men.  I was up at 7am.  I had a quick breakfast, in pajamas, at the free breakfast with Bob.  After that, I went upstairs and cleaned my room since all the girls, hair and make-up ladies and lunch would be there at 11:30ish.  I was excited and in a much better mood since I got some sleep.  The day was going wonderfully.  Wade shot a 75, everyone’s hair and make-up looked amazing and lunch was incredible.  Steph’s mom made her chicken salad.  We had sandwiches, fruit chips and delicious drinks.

Paul (Wade’s best man), Wade, Jeff (Wade’s other best man), and Neal

We headed over to Bass Hall early and I got to see the stage.  It was stunning.  Absolutely stunning.  We also saw the ceremony location and that was beautiful too.  It was very overcast, which made the lighting perfect.  We ran into the florist, who was in tears because this was his dream wedding.  After we saw everything, I hung out with the bridesmaid and some champagne in one of the dressing rooms.  It was great to relax with my friends before the big show!  That whole time is really a blur.  My mom, Carolyn and Marilyn were there.  Suddenly, it was time to get dressed.  I totally forgot to even put on my veil.  I read a note that Wade had written to me on the stage and he read the note I had written to him (separately of course).  The next thing I know, I’m standing in foyer of the lobby waiting to see Wade and my Dad came out.  I’m glad I got to see him.  Then, Wade came.  We both were nervous and cried a little.  We were whisked away to pictures and then lined up for the ceremony.

This is what the ceremony looked like in the Mezz Lobby.
It was a LOOOOOOONNNNNG aisle.

I enjoyed my time with my Dad before he walked me down the aisle.  The music from the string quartet was beautiful.  Ps. Tom was very nervous.  In fact, he was so nervous, he forgot that there were two readers.  And Mainord (by not fault of his own) is 0 and 2 for weddings.  The ceremony was very fast. My bouquet was very heavy and that’s really all I can tell you.  The place was packed and again, it was perfect!

We’re married.  I’m Mrs. Wade Graf!!!

After it was over, we had some more pictures, which Steph directed like a PRO and then everyone headed to the cocktail hour while Wade and I headed to the stage.  They brought us drinks and appetizers and suddenly it was time for the first dance.  We stood on our spot behind the curtain in the midst of this whimsical, sophisticated, elegant, dream come true as our video played to the guests who were sitting in the theater.  It was surreal to hear them laugh and gasp and ooohhhh and ahhhhh.  Then, the audible gasps as the curtain went up and the band started in on “Iris” was just too much.  We both lost it.  As we danced in circles it was so cool to look out and see our guests only to turn and see Aquile and The Orbit Group on a stage on the stage.  I cry typing about it.  It was, again, perfection.

Our first dance to “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls.  It was breathtaking.

When our first dance was over, we welcomed guests up on each side of the stage.  They were awed.  We ate delicious food.  Wade had filet.  I had salmon.  The cake was incredible.  The band was awesome.  The speeches from Jeff and Stephanie were brilliant, so touching!  The father-daughter dance and the mother-son dances were great.

Our cake with Longhorn and Buckeye chocolates
Father-Daughter dance.  We danced to “Stand By Me.”
Mother-Son dance.  Carolyn and Wade danced to “You’re the Inspiration.”
Eating on Stage at Bass Hall.
Filet and Salmon from Chophouse with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.

I remember telling Wade that I can’t believe we ever said words that resulted in “this.”  It was absolutely stunning.

One of the head tables…stunning. 
The regular guest tables.  Also amazing.

At one point, Wade and Palmer came up to me and told me that Jon Niese (a pitcher for the Mets) said he was going to pitch a good game for us.  Well, he pitched a shut-out!  After a ton of dancing, the night ended with Brad Palmer singing “Changes.”  I could not have thought of a better way to close the show.  Everyone (even the wedding planner) was dancing.

Us with Aquile, the lead singer, who will be on The Voice starting September 10.
Sarah Parks, Elizabeth Parks Wilson, Me, Stephanie Parks.  This is basically my other family.

Wade and I walked out of Bass Hall and had confetti tossed on us.  There was some “TEXAS” “FIGHT” and there was “O-H-I-O.”

We quickly changed and headed out to Pete’s piano bar with Wade’s friends and my brother and Lauren.  It was so fun.  I won a silly contest and we didn’t get to bed until 4AM.  We woke up exhausted, but excited to get home.  Once we got back, we got to spend time with Bart and Christy and their boys, Frankie, Corey and Brett (the other would-be reader) who arrived on Friday.  We all went to lunch and it was just perfect.

We’re both still on cloud 9.  We leave for our honeymoon on 9/2.

Lots of love and thanks to our friends and families who were patient, kind and understanding during this time.  We hope you enjoy the pictures…there’s plenty more where these came from.  We should have more pics in 4-6 weeks and video in 3-6 months.


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