So, one drawback of having a destination wedding was that many of our friends and family couldn´t come. However, on the plus side, my in-laws were kind enough to host a wedding reception for us in their hometown of Towanda, Illinois on July 5th. Jon has a large family and only one of his uncles, one aunt, and two cousins were able to make it to Mexico; so, this second party was attended in great number by both Krumtingers and Neubauers, alike. We had 42 guests in Mexico and, I think, close to 75 at the Towanda reception. Plus, many of Jon´s friends and their parents still live in the area and were able to make it as well. I was lucky that my parents, sister, and best friend all made the journey, as well as a college friend, his girlfriend, and two of our friends from Chile. It meant so much to me that all those people went out of their way to be there and celebrate with us in BloNo, as Randi´s husband, Matt found out the nearby town of Bloomington Normal is affectionately called.
The theme of the Towanda reception was sort of a Napa, backyard garden party: casual, yet elegant, which is exactly what Jon and I wanted. Sandi and Jim live in a neighborhood called the Lamplighter, which is surrounded by cornfields, where they have a lovely home with a huge back yard. In fact, many of Jon´s friends grew up with him in that same neighborhood, and still tell stories about the shenanigans they pulled while de-tasseling corn in the summer. (Yes, I am here to inform you that de-tasseling is a real job, and involves young men plucking the tops off corn so they don´t reproduce…) Besides castrating the corn plants, on hot, summer days, Krum and his cohorts would fish in the little pond nearby and ride bikes, enjoying the safe, secure, mid-western upbringing that everyone seems to reminisce about these days. My favorite part about the house is sitting on the back porch, watching the fireflies come out on a summer´s evening, eating some barbeque, and waiting for the 4th of July fireworks which you can also see from the patio. Extremely convenient!
For the event, Jim and Sandi rented a big white tent (in case of rain) and the tent was all strung up with paper lanterns (my favorite!) and the porch was decked out in twinkle lights. It really was beautiful. Thanks to Pinterest, Sandi was able to create some theme-appropriate centerpieces. These included sawed-off wine bottles, which served nicely as vases for pink roses and orange lilies, our wedding colors. Next to the wine bottle was a wine glass, turned upside down, with a pink rose inside, and a stem-less wine glass containing a white candle and surrounded by wine corks. They created a lovely addition to the ambiance. In addition, we had a DJ spinning tunes, a caterer who served delicious food, and plenty of tasty desserts, including mini pies, homemade mints made by Grandma Neubauer, cupcakes, and a cake that Jon and I had a difficult time cutting, and .
I had decided to wear my dress again, which was lots of fun because I was able to capitalize on my investment and get more wear out of it. I do LOVE that dress, but did not love the fact that it was still just as tight as in Mexico (if not more, since after a week of chowing down on the restaurant portion sizes in the US I wasn´t quite as skinny as I thought I was…). Also I have decided that everyone looks better tan, and since I had just been through a few months of Chilean fall and winter, I was pale as all get out (Jon- I stole your phrase!) and just didn´t feel as beautiful as I did in Mexico. This, coupled with the fact that I had asked the hairdresser to straighten my hair and put flowers in it without trying the do out first, I just didn´t quite feel like myself. It is true that a test-run of hair, dress, and make-up is extremely important so that you feel comfortable on your wedding day. Alas, I gussied myself up in the dress, discovered that the bustle was broken from the last wedding celebration, and that I now had miles and miles of train dragging all over the backyard grass. My dress was made of intricate lace with a tulle overlay at the bottom, so the train basically acted as a superb bug catcher. Every single cricket and spider hanging out in Towanda made it´s way up my dress and got caught in the fabric. Not pleasant…. but luckily Jon´s Grandma is a fabulous seamstress, and so we fixed the bustle, I drank some white wine, and gradually I no longer cared about the fit of the dress, my paleness, or the creepy crawlies inhabiting my gown.
Magically, also the Towanda fireworks happened to fall on July 5th instead of July 4th this year and so we were treated to our very own fireworks show during our reception. Which was really nice because Jon and I had wanted to honor our China roots during the Cancun celebration with fireworks, but we were only allowed these tiny sparklers, which I think were more the length of the sparklers that would fit on a birthday cake. (Definitely not what we were thinking…) In China not a single slab of concrete can be pored without the requisite bangs and booms of thousands of firecrackers scaring away the evil spirits. Being that we lived in a new subdivision called Golden Pebble Beach, we rose from our beds around 5 AM because of fireworks, we heard them pretty much all day from our classrooms, and we had trouble sleeping at night because of the din. The Towanda fireworks during our reception were a bit like small flashing lanterns in the sky compared to the massive displays we became accustomed to in Dalian, but it was still exciting. The night was made even more special when the DJ turned on the patriotic songs during the fireworks. So there we all were, in Towanda, Illinois, singing along to “I´m proud to be an American” and some Toby Keith jingle about “Putting a boot in your ass, it´s the American way!” But it was our willingness to belt these songs out that led me to believe that perhaps we should slow down on the booze. I guess that almost slipping on the hem of my half broken bustle as Jon spun me around during our first dance could have given me a clue….
Sadly, the night ended much too quickly as wonderful evenings often do. We were lucky we had decided to go with the tent, because shortly after the fireworks display, it began to pour, and the tent became a necessity. After several trips running through the rain, holding up my skirts so I wouldn´t get them too wet as I hurried to the house bathroom, I realized it was actually raining quite a lot. The rain seemed to be the deal breaker for some party-goers, and so the DJ closed up shop a little early and the rest of us headed inside to partake of some Evans traditions, shots filled with half brandy and amaretto. Yeah, pretty sure I didn´t need those, and I´m sure Jon (who had to get me out of the dress all by himself for the second time in a row) would concur…
My one regret about the party was that I wish I had been less upset about my appearance at the beginning of the night, and also that I had more time to spend with everybody, but such is life. It made me realize how lucky we were to be able to spend such quality time with all of our guests in Mexico. Many thanks go out to Sandi and Jim who put a lot of hard work into the party and to all those who made the journey. And thanks, also, to Jon´s cousin, Samantha who took some beautiful family photos before the party started. You made me look beautiful, even though I didn´t feel beautiful! Thanks☺ And with that, I guess I will have to hang up that wedding dress for good, as I think a third wedding celebration might be a bit much. Don´t you??!!