I left on Thursday knowing two things (in chronological order): First, I would land in a state I'd never before step foot in. Secondly, I'd see two people near and dear to me get married.
The first was pretty cut and dried. In addition to seeing how beautiful Ketchum, Hailey and Boise were, I got to cross another state off of my "visited" list - bringing the total to 28. (It was revealed in one of the reception speeches that locals frown upon the use of "Sun Valley" to describe a location; the town names are preferred, apparently.)
We had a nice tour of Boise, including a brief tour of the Boise State campus. We managed to intrude on football practice a little bit, checking out the JV team (apparently) working on the main field and the varsity squad doing a day-after workout in the school's new indoor practice facility.
And I can confirm that the stadium field really is very blue. I have a photo of my own, but I'll have to wait until it's downloaded. For now, the shot at right is an AP photo via Yahoo and it pretty clearly backs up the point.
The main event, of course, was the wedding of my brother-in-law, Mark, to his fiancee, Maya. It was a beautiful ceremony: an outside wedding backed by a spectacular view that was typically western.
Just beyond the wedding party was an open field of high grass, framed on the left and right by massive trees. To see the sun set there, just as the reception was kicking into high gear, was beyond words. (Fortunately, each trip to the keg provided just such a view, giving the trip a double-bonus quality.)
My wife and I were incredibly honored to have a reading during the ceremony. We put together a back-and-forth between the two of us on what we'd learned during our first 11 months of marriage. I got plenty of compliments on it, and was further encouraged when people sought me out to tell me they liked it.
As beautiful as all of the pomp and circumstance was, it was just as beautiful to see two people you care so deeply about commit to each other. I know a lot of people have problems with in-laws, but Mark is one hell of a guy and a person that I could easily spend a week with and not be bored for one second. I'm beyond proud to call him family. (He mentioned a possible trip for the four of us down the east coast to Maya's relatives in Florida, and I cannot begin to imagine how much fun that would be.)
As for Maya, this was only the second time ever that I've been in the same town as her. But you can spend 10 minutes with her and come away seeing what a caring, wonderful person she is. And I'm beyond proud to call her family, too.
On the whole, that was the thing that blew me away most from the weekend: I have a sister. Well, a sister-in-law, but a sister nonetheless. That point was brought home when we finally made our way out of the reception after a long night of dancing and celebrating: Maya's sister, Naomi, happened to be in the hallway leading out of the reception site. As we walked by each other, we both said, "What's up, family?"
My super-extended family grew larger in just a few moments on Saturday, though it grew larger in territory than in numbers: Maya has relatives that flew in from as far away as Israel and Australia. Maya herself was born in Israel and, if memory serves right, was raised in Seattle.
If you're looking for the most amazing big-picture element to the weekend, it's this: Country bumpkin me, with all of my east-coast (lack of) sensibility has an Israeli-born, Seattlian relative. A sister, no less.
And I couldn't be prouder or happier.
Congratulations, you guys. Here's to many glorious days together, and a steady stream of love from DC.