Our Wedding: April 30th
I awoke on April 30th pretty wide awake in the Prophet’s Chamber on top of the hill on the Shadow Mountain Community Church campus in El Cajon, California. I had two alarms set, and I was pretty awake by the first one. My eyes were really itchy that morning, like so itchy I Had to wash my eyes again and again until the whites of my eyes were bloodshot! I had to put eye drops in, and I prayed that Jesus would heal me, especially because it was my wedding day! After laying a while on my bed with the drops seeping into my eyes, I got up again and I focused on not rubbing my eyes. I just cleaned the matter around my eyes lightly as I got in the shower.
When I got out of the shower, I shaved until I didn’t have one stray hair on my neck or my chin. Looking a little better in my eyes by the time that I had finished shaving, I got everything for my honeymoon packed away into my suitcase. I made my way down the old wooden stairs leading down from the Prophet’s Chamber, locking the door for the last time as a bachelor. My bachelor days were over! That filled the whole day with a sense of victory! I rolled my suitcase with my right hand and my tuxedo hangers in my left hand over my shoulder. When I got everything packed, I drove over to Mission Bay Best Western, which was the closest hotel to our church, one block away, so it’s the one where we chose to get our group rate. I found Chad and Jim in no time. It was so cool seeing friends all over the hotel, the Prinjinski’s over here, the Faulkner’s over there! I was super surprised to all of a sudden see my friend Bri, from Cal Baptist, there in the parking lot! We had been in the same gang while students at CBU. It was a Baptist Punk-rawker Gang, so we would pick on kids who either weren’t Baptist or weren’t punk-rawkers. Bri and I made our way upstairs to see Chad and Nicole who were also part of the gang. It was so great having all of friends from college back together again! Before I knew it, it was call-time for me and my groomsmen to get dressed and get photographed. I saw Dustin at the church when I pulled up and it was so great seeing one old friend after another! He and I found our “guys changing room” and as we waited for all the guys to show up, Dustin, who is a Creative Director at a Theatre AND a massage therapist, gave me my “pre-marriage vows shoulder rub”. Well Dustin didn’t give me pointers on the breakdown of the blocking for my bridal party, but he did get me ready to face Sara at the altar. He gave me such a tremendous shoulder massage which was just what I needed, since all the running around the last month had left my eyes and back feeling pretty crummy. After a while, most my groomsmen had trickled into our “green room”, it was almost like an old MentoneTones concert, this time in tuxedos! I got Sara calling to remind us that it was precisely time to start the guys photos with Lyle the photographer.
We had to round up a couple of them, like my two brother-in-laws, but before long we were all together and shooting pictures by the nice ice-plant that cover the hills in Clairemont Emmanuel’s terraced parking lot. I got to take some really funny pictures with my old buddies, and also great moments captured with my little nephews all dressed up! They came from Spain for the wedding!
After we had finished our “before-hand” pictures of all the guys, we were adjourned and went up to our waiting room, just outside of the Clairemont Emmanuel foyer. It’s Pastor Hahn’s former office. Pastor Hahn was the pastor who built the church to what it is today. He’s now 89 years old and many years retired as Senior Pastor. I was astounded how much wisdom he had for us in our meetings with him before the wedding. Well as my groomsmen marched with me up to our waiting room, we saw a whole ton of people who wanted to talk to me and wish Sara and I well. What was so neat for me in my wedding, which I hadn’t understood prior to my wedding day, was just how neat it is to see all these people who care about you coming together to celebrate with you. In our case, we had our family coming from Spain, Mexico, Africa, Orange County, and the Midwest! It was really something getting all those loved ones into one church! As it got close to the hour, I had to sneak through the sanctuary to get to my position backstage, to wait for my cue with the music. Just trying to go quickly through the sanctuary, I saw all these old friends and relatives in the pews, I could look down any row of pews and sitting there were all these important people in my life! So I finally got to my holding area backstage and the groomsmen all came back there little by little. We arranged ourselves in order for walking out, me first then Jim, who was Best-man, followed by my other lifelong friends!
I saw my nieces who came from Spain, Anelise and Aida, take their place on stage and begin to play “Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desire”. That was our cue so I went out with Pastor Hahn and the GroomsmenToneTones. We filed out to the foot of the stage as the parents were being escorted in and the bridesmaids were coming down the aisle holding their bouquets. Then came the ring-bearers, My nephews, Avery and Ashton from Spain, and after them came Sara’s nieces from Mexico, Aileen and Abrilita, who were adorable in their white dresses as their sprinkled flower petals on the ground. Finally Sara and Dr. Gonzalez appeared. Everyone stood up as Sara came down the aisle, and Sara, as she got close, fixed her eyes on mine. She had a very intent and joyful gaze as she looked at me, as I was waiting for her with all my groomsmen. Pastor Hahn was just perfect in his role as the elderly Man of God. He was just so perfect at being formal and joyful, kind and noble as he asked who gave the bride and began the ceremony. Sara’s dad was very solemn and noble too, as he kissed Sara and gave her away to me. It was really a beautiful picture of Sara being given from her father to her husband, but I guess that I’m biased since it’s my wedding! So from then on, Sara and I had our sweaty hands joined for the remainder of the day pretty much. From then on we had the Mexican Tradition of the Padrinos. Pastor Basilio and Yoli from Calvary Chapel San Quintin were our first padrinos and gave us a dedicated Bible, so that we will not forget to put God’s word first in our lives. Second we were given the arras, or wedding coins, by Roberto and Lupita Rojas, then finally the Prinjinski’s were our Padrinos de Lasso, lassoing us together, joining our two families, Gonzalez and Bennett, forever. While we were still lassoed together, Rabbi Larry from my Messianic Jewish Congregation, Shuvah Yisrael, came up and canted the Sheva BeRachot, the 7 Wedding Blessings, then he blessed the Kiddish Cup and Rabbi Larry gave Sara and I both to drink of the cup of the covenant together. Salomon then took his place to play the special music: “Just To be with You, I’d do Anything”. As he finished the song, the Prinjinski’s removed the lasso and Sara and I climbed the stage to light the Unity Candle together. As we took our place on last time at the foot of the stage, Pastor Hahn gave a stellar message on loving your spouse, that was so good that it even had Rabbi Feldman talking afterwards. Sara and I said our vows looking at each-other and still holding hands, and Pastor Hahn said “You may now kiss the bride. Make it a good one!” We kissed and everyone cheered! Then Rabbi Larry came up to explain how our old life of singleness has passed as we break the glass of the Kiddish Cup. So I stomped on the glass and the sanctuary echoed with everyone shouting “Mozel Tov”! And so the whole of San Diego gave itself up to merry-making, laughing and singing filling the freeways, and all knowing that our love knows no bounds. Oh the songs they still sing from San Diego to Sevilla, from San Quintin to Punto Umbria, about Sara Jean and her JD. We were married, and the party began, and Sara and JD lived happily ever after.