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The wedding

I'm exhausted. I'm so tired I can barely see straight. I feel like I haven't had a good night's sleep in weeks (perhaps because I haven't had a good night's sleep in weeks). The other day, I tried to have a snack of chips and salsa, but had to give up because I was too tired to lift the chips from the salsa jar to my mouth.

Oh, also, as of 7 p.m. Saturday evening -- I'm married.

I'm still processing the weekend, which seemed endless at times and was, at the same time, over far too quickly. It seems like only yesterday we were still trying to figure out where everyone would sit, and today we're on our fourth day of gazing, shell-shocked, at our rings and getting used to using the words "husband" and "wife."

My friend Shanna had one crucial piece of advice for me before the wedding: While everything is going on, be sure to stop, look around, and appreciate the moment. During the wedding Saturday night, Shanna grabbed me by the shoulders several times and asked, "Are you looking around?" Possibly as a result of her insistence, my memories of the weekend have gelled into discrete incidents and elements, including these:

-- I remembered to eat only when Alicia, my matron of honor and best friend from college, reminded me. On Friday night at our welcome barbecue for out-of-town guests, Alicia asked me if I had eaten anything. I hadn't -- although somewhere along the way I'd managed to down three or four beers. She said she'd fix me a plate and asked me what I wanted. I said, "Just a steak." She brought me an eight-ounce steak and two pieces of bread, which I immediately used to make a steak sandwich. As I bit into my Flintstone-esque dinner, Seth's mother's boyfriend turned away from his grill and said, "Forget Seth, Maia. Marry me."

-- My dad's former Anchorage Fire Department partners stepped up in surprising and generous ways. One caught all the fish for our welcome barbecue and then spent Saturday helping my dad rig up our chuppah at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, and another arranged for a magnum of Veuve Clicquot to be delivered to my hotel suite the night before the wedding. And then both of them sent gifts in addition to their already generous contributions to the celebration -- a reminder to me that when you grow up in the fire department, you grow up in an extended family that reaches out to support you when you least expect it. And let me tell you, I needed that magnum of Veuve. We opened it at breakfast, carried it around all day, and polished it off just before I put on the dress.

-- My bridesmaids and I got our hair done and then strolled over to M.A.'s for a hot dog around lunchtime. For the record, you can walk around downtown Anchorage on a Saturday afternoon during tourist season wearing a veil in your hair and a sweatshirt that has "BRIDE" spelled out on it in rhinestones, and no one will raise an eyebrow.

-- I cried all the way through our ceremony. Seriously. I had to let go of Seth's hands at one point to wipe the tears off my chin.

-- My Aunt Donna arranged all our flowers. I think I owe her my firstborn.

-- We gave up our lives to DIY projects in the months before our wedding, and while there were nights when I cried over my Cricut, the handmade flag bunting, paper birds, labels, escort cards, table numbers, crepe paper poppies, wine bottle vases, topiaries and repurposed vintage guestbook were absolutely worth the effort. Also, I'm pretty sure I owe my sister-in-law my second born for all her help. I'm running out of potential children.

-- Want to win your guests' hearts? Two words: Candy buffet. Although despite my exhortations to guests to take more home (I'm looking at you, Stephen Nowers), we ended up with dozens of pounds of leftover candy. We now have a candy buffet in our kitchen.

-- I'm not Jewish, and Seth wasn't bar mitzvahed, so consequently neither of us had any preparation for just how terrifying the hora would be. On the other hand, it was exhilerating to get back down to earth having cheated death -- and gravity -- in the most precarious chairs of all time.

-- Our guests drank an entire keg of framboise. And by "our guests," I mean "mostly me."

-- Quote of the evening: "Maia, you have a candy bar and a meat bar. There are all kinds of bars here that I'm really excited about."

-- Craig Medred wore a suit. A SUIT. If that doesn't make it the social event of the season, I don't know what does.

-- Some wedding guest -- who has not yet been specifically identified -- found or somehow otherwise procured a gold sequined shirt en route to our reception. This shirt quickly became known as "the Golden Fleece," and various guests spent the evening persuading as many other guests as they could to shimmy into the shirt and take a spin on the dance floor. I'm looking forward to the photos.

-- Number of bobby pins I pulled out of my updo at the end of the evening: 56.

-- I was terrified, early in the reception, that people would get bored or tired and go home early. I shouldn't have worried. We danced until midnight, had to kick people out of the Center at the end, and heard of several parties that continued well into the wee hours of the morning. (We also, from our suite on the 19th floor of the Hotel Captain Cook, heard one of the best men shouting in the street later that night.) We took our DJ out to dinner last night.

-- Yesterday, we went to Seth's bank to have me added to his accounts, where we will be consolidating all our assets. Our bank teller looked at Seth very seriously: "Do you, Seth, take Maia to be a secondary account holder, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, even if the balance on the account is zero? You have to say 'I do.'"

In the next few weeks, I'll have a few more columns with reflections on various aspects of our wedding -- the vendors we used, the projects we tackled, the choices we made, and how they affected our experience. In the meantime, we're both still wandering around the house occasionally saying to one another, somewhat bewildered, "We're married."

And if you don't hear too much else from me, don't worry -- we're honeymooning in the South Pacific. And we have no intention of having any contact with the outside world while we're gone.

Maia Nolan-Partnow is an Anchorage writer and, for the first time, someone's wife.

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