With full bellies and hearts, we sat back down for a few very special performances and speeches. My bridesmaid, Melanie Nyema, is sort of a big deal. Right now, she's touring the world, singing back-up for the one and only Taylor Swift. You may have seen her on the telly! Hal and I were so honored when she agreed to perform one of our favorites by Etta James:
My girl Lauren Santiago is also a big deal. Complex Magazine's 50 most desirable bachelorettes! She sang the second solo of the evening, and rocked the house with a classic soul tune by Edwin Starr.
Believe it or not, Melanie and Lauren both sang back-up for me when I was pursuing my solo career in LA. And later, Mel and I sang back-up for Lauren when she started writing her own songs. I have so many special musical memories with these two. Including the craziest gig imaginable, singing for the troops in Guantanamo Bay. And we almost started a record label together! Ah, the dreams of youth.
Many of my good friends sang with me in Sirens, our all-female a capella group at USC. We had enough of them at the wedding to sing one of my solos, Sooner or Later, originally performed by Madonna in Dick Tracy. Our former musical director, Guang Ming, re-arranged it for modern day and rounded up the gals (who live all over the country) to learn and rehearse the song via conference call! I always imagined singing for my husband on my wedding day. These women made my dream come true.
We originally recorded the song my freshman year, the Sirens' first year of existence. Due to the sound quality and strange arrangement, I'm slightly embarrassed to post this audio. But it will have to do!
"Sooner or later you're gonna be mine. Sooner or later you're gonna be fine. Baby it's time that you faced it, I always get my man.
Sooner or later you're gonna decide. Sooner or later there's nowhere to hide. Baby, it's time, so why waste it in chatter? Let's settle the matter. Baby you're mine on a platter, I always get my man."
"But if you insist, babe, the challenge delights me. The more you resist babe, the more it excites me. And no one I've kissed, babe, ever fights me again. If you're on my list, it's just a question of when. When I get a yen, then baby amen. I'm counting to ten, and then..."
"I'm gonna love you like nothing you've known. I'm gonna love you and you all alone. Sooner is better than later, but lover, I'll hover, I'll plan."
"This time I'm not only getting, I'm holding, my man."
And it only took 10 years to get him!
After the entertainment, we began the speeches. My dad gave a touching toast, although well over the 2-minute max! He told the now-classic story of Hal's first visit to their house and offered some heartfelt advice for a loving marriage.
For "not being prepared to speak", Hal's mom gave arguably the best speech of the night. It was pure comedy! She had the crowd roaring one moment, then wiping their eyes the next.
My maid of honor, Robin, unfortunately had to follow Hal's mom, but did so with grace, humor and class. She gave a beautiful toast that brought me to tears.
I thought the speech by Erik, Hal's best man, was right up there with Hal's mom's. He has a brilliant wit and I honestly can't remember laughing so hard at a wedding speech before in my life. It truly goes down in the books. We're are thankful to have video footage!
My big bro, Christopher, gave another fabulous speech, full of love, jokes and childhood memories. Impressive, considering I gave him one very limiting prerequisite: be nice!
I'm not quite sure what Hal's brother is doing in this shot, but it may have been a reenactment of a bodily function. And from there, he trailed off into some unresolved issues. We love you, Greg, but how many did you have to drink? ;)
Hal's youngest brother, Micah, brought the house to tears as he choked up before finishing his first sentence.
Somehow, the microphone was handed off to us. Standing before our favorite people, who flew in from all over the world, to celebrate in the backyard I grew up in, absolutely blew my mind. There were so many people I wanted to acknowledge, but I was at a loss for words. We gave our unrehearsed thank-yous through watery eyes and lumps in our throats.