wedding toasts and do-overs

We interrupt this regularly scheduled vacation post to talk about one heck of a party.

I know, I know… we still owe you a debrief on Canada. But it’s really hard to talk about Canada when two of your closest friends get married and all you want to do is gush about it.

So gush we will.

We’ve been talking about Pete and Whitney’s wedding for awhile [see here and here]. That’s mainly because we were involved in it and got to hear all of the details of its fruition each week during our Monday game nights.

This past weekend, it finally arrived to much anticipation.

Jason ushered. I coordinated. And we both sang in the choir. [Special shoutout to Matt, Paul, and Mama Terri for such a memorable music moment!]

It’s obvious that we are a little bit biased, but we dare say this was one of our favorite wedding weekends ever. Our NYC friends Matt and Theo stayed with us and showered us with gifts from Greece. We got to celebrate Matt’s birthday in person on Friday with a cake and all. The rehearsal dinner Friday night featured Frank Sinatra’s favorite wine. The wedding day weather was perfect despite a few clouds. The ceremony, cocktails, and party were all in the same venue. Jason wore suspenders and a bow tie. The bride and groom danced down the aisle to Hall + Oats. The college reunions and connections were historic. The food was divine [helloooo, green chile mac and cheese]. The manhattans were a-flowing, as were the surprise signature New York Sours. The live band brought out all of the funk. The dancing was non-stop. And the after-party included pizza.

Oh, and it all took place within two miles of our home!


Matt with his birthday cake

rehearsal dinner

Jason and the bride at the Rehearsal Dinner

colorado wedding

The ceremony 


colorado wedding

With the tall choir boys: Jason, Matt, Paul, and Pete

But you know what? It would have been one of our favorite weddings even without all of the aforementioned impressiveness.

That’s because Pete and Whitney represent something special, something magical, and something real. Their wedding was always going to be the event of the season because of who they are and what they have meant to us during our time in both college and Denver. Basically, they could have been married in a courthouse, and I still would have cried my eyes out.

Which is why it was imperative that we write this entry. You see, I desperately tried to give an off-the-cuff speech to Pete and Whitney during their rehearsal dinner. I remembered fondly how Matt had convinced my bridesmaid Julianna to go up to the mic and say a toast with him during our rehearsal dinner several years ago, so I decided to turn the tables on him and make him go up with me at the last minute.

It probably wasn’t my best judgment call, because I honestly don’t remember what happened. Clouded by both extreme emotions and a lot of Stranahans, all I recall is repeating “family” and “husbands” over and over until I got my point across [which I know I didn’t based on all of the questions I received later].

I wouldn’t try and change anything about the weekend — its people, place, or purpose — but if I had to do it over again, this is what I would say to Pete and Whitney that Friday night in front of their family and friends. This my wedding toast do-over.

Matt was actually the person to first introduce me to Pete. Matt and I had become fast and fierce friends during our time at Trinity University, so much so that we got into the habit of calling each other husband and wife. It stemmed out of a random honeymoon-like trip to New York together, as well as our belief that we were family. [Don’t worry, my lawful husband, Jason, is very well aware of this “first husband” moniker and is totally cool with it.]

During our first semester at Trinity, while our friendship was still growing and college was a strange place where you were still figuring out your place, Matt invited me along to a Norah Jones concert with a couple of people from his high school. That was the night I first met Pete.

Fast forward two years later when I returned to San Antonio from a semester abroad, completely lost and at odds with the bubble I was forced back into. I remember that first choir rehearsal back, looking around at all the new faces and recognizing this tall guy that I swear I had seen before. Needless to say, I anchored myself to this new yet familiar person, and Matt and I quickly adopted him into our family as our “son”. These two were my family at a time when I was away from mine. They were my companions on long choir trips, my comic relief during late-night choir rehearsals, my dates to every Gamma party, and my favorite people to take pictures with [if just for the funny height differential].


Flash forward again to four years after graduation. Matt was firmly planted in New York, and Jason and I were making our way to Denver from DC, knowing of only one or two people we could call friends upon our arrival. Imagine my surprise to find that Pete was here too! Within just a few short months, he and Jason were already well on their way to becoming besties and we had instituted our weekly Dominion game night tradition — a tradition that we have kept going for four years! That’s commitment, folks.

Jason and I didn’t know Whitney at Trinity, but we definitely knew of her through mutual friend groups and were pumped when she and Pete started dating. We didn’t realize how special she was, however, until two things happened: 1) Pete started running through Uptown Denver after Jason’s bachelor party screaming how much she loved her; and 2) Pete brought her along to game night and forgave two pretty major errors in play. For those who play Dominion, you know how big of a deal this is.

Never could we have ever guessed that we would find someone we love as much — if not more — than Pete. But Whitney quickly became that person.

So here’s how we see it as we look back on these major life events: Pete, I didn’t know it then, but you were family from the moment Matt said “Norah Jones”. You were family when I was finding my way in college, finding my way back after studying abroad, and finding our new home in Denver. Hell, you were the first person I told when I thought Jason might propose! And Whitney… well, I never had any doubt about you. You were family from the start of that first Dominion game. 

You, Pete and Whitney, are our Denver family. You’ve shared our wine, shared our bread, and loved our dog. You make this place feel like home. And yes, we know we won’t have you here forever, but we’re going to cherish our time with you while we can, knowing full well that we’ll always have a family wherever we are — be it in New York City, Colorado, or Texas.

So here’s to Pete and Whitney. And to family!


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