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Minnesota Wedding Weekend Recap

In lieu of Gratitude Friday, I really want to talk about Rachel’s wedding weekend. Rachel is my cousin who has lived in Minnesota for most of my life. Due to this, Rachel had a “destination wedding” in Brainerd, MN, which is about 2 hours north of the Twin Cities. This was my first time traveling anywhere remotely far away since my trip to California in early 2014, so I was pretty psyched!

Andy, Oksana, Katerina, and I started our journey to Minnesota at 7am last Thursday. We arrived in Brainerd around 4pm after what Oksana claimed were entirely too many bathroom stops. Heh. What can I say, I drink a lot of coffee/water 😛

We headed straight to a family dinner after freshening up at the hotel. Rachel and John wanted their family members to meet each other, so they hosted a pizza party for relatives! It was so cool to meet everyone and reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I especially enjoyed the view from where we ate.

IMG_3041.JPGThe wedding and most events associated with it were held at Madden’s on Gull Lake, a picturesque resort! We didn’t stay at the resort, but got to spend quite a bit of time there last weekend anyway 🙂 I tried to hydrate and carb load as much as possible during the family dinner because I was scheduled to run 13.1 miles for marathon training on Friday morning. The luckiest thing happened to me on Friday morning: I asked the front desk worker about nice places to run in the area and there was a running/bike trail RIGHT BEHIND THE HOTEL. Score! It must have been the beauty of the Paul Bunyan Trail that pushed me to enjoy that entire unofficial half marathon. I was so proud of myself for completing a long run on vacation!

After running, I rinsed off and enjoyed the pool and hot tub at the hotel. Excellent choice, if I do say so myself! It was sort of like an ice bath, except the pool was heated. So it wasn’t an actual ice bath, but I was hoping to get the placebo effect. The rehearsal dinner was on Friday night, but it included a lot more people than your typical rehearsal dinner. TONS of people were in town for the wedding, so Rachel and John decided to include all guests in the Friday night dinner. I wound up participating in a skit John’s sister wrote for the couple. My fellow skit participants and I sang a personalized version of “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. It was pretty darn cute!

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Oksana, me, and Kat at the rehearsal dinner!

Saturday started with a 5k fun run, organized by my uncle 😀 We all got T-shirts and koozies!

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Rachel and John are both super athletes. Rachel is even an IronMan! Of course they had to have a 5k on their wedding day 🙂

Oksana left to do Rachel’s makeup while Kat and I volunteered to set up tables for the reception. I sharpened about 10 million pencils for a game they wanted to play during the reception and designed the selfie booth. Sadly, I never wound up taking any selfies in the booth, haha.

After setting up, Andy and I got ready to go in the hotel room. I think we clean up nicely, no?

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I’m so much shorter than he is! HAHAHA. This always shocks me when I see pictures of Andy and me together.

The ceremony brought many tears to many people’s eyes. I’m a total wedding crier, as mentioned in previous posts about weddings. The part that always gets me is when the father walks the daughter down the aisle (despite the fact that the concept of this is quite sexist/antiquated). This time, I was especially touched – it was my uncle walking my cousin down the aisle <3

uncleandrachelThe ceremony was short and sweet. It included many personal touches and the couple looked incredibly happy the entire time. Rachel and John surprised everyone by jumping into the lake after the ceremony. They enjoy doing polar bear plunges, as Minnesotans do 😉 Since getting engaged, they’ve joked about “taking the plunge.” Apparently, Rachel bought two of the same wedding dress due to planning a real plunge during the ceremony.

takingtheplungeRachel and John are basically my heroes and I know they are going to be so happy together!

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We spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of family. It’s so rare that all of us can get together these days. I feel so lucky to have had 4 days to enjoy time with my loved ones.

Have you ever done a polar bear plunge? – I actually did one once on New Year’s Day back in 2007!!! It was pretty painful, but I’m glad I did it.