Our trip to Vermont

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Our friends Kate and Steve W. got married over the weekend and Steve D. and I were thrilled to watch it happen. Kate is one of those rare people who Steve and I both adore so wholeheartedly that we'd have watched her get married anyplace, but luckily for us, the wedding took place in Stowe, Vt., near where Steve W. grew up. It's been a busy time at work, and Steve D. and I are trying to get our house ready to put on the market, and Paul has been very 2-ish, and so with all that going on it was a great time to get away. Steve's parents came to watch Paul and so we scooted off to Burlington on Friday afternoon.

Steve D. was delighted off the bat: the airport at Burlington is so tiny that it was basically two steps to get off the plane, two to get our baggage, and then two more to rent the car: no long hikes through various terminals to get to where we needed to go. (We had been to Burlington once before, a few years ago, but we drove from Boston in mid-November, which is a crappy time to be in Vermont; too late for leaves, too early for snow.) So we got in the car and drove off to Stowe, which was a lovely, green drive with clouds hanging low over the mountains.

We originally were going to stay at the Inn At the Mountain at Stowe Mountain Resort, which I chose because it was less expensive of our two options. We arrived, and it was perfectly fine, but Steve D. declared that since it was a "business trip" (he and Kate have shot lots of stuff together and he has worked with Steve W. at Second City), we switched to the swankier Stowe Mountain Lodge and ended up with a room with a king-sized bed, fireplace, sitting area, kitchenette and bathroom with a nice tub and shower. For the record, I was the one who wanted to stay at the more economical place. But I'm definitely not complaining. We had dinner at the hotel (where Steve D. declared he'd eaten one of the best burgers of his life) and crashed, but not before I took a bath and read one whole New Yorker article, which felt like a major accomplishment.

I woke up with a head cold, which stunk, so after getting up slowly and drinking coffee and watching CNN (one of my favorite hotel routines) we found a small-town pharmacy where I stocked up on cold meds and then we had breakfast at a really cute place in called 158 Main. It's hard to get a bead on what Vermonters are all about: it felt like a small-town, old-fashioned cafe, but the clientele was a mix of older folks, tourists like us, and a bunch of people who kind of looked like hipsters (but maybe it was just their beards.) After we ate we drove around trying to find this town called Windsor which I wanted to check out for the very typical reason that it was the vacation spot of the guy whose biography I'm currently reading. On the way we listened to "How Did This Get Made?" which I'm ashamed to say I haven't watched up until this point, specifically so I could hear the hosts' take on the movie "Gooby," which sounds disturbing. I didn't know much about Windsor and while it turned out to be charming (so much of Vermont is charming! Do they hate it when people say that?) it was also super tiny, so there wasn't much to do besides drive through it twice. One time we found a covered bridge, which is basically jackpot if you're doing a Vermont trip and the second time we found a lunch place that happened to be the Harpoon brewery (Harpoon being a local beer.) It was a rainy, crappy day so driving around was a fine way to spend it.

Our friends Justin and Julie came to our room that evening to have some drinks and then we headed off to Kate and Steve's night-before-the-wedding shindig, which was probably more delightful than most of these types of events. It's always nice to meet the family and friends of your good friends but in this case, a lot of these people are actors and writers and appear on TV and Broadway and the moms of our good friends so I actually left sooner than I would have wanted but I knew I needed some sleep. Before I knew it, it was 10 AM. Amazing.

The next morning was really stressful. I worked out for 20 minutes while reading the September InStyle and then Julie and I got manicures and pedicures at the hotel spa (specifically, she got a pedicure and put on some Sally Hansen decals at the same time, which blew her pedicurist's mind.) On the way out, we ran into Kate, the bride, who was such a laid-back, easygoing bride (despite plenty of stumbling blocks, like her venue switching three days before the wedding) that our friend deemed her "Bride-chilla." Taking Kate's cue, Julie and I took advantage of the spa's other amenities and spent some quality naked time using the hot tub, sauna, and steam room. I did this earlier this year with my friend Paula and I think there is something very cathartic about having to be naked in front of someone you know for an extended period of time. Also, it's kind of funny. You're all nudey!

After that we joined Julie's husband Justin and our friends Adam and Victoria for a drive into town for lunch. We went to a place called McCarthy's, where the kitchen was about to close, but Justin sweet-talked them into waiting on us, and thank goodness he did. A lot of us ordered sandwiches and the bread turned out to be home-made and it tasted grilled, not toasted, and it was awesome.

After that and some getting ready (this Youtube video on how to do a chignon has saved my life) it was time to see Kate and Steve get married! They ended up getting married at the top of the mountain and so we took gondolas up there, which was amazing--plus, they had hot cider, donuts and warming blankets ready for everyone for the ride, which in and of itself was a thrill (except for Steve D., who does not like heights.) At the top, guests were given their choice of either an old-fashioned or a gin martini to drink before the ceremony, as those were the drinks of choice of the groom and bride's late fathers, respectively.

Then, it was time for the ceremony. I'm not kidding you when I say I've never cried so much at a wedding. Let's see: I cried when family members read letters from the fathers of the bride and groom had written to their children when they were younger. I cried when Kate's brother, a professional actor and singer, Brian, sang this song "Book of Love," so beautifully and simply. And I cried during the vows, which were hilarious and touching and were even more special because they both mentioned the baby that Kate and Steve will be having in February (Steve: "I promise to raise at least one child with you.") Tears! Tears were rolling. (It was probably just the altitude, now that I think of it.)

Then it was party time! This being Vermont, a big ol' cheese plate was laid out. Steve D., who doesn't normally like cheese that much, actually chased down a waitress to find out the name of one of the cheeses we were sampling because apparently it changed his life. Also, this being Vermont, instead of a wedding cake, tiny cartons of Ben & Jerrys were given out for dessert (along with cupcakes.) The best part of the dancefloor were the bride's little nieces and nephews, who danced as if their lives depending on it. And being on top of that mountain was still pretty great, too. We saw the pink sunset behind the dark clouds and then tons of stars--Steve D. even claims he saw a huge shooting star.

The gondolas started cranking to take us back home, but not without snacks for the ride, because god forbid we spend a second of this wedding without some sort of food in our hand. Steve D. was way better on the gondola trip down due to the darkness and maybe the drinks, although he did not like it when the gondola stopped for a few minutes (I told him he hadn't really ridden a gondola until he'd ridden one that stopped for no reason.)

Back at the hotel the bar was closed, but there was this great semi-circle bench in the lobby that a lot of the guests from the wedding crashed on, kicking off their shoes. We and a few other guests had liquor to get rid of, so we brought down half-empty bottles of wine and growlers of cider and our glasses and set up an impromptu bar. Thanks to the semicircle of bench it felt like a more relaxed, natural way to talk to everyone than if you were crowded around a bar.

In the morning, Steve D. and I went for a tiny walk around the premises: and then had to get going, getting from the rental car dropoff to the terminal in about fifteen minutes. We got home, very grateful to Steve D.'s parents for watching Paul (and taking the cats away--more on that another day) and happy to see Paul.

Weddings are usually fun, but not always--face it, you've been to one or two duds in your life. And while it's cool to be able to say that you went to a wedding where there was a gondola or a parade or belly dancers, in the end those aren't the things that make a wedding great. It's the people getting married, and the folks they've chosen to surround themselves with. Kate and Steve could have gotten married at the Portillo's downtown and made everyone pay for their own hot dogs and we still would have had the best time. And I still probably would have cried a lot.