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They did it!

And -- gently, smoothly, even somewhat quietly -- Tarah Grant and John Delacourt got married.

There's enough time between the ceremony and the reception to sit down and tell y'all how the last 24 hours leading up to the wedding have been, at least the parts I've seen. It has all seemed to go smoothly; but, of course, my job was To Show Up, not to coordinate the guests and the church and the reception site and the rehearsal dinner site and the professional photographers and the...

Yeah. You probably can tell I've never done any of that. Anyway.

Since I wasn't clear if Tarah wanted me to take pictures at yesterday's actual rehearsal, I left early and first stopped at St. John Neumann Church, a Catholic church off Lawyers Road on the south side of Reston. I looked for signs of people, hoping to find someone to ask; but I decided I would be butting in, and the last thing I want to be is a complication. I got back on the road to Reston Town Center, where the pre-wedding dinner (get our energy up!) was being prepared at Clyde's of Reston.

Reston Town Center opened in 1991, as the (finally put in place) downtown for the '60s planned community near where I once lived. It's an ever-growing cluster of tall buildings and pedestrian-friendly plazas, fitting for one of the most pedestrian-friendly towns in Northern Virginia. It's doubled in size since I've lived here: there are more buildings (11 to 16 stories tall) and more streets on the grid. It's fairly dramatic; I later told John "Someone needs to shoot a film here." I got there, and checked out the restaurant; young front-of-the-house women were nice enough to show me to the area the Grant-Delacourt wedding party would go to. (Very nice ladies, and pretty, too: one had a kind of Heather Graham look, and I am not saying that as a complaint...)

Outside Clyde's I sighted John, with gift boxes that I mistook for wine boxes (so I said, at one point, "John's got the liquor!"), and I asked him if I could get a picture of him showing up. He said sure, let him get the boxes delivered first; and he entered. Within minutes, Tarah arrived, and before she sighted me I lined up a shot of her. The flash got her attention, and she first wondered why some random photo dude was taking her picture...then recognition dawned. Hugs followed.

Tarah was wearing a translucent-in-parts turqouise dress, subtly vivid, especially when paired with her red hair. She explained to me that her mother, Marie, wore that very same dress during her and husband Glen's honeymoon! It's stood the test of time, as has Glen and Marie's marriage.

While we were talking, John reemerged, and as there are no edicts against the groom seeing the bride the day before the wedding, he went to her happily. I took pictures of them next to the fountain of Mercury in the centerpiece plaza. (Click on the link and see the fountain. Sorry, I have no on-line pictures of Tarah and John yet. Just picture the Happy Couple of your choice.) Then we joined the party. I continued darting and jumping, Grandpa Irv's camera in hand, meeting people and greeting people and snapping pictures of them. I actually worked up a sweat in the air-conditioned restaurant!

I chose for dinner a shrimp and andouille-sausage pasta; my other choices were a steak salad, a scallop dish, and a pork chop. All would have been good choices. I felt the andouille appropriate as a nod to New Orleans; yes, there's a meaning to my food choices. I also like sausage and shrimp. ;-)

I sat with Tarah's longtime friend Jennifer, her boyfriend Dan, and Mike Webb, a son of our former high school journalism teacher Mrs. Webb. Mike (who as a kid put up with us writers of the James Madison High School Hawk Talk invading his home every few months to finish the latest issue of the paper) became a singer with what he admits is "a sweet gig": part of the Navy Band's chorus. He sings for the President, for dignitaries, and high-profile visitors to the D.C. area. He also sang at the wedding, including Schubert's Ave Maria. Dan had a four-year stint with the military as well, so with my Navy Brat experience we had a lot to talk about; now he's a computer IT guy, or as I said, "You can handle both sides of the computer." He also played football until an injury sidelined him, but he still appreciates watching sports. (And hey, I think Duwayne "The Rock" Johnson had some sort of sidelining injury during his college sports career, and he bounced back from that pretty well, so I wouldn't be surprised if he played again, at least something, in some capacity. He's still built like a footballer.) Jen, by the way, is a publicist whose company works for several movie studios; she gets advance passes for films to local radio stations and helps local critics with their work. Me? You know what I do.

I drove my rental car back to the Chantilly place, and decompressed with the animated version of The Tick. It then took a while for me to get to sleep, partly due to the two iced teas I'd had. (I said the next day, PURELY IN JEST, that I should've had two Long Island Iced Teas and I wouldn't have had that problem...)

When morning arrived, so did laundry time, plus I showed pictures to Cindy and the boys while T.J. mowed the lawns. We pointed out Cindy and T.J. and other relatives in our Steph-and-Paul wedding pics, and told them about Mt. St. Helens blowing its top in 1980. While T.J. took one son with him to Lowe's and Cindy took the other to Shopper's Food Warehouse, I finished prepping for the wedding and hit the road, getting lunch at a McDonald's drive-through manned by a young man outside (under an umbrella at least) who took my order. I dodged road construction and reached St. John Neumann Church.

It felt welcoming, thank everything. This was my first Catholic wedding. Mom once went to a Catholic funeral, and the priest told her not to fret about doing the standing-up-and-down and the hand gestures or, as he called them, "our Catholic calisthenics," but to do them if she felt comfortable doing them. I did some, when I wasn't running around snapping pictures (more sweat, by the way and no surprise). During the ceremony, Father Patrick O'Connor even told a (fairly gentle) lawyer joke. "There are more lawyer jokes than priest jokes," he said. John's family, full of lawyers, understood and accepted the spirit of Father O'Connor's joshing. More readings and explanations followed, as well as a nice nod to those who are no longer with us in the world but who were a part of Tarah's and John's lives. Courtney, another friend of Tarah's -- and who has grown into a tall, striking woman who's gone from working on Discovery Channel documentaries to behind-the-scenes work at Country Music Television, and developed a nicely subtle Southern accent in the process -- read the Prayers of the Faithful following the exchanges of vows and rings. Father O'Connor led us in final official blessings. We followed Tarah and John out of the church to the sounds of Beethvoen's Ode to Joy. And like that, Tarah and John made it official. The woman I've known -- and thought of as almost a younger sister -- for 15 years is now joined with John Delacourt. And she is smiling hugely. So is John.

And soon, we gather again, at a Reston golf course for the reception. There are four hours between the wedding and the reception, to accomodate wedding party photo shoots at three different locations (the same fountain I mentioned, Tarah's parents' home, and the golf course). I've spent some of that time writing this to you, and to me to better remember later. There will be more remembrance later. This is why writing is good.

All blessings to Tarah and John. Even someone non-religious like me can say that.


Whale fluke
Chris Walsh

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