Our Varadero Wedding: Dinner + Reception

Again all photos by AV Smile – Cuban Wedding Photography and Videography, and you can absolutely tell when their photos stop and mine start in this post.

After the photo fest it was party time!

I loooooooved that we got to have the reception in the Italian restaurant (where we had dinner the second night), which is open to the ocean and beach and has a beautiful view.

After our guests were seated we did the big bridal party entrance, always a popular event. No one had quite as spectacular of a fail as I did back in the day, but it was very entertaining. We had everyone come in to “Let’s Get Married” by Jagged Edge. That song just reminds me of high school. Joel, our emcee, introduced everyone, and Joanna and Jeff were first up.

Hannah and Eric’s big entrance.

Sherrie and Ian.

Dawn and Mark, and they did an ode to my piggyback!!!

Theirs worked out, however.

Corey and Emily, and I did not know they did the Royal wave so I died laughing when the photographers showed us the pictures a couple days later.

They kill me.

And Lisa and Sean, just under the “Continues” sign!

He just started crazy dancing and she wasn’t expecting it. The video of this is even better than the picture.

And Mr. and Mrs. Evan Evanoff!

I accidentally hiked my dress up so high (stairs were tricky) that you almost saw my something blue.

Dinner time!

But first, our emcee Joel welcomed everyone and did a speech and toast. I met Joel on my first day of Grade 9 and he talked about how Emily and I immediately befriended him.

And then he went on about what an irresponsible driver I was in high school (weren’t we all?). And also about the baby squirrel that five-year-old Eric found in our yard that Joel’s dad ended up taking home, and that squirrel lived in their house for three years, in a giant cage that took up an entire wall in their living room, and the squirrel hated Joel and would try to pee on him when he walked by the cage. So, touching things, really. Just heartwarming stories.

As he was speaking they served our first course, shrimp cocktail. Again, I am not sure where they got the food for this because much like our appetizers, it was miles better than what was in the buffet all week. But I’m not complaining! The shrimp cocktail even had a curry sauce in it!

Next up we had French onion soup which was honestly DELICIOUS, and Ian and Jeff’s toast.

Their speech was heartfelt and funny. They talked about how they were all nerds together in high school and how I bring a new energy to Evan that they’ve never seen before. That seemed to be a big theme. Evan said afterwards that yep, I bring him up to where he needs to be, and he brings me down to almost where I need to be. Hahaha.

After our main course was served (chicken and potatoes and rice and vegetables, also really good), it was time for the bridesmaids to do their thing.

They each did a poem about memories with me, and they all connected to each other. Every single one of them killed me. It was hilarious and I loved every second of it.

I felt so loved!

Then there was Sean. Ohhh, Sean. He also talked about how he and Evan were big nerds in high school (Evan fist pumped and yelled “broadcast club!” when he said this) and how they were so well-liked by their teachers that they were actually allowed to have the keys to the school so they could stay late every Thursday night and work on their school’s Friday video announcements.

I don’t know why we look so sombre here, he was funny. I love it. He also closed it with a very serious piece of advice: don’t leave anything to interpretation. That really resonated with me.

And then, Lisa. A speech I’ve been looking forward to for years.

She nailed it. Her MOH speech was perfect. She talked about how she was actually my first love, and how we met skating on the lake. She said I skated confidently over to her in my Mickey Mouse sweatshirt over my stirrup pants and introduced myself. I can’t imagine how tough her speech must have been to write because we have so many inside jokes over the 25 years we’ve known each other. But her speech was funny to everyone (not just us), and she said wonderful things about Evan also (like how he always makes sure that not only am I safe and good, but also that she is, and that all my friends who are with me are). I loved.

I’m going to have to write a MOH speech for her pretty soon so I think I might just take hers and reverse it. Just kidding, I’ve been writing that in my head for 25 years.

She also gave me the notebook she had been writing her speech in with all her renditions and edits in it. I was not expecting that and I was touched!

I just want to pause here and say that I love how our photographers got so many amazing candid shots but they weren’t invasive at all.

Next up we have Eric. He can just stand there and not say anything and I’m already laughing.

Eric winged it and he was such a natural. He talked about how close we are despite the distance (and the 10 year age gap) between us, and about the time I dropped him accidentally and he lost his two front teeth. And he talked about all the things I taught him, like his first jager shot. And all the things he learned from Evan like “fishin’ and boatin’ and…tilin'”(his words).

Certainly boating, I have the proof right here from the first time he and Kenya came to the cottage:

Nothing janky about putting a motor on a paddle boat.

Eric made me cry and then cry with laughter.

Evan’s mom also spoke briefly, about how welcoming our “wacky friends” had been all week. It was cute. They are quite wacky. My mom didn’t do a speech in front of everyone, but I heard that she took each one of my friends aside and personally thanked them for being so wonderful to me over the years. They were all moved by that, and so was I.

Evan and I also did a quick speech, aaand all the photos look like this because this is what I look like when I’m happy and talking.

I talked about how you need to just persevere with the online dating, because you may need to wade through some murky waters in the beginning. Sometimes people don’t exist, and sometimes people don’t eat, but then sometimes people are Evan, and look what happens. I also talked about how thankful we were to have everyone with us in Cuba, and how it was especially meaningful for us because we had gotten engaged in the ocean in front of that restaurant almost exactly one year before at almost exactly the same time of day. Evan echoed my sentiment about how great it was to have everyone there with us and how we loved seeing all our friends having such a good time all week long. And then he got a little choked up and had to stop, which was adorable. CHEERS TO OUR FRIENDS!!!!

We had dessert but I can’t remember what it was or if it was good. I was on a high.

Then we cut the cake.

To the most fitting song, I think, Cake By The Ocean. I am obviously singing in this photo.

We didn’t think to inquire about a knife so we just cut the cake with a butter knife.

There were also no forks around so I just put a piece of cake on the end of the butter knife and fed it to Evan. And then he was going to feed me but I forgot and almost just fed myself, whoops. I get things done.

That cake actually never got served, but Cuban cake is sort of weird anyway. It’s not as sweet as our cakes and it has a bit of a jelly consistency, so no big loss there. Plus we had already eaten dessert.

And then, our first dance. We danced to Lost Together by Blue Rodeo. I love that song so, so much. We also slow danced to it at their concert last summer so it means a lot to us.

I am serenading Evan in most of the photos of our first dance so my mouth is open and I look like a big idiot. This picture that Sarah took is probably my favourite.

Right before my favourite part of the song, when the strings come in, we called everyone onto the dance floor to finish the dance with us.

I loved seeing random dancing partners, like Dixon and Shanondoah, and Brent and Michelle, who definitely all met like the day before. It warmed my heart.

And here I am serenading…

After our first dance we did a mom’s dance to Heart of Gold by Neil Young (one of my all time favourites).

After we each danced with our own mom, we switched it up.

Cookie and I definitely sang to each other the whole time.

And then we again called all our friends onto the dance floor.

And we spent the next hour there.

My song with my mom has always been Fishin’ In The Dark (because we used to go fishing in the dark when I was younger), and I found out years ago that it is also Sherrie’s song with her dad AND they made up a dance to it! She taught it to me, and now we’re both pros at it.

So we taught people on the dance floor. Hannah was digging.

I did a bouquet toss, but I tossed it to EVERYONE for luck, not just the single ladies.

Sherrie, that tall drink of water, totally nabbed it.

And Lisa’s face behind her is my favourite.

She almost had it!

Lisa is another good friend from elementary (and high) school and I am so so glad her and Dennis could make it!!!

Michelle, Casey and Shanondoah, the beautiful bloggers and lagers!

The reception had to end by 9pm as they had limited speakers and they needed them for the nightly entertainment, so for the last song, our last hurrah, we played Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams.

And something happens to me when Summer Of 69 is playing…

If I’m feeling the guitar solo, then I cannot stop myself from pulling out my signature move. The dance floor air guitar.

It’s a spectacle even when not in a wedding dress, but the wedding dress definitely added a little something (padding for my knees, for sure).

Cheryl, my fellow Jambon!

Legs for days, Heather!

…and Brent.

My favourite picture of Kim of all time:

Eric and Kenya…

Kim and Dylan…

Sherrie and Will…

After the official reception I changed into a shorter white dress and we all met in the lobby bar for an after party. I was going to bring the rest of my wedding playlist but they were actually playing really good music in there that night! And of course Randy was there. He’s everywhere!

That Randy just kills me.

I felt a lot less awkward than I look in that photo.

We got a picture of our Cartwright High School crew!

Just missing Crystal, sadly (and Crystal, we really missed you!).

After the lobby bar we went to, where else, the Beatles Bar!

I don’t know who this man is but I like him.

I don’t know whose kimono he’s wearing either. And I did not realize how nunga-tastic that dress is until I saw pictures later.

There was a new singer we hadn’t seen before!

He looked a bit out of place there, compared to everyone else in tight jeans and leather ensembles, but he was decent!

Oh man, it was a time.

We walked home from the bar with Kim and Dylan and we ran into the Stand By Me man. He was in the street with his guitar every night and when you approached him he would just start into “When the NIGHT. HAS COME. And the way is dark…” and sing the entire song to you. It was wonderful. Evan and I danced to it on this night.

And then Kim and Dylan paid for him to serenade us with another song and I am kicking myself because I can’t remember what song it was. I do remember it being a beautiful moment though.

It was just the most perfect day and I never wanted it to end.

I love those two pictures (and all the pictures!!!) so much!

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10 responses to “Our Varadero Wedding: Dinner + Reception

  1. Gorgeous…pictures, venue, YOU… everything and everyone. Had tears in my eyes with this post. Congratulations to you and Evan. Celebrate every day like it’s the first day. 🙂 <3

  2. Jennifer Chiddenton

    CONGRATS to you and Evan!!!! I loved all the recaps and pictures and stories. It looked like an absolutely fabulous time and you looked beautiful and the venue and pictures are just amazing. So glad both weddings turned out so well and I’m so happy for you both!!! I wish you both nothing but the best for the future 🙂

  3. Congratulations! All these posts and pictures have been lovely. Wishing you and your new hubby all the best. 🙂

  4. I love this! Thank you for sharing this with us.
    You’ve inspired me to hit this resort for my 40th next February (you are fully invited!)

  5. What an amazing experience. I’m so ridiculously happy for you both.