We arrived at the anniversary party just after the stretch limousine carrying the guests of honor (and their children and grandchildren).
(And my children who swept in with their cousins and stayed in with their charm.)
The parking lot was full, and there was a line out the door. Wow. This is going to be a big party.
I felt a little behind, as I had been tasked with taking pictures, and yet all these people were arriving. Who knew what kind of celebrating could be going on inside, without photo documentation? Park the car. Stat.
We followed the crowd around the sidewalk and to the front entrance.
"Welcome! Welcome! You're just in time for the champagne toast. We need to take a quick photo of you and then we'll get you right inside." She was very kind and friendly, but also very unfamiliar.
Come to think of it, all of the faces around us were unknowns. But hey, who are we to minimize the impact of my aunt and uncle? Perhaps they know throngs of people we've never met. Perhaps tonight is our night to meet them.
"We're here for the --"
"Lean in close for a picture." The hostess interrupted before we could clarify if we were in the right line.
"But we're --"
"Nobody gets by without a picture. Nobody. She asked us to get a picture of everyone before they go inside."
She did? Huh. Well, I felt a little foolish, as the girl with the Nikon over her shoulder, who didn't know Aunt Janet's photo preferences.
Nonetheless, my parents, my brother and I huddled together, our arms around each other, and smiled brightly for a picture. We are nothing if not ready for a photo.
Click, and... click. Done.
She handed us programs and ushered us toward the champagne. All of it was happening so quickly.
Sure enough, the programs boast the name of a bride and groom. I'm sure they are a lovely couple, but we weren't there to celebrate their nuptuals.
My mom pointed to the embossed letters. "Yes, see, we're not here for this. We're not here for a wedding."
The hostess looked past us to the photographer. "Eliza, delete those photos!"
(Don't you want to know if they were good before you go deleting, all willy-nilly?)
We forged ahead, as best we could. "So, do you know where we are supposed to be? For the anniversary party?"
"No, I don't know. I don't work here. But the bride hasn't come down the aisle yet, so you can just come through here."
'Through here' turned out to be down the center aisle of a wedding chapel filled with patient guests, champagne glasses in hand. Canon in D played while the mothers were lighting the unity candles, front and center.
Don't mind us. We're just passing through. And, you know, um, congratulations to all of you. Our best to the bride and groom. Cheers.
This was one grand entrance, and we still wandered through the kitchen, amidst a sea of black tie servers with trays balanced high above their heads, all before we found our way to our family in an altogether different ballroom.
At least we didn't walk down the aisle with the bride.
Eyes on her.
Nothing to see here.