Instagram Ralph's BeachBefore debriefing our recent move (because we’re still in the middle of it), I’m going to savor memories from last weekend’s wedding.

Who Got Hitched?

Stephen and Elizabeth are two of our best friends. We affectionately refer to them as the BKEs, Best Kids Ever. We all met Freshman year at Pepperdine and became friends before any of us became couples. Once we got our respective romances in order, we double dated at Disneyland, Ruby’s, and PIT Shows. After graduation, the men ventured inland to LA while E and I took on Korea and Chicago. When Mark and I married (with the BKEs by our sides) we spent lots of time with Stephen, because Berkeley and Petaluma are close enough for a home-cooked meal and game of Munchkin. Eventually, Elizabeth joined us in the Bay so we’ve been designating at least one day a month a BKE day. After eight years of friendship initially based on Harry Potter/Jane Austen/The Office/faith, the BKEs tied the knot in Pepperdine’s chapel on Saturday, August 29.

Traveling to Malibu

Mark and I flew down south Friday morning, met by my father-in-law at the Orange County airport. We picked up my mother-in-law and Mark’s suit on the way to a delicious lunch at Bruxie together. I highly recommend the fried chicken waffle sandwich. Then Mark and I borrowed his old pickup to brave Friday traffic into Malibu. We had We Are the Tide by Blind Pilot queued up to play when we drove through the tunnel, where the 10 becomes Pacific Coast Highway, so it was our soundtrack when we first saw the ocean. It was breathtaking.

Instagram Pepperdine Homecoming

Nicolette Has Emotions (Feel Free to Skip)

Something about this visit to Pepperdine was particularly poignant for me. I found myself much more emotional about… everything. Pointing to old favorite beach houses on PCH, driving onto campus while blasting The First Single, seeing the rock painted for NSO, hearing the processional music during the wedding rehearsal. When I’ve told people about this, they ask, “Had you been to Pepperdine since graduation?” Yes, a handful of times! It’s practically an annual tradition to meet old friends for Lily’s burritos before a wedding then to change into fancy clothes for said wedding in the Towers Parking Lot restrooms. But something about this trip felt like to coming onto campus for the first time. Wide-eyed and wildly optimistic. To see this beautiful place and feel at home. For 24-hours, I simultaneously felt like a Freshman again but also knew that I could never be a Freshman again. In other words, I was radiantly happy and felt a great sense of loss all at once.

The Rehearsal

Moving the narrative along, the rehearsal dinner at Duke’s was practically perfect. The coral napkins, the thoughtful seating arrangement, the ocean view, the buttery chardonnay and salmon, but especially the speeches. While various members of the bridal party spoke impressively well, both the prepared and the daringly improvised, the show stopper was Debbie, mother-of-the-groom. She knocked it out of the park with her version of the BKE’s relationship, blending humor and sentiment with spot on delivery. The night ended with gifts from the bride and groom to their respective attendants. These were, like Stephen and Elizabeth themselves, intentional and delightful.

The Wedding

Saturday started early. Elizabeth did her own makeup and I did her hair. Note to self:  If I ever do hair for another wedding (this was my second, third if you include my own), I’m going to insist on two full practices during which I will take step-by-step notes with pluses and deltas. Everything went fine enough, but as a perfectionist I want not only the final deliverable to be flawless but also the process to be absolutely serene. Nevertheless, the wedding ceremony was short and sweet, with personal touches and attention to detail. The music, the readings, the hymn, the officiant, the bridal party lineup, the programs. Everything that Elizabeth touched was perfect. And the chapel, with the largest stain glass window west of the Mississippi, was a gorgeous backdrop.

Instagram #McFlyWithMe Marraige CertificateThe bridal party and family were shuttled to a seaside restaurant for mimosas and brunch. The bar patio was piping hot in the sun, but we enjoyed catching up with fellow Waves nonetheless. Once inside, Mark and I were seated between Zachary Scott Garret (Mark’s Freshman roommate and my London co-conspirator) and Phoenix Eyre (who has been struck by lightning but survived to become stronger). These gentleman were in our wedding party and always guarantee a good time.

Between courses and Stephen’s custom wedding day crossword, Mark and I stole away to the sweetheart table with the marriage certificate. This was the highlight of my day. As the attorney on hand, Mark walked the officiant through the process. Meanwhile I asked the bride, “Who would you like to sign as witnesses? Shall I grab the best men?” Elizabeth brightly replied, “How about you two?” I was so delighted that I actually cried. It was a casual gesture on her part, but it meant the world to me.

Traveling Home (i.e. Where/What/With Whom We Ate Till We Got Home)

After goodbyes and a costume change, we stopped by the beach with Zach. The water was a joy after, let’s be honest, a rather sweaty morning. From there we drove to Hollywood to visit Zach’s home for the first time, where he’s carved out a niche of peace and quiet in a riot of artists. Then we made the trek to Magnolia House in Pasadena for fancy drinks and a bite with my brother! He happened to be visiting LA the very same weekend, during which I presume he gave this interview with Becky Hartung, who happens to be his girlfriend. More on Becky when I read her upcoming book, Running in the Dark. Finally, we made it back to the Langer’s in Fullerton for homemade peach pie with a citrus glaze. The next morning, we had a fantastic brunch with the Mom and Dad at The Matador with larger than life breakfast burritos and bottomless mimosas. We made it to the airport and home again rather easily after that, and didn’t really need to eat for the rest of Sunday.

Loving the Pacific

Upon Reflection

Since my move to Chicago, I’ve been unapologetically hard on LA. Between my Bay Area upbringing and stint in the Midwest, I prefer seasons and proper grids to continuous beach weather and sprawling, palm lined streets. I realize that many love LA for those very reasons! After years of post-graduation snobbishness, it was truly wonderful this trip to plant my feet in the Pacific to be happy about it. To want to be there and to actually be there and to be glad that I wanted to be there, in Southern California.

To add to my bittersweet Pepperdine homecoming, there were so many dear friends whom I didn’t see during our trip. Back when I used to visit LA for Mark’s first year of law school, we’d plan the whole weekend around calling on friends! Now we’re in the habit of popping down for a graduation or wedding and rushing back up for work. It was touching to get “You’re in LA?!” messages, but disheartening to know we couldn’t see hardly anyone. It’s made me reconsider when/why to visit again. It’s still not my cup of tea, but LA is full of people I love.

Thank you, Stephen and Elizabeth, for eight years of friendship and many more to come. In college, I believed that no man could possibly deserve Elizabeth. But in the years since, I’ve learned that likewise no one could be worthy of Stephen. You are perfectly suited for one another for better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, and health. Again, thank you, and congratulations!