A Family Wedding!

One of the major family events this season was the wedding of one of my wife's brother (or, as I like to refer to him as... my "brother-in-law"). I chose my summer work schedule around this wedding, as I was not guaranteed the ability to request the time off. By choosing the shift and the rotation I am on, I was able to have the two days prior to, and the actual wedding day off. (i.e. - able to help prepare for, and attend). The down-side was having to be back to work (and not able to get the day off) by 3pm on the day after the wedding. Normally, this would not be an issue, but since the wedding was held over 400 miles (about seven hours) from home - it would mean a quick turn around and long drive right after the wedding.

First of all, one of the BEST parts of this whole vacation (at least for me) was my lack of planning, or should I say the lack of planning required by me. For this, I need to thank my wife's sister (or, as I like to refer to her as... my "sister-in-law" (see a common theme here?)). Mary, I would like to officially thank you for all the work you put into the plans. You did an extraordinary job, and the accommodations were EXCEPTIONAL! I am planning on raising a cool frosty mug in your honor!

So, let's start from the beginning... As stated, all I had to do is show up (well, among a few other thinks like packing, driving and paying for our portion of it). When we left, I knew that we were going to be staying at a large "group" cabin for the first two nights, and (because of a previously made reservation) we had to check out of the cabin, and move to a local hotel on the last day/night.

By now I know you are all wondering / asking yourselves / begging me to "get on with the details" of where we stayed.

Unbeknownst to me (at the time) the cabin we were staying at is all part of the same "White Pines Inn". The White Pines Inn is made up of many components. But for the purposes of this blog entry, I will talk about the parts we utilized.

The "group" cabin we stayed at was one of the White Pines Inn Pine Creek Cabins. We stayed in "Knotty Pine #128"

The wedding itself was held at the White Pines Inn Wedding Canyon. This is an old limestone quarry that was drained, and redecorated into a beautiful setting. The Canyon has several wedding "stations", and are all very delightful.

The Grooms Dinner was held at the White Pines Inn Garden Canopy. (No link. Watch for a virtual tour option later.)

The wedding reception was held at the White Pines Inn Janssen Reception Hall (Again, no link - but watch for a virtual tour option later.)

As you can see from the map, The White Pines Inn Wedding Canyon (2) and White Pines Inn Pine Creek Cabins (3) are directly across the street from the State of Illinois White Pine Forest State Park (1). Don't ask me how, but the White Pines Inn Garden Canopy and the Janssen Reception Hall are actually located within the White Pines Forest State Park. It was very odd to see a private business held in a State Park. Very odd, yet very convenient! You see the "Minnesota" relatives of the Groom stayed at the Pine Creek Cabin, and a group of the Bride's family traveled from Tennessee, and parked their motor home at the White Pine Forest State Park.

Upon arrival at the Knotty Pine Cabin – I was overwhelming surprised! The cabin easily fit…
(2) My in-laws
(7) My family
(1) My wife’s sister (or, as I like to refer to her as…. My Sister-in-law)
(1) My wife’s brother (or as I like to refer to him as… My Brother-in-law)
(11) Total

The cabin had a full kitchen, a huge dining table (that sat eight), satellite TV, two bathrooms (one with a Jacuzzi tub), a gas fireplace, air conditioning, BBQ, and a giant fire ring outside the back door with an Adirondack swing. Sleeping accommodations included two bedrooms, one with a king sized bed (and its own bathroom) and another with two queen sized beds. There was a loft with two twin beds and a futon, and the two living room couches were hide-a-beds. There are a few pictures, a description, and a link to a virtual tour located HERE (on the Pine Creek Cabin page).

The next amenity we had access to was the White Pine Forest State Park (Links HERE and HERE). They had a (small) playground, a flowing creek, and a nice sized (and well stocked) gift shop (that housed "Max", the talking and waving Parrot). There were hiking trails and “species” forest (an indigenous tree of several species planted in a field, with signs identifying each tree’s species). We partook in several of the State Park’s amenities at various “down times” throughout our stay. The park was delightful.

After a quick “rehearsal” at the Wedding Canyon (more on that later) – we had the groom’s dinner held at the “Garden Canopy”. The Garden Canopy is an oversized patio, with (you guessed it!) a canopy covering most of it. It seats a large number of people, and has some nice accent lighting. At the far end is a bird bath that reminds me of one of those serenity fountains. It drew all the children like a magnet. We ate “my kind” of groom’s dinner. Hamburgers (served “California” style) and Bratwurst! (Any kind of “coarse ground” meat served in “tube” format is A-O-K in my book! I have a strong desire to experiment with trying to make my own “tubed meat” – but that is a post for another time.) I did exercise another act of “civil disobedience” while at the dinner. I will refrain from talking about here, but those present know what I am talking about!

(I think “Civil Disobedience” will be added as a label, as I seem to have a “disobedient” streak (when it comes to civil issues…) I despise people who feel their agenda comes before my personal (and legal) liberties… I do not want to taint this Wedding post with my libertarian rhetoric, so I will step off my soap box high horse and get on with the original post now…)
The actual wedding ceremony was held at the White Pines Inn Wedding Canyon. Again, this was an old limestone quarry, and was drained and decorated to facilitate some very beautiful outdoor weddings. They have a man made pond in the center of the canyon, and it pumps back up the hill, and creates a lovely waterfall from the one wall, and then a small creek from the waterfall, back to the pond. There are gazebos, tents, canopies, flower beds, small bridges, and water features all over the canyon. It is truly a memorable experience! It’s hard to describe. I suggest checking out this LINK, and viewing the pictures and the “virtual tour(s)”.

Finally, the wedding reception was held at the Janssen Reception Hall. This too was wonderfully rustic appearing hall. It had hardwood plank flooring, timber beams, and was decorated in early American Log Cabin styling. We had a great time at the reception, and we even got the boys to dance the “dollar dance” with their new Aunt (it was like pulling teeth to get Jonathan to do it, but he finally gave in.) My camera’s memory card was full by this time and (to Jonathan’s relief) I did not get any pictures to “blackmail” him with. As the evening started winding down, my wife’s father (or, as I like to refer to him as - (yup, you got it!) my Father-in-law) broke out the Arturo Fuente Curly Head Maduro cigars (a vastly superior cigar than I am used to smoking). This was a perfect “wind down” to the whole event. Several of us stepped out to the cool night air, and fired up the cigars, and sat around the benches, enjoying the cigars.

A little background story regarding the cigar ritual… During our first two nights (around the campfire) Joe and I smoked some Backwoods cigars I brought along. The first night, Benjamin (the 19 year old or “oldest-of-five”) joking said he wanted to try one. No one commented, and I heard nothing more from him about it. The next night he again said he wanted to try one. This time I bit, and offered him one. He nervously chuckled and turned it down. The other boys started teasing him about being afraid (in true “younger sibling pressure” fashion), and asking him over and over why he did not want to try one… I quickly shut them down, and in all seriousness told them that if he did not want one, it was not right to push the issue. (See everyone… Believe it or not - Once and a while I DO have moments of "positive parenting"…) That night after showering, changing into our “pa-jammies” and (literally) walking into the bedroom to crawl into bed, Ben called me out, pulled me aside, and whispered (in a nervous voice) if I could hold on to the extra cigar so he could try it the next night… I chuckled, and told him I would. When “cigar hour” arrived at the reception, his grandfather offered him one of the premium Fuentes in place of the little Backwoods cigar I had saved for him. He partook in the cigar(hisfirst),and seemed to have weathered his way through it. At first he produced very little smoke, and the cigar appeared to be drawing very slowly. I re-clipped the end, and took a couple of deep hits off his cigar to really get it going. After my attempt to “enhance” his cigar, Ben’s first drag was followed with a “whoa – that IS strong”. After the fact, when asked, he claims to have enjoyed it.
As cigar hour wound down, many guests were starting to leave. Towards the very end, my wife, carrying one sleeping daughter, followed by another daughter in a “zombie like” state joined us, and (as all good husbands can attest to) I got that “let’s move it along there big guy” look from my wife. I milked out the cigar as long as I could (then set it down in an inconsipcious place), grabbed the rest of our stuff from inside, said our goodbyes, went back outside (grabbed what was left of my cigar again) and took the last few hits off it as I walked out to the van. We all returned to the hotel, packed, and (because my brother-in-law, Ben, and I had to be back by Saturday afternoon) we went to bed so we could get an early start the next morning.

The next day started at 5:30am, and we were on the road by 6:05am. After an uneventful trip (and a few text messages from Bill) – I arrived at home by 1:30pm – with thirty minutes to spare before having to leave for work.

If you have not yet viewed all the "virutal tours" - May I recommend THIS PAGE.
Be sure to check out the following tours...

  • Pine Creek Cabin
  • Wedding Canyon - Main Ceremony Area
  • Wedding Canyon - Twin Bridges
  • Garden Canopy
  • Janssen Reception Hall

  • Now, a few final comments:

    To the bride and groom (I do not know if they want their names posted here or not. I can always edit them in, but I like to err on the side of caution…) I’d like to say “Zycze Wam wszystkiego najlepszego na nowej drodze zycia.” (No, I did not have a stroke.) This is (translated from Polish) – “I wish you all of the best on your new road through life.” This is considered to be a traditional Polish wedding toast - at least according to THIS SITE. (And y’all thought I was fluent in Polish huh?) (My in-laws have a strong Polish heritage...)

    The day (and weather) was beautiful, you both looked fantastic (as did M----), and speaking of M-----, he did a super job with all the busy activity going on! Honestly – everything fell into place just as it should have. From my perspective (as an observer), your wedding day was perfect! I hope it was all you hoped it would be, and I hope your marriage brings you all the happiness that ours has brought us.

    We look forward to many years of celebrating birthdays, holidays, functions, events, and “just for the heck of it’s” with your family.

    And lastly, I’d like to wish you just a very simple yet heartfelt “congratulations” to both of you.

    Please enjoy a few pics from the trip and the wedding! (Clickable for larger photos)

    This (incredibly long) post was written in honor of B, J, and M N who were joined in matrimony on 07-13-07.


    1. David,

      The resort that you speak of sounds (and looks) like a real nice place to have a wedding and what a great bonus having a State Park right next door! Knowing me as well as you do, you know I'm going to have a couple questions about this post....

      1) Typically when you marry someone (your wife), her siblings, parents, and other members of her family become "in-laws." I was under the impression that this was common knowledge (considering I have heard you refer to Joe as your father-in-law many times) and am just curious why the emphasis was on the "in-law" part of everything you were describing?

      2) You know I have to have more information on the whole "Civil Disobedience" issue....that has really peaked my curiosity!

      I'm glad to hear that you guys all had a good vacation, the drive was safe, good times were had, Ben had his first cigar (woo hoo!), and everyone returned safely!


    2. 1. Added for the "snicker" factor. I tried to keep repeating it as often as I could, but then (towards the end) got sick of it myself... I could not imagine having to read it any more. I left what I had, but decided that enough was enough of the "my wife's _______ (which makes them my ____-in-law)" gags.... Forgive me.

      2. That will have to be an "in person" discussion after sweeping the room for any hidden recording devices.. Let's just say there were some violations of what I consider to be "civil liberties", and you know how I feel about that!


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