The spring travel extravaganza continued this past weekend as I headed to California for my friend Matt’s wedding! As I mentioned in my last post, I met Matt at a train station in Japan two years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. I was honored to serve as a groomswoman at his wedding this past weekend, even if it just meant a quick trip out west! Unfortunately, AJ wasn’t able to come because of vacation time for New Zealand – hey, gotta save that PTO, you know? I flew into the San Diego airport for the wedding in Orange County, and as I was walking through the airport, who should I see? Oh, just one of my best friends from high school. By the way, I went to high school in Florida and this was in San Diego, so…yeah. Crazy!

Hi, Welbourn!

Matt and my fellow groomswoman, Bonnie, were kind enough to pick me up from the airport, and we got to meet up with our friend Colin (also of Japanese train station fame) for lunch before the weekend events got under way. First on the list was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, where the wedding party learned that we would be singing a hymn at the ceremony that none of us knew the words to or had access to, and we’d also be taking communion. For me and the other non-Christian groomsman, this was…awkward? Mostly, we didn’t want to offend anyone but also, hymns and communion aren’t really our bag. And even though Matt and his wife said it was no big deal just to say “No, thank you,” we spent a lot of time fretting about what type of of signal we should give the communion bearer. Some suggestions were making an “x” across our chests with our arms (gah!), a subtle head shake, or a “No, thank you” hand gesture. I just prayed I wouldn’t freeze up with awkwardness and highly debated just taking it and settling my score with the universe later.

I met Matt’s dad at the rehearsal, which was maybe one of my top 5 conversations of my life, even though it was less than 20 seconds long:

  • Matt’s Dad: “Remind me of your name again?”
  • Me: “It’s Danielle, nice to meet you.”
  • Matt’s Dad: “Oh! My son met you in a train station in Japan, is that right?”
  • Me: “Yes, sir, that’s right.”
  • Matt’s Dad: shakes his head and looks down and says very solemnly “My son leads a weird life.”


All that fretting over communion and socializing resulted in crushing hunger that was soon absolved at the rehearsal dinner, and then Matt, Colin, Bonnie, my best friend Lauren (who came to Japan with me) and her fiance Andrew headed back to the hotel to drink the Japanese alcohol that Matt had literally brought ALL THE WAY FROM JAPAN to the wedding.

If you ever find yourself in Japan, head to your nearest 7-11 and purchase a can of “Strong.” I have no idea how to even describe it besides to say it’s 9% alcohol. Photo with the gang doing our requisite Japanese photo pose.

The next day dawned bright and early as I had to start getting ready at 8 am for my groomswoman duties. This mostly involved a lot of sitting around and waiting to get my hair and makeup done while drinking mimosas, which is not the worst way to spend a day. There was one major issue, though. I had received a pair of earrings as part of my wedding party gift that I was supposed to wear with my dress, but I don’t have pierced ears! I haven’t worn earrings in about 10 years, so the holes have long since closed up. There was only one thing to do, and it involved a sewing kit, a glass of wine, and some ice. For the record, Matt and Amanda obviously did not expect me to do this. I’m just a super-dedicated groomswoman, I supposed. And also, let’s be honest – I have surgeries like once a month so really, what’s a needle through the earlobe?

Yes, I had Lauren repierce my ears. That is my level of dedication to this process. Also, our faces are priceless.

We headed off to the church and took a few pictures while hanging out and waiting for the ceremony to start. Yes, this is all my own hair and no, there is nothing inside my bun.

I was really into this hairstyle.

One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend was hanging out with the groom’s party in the bathroom of the church. Yes, the bathroom. It seemed like the least sacrilegious place to take shots from our flasks, you know? By the way, that’s the first and last time I’ll be drinking scotch, thank you very much.

So I forgot to bring my gold flask with me (part of our wedding party gifts) because I’m a mess. Thankfully, Matt had a second one FOR SOME REASON

As I’m sure you’re all dying to know, we all survived the communion situation and it was only about half as awkward as I expected. Obviously, no one cared because hello, they’re focused on the bride and groom, so no big deal. Before we knew it, it was time to party! The event was complete with a photo booth, which I fully believe every person should have at their weddings. It’s right up there with an open bar.

This is one for framing, am I right?

The whole night was really special and fun, mostly because the circumstances of how I became friends these people. We may not see each other very often, but there’s this unspoken, unbreakable bond between us, and it’s pretty amazing that years later, we are still coming from all over the world (Colin lives in Curacao!) to meet up. It made me appreciate once again how magical and transformative travel can be – you never know how a trip could change your life! The one to Japan certainly impacted mine forever.

Colin’s face was definitely in some of the pictures, but I guess you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

I woke up the next morning exhausted, but with one goal in mind – do something California-y! Being so busy with the wedding, we didn’t have much of a chance to actually see Orange County. Lauren and Andrew were gracious enough to drop me off at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on their way out of town, so I set off for a quick solo hike for a couple of hours. It was the perfect ending to the weekend and allowed me to gather my thoughts, get a quick sweat in, and appreciate the scenery before heading back home.

The view of the valley in the distance after hiking allllll the way up the mountain and starting my walk along the ridge.

I made it back home at about 11:30 on Sunday night, exhausted but happy. I’m so glad I was able to be a part of the wedding and lucky to have such amazing people come into my life so randomly. I guess I lead a weird life, too!

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