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Posts Tagged ‘wedding’

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge in Washington, D.C.

So often times when we talk about volunteering our time we think about helping out at the local hospital or soup kitchen, but there are many informal ways you can volunteer to help your community or even friends and loved ones.  You might remember I did a little neighborhood snow shoveling back in February to help out those who weren’t able to remove the snow from their walkways. Well this week I put my photographic skills to use and captured images from a friend’s wedding reception.

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Photo: Reed Sandridge

Married earlier this summer in a small private ceremony in the romantic city of Montreal, the reception here in D.C. surrounded them with nearly 150 friends and family.

I showed up about an hour early to the Bethesda, MD home where the reception was held in order to familiarize myself with the location and take some early photographs of the setting. Lighting was a little tricky because I didn’t want to be snapping flashes in people’s faces all evening. Thankfully in addition to my 18-105mm lens I also had my brother’s 50mm lens which is much faster and allows me to photograph in lower light.

The evening was beautiful and I hopefully made some good photographs. Now the hard part begins, going through all the photographs and editing them. As I am not a professional, I don’t have all the bells and whistles that they do, not to mention my raw product is not nearly as good as theirs, so I have to invest a good amount of time to make the photographs look worthy of being framed.  Wish me luck!

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Last night was a late night trying to get the bike video put together and uploaded.  Today I found an internet cafe downtown that seems to be working a little better for me.    

Yesterday they had elections here in Colombia.  No candidate got more than 50% of the votes, so there will be a run-off on June 20th between the top two candidates: Juan Manual Santos and Antanas Mockus.  Most the people that I have met here support Mockus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants.  A philosopher and academic, his opponents say that while he seems intelligent that he doesn’t have clear ideas, has flip-flopped on ideas, and isn’t capable of being a strong leader.  On the other hand, those who support Mockus say that Santos is too much of a military-style leader.  Serving as President Uribe’s Secretary of Defense, he has been very aggressive toward neighboring Ecuador and Venezuela.  I think Santos will end up being elected as it will seem like the safer vote for many Colombians.  Just like in the US, people were glued to their TVs and radios following the results.

 Anyway, back to last Monday where I had a busy day getting ready for my trip to come here to Manizales.  On top of everything I had to do, I was foolish enough to get locked out of my apartment and lost several hours waiting for the locksmith company that said they would be there in 30 minutes.  I should have hung up with this company after the following conversation:

Woman: Hello? 

Me: Hi, is this the locksmith company on New Hampshire Avenue?

Woman:  Hello?

Me: Yes, hi, is this the number to the locksmith?

Woman:  What do you want?

Me: I’m sorry, is this the locksmith on New Hampshire Avenue?

Woman:  Why are you calling?

Me:  I’m looking for a locksmith.  Have I called the right number?

Woman:  What do you need?

Me:  (now a little frustrated) I need a locksmith…am I calling the right place? 

Woman:  I am not a locksmith, but I can have a locksmith call you back….

Well this went on for a while, anyway I finally figured out that I did have the right number and she was going to send a locksmith.  It would cost $29 to come out to the house and then an hourly labor fee for the work.  I asked how much the hourly rate was and the woman said that the only the locksmith would be able to tell me that. 

So the locksmith arrives and assesses my “simple lock” at $199 plus the $29.  I asked how long it was going to take and he said he didn’t know.  He also wouldn’t tell me what the hourly rate was, but $199 seemed insane.  In the end, I negotiated it down to $29 plus $71 to get the door opened.  He had it open in less than five minutes. 

Ok, enough venting…but hopefully you learn from my experience.  If you haven’t already make sure one or two people have a spare key to your home and if you have to call a locksmith remember that you can probably negotiate with them.

Later that night I was walking through Dupont Circle and saw a couple that seemed to just be enjoying the beautiful night sitting near the fountain.  I stopped to talk to them.  It turns out that Julia and Ken became my first recipients from Canada!  It was not easy at first convincing them that there was not catch to the ten dollars.  Ken was particularly suspicious.  “At the end of all this you’re not going to try to get me to join some church are you?”  Afterall, we were sitting a couple hundred yards away from the founding Church of Scientology.  I assured them that there were no conditions related to my gift and that I just wanted to take some time to get to know them.  Ken cautiously agreed to proceeded.  

Julia & Ken (Photo: Reed)

Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, they had been in DC for 5 days and were leaving on Tuesday.  They came to DC for a small wedding but managed to extend the trip a few extra days and make a mini-vacation out of it.  They were staying a stone’s throw away at the newly renovated Dupont Hotel.  After a full day of visiting the Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History, Museum of American History, and the National Art Gallery, their tired legs and feet were enjoying a peaceful moment in this urban respite.  They really enjoyed the wedding.  There was a musical group made up of several Ukrainians who were excellent.  “They were only supposed to play three songs but they played all night,” they told me.  While they were at the wedding the met a man who was from Winnipeg as well.  After talking some time they realized that he used to live in the same neighborhood where Julia and Ken also used to live.  After a few more questions they realized that the man actually used to live in the exact same house that they did.  Bizarre right.  What are the chances to run into someone who used to live in your exact house, especially in a different country! Well this couple is no stranger to coincidences.  As we sat on the bench, another Winnipeg couple from the wedding strolled by and said hello.  They weren’t staying at the same hotel even, but they happened to be walking through Dupont Circle after getting turned around after dinner. The $10 they assured me would go to someone else or some organization.  “I promise you it wont be spent on anything for us,” Ken assured me. 

Kelekis, Winnipeg, Manitoba

If I ever get to Winnipeg, they gave me a few pointers on what to see and do there.  Grand Beach, a very shallow sandy beach, is a very nice place to visit in the summer they told me.  Ken added that this beach was once rated on of the top ten beaches by Playboy Magazine (Ken only read the magazine for the articles apparently.)  “You should also go to Kelekis and get a hot dog, they are the best,” according to Julia.  They also have wonderful theaters, symphonies, operas and even the Royal Ballet.  I particularly enjoyed a story that Julia shared with me about leaving Kelekis one time and seeing an old man walking back and forth looking confused.  She approached him and learned that he was looking for the bus stop.  Well, Julia recognized him as Leo Mol, a Ukrainian (they seem to like Ukrainians!) born artist that achieved worldwide notoriety as a sculptor and offered to give him a lift and he accepted.  He was already in his 90s and still working regularly.  There is a sculpture garden in Winnipeg she told me that has several pieces of his work.

I asked if there was anything that we could help them with, but they couldn’t think of much.  “Perhaps some tips for our son who is going to travel through South America for six months,” Julia mentioned.  If anyone has some tips on making the best out of a six-month backpack style adventure in South America, leave a comment for Julia and Ken.

  We said goodnight.  I made a quick joke that I wanted Ken and Julia to join my church and went on my way.

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February 13, 2010. 

Today was the wedding of my brother and his fiancée (well, now his wife!) Mandy.  After spending a couple hours chiseling ice off of drain spouts around my building and shoveling snow off of our flat roof (by the way, flat roofs in regions where snow is prone, not a good idea), I headed over to meet my dad and brother for a shave at the Grooming Lounge on L Street in DC.

If you have never gotten a professional shave, I recommend it…at least for you men out there.  Matt gave me my shave.  He did an excellent job and I recommend him if you want to check this place out.  Your face just feels amazing afterwards.  I do kind of wish they would use the straight edge razor…the one that you use the strop with.  But they use safety razors…the same kind I shave with at home and claim that you can get as good of a shave with the modern safety razors as you can with a straight edge razor.  Any opinion on this?

I then hurried around, picked up my dry cleaning at Georgetown Cleaners (they are pretty good) on Florida Ave., reviewed my notes for the ceremony and headed down to the Hotel Monaco for the wedding.

I think I have mentioned in other posts that my brother and Mandy asked me to perform the wedding ceremony.  This is not something that I have a lot of experience doing.  In fact, I didn’t have any experience.

I think it went well though.  I did forget to tell the guests to sit after the bride and groom came in though.  So, everyone stood for the ceremony!  Oops…good thing it was only about 12 minutes long.

Mandy and Ryan (photo: Maureen Buckley)

The reception was wonderful.  The hotel setting was beautiful, the food was fantastic, and all the other details were perfect.  I got to see a lot of family and friends that I have not seen in some time… only wish I could have spent more time with them all.

I sensed the reception was coming to an end…could it have been the Neil Diamond tune that clued me in?  Who knows?  I found a hotel staff member cleaning up and thought I should offer him my $10.

Issa is a 50 year-old-man originally from the West African country of Sierra Leone.  He is a Banquet Captain at the Monaco and has worked there for about 7 years…pretty much since they opened in 2002. 

He is tall and slender and was very appreciative of the gift.  He said that he would use it to put gas in his car and buy some juice.  Issa was busy and I let him finish his work so that he could get home.

Several of us headed to the hotel bar, Poste, for the penultimate drink.

Congratulations Mandy and Ryan!  Your wedding was beautiful and I am very happy for you both.  I love you very much.

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This one will be a short one, as I have to get ready for my brother’s wedding.

I went to get my haircut yesterday at the Hair Cuttery in Dupont.  I like this location.  It is one of the very first Hair Cuttery locations.  I never request anyone and almost always have a good experience. 

Yesterday Nancy was to cut my hair.  She had cut my hair once before.  She is a petite asian woman who has worked there since 1979.  She is a very sweet woman, but she wouldn’t take my $10.  Neither would another worker there. 

On my way out, I asked the receptionist/cashier is she would accept it and she did.  Laqueen is 21 and has been working there for about a month.  The place is very busy and she keeps her cool as she coordinates who cuts whose hair (is that proper English?).  She said she would spend the $10 this week on some food.

If you need a good hair cut and don’t want to pay a fortune for it, head down to the Hair Cuttery in Dupont at Connecticut and R Street.

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Do you believe in Karma?  I do.  I think that I have always been a generous person, however, since I have started the Year of Giving I have noticed more people being generous toward me.  Are people really more generous, or am I merely paying more attention?  Impossible to know, however, today was an excellent example of kindness coming back to me.

My brother is getting married February 13th.  He and his fiancée asked that I marry them.  By the way, I am not a minister, nor have I ever performed a wedding.  So I am venturing into uncharted territory.

In order to perform a wedding in the District of Columbia, there are a series of hoops that you must jump through.  First you must be ordained.  The Universal Life Church Monastery is an organization that has more liberal requirements to become ordained for the purposes of performing ceremonies.  So, I got ordained.

Then I gathered all the information that DC requires and went down to the Superior Court of DC only to be told that I was missing a copy of the founding documents for the ULC.  I told them that the ULC didn’t provide such information, and they replied, “That is not true.  We receive applications all the time from the ULC and the other applications have the founding documents attached.” So, I said, “well, if you already have copies of the founding documents, then why do you need me to provide you a copy?”  The women smiled and said that that was irrelevant.  Bureaucracy!  She said a simpler way was to find another ordained individual from the ULC who could endorse me.  The problem is that I don’t know anyone, much less someone in DC, who is ordained by the ULC.

The office courthouse was open for another hour, so I called the ULC and asked them to fax over the documentation.  They agreed, but I didn’t think they would get there in time.  Just about this time, another guy in the lobby said he overheard my conversation and told me that he was also ordained through the ULC and was going through the same process.  He introduces himself to me as Mac.  He didn’t need all the paperwork that I did, because he got endorsed.    Mac thought that I might be able to use some of his documentation.  Lucky for me, he is a little further along in the process (he arrived at 1pm, I arrived at 3:45pm).  Then the light bulb went off.  Once he is registered, he could then endorse me!  We were just minutes away in theory to them finalizing his process.  I say “in theory” because there is a lot of walking back and forth to other offices and statements like, “that’s up to the judge to decide.” 

While Mac goes up to talk to one of the clerks, I found myself talking to Mac’s two friends that are with him: Cyndi and Vanessa.  Cyndi flew in from Chicago to surprise Vanessa for her birthday on Saturday (Happy birthday Vanessa!)  Vanessa is the person that Mac is going to marry in the Spring.  All three met in high school in Oklahoma.  Phew, I feel like a family tree might be helpful here.  Anyway, we were talking about how good things were happening to me and I told them about my Year of Giving.

I decided to give Cyndi my $10 for the day.  The 29-year-old tells me that she is an accountant in the Windy City.  So I am thinking that she must have a good grasp on numbers and money.  I asked her what she was going to do with the $10 and she said that she was either going to give it to a homeless woman and her son who she sees every day near her office or buy some cocktails.  A smile comes across her face as she realizes how much her two answers are polar opposites.  After the day they have had at the DC court, I am leaning in the direction of the cocktails.  She says she will circle back with me and let me know what she ends up doing with it.

About this time Mac finds his way back over to the dozen chairs that sit along the perimeter of the room.  He says that he is now legally able to perform wedding ceremonies in DC.  Rather than me wait for my paperwork, since Mac is now “official” he is able to endorse my application.  This was a tremendous help to me.  Despite having spent most of his afternoon at the courthouse, he graciously agrees to remain there a little while longer to help me out.  We are finally called up to the clerk’s desk and she asks him to raise his right hand and swear that the information that he has supplied is true to the best of his knowledge.  He does so and she says he is free to go.  He leaves a dollar on the desk to pay for the notary fee.  I tell him to keep it, but he insists.  Mac, I owe you…more than a dollar.  Let me buy you a drink when you are back in DC (Mac lives in NYC).

I got most of the process done that day.  I just have to go back on Monday and stand before the judge and then I am told that the process should be complete.  If anyone has any good advice for me about performing the wedding ceremony, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

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