We all remember certain days in our lives and always look upon them fondly and with great joy. The 2 days that standout in my mind are our wedding day and the birth of our son. I was very fortunate that our paths crossed and brought us to such a glorious and special day. When Maria accepted my proposal we started planning for our special day and we wanted it to be simple yet have a wedding that included a fun celebration. We both were working so we had to save but luckily my dad was always there for us and he wanted us to share our joy and celebrate with our family, relatives and friends so he assisted us financially and told me to be responsible with the gift and use it wisely. We knew we would like to have a nice church wedding and a celebration and memories that would last a lifetime. For me personally I was fine with a small wedding that included immediate family, relatives and friends. We did some pricing around and were quoted various prices in various ranges and we knew the range within our budget. Some were ruled out immediately because we knew we also had to save to eventually buy a house. After several searches and price quotes we decided our wedding would be held at the Knights of Columbus hall in Oceanside, New York. It was affordable, had a nice menu to choose from and the date worked out perfectly which was a Saturday from 1:30 pm - 6:30 pm on September 12, 1998. We were all excited and now we had to put a list together of all the people we wanted to share this special day with.
Maria had the fun part of choosing the wedding dress and she went with her girlfriends to find her dream gown within a budget of course. My form of dress was easy, just a tuxedo that hopefully would make me look good next to my beautiful bride. Obviously the pressure was off me as everyone looks at the bride anyway! We slowly but surely comprised our list trying not to forget anyone but also knowing we couldn't invite everyone. After compiling the list breaking it into sections that listed immediate family on both sides first, family relatives on both sides second and friends and co-workers of both Maria and I third we came up with about 150 names and we did the math knowing the price per head and we felt we did not want to go higher than that. We felt optimistically that 80 - 90 % would show and that was within our budget. So we started on the invitations and I had enlisted the services of the local printer in Bellmore who used to prepare my resumes for years do our invitations and we both selected our layout, envelopes, design and program.
Our program would list all the participants in the bridal party which was small as it consisted of a matron of honor, best man, 2 brides maids, 2 groomsmen and 3 of the cutest little flower girls ranging in age from 2 years old to 4 years old in their cute little dresses and the ring bearer. The flower girls, Amanda Vaughan, Kathryn Walton and Catherine Bonacasa were the sweetest little angels and we were so delighted that they all would participate with their moms advising us that they would try their best in having them prepared for our big day. We didn't mind if they were off with timing we just wanted them to be a part of it and of course Michael Bonacasa, our little ring bearer who was between 3 and 4 years old in his little tux. With that confirmed we now decided on our songs in the church which obviously lead with Mendelsohn's Wedding March when Maria would be escorted down the aisle by her brother-in-law Ken, the stand-in for her dad, who was back home in the Philippines. Another song on the program for the ceremony was Ava Maria which is such a beautiful and emotional song.
As the date drew nearer we also had to decide on a destination for our honeymoon and went to a travel agent who suggested Disney World which offered a nice package deal for newlyweds that included flight, hotel stay at the Swan and Dolphin, tickets for all the major parks and discounts for lunch and dinner at the various restaurants. We were in agreement and decided we would love to spend time with Micky on our honeymoon. The church where we were marrying at was St. Barnabas in Bellmore on Bedford Avenue. It is a beautiful church and we were getting excited about our upcoming wedding and the prospects of raising a family. We also had to attend pre-cana classes at the rectory for 6-8 weeks where we were advised by the priest and a married couple about the doctrines of the church and the values that should be maintained by a newly married couple within the church and in raising a family. We learned a lot and were greatful for the advice and teachings. We read verses from the bible and how they applied to leading a morally christian life and raising children.
In our wedding planning we also booked the photographer and the video crew and the all important DJ who set the tone with the music. Our first dance song was unanimously decided and it was a song by our favorite artist, Shania Twain and our favorite song we chose was titled "From this Moment On" which stirs up so much emotion as we both love Shania and went to see her in concert at Jones Beach on a date 2 weeks before our wedding date. We were so in awe of her and we were feeling so happy during the concert that we did not want it to end. Shania is a special performer and we would love to see her as often as possible.
We were now ready to provide the head count for our reception as we had 122 people respond that they were coming for our wedding. We were right on target with our estimation and were now feeling some nervous jitters but that is normal. My best man, Jeffrey Saper, a close friend from my college days and who has been a loyal friend through out my college days and since we graduated Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York was organizing my bachelor party and he was the one to stand by my side at my wedding. I could not have chosen a better person and felt priveledged to have him as my best man and my best friend.
He planned a low key party for me at Borelli's in East Meadow, New York where we had an enjoyable dinner amongst close friends and we topped it off at Crystal's in Farmingdale, New York where we got to spend a few hours enjoying the last moments of my bachelorhood.
Now the night before the wedding was a bit chaotic and we had to coordinate the photographers visit at my dad's house where we would have Maria and the bridesmaids photographed in the morning of our wedding promptly at 8:00 am. Maria and her bridesmaids also had scheduled a visit at the salon in Bellmore to have their hair done before the picture taking at 7:00 am.
We were all up early on Saturday, our wedding day and I was not able to see my wife to be so I had dressed in my tux and hung out at my sister's house across the street from the church while Maria and her mom and sister and all the girls were being photographed at my dad's house. The wedding was scheduled for 11:00 am and I was very excited and also calming the butterflies in my stomach. I knew we had to present ourselves with calmness and share our joy with our family and friends and was hoping that everything would go as planned like we prepared in the rehearsals.
At 10:15 am I headed to the church with my best man and we were waiting at the church greeting family and guests and seating them on the appropriate sides of the church with the help of the other ushers. Everyone looked so nice and all the young girls and women were dressed all so beautifully. I was enjoying their kind greetings and good wishes as I eagerly awaited my bride. It was quite sureal for me and also very humbling. I knew this moment would be forever etched in my mind and also knew that the photographers would also be working to provide us wonderful memories through pictures and video.
As the limo drove up there was a hush in the audience as we had to prepare ourselves for this special moment and I took my position in the front of the church near the alter awaiting my beautiful bride, Maria. Jeff was positioned slightly behind me to my right. I could not wait to see Maria escorted down the aisle as the procession readied to start. As the organist led in with the music which was so beautiful and emotional the procession had begun. It was such a proud moment for me when I saw my dad walking down the aisle with my mother in law arm in arm. I knew my mom was with us in spirit and I was so proud of my dad. It was after all my dad who made this all possible for us and I was so grateful to him. The ushers walked in first then the bridesmaids walked in behind them. Fe, Maria's sister the matron of honor walked in next. Then little Michael, our ring bearer walked in looking so handsome in his little tux carrying in the cushion holding the symbolic ring and he was remarkable. Then all our nieces, the cute little flower girls walked in looking so adorable carrying little flower baskets and wearing such pretty little white dresses. Little Catherine needed a little assistance from her mom, my sister Joan which was precious. Then the organist led in with the traditional Wedding March as Maria, looking so beautiful started the walk down the aisle escorted by Ken, the stand-in. As they made it to the alter Maria was presented and positioned next to me and she held on to my left arm as the priest lead in with the beginning of the ceremony. I felt very comfortable and so happy to see such a great turnout and listening intently to Father Peter as he discussed the special bond a man and a woman share in marriage and their roles and the love they share and the joys they have in raising children and living a moral and devout life professing their love to each other, their children and to God.
We were pleased he was performing our wedding. He was very kind to us and we really were delighted he was conducting our wedding as he spoke so eloquently and was very helpful with our planning right from the beginning when we first interviewed with him.
I was waiting for the time when I could kiss my bride and stroll down the aisle arm in arm. The service was going nicely and I was just taking it all in as I sensed Maria was doing well and was looking so pretty. We both were anticipating a big day ahead of us and hoping everything was to go smoothly and we had a lot of support with all involved. As the priest led in about the love of a man and a woman and the vows they take we knew it was near the time we would speak aloud and then he walked towards us and asked us to take our vows and we both spoke nervously but with both of us professing our love to each other. He cued for the rings and we took our vows and exchanged rings and waited for the magic words I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may now kiss the bride and then the moment we have been waiting for had come at last and I gave Maria a kiss and felt our unabounding love for each other. We then heard the organist play the wedding exit as we walked down the aisle arm in arm glancing at all our guests and smiling. It was truly a special ceremony for all of us.