The Lanza Wedding.
I just returned home to California from Joe and Erin’s wedding out in Jersey. At I have to say spending the last three weeks with these two was a blast. Yep. Three weeks.
So let elaborate a bit more on who I am for those who might just know me as “Joe’s California friend”. I’ve known Joe for 13 years. We did the Disney College Program together. Ironically, while we knew each other somewhat during that 9 months at Disney, we moved in different social circles. So we actually never hung out. It wasn’t until a few months after returning home, and re-connecting online as all us former-lifeguards did to keep in touch, that was when Joe and I realized how much we had in common.
He’s been a very dear friend of mine ever since.
And while many friendships since our days at Disney have changed, I would quickly point out that Joe and I have only become better friends over the years.
During my many trips back out to Florida I stayed with Joe over half of them. And on those trips spending most of the time sitting around talking was pretty much the norm.
Joe would joke with me that “Your room is always available” about his guest room in his apartment. And when him and Erin recently bought their house, one of the spare rooms they both refer to as “John’s room”. It’s funny, but also very sweet.
But what the most fun part of the entire Lanza wedding as a whole? In any aspect?
That’s easy. It’s having been part of Joe’s life, and now Joe-and-Erin’s-life, long enough to go from those college-years-conversations with Joe about “I don’t think I’ll get married, John” to “Things are pretty serious with Erin, man..” and eventually “I’m going to propose.”
That was very cool.
And I love Erin – she and Joe are great together. And to be part of their wedding weekend (and entire wedding month pretty much) was great. But before I get into all that, let’s have some fun and take a stroll down memory lane. Shall we?
I have the most extensive photo record of our circle of friends since ’03… so this’ll be fun to zip through real quick ;)
What do you say, you guys ready to scroll through tons of photos?
How about you, Joe?
…oh the memories
We’re gonna do a little reverse-order with this. So bear with me everyone!
I mentioned that I spent the month with Joe and Erin. Really, it was three weeks of April.
It started with the Half Ironman in Florida. I had talked to Joe and Aaron about forming a relay team and competing in the 70.3 mile relay. Aaron swam, I cycled, and Joe ran. Erin was our cheerleader and support that day! We were Team Turtle Power – a throwback reference to another crazy idea I got Joe involved in below.
WE’RE GONNA LOOK FABULOUS, LADIES!
So it’s a running joke with me and Erin that “Joe loves me more” when it’s come to totally random ideas I’ve had for us and our friends in the past. For example, the most recent one has been me, Joe, Erin, and quite a few others cross-dressing for the Disneyworld Princess Half Marathon. Because who WOULDN’T want to dress as a princess and run a race?!! Right?
PLUS it resulted in this amazing photo from the first year we did it in 2015. I say first, because we did it again back in February for second time! Haha!
And as Joe pointed out, this will be a great image to one day confuse their children.
It actually was after that weekend when Joe and I were talking and he said he was certain Erin was the one. In part because she was a great sport putting up with all of us, but also, quite simply that she and Joe had a great time together getting ready for, and completing the race together.
Among the crazier ideas of mine, the one that took the most work, and was the biggest “ask” of Joe… was my Ninja Turtle project. Joe was Casey Jones. And in asking him to be part, I also asked him to bulk up some 10-15 pounds and grow his hair out to fit the look. And he did it. THAT’S LOVE, PEOPLE! Hahaha!
Plus, he looked great, amirite?!
.. and all those other things from over the years
In 2014 Joe and Erin drove 5 1/2 hours on Halloween night to come support me during my first full Ironman, supporting me all day and keeping my family back on the West Coast updating throughout.
Joe was my unofficial date to Aaron’s wedding! Granted his Erin showed up the next day, but whatever!
Lots of random trips over the years… like this one just after New Years in Jan ’06
this photo from all of us in line at Tower of Terror proves my point, Erin… just fyi :P I’m loved. hahaha
That time during Spring Break 2005 when I flew to Jersey to hang with Joe… after after doing New York in the freezing cold we decided to grab Merri, Beau, and Biggs… pile into Joe’s Dodge Daytona, and drive all night to Disneyworld!
An insane trip that was an absolute blast.
The totally ridiculous 2004 “one year since our program” reunion trip. So many photos from that week, but I’ll stick with these two silly ones even though there was like 15 of us on that trip. Me, Theresa and Joe on the left. And me, Joe and a bunch of the group at that time on the right.
And one last super old throwback photo to that 2004 trip. Haha, this was one of the several nights we all went out. And one of the less-ridiculous but-still-hilarious photos of Joe and I.
Ok, you guys ready for a ton of wedding photos?
Of course you are… right?
During the couple weeks I spent in Orlando with Joe and Erin they practiced their dance several times
The tricky part was the lack of a huge dance floor
But they made it work
And they still were able to laugh about it as they tried to avoid furniture around the house
Jersey – Monday
One of the first things we did when we got up to New Jersey was play tourist..
..and headed to the Statue of Liberty
We were able to get tickets up to the pedestal, but not the crown since apparently those have to be booked three months in advance
Still had a great time walking around and checking things out
AND THEN WE FOUND THESE AMAZING HATS!!!
Two days later we headed into New York to play tourist there!
Had to check out the new tower and the memorials around the WTC site
walked through Times Square
Then we met up with Erin’s cousin who’s an officer with the NYPD. He arranged an outing with his fellow officers he knew that work the harbor patrol.
It was windy on top of the boat, but we got an absolutely awesome tour around the waters while they were on duty
We got to check out the Brooklyn Bridge
And went out as far as the Statue of Liberty and got to see it with a completely empty island
But after a while it was time to head back in
That evening we walked around Central Park
And on the way out passed through Times Square once more
It’s definitely more interesting at night
A few days before the wedding the venue gave permission to use the dance floor to practice one last time that week
Later that weekend at the wedding Joe and Erin would joke that this was their best dance – and only one person saw it.
Friday afternoon we all arrived at the church for the rehearsal
Erin, explaining who is who and what they’re doing in the ceremony
Father Joseph was giving a few directions on how things were going to go that evening
Erin’s uncle, Deacon Tom, would be doing part of the ceremony.
Father Joseph talking through the ceremony
Practicing their exit
One more quick walk through
After the rehearsal Father Joseph takes care of most of the paperwork because the ceremony tomorrow will be very busy
Mr. Lanza would be one of the witnesses that evening to sign
Everyone piling into the restaurant that night for the rehearsal dinner the Lanza family hosted (dinner the night before was hosted by Erin’s family)
“I’d like to welcome you all here tonight…” – Joe
“WE’D like to welcome you here tonight…” – Erin
“Oh yeah… We… hahaha” – Joe
Father Joseph opened with a blessing for dinner
Erin and Joe were pretty much immediately walking around greeting friends and family
Things were going down at the kids table… iPads, specifically. so.many.ipads.
Erin was trying to play with Kaden and kept getting the “we’re cool and all, but I’m staying right here” stare..
I guess you can argue that the kids were quiet at least? Too busy watching movies.
Toward the end of the evening Erin got up to thank everyone once again. She said that while the wedding is small and they didn’t have a bridal party, there were still several people that worked very hard to help, and she wanted to thank them for that and also had some gifts for them.
A gift and card from her future Mother in Law
Joe getting attacked by his nieces and nephew.
Dog pile on Uncle Joey!
The next morning I had breakfast with Joe and then headed to the hotel to meet up with all the girls. Most of the ladies were already sitting around chatting and laughing that morning
Erin showing the hair stylist the up-do she liked
Always start with curls first. Volume ladies. Lots of volume
Erin and her sister chatting while having their hair made up
Next was makeup
Grandma came in to see how her granddaughter was looking
“Make sure you photograph my mom’s reaction when she sees the dress…” -Erin
Her mom was almost in tears. This dress was one they looked at, both liked, but out of the budget if I recall correctly. Erin later went back and bought it after making things work with the wedding budget. Keeping it a secret from here mom leading up to the wedding was a huge effort including willingly getting in an argument the day before wedding when the two of them went to pick up the dress and Erin refused to try it on – because her mom didn’t know it was a different dress at that point.
Help from her mom and sister getting into the dress
Those corset style tops look great, but definitely need a bit of extra help to get into
Erin is pretty tiny, and was joking with me that she could NOT afford to lose any weight before the wedding. So every time I wanted to go get donuts or something in Florida she was down to go with me and either get a snack or drink. haha!
Grandma watching her granddaughter as Erin’s mom and sister zip up and clasp the back of the dress.
Had to get some bridal portraits of Erin. Make her late downstairs to the limo by a couple minutes was worth it
And we’re off! GRAB.EVERYTHING.
Outside the limo was waiting for Erin and her family
I followed behind in the car
After getting to the church Erin and her sister were adjusting something with the dress
Not sure what, but Erin was laughing, so it couldn’t have been bad
Inside things were close to starting, and most of the guests were already seated in the church
One last selfie with Erin pre-ceremony!
Jerilynn was back with the wedding party to help with Erin’s entrance and opening the doors for her
Joe, patiently waiting as things are getting started
Mrs. Lanza being escorted to her seat
Mrs. LaTour being escorted by her son
So there was a runner to be brought out for Erin. But it kept sticking to itself because they’re wound so tightly.
It was an excellent ice breaker for the start of the ceremony. Joe was laughing at the struggle, guests were, and so were both gentlemen helping with it. It definitely lightened the mood and set the tone I expected for Joe and Erin’s ceremony
Still trying to get it straight
And then Erin enters the church…
Erin and her dad.
Father Joseph and Deacon Tom welcoming everyone
The moms lighting the candles
Erin uncle, Deacon Tom, then got up to say his piece about Erin and Joe
It was clear how much it meant to Erin that her uncle was able to be part of the ceremony
Erin’s other cousin, John, was playing the music that day
Exchanging of vows
Blessing of the rings
Exchange of rings
Joe’s father, mom and aunt
Then Joe kissed her! BREAKING THE RULES!!!
Then everyone laughed. Apparently what Father John said is you can kiss the rings.. Well, Joe heard “kiss” and went for it. Haha! Even Deacon Tom was laughing
Signs of peace and greeting
Joe and Erin waiting while everyone does communion
Leaving flowers for Mary
Presenting and introducing the newlyweds
We hid out in the office for everyone to exit the church and lobby
Leaving the church the entire family was all waiting outside for them
The limo even had champagne
Arriving at venue much earlier than planned for the reception
So it was time to get setup for photos in the garden area
Obviously one of the best photos, and it was only like the second one I took
This was Erin in probably 1/3 of the photos… her veil continually getting pulled
I had to get a shot toward the end of portraits that day with them, too!
So I wanted to get a shot of Joe, since I had already done a portrait shot of Erin… he gave me this look..
Erin responded with this..
During all this the kids were just all playing and keeping each other entertained
JT really wanted a sunglasses pose with his uncle Joe, Erin jumped in and made it even more awesome. haha
Kaden still wasn’t sure if he wanted to be part of everything
After finishing all the photos Erin and Joe were just sitting hanging out with nothing to do.. but the weather and lighting was great! it had turned into a beautiful day after a very grey week leading up to the weekend
Inside the ballroom was decorated and ready for guests
Joe’s friend Ben, who owns Faded Days sunglasses, helped to provide everyone some very cool favors for the party
I found the bride and groom upstairs a short time later… busy eating
Since Joe and Erin weren’t going to do a garter toss later that night, we took a few playful photos in the bridal suite
this is the Joe and Erin that I know and have spent a lot of time with. Debate and light hearted bickering about nothing important.
Introduction of the parents
Matron of Honor
And Mr. and Mrs. Lanza!
they walked into to the Superman theme song playing
..and then took their place for their first dance
As I posted above, they had secretly learned and been practicing a choreographed dance
they looked great out on the dance floor
A few moments where Joe looked like he was focused
Erin was all smiles and laughs
And then they both got into it after a minute or so
Erin later told me that she ended up being the one getting slightly tripped up because her heels caught her dress a few times, while Joe ended up having an easier time than her!
The family and everyone gathered to watch
Next Mr. LaTour joined his daughter for the Daddy-Daughter dance
Jerilynn watching and recording for Erin
big hug for his little girl
And a kiss for Dad
Next was the Mother-Son dance
Mrs. Lanza was smiling the whole time
They had an awesome cake
And that topper was way cool
As soon as some of the food came out, Erin and Joe were already up walking tables and talking to more people
Ryan made it out! Me, Joe and Ryan used to all work as lifeguards together back at Disneyworld during college
Between courses of dinner most people hit the dance floor
Erin getting down with her new nieces
And dancing with her god daughter… wait, unless her little sister is Erin’s god daughter
I don’t recall the song… but everyone was singing along
Jerilynn’s husband was hilarious, and definitely not one to be shown up by his dancer wife
We were halfway through the reception before people started the clinking-glasses-to-kiss thing
A little later when people were sitting eating dinner, and the music slowed down, Joe and Erin got back on the dance floor
Becky and her dad goofing around
Put your head on my shoulderrrrrrrrrrr!!!
..seriously though, that was the song playing
Joe and Erin sat down briefly to watch everyone enjoying the reception
And were quickly joined by Joe’s sisters!
After a couple family photos on the stairs Joe wasted no time workin on his poses
re-bustling the dress
Erin carried her grandmother’s broach on her bouquet that day
Some of the kids crashed partway through the night. Got to hand it to their parents for the foresight to bring pillows for the kids to use!
Hugs for her big brother
As I was talking to Joe and Becky Erin was chatting with Ben, and pretended to flirt. I pretended to be shocked and point at her like “ooooh! i see you!” and Joe joined with a “HEY! (what are you doing!?)” response. So naturally Ben gave her a peck on the cheek while Erin pretended to get caught
And then it was time for cake!
easy does it…
they were nice and didn’t smash it on each other
Instead of the bouquet toss, Erin did a ladies-dance since nearly everyone was either married or in relationships already. No need to throw the bouquet
Two of Erin’s closest friends, and best dance partners that night after Joe
Now I don’t recall what song this was.. but it was duet that the DJ set everyone up for… women on one side, men on the other
Honestly it must be an East Coast thing cuz I’d never heard this song, nor seen this play out at a wedding… but everyone knew the words/etc
Erin’s expressions the whole day were amazing though. Really
Cake was cut up and ready to be served!
They took nearly every opportunity to dance together though
Joe’s grandparent’s wedding rings were split between him and some of his sisters. With the bands/stones from his grandmother being used for his sister’s wedding rings. And his grandfather’s wedding ring being used for the gold center in his wedding band.
Goodie bags for the kids..
I had to get my standard photo with the bride and groom… cuz this is the most important one of the whole night
But this one is a million times better! hahahahaaaa
Manny and Erin goofing around
Ben’s sunglasses were a huge hit that night
“JOHN! THE HATS!”
“GO GET THE HATS!!”
When “New York, New York” comes on… you dance accordingly
Spot the dancers in this photo…
These hats really were the best $2 you can spend at the Statue of Liberty when you go
Erin seemed less interested in Joe when he was standing talking to me..
So we danced instead
And not long after, it was the last dance of the evening…
And then the party was over
Various goodbyes and thank you’s to friends and family
I’m thinking this was a pinky promise about their next visit? Has to be. Because Erin wanted photo proof.
These two were still passed out. The people and music didn’t phase them at all
So later that when we got back to the hotel there was one more playful photo that Erin wanted to do. It was a recreation of a photo of her great aunt and uncle from their wedding… this one:
Back during their time something like this was probably super taboo to do. But super cute, right?
So we did the same type of shot for them before the night ended!