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Columns > Annabel Lukins - Both Sides of the Rail

Published: 2007/10/26
by Annabel Lukins

Union and Reunion

Ok, I missed a month of writing to you. This column has been the hardest one to date. Its one thing to write about how much fun I had at this show or that festival, but its another to write about what it felt like to walk down the aisle. Enjoy.it was worth the wait for me, hope it is for you.
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There are all events in our life that can be classified as the best ever. When Phish played at Big Cypress New Years 1999, I left saying that was the best day of my life. When I won a Jammy in 2002, that too was the best day of my life. But on September 2, 2007, the best day of my life took on a whole new meaning. This was the day that married Peter Stelling.

Nine months ago, I was emceeing the awards show on Jam Cruise when Marc Brownstein came on stage and announced that there was a special award to be given to me. He took the microphone from me replaced it with a blindfold over my eyes. Minutes later, after listening to loud cheers and screams from the crowd, I hear Ok, baby. I buckle under my own knees as I hear Peter addressing me. Off comes the blindfold and he is on his knee, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in front of 500 people proposing to me.

One hour later, I went up my dear friend Karl Denson, got on my knee, as Peter had just done. Karl, will you play my wedding? Yes, he said with a smile. DJ Logic, will you spin at my wedding? Id be honored, he said with a smile.

The crazy thing is that even after the above story, it still didnt seem real. I was getting married? I had found the one? Is there really a one? Since 1993, I had been in a serious relationship with Phish, The Grateful Dead & various other live music outlets. I mean I wore a tube top that said I Love Tour on it. It could have said, I am IN love with tour and be even more true.

My favorite saying months after Coventry was hey, the band broke up with me, so I lost 10 lbs and got a new boyfriend. Who knew he would become my future husband. One of the coolest things about Peter, and theres an INFINITE list of cool things about him, is that he never was as into Phish as I was. He only saw one Dead show. But he thinks Karl Denson is a god and couldnt wait for our wedding.

Now, I am going to skip over the 8 months of preparation because for me at this point after the fact, it is like the movie Fight Club. First rule about planning a wedding is you dont talk about planning a wedding. If anyone reading this has questions, feel free to ask me separately. Basically, it was an incredible experience that I NEVER want to have again. I will continue to plan events for a living as long as I can, but please dont ever make me pick out the perfect centerpiece again.

Once the week of the wedding came, I couldnt contain my excitement. 190 friends and family from all over the country were coming to Colorado to see me get married! When Im working an event like Langerado in Florida, I get to see so many familiar faces who have become part of my life over the years. YOUR OWN WEDDING trumps that a million times over. Cousins are hitting on husbands old friendsbest friends from summer camp in the 80s are drinking with your current best friendscollege friends are dancing with your parents.the list goes on. Its weird and FABULOUS at the same time.

Enter Gold Lake Mountain Resort in Ward, CO, a fantasy like adult-summer camp filled with log cabins, a tranquil lake, the 14,000-foot mountains draped in the background and a perfect ceremony location aptly named Inspiration Point.

I found a string quartet that played contemporary pieces. Once Peter and I discovered they had toured with Queensrche (Im dead serious), we immediately got creative with the music. Right before Peter strutted down the aisle to Zeppelins Kashmir, Phishs Waste rang throughout the air while guests giggled with association.

The cool wind was blowing, so my dad and I sat in a car before it was our turn. When I heard Waste start, I cant believe what I am about to tell all of you, I turned to my father and said, Dad, I am so sorry that Phish took so much of my time away from you. I really did love that band. He looked at me, completely confused why I would have made such a powerful amend as Im sitting in my wedding dress about to get escorted down the aisle. But hearing Waste play in the background, beyond anxious to marry to Peter, and feeling a sense of relief that this truly was the next chapter in my life, I made the admission. Its ok, I know you did, he quietly said into my eyes. It was then our turn to walk down the aisle.

We walked atop hundreds of pink and red rose petals that had been laid ahead of time. The flower girl Bailey, my ridiculously adorable 3-year old niece, had thrown the final touches of petals. After she finished, she proudly announced that she too wanted to get married.

Walking down the aisle with my dad was surreal, completely and utterly. Everyone had their eyes on me, I was holding a delicate bouquet, wearing a long veil and a dress that I never could have dreamed to be so beautifulI WAS A BRIDE! And at the end of the aisle, with a smile filled with pride and awe was Peter.

Peter and I wrote our own ceremony, our own vows. Our friend Amy, who Ive known since summer camp 1985, was the celebrant and so eloquently presented our written version of our raw souls to our guests that tears were inevitable. You want to read a few lines? I really want to share them with you:

Like a mountain peak and its valley below balance one another, so do Annabel and Peter. Though they are very different people, their individual personalities are assets in their relationship. Annabels boundless energy and infectious smile light up a room as Peters gentle nature warms all in his presence. Their free spirits bind and comfort each other.

Your marriage will represent both the harmony of togetherness and the union of two individuals committed to their own spiritual becoming.

May your life together be a source of strength and inspiration. Clearly, you have already fallen, so from this day forward may you now rise in love.

I present to you that they are now husband and wife. Before the precession, we stood there, looking at all who had shared in that magical moment, raised our hands and gave a big WOO HOO which created a domino effect of cheers and energy.

Do you just have goose bumps??? I do too.

When Peter and I walked into the reception tent presented as Mr & Mrs Stelling I was so excited to see everyone seated at the tables I had slaved over perfecting for weeks. But what was even more fun was to see how CLASSY the tent looked. I had prepared with the dr team for months, but the final result was better than imaginable. Scarlet red fabric swags from the ceiling, twinkle lights, white fabric wrapped poles. Seriously, the spirit that filled that from, tangible and intangible was unreal.

Ok, so I sort threw in at the beginning that Karl Denson was going to play our wedding. But in what capacity? Yep, thats right, I got the band back together. (And it wasnt Phish THANK GOD). After about two years, Karl Densons Tiny Universe reunited at my wedding.
Peter and I both LOVE the Tiny Universeso do most of our friendsand I assure you that all the family that had requested slow songs didnt remember that they had by the end of the night. Boy, that Karl is a great guy and can sure get you dancing, said my father at 1:00am.

And now, the dad. Get up here, Richard, Karl proclaimed as he introduced my father to the stage for his speech.

(To interject my thought process, Peter is a musician. I get the best of both worlds. He doesnt tour. He plays around Colorado every now and again.)

Peter had asked my dad if he could play the father-daughter dance. Umok! Lets play the Eagles Take it to the Limit with KDTU as the backing band. It was beautiful.

We had given KDTU 4 hours to play and a list of songs a mile long. I mean come on, if they are going to get back together, let them PLAY!

First danceSatisfied, one of Karls greatest love songs. Peter and I tricked everyone by beginning in a slow dance position, immediately grooving once the funky tune started, Baby your lovin keeps me satisfied.always always dance with me.

It went on an on for hours, Peter sat in for an overwhelmingly impressive version of Bill Withers Use Me, they even played the Hora with a 20-minute energy-driven spiritual High Altitude Hava Nagila leaving everyone with their hands on their knees bent over out of breathe.
DJ Logic sitting in, KDTU busting out their classics, the dance floor filled with smiles, dancing, laughing, comfort, joy, love!

It wasnt until 1:00am that the music stopped. It wasnt until 3:00am that Peter and I went to bed. Everyone who was still up, sat around the warm fire pit outside the tent exchanging stories about life over the years. It was incredible. Peter and I took a moment with Karl. It was one of those moments where each person feels such love and appreciation for the other that the only want to express it is with the eyes. You know what I mean, right? The three of hugged, looked at each other in the eyes, and said, thank you, our lives have all changed tonight.

Finally, Peter carried me over the threshold of our cabin, onto the bed of rose petals (my bridesmaids had snuck away and laid themPeters idea), and well thats all on that topic..

The moral of the very long story is that I married Peter Stelling on September 2, 2007, on top of a mountain in front of many loved ones. I am blessed to have been able to come to a place in my life where this was possible. He is the one for me, I am the one for him. We are sure of it.

What is to come?

Loveon a deeper level than Ive ever felt.

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