May 14–27, 2012

I don’t often look forward to waking up really early on a Monday morning. But I’ll happily make an exception when the reason for getting out of bed is to leave for an extended honeymoon with my new wife!

With only a minimal amount of sleep overnight, Joan and I woke up well before dawn. We finished packing our bags just as my dad arrived at our house at 5 a.m. to take us to the airport. After we said our goodbyes and he dropped us off, we encountered very long security lines (not surprising for all of the business travel on a Monday morning), but our first-class tickets mercifully helped us get through the process much faster.

Before long, we boarded the plane for the first leg of our honeymoon to Maui!

May 14–19: Maui

Monday, May 14. Joan and I thoroughly relaxed during our first-class flight to Hawaii. The 12-hour trip included a tasty, warm breakfast during the first leg, followed by a layover at the San Francisco airport, where we split a sandwich at the Buena Vista Cafe for lunch. The remainder of our flight to Hawaii even included an ice-cream sundae, and based on that fact alone, I doubt that I can ever fly coach again.

After landing on Maui, we picked up our rented Chrysler Sebring convertible (naturally), then drove to the first hotel of our honeymoon. Upon checking in at the Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea on the southern end of the island, we were greeted with leis and complimentary cocktails at the front desk, then checked into suite 374, which came with an incredible view:

View from room at Fairmont Kea Lani

After all of the excitement from the previous few days and the long trip, we fell asleep very shortly after unpacking!

Tuesday, May 15. Joan and I opted to relax at the resort on our first full day in Hawaii. After an amazing breakfast buffet, we spent the majority of our day in a rented cabana by the hotel pool (which included a really fun water slide from one level of the pool to another below), followed by a refreshing couple’s massage and an outdoor dinner at , one of several restaurants within the resort.

Wednesday, May 16. After a relaxing day at the resort, it was time to start exploring the rest of the island. We put the top down in our Sebring and drove north to Lahaina, where we shopped for Hawaiian shirts — I couldn’t decide between two, so I bought both of them — and enjoyed some delicious shave ice and Kauai Pie ice cream. Durng the rest of the evening, we enjoyed a romantic dinner and a terrific show at the famous Old Lahaina Luau.

Thursday, May 17. We started another gorgeous day on Maui by sitting on chaise lounges on the resort beach and snorkeling; we even spotted a large sea turtle under the water! After some additional time by the quiet adult pool, we drive to nearby Makena State Park and Big Beach. There, we enjoyed some fish tacos from a food truck, then slowly navigated a narrow road through an eerie, lava-filled area. That evening, we drove north to Paia for dinner Mama’s Fish House, where our friends Mel & Greg had dined on their honeymoon and had given us a generous gift certificate as a wedding gift!

Friday, May 18. En route to a lighter breakfast buffet (I never thought I’d actually start to get tired of eggs Benedict!), we ordered a picnic basket from the hotel for lunch later in the day. Joan and I spent the rest of the morning snorkeling and sitting by the pool before enjoying our picnic basket on our hotel suite balcony. We then hopped into our rental car and drove up to Kaʻanapali, where we shopped in Whalers Village and strolled through a whaling museum. As darkness fell, we opted for a light dinner and some drinks at the Hula Grill and Barefoot Bar, where we were entertained by some relaxing Hawaiian music by the light of tiki torches.

Saturday, May 19. On our last morning on Maui, Joan and I packed our bags, then shared a final breakfast at the Fairmont before we checked out and drove to the Kahului airport. We dropped off the rental car, then boarded the short flight to Lihue on Kauaʻi on Island Air.

May 19–24: Kauaʻi

Saturday, May 19. Upon our arrival, I discovered that not having a reservation for a rental car on Kauaʻi was a bad idea, since many visitors were on the island for graduations over the weekend. Still, I managed to rent a white Dodge Avenger through National, and we made the hour-long drive to Princeville on the north end of the island.

We checked into the St. Regis Princeville, where we promptly received an upgrade for suite 917, which came with butler service for our entire stay! (This was truly uncharted territory for us; ’ll admit that I had to Google “butler etiquette” on my iPhone.) The view from our room might as well appear on a postcard:

View from room at St. Regis Princeville

After a much-needed nap, we shared some drinks and appetizers at sunset at the hotel bar. For the rest of the evening, we ordered the hotel’s movie night service (popcorn, chips and onion dip, and cookies-and-cream ice cream) while watching The Muppets in our comfortable suite.

Sunday, May 20. Joan and I thoroughly enjoyed our first open-air breakfast buffet at the St. Regis, then visited to concierge to make some plans for the rest of our stay. We signed up for a helicopter ride later in the week and joined their Starwood program for perks on future stays within their hotel network. We spent the remainder of the day on chaise lounges by the gorgeous hotel pool, then took a short drive to Bar Acuda on Hanalei Bay for a dinner of delicious tapas.

Monday, May 21. We rose early and decided to skip the breakfast buffet. Instead, we picked up some snorkel gear from the hotel, then bought bottled water and granola bars at a nearby Big Save market. Joan and I then drove to Keʻe Beach in Haʻena State Park for some snorkeling in the crystal-clear bay, where we spotted plenty of colorful fish. After drying off, we prepared ourselves for the biggest adventure of our entire trip: a four-mile, round-trip hike on the Kalalau Trail.

Our trek turned out to be quite difficult — the first half-mile alone involved a surprisingly steep climb up a rocky path. While the remaining 1½ miles to Hanakapiai Beach included some breathtaking views of the Nā Pali Coast (see below), we needed to carefully navigate a narrow red-dirt path along with plenty of other hikers, then cross a large set of rocks before finally arriving at the beach. On the way back, we chatted with an older couple from Pottsville (not far from the Philly suburbs), and also noticed some completely insane hikers who were carrying toddlers on their shoulders!

Along the Kalalau Trail

The entire journey lasted about 3½ hours, and amazingly, our four-mile hike was only a subset of the full trail, which runs for 11 miles each way and is far more dangerous. But I’m still proud of the fact that we completed even a portion of the challenging trail without any problems or injuries. I was so tired on the drive back to the St. Regis that I missed the turn for the hotel! Back at the resort, we showered off by the pool, relaxed in the outdoor jacuzzi for a while, then took a long, well-earned nap before enjoying a casual dinner at Makana Terrace within the hotel.

Tuesday, May 22. After a return to the breakfast buffet, we made the short drive to the Princeville airport for an aerial tour of Kauaʻi with Sunshine Helicopters! The 50-minute ride, where we sat in the front-row (“first class,” next to the pilot) of a seven-seat helicopter, was breathtaking, and we even ordered a DVD of footage from our trip.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in Princeville, where we bought a framed print of the Kauaʻi shoreline at Nani Kauai and enjoyed some ice cream at Lappert’s. Joan and I then proceeded to Hanalei, where we did some more shopping and picked up lunch at Bubba Burger. Later, we enjoyed a relaxing dinner at the hotel’s Kauai Grill restaurant, which offered delicious meals by large windows to watch the sunset over the ocean, and shared some drinks at the hotel bar to close out another wonderful day on the island.

Wednesday, May 23. In the morning, we relaxed on chaise lounges on the hotel beach, but didn’t stay long thanks to some very talkative vacationers near us. Joan and I picked up some delicious fish tacos at the Kilauea Fish Market, then toured the Kilauea Lighthouse. Later in the day, while Joan got a manicure, I watched a 76ers playoff game in our suite. Later, we ordered some mai tais (our new favorite cocktail) and appetizers at the hotel bar and simply relaxed in our comfortable suite and watched TV.

Thursday, May 24. We reluctantly packed our bags and enjoyed our last breakfast buffet before checking out of the St. Regis. On our way out, we picked up the DVD from our helicopter trip, then flew from Lihue to San Francisco. Our flight was delayed by 45 minutes due to a hydraulic problem and ended with a bumpy landing, but we still savored the luxury of another comfortable first-class flight.

May 24–27: San Francisco

Thursday, May 24. Upon landing in our third and final destination of our honeymoon, we took a taxi to the Westin St. Francis, a historic hotel where I had stayed during a work trip for Vanguard in 1997. We checked into room 1780 in the newer section of the hotel, and shared a late dinner at nearby Scala’s Bistro before hitting the sack.

Friday, May 25. After a light breakfast in the hotel lobby, we walked to a nearby North Face store so I could buy a new gray fleece (having lost my previous black one to a thief at a concert a few months earlier) for the chilly, windy San Francisco weather. We then took a sightseeing tour on top of a double-decker bus, but learned the hard way that the bus didn’t have stops on both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge, so we wound up walking its length twice!

Golden Gate Bridge

We resumed the tour, then disembarked at Fisherman’s Wharf, where we thoroughly enjoyed dinner at Scoma’s. The diners at the table next to us happened to be from Collegeville, Pa., had also traveled from Hawaii to San Francisco, and their kids even went to Penn State — what a small world! We continued on to Ghirardelli’s for a delicious peanut-butter ice cream sundae, then hopped onto a cable car back to the hotel, where we enjoyed some Irish coffees at the Clock Bar.

Saturday, May 26. We woke up to the distant sounds of a noisy protest (perhaps a labor dispute), but managed to sleep in for a while longer. After checking out of the Westin St. Francis and storing our bags with the concierge, we shared a tasty brunch at Sears Fine Food, where I relished the opportunity to order 18 pancakes.

Joan and I then took a cab to Alamo Square to see the houses known as the “Painted Ladies,” then spent the rest of the day walking past City Hall to Lombard Street, hopping a streetcar to the impressive Ferry Building, and a final walk through Chinatown back to the hotel. We picked up our bags, hopped another cab to SFO, and shared dinner at the airport’s Anchor Steam restaurant before boarding a red-eye flight to Dulles. Our fellow passengers were mercifully quiet as we grabbed a few hours of sleep overnight.

Sunday, May 27. After landing in Washington D.C., we waited for a short while before boarding our final, brief flight back to Philadelphia. We were picked up by one of our Chesterbrook neighbors who happens to run a limo service and relaxed in his town car back to our house. We were completely exhausted from the last leg of the trip, and wound up sleeping for most of the afternoon.

I always dreamed of going on a terrific honeymoon someday, but I never imagined that I’d be so lucky to spend nearly two weeks with a wonderful new wife in three amazing locations. And we certainly can’t wait to make a return trip to Hawaii, which has to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

[ No. 629 ]

May 13, 2012

Joan and I woke up in our bridal suite at 9 a.m., quite tired from the previous day’s excitement and rather amazed by the fact that we were officially husband and wife!

We packed up our gifts and her dress, then met up with our families — my parents, my sisters Jen and Meg, Joan’s mom Alicia, Joan’s sister Laura and her fiancé, Jeremy — for a brunch buffet at the Farmer’s Daughter restaurant. During the meal, we presented Mother’s Day gifts and cards to our moms, who certainly deserved to be celebrated in their own right. And the meal itself was impressive, comprised of several rooms full of breakfast dishes, carving stations, shellfish, and a huge variety of desserts.

After brunch, we checked out of the hotel and drove back to our place. I ran out to the mall to buy some last-minute clothes for our honeymoon, then Joan and I opened dozens of wedding cards and made a list of the generous gifts we’d received for the thank-you notes that we would write after the honeymoon. We then drove to my parents’ house, where we finished recording our gift list, then sat down to a wonderful dinner of lobster tails for Mother’s Day. We stayed much longer than we’d originally planned — it was so much fun to talk about the excitement from the day before.

When we arrived home around 9 p.m., we began the monumental task of packing for a two-week trip in one night. Both of us stayed up almost all night running laundry, packing bags, and printing our various travel documents. I even made a midnight run to a nearby Acme in Paoli to buy some travel-size toiletries for the trip! Joan salvaged a few hours of sleep, while I only slept for about 1½ hours until it was time to get up to start our honeymooon!

[ No. 628 ]

May 12, 2012

Today, I married my best friend, Joan Alicia Keegan.

While Joan, her mom, and her bridesmaids — Laura, Jen, Meghan, Rachel, Megan, and Ardene — were already at Jolie Salon & Day Spa for their early-morning hair and makeup appointment, I woke up at home around 7:45 a.m., showered, and packed my bags for the day. By 10 a.m., a shuttle bus arrived with most of my groomsmen who had stayed at the Normandy Farm hotel on Friday night and had picked up the ride from there earlier that morning. The shuttle took us to my parents’ house in West Chester, where we started getting prepared for the ceremony.

The morning weather was gorgeous — neither warm nor chilly, plenty of sunshine, and hardly a cloud in the sky. We enjoyed a light breakfast on my parents’ back patio while the six groomsmen — Paul, Jeff, John, Todd, Marc, and Tony — took turns changing into their tuxedos. And while our main photographer, Daniel Moyer, was taking pictures of Joan and her bridesmaids at the salon and bridal suite, a “second shooter,” Matt Szoke, took some photos of me, my parents, and the groomsmen.

The groomsmen and I got back onto the shuttle at around 12:30 p.m. and headed to the church, St. Norbert, in Paoli. The groomsmen served as ushers for our guests as they arrived, and I managed to stay out of Joan’s sight when her shuttle arrived before the ceremony.

Our wedding ceremony Mass at 2 p.m. was simply perfect, despite my concerns from the previous night’s rehearsal. Fr. Michael Lee delivered a thoughtful and heartfelt homily, and it was surreal to exchange our vows and rings! Toward the end of the Mass, Laura’s fiancé, Jeremy, made the liturgy even more special by singing “Ave Maria” accompanied only by his acoustic guitar.

As the choir sang one of my favorite hymns, “We Are Called,” Joan and I led the procession to the rear of the church. And here we are, husband and wife!

The happy couple!

At the end of the procession, Joan and I retreated into a side alcove for a brief, quiet moment together. We then rejoined our families and friends as they began to disperse from the church, and Daniel began taking formal photos of us and our families at the altar. After that, the entire bridal party boarded a shuttle and rode to nearby Valley Forge Park, where Daniel and his assistant captured dozens of group photos by the stately Memorial Arch, along with some pictures of Joan and me on our own. After that, we hopped back onto the shuttle and headed to the Blue Bell Country Club for our reception!

We kicked off the evening with some drinks and tasty appetizers in a separate banquet room for the bridal party, then went out to the cocktail hour on the covered patio facing the golf course. It was wonderful to happily chat with so many relatives and friends, but the informal part of the evening went by way too fast — we could have easily spent another hour outside on the deck.

After our guests had been seated in the ballroom, the bridal party lined up for introductions by our band, Strangers. It was amazing to walk hand-in-hand with Joan into a room full of our favorite people clapping and cheering! Our first dance, set to Frank Sinatra’s classic, “The Way You Look Tonight,” was a success, despite some very limited practice at home just a few nights before. We even pulled off two twirls and one dip at the end!

Joan’s sister Laura and my best man Paul each delivered a touching toast. Joan and her dad danced to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” and my mom and I followed with our dance to “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” Just before dinner was served, Daniel took Joan and me outside for a few outdoor photos at dusk. The pictures from that brief shoot are truly stunning; this might be the best wedding photo ever taken:

The bride and groom at dusk

Back inside, we enjoyed a delicious dinner. I chose the filet mignon, and Joan opted for the Pacific halibut. We followed dinner with the cake cutting (no smashing dessert into each other’s faces, thank you) and lots of dancing. During the early stages of our wedding planning, I wasn’t sure about whether to have a DJ or a band, but Strangers convinced me that live music makes a huge difference!

The last few hours of the reception were a festive blur, and before we knew it, the party started winding down. The Blue Bell staff was extremely helpful in gathering our gifts and favors, and we rode a van back to nearby Normandy Farm. We changed into more comfortable clothes in our bridal suite, then met up with our die-hard friends at the hotel bar, The Farmer’s Daughter, to continue the celebration into the wee hours of the morning.

*     *     *     *     *

As I was growing up, I often wondered what my wedding day would be like. Who would I marry? Where would the ceremony take place? How would I feel on such a momentous day?

I now know the answers to all of those questions, and I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out. Everything about our wedding day was perfect, and I’m the luckiest man in the world to have Joan as my wife.

[ No. 627 ]

Photo credit: Daniel Moyer Photography

May 11, 2012

On the day of our wedding rehearsal, Joan and her sister packed their bags and left by late morning to check in at the Normandy Farm hotel, where they would both stay on Friday night. Meanwhile, Jeremy stayed at our place for the day and worked on his laptop at our dining room table, and I headed out to finish some final errands.

I drove to a jeweler in nearby Wayne to have one of the links in my new Seiko watch removed so that it would fit on my wrist better, then picked up the box of printed ceremony programs at Staples. I’ll admit that it’s completely insane that I didn’t finish that task until the day before the wedding, but I was pleased with the way they turned out.

At 5 p.m., we arrived at St. Norbert in Paoli for the rehearsal of our wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, the priest whom Joan and I had been meeting with all along, Fr. Lee, wasn’t available for rehearsal due to his own niece’s wedding, so another priest in our parish agreed to facilitate. We quickly learned that he’d only presided over a handful of wedding ceremonies ever, and as a result, let’s just say the rehearsal was less than smooth. I certainly don’t expect everything to be perfect, but the amount of uncertainty that remained after the rehearsal left me quite worried.

We then proceeded to one of our favorite restaurants, Trattoria Giuseppe, for the rehearsal dinner with about 35 guests. My parents had reserved one of the restaurant’s new banquet rooms for the event, and it was a wonderful start to our big weekend. The multiple courses were delicious as always, not to mention well-paced; we never felt rushed throughout the evening. My dad delivered a thoughtful toast, and Joan and I distributed gifts to our bridal party as well.

At the end of the night, Joan and I parted ways for the last time before I’d see her dressed in a wedding gown! I arrived home late, and before going to bed, I finished typing up one of our selected readings for the ceremony.

With all of the excitement for the big event on Saturday, I was concerned that I’d have a hard time sleeping. But thankfully, I managed to get a good night’s rest before the most important and special day of my life.

[ No. 626 ]

May 10, 2012

I’m not surprised that Joan and I were very busy during the months leading up to our wedding. There are countless details and decisions involved in planning a wedding ceremony, a reception with nearly 200 guests, and an extended honeymoon. But for some reason, I’d assumed that the last week or so before the big day would be relatively quiet. Seriously, all the major plans would have to be already done, so how many things would be left to complete during the home stretch?

Quite a few, it turns out!

On our first full day off from work, we headed to the King of Prussia Mall to get our new wedding rings cleaned at Tiffany & Co., then each bought a new pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses for the honeymoon (sadly, each of us had previously made the expensive mistake of losing a pair). After that, I went to pick up my tuxedo and shoes for the big day at Varani Formal Wear in Frazer, where I met up with Joan’s dad and grandfather. While there, I happened to run into Claire and Kyle, my best man Paul’s wife and son, who had stopped by to pick up Kyle’s tux for his senior prom the following night.

Later in the day, I finally finished editing the wedding ceremony programs on my laptop and dropped off a printed copy at the nearby Staples for a large stack of copies. That evening, Joan and I enjoyed our last dinner at home together before the wedding and exchanged gifts to each other. She presented me with a handsome Seiko diver watch, one that I’d had my eye on for some time:

Seiko SKX175 diver watch

In return, I gave her a new Nikon digital camera, which I expected to be very useful during our honeymoon in Hawaii and San Francisco.

In order to get settled before the rehearsal on Friday, Joan’s sister Laura and her fiancé, Jeremy, drove down from their home in Brooklyn and arrived at our house late Thursday night and slept over. Less than 48 hours to go!

[ No. 625 ]

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