This entry falls squarely into the “random/offseason” category, but bear with me. I think you’ll enjoy it for several reasons:
1) Ben Weil is The Man. If you don’t already know who he is, you should. He’s one of my best friends, and he’s also a talented ballhawk. Here’s a huge blog entry I wrote about him several years ago.
2) There were some baseball-y elements in the wedding. It wasn’t officially “baseball-themed” per se, but whatever. You’ll see.
3) When else will you get to see photos of me in a suit and tie?
Anyway, let’s get to it . . .
The wedding took place in Long Island City (which, for those who don’t know, is in Queens). The neighborhood was filled with warehouses and industrial-type businesses — not an ideal place, you might think, for such a monumental event — but tucked in the middle of it all was a glorious venue with a cute sign on the outside:
I should mention that Ben was marrying his girlfriend, Jen Buffa, whom I also adore. They’re both so warm and fun and loving — not just to each other, but to everyone.
As for me . . . here’s a selfie:
Where was my tie?
That photo was taken early in the afternoon, long before the ceremony got underway. Ben had asked me to be a groomsman and said that he was going to provide the ties. He had also asked all the groomsmen to wear funny socks, in honor of a friend who couldn’t be there. Check it out:
Meanwhile, take a look at Ben:
That’s him in the orange shirt, greeting some family members. But don’t judge him yet. It was HIS day. If he wanted to show up looking like a bum, then whatever.
Here he is, 20 minutes later, partially dressed for the wedding, handing out gift bags to all the groomsmen:
Each bag contained peanuts and cracker jacks . . .
. . . along with a very special card:
In case you can’t read it, it says: “I’m taking you to the event of your choice! A game, a show, a concert . . . you pick the date! Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
The first thing I said to him was: “2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati — oooh yeah!!”
“That’s fine,” he said jovially.
“No, no,” I assured him. “I won’t make you take me to THAT.”
“If that’s what game you want,” he said with absolute sincerity, “I’ll make it happen.”
It might be too early to make such a bold prediction, but I do think that Ben and I will end up at the All-Star Game next season.
Now, about those ties — here’s one of them on a groomsman named Tom:
Do you recall Ben’s obsession with Garfield from the original entry I wrote about him? Well, this was the latest manifestation. Ben gave each of the groomsmen a different Garfield tie — and Jen was okay with it. THAT is true love.
Ben didn’t wear anything Garfield-related (although he does have a Garfield tattoo on his left shoulder), and he looked sharp. Here he is leading a round of shots:
After that, each of the groomsmen posed individually with Ben for the official photographer. Here I am with him:
While the other groomsmen had their photos taken, I admired the view of Manhattan:
Then there was a group photo:
Here’s a closeup of several of the Garfield ties — mine (which featured little Garfield baseball cards) is on the left:
Then I was instructed to wear this:
Each groomsman received one.
Yes, that’s right. At this classy wedding which was about to begin . . .
. . . Ben had all the groomsmen wear matching Mike Piazza jerseys. Here we are standing around in them, waiting for our moment to shine:
Ben is such a nutjob, and Jen is so wonderful for embracing it. I’ve always felt that if you have to give up something meaningful in a relationship, then it’s not an ideal relationship. People often ask me if I’ll stop going to so many baseball games when I’m married, and I’m like . . . WHAT?! Why the hell would I marry someone who makes me give up what I love? It’s such a preposterous, widely-accepted concept, so it was great to be at this wedding. Tradition calls for the groomsmen to wear tuxedos? No woman would allow sports jerseys to taint her wedding day? Umm, how about screw you. So awesome.
Here’s Jen looking glorious:
Sorry for the blurriness of that photo, but dammit, the woman wouldn’t stand still.
Here’s a photo of the groomsmen and bridesmaids waiting in the wings, just before the ceremony got underway:
Here are the bridesmaids during the wedding, photographed by my girlfriend, Hayley:
Here are the groomsmen, photographed by Greg Barasch:
And from the Why-The-Heck-Not Department, here’s a little kid holding a baseball:
When Jen’s father walked her down the aisle, Ben got rather emotional:
In fact, he sobbed so hard that it made just about everyone else in the room cry too — myself included.
Here’s what my view looked like during the ceremony:
It might have been inappropriate for me to pull out my camera, but whatever, I’m sure that only a few dozen people noticed. And c’mon, is ANYthing inappropriate when you’re wearing a Mike Piazza jersey?
One of my favorite parts of the ceremony took place after Ben and Jen exchanged their vows. Unbeknownst to him, she had emailed *all* of the guests weeks in advance with detailed instructions for a “Seasons Of Love” flash-mob/sing-along. That’s one of his favorite songs (from the Broadway musical “Rent“), and she went so far as to hire male and female soloists for two of the verses. Ben was fist-pumpingly overjoyed.
After the ceremony, the bridal party retreated to a special room for a bunch of group photos. Here’s my favorite:
Here’s my second-favorite:
I love them. I really do.
By the time we all returned to the main area, the dinner tables were set up beautifully:
At that point, my commitment to Garfield and Mike Piazza seemed to be over, prompting Hayley to commandeer the fashion show. She had brought a black tie for me to change into. This was the result:
Snazzy! And weird. I’m not used to seeing myself in a suit and tie. I can’t even remember the last time I dressed like that, although there IS photographic evidence of it happening at least once . . . way back in 2001. Check it out. How cringe-y is THAT?
Before dinner started, Jen and Ben enjoyed their first dance as a married couple:
Later in the evening, I got a photo with Ballhawk of the Year Greg Barasch:
Then he took one of me and Hayley:
One of the main attractions at the wedding was a photo booth. Here are some guests getting silly with props:
Hayley and I took a more conventional approach:
Isn’t that a great date for a wedding?
(Hayley is also a great date.)
It also happened to be Taylor Swift’s birthday — no coincidence there, as Ben and Jen both love her.
You know what else was happening that weekend? SantaCon. Look what Greg changed into before heading off to get rowdy:
If you can’t tell, that’s a penguin suit.
Let’s talk about party favors for a minute, shall we? First have a look, and then I’ll explain:
Each of those boxes contained a baseball and a card:
The card featured a photo of Ben and Jen that I had taken two years ago at Citi Field:
It also had a baseball with heart-shaped stitches:
Here’s what the inside of the card said:
As you can see, Ben had snagged all of those baseballs at major league games, and he’d written the details about each one on the cards.
Here’s a photo of Ben and Jen cutting the cake (which had Garfield figurines on top):
While that was being prepared for all the guests, I was delighted to see dessert hors d’oeuvres being passed around:
Those were “hot chocolate shots” with chocolate chip cookies — such a great idea and so delicious. All the food throughout the day was outstanding.
Finally, there was also a Taylor Swift cake:
It really WAS her birthday. December 13th. Go look at her Wikipedia page if you don’t believe me.
What a great event.
So glad to be a part of it.
Congrats to Ben and Jen.
Several days after the wedding, Ben tweeted a photo of the groomsmen at Mike Piazza:
And guess what?! Piazza answered him!
Now, if only we could get Taylor Swift to tweet at Ben . . .