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The Reception

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Our wedding reception was held in the Empire Room at the Ramada Plaza Beach Hotel on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach.  Cocktail hour started at 5:00pm with dinner and dancing beginning at 6:00pm.  The Empire Room is on the 6th floor of the Ramada's main tower, offering spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico.

The evening started with the introduction of the wedding party, immediately followed by our first dance to the song "When God Made You" by the Christian group Newsong.  Immediately following the first dance, toasts to the bride and groom were given by Kevin Johnson (best man), Kris Finitzer (maid of honor) and Bill Bowling (Peggy's dad).  Kevin told a story, despite orders not to, Kris wouldn't dish any dirt on Peggy, and Peggy's dad gave one of the most heartfelt toasts we've ever heard.  Once the toasts were finished, dinner was served.

{ The Menu }
Mixed Green Salad with Italian and ranch dressing and assorted rolls
Chef Carved Round of Beef
Baked Amberjack with lemon butter sauce
Oven Baked Chicken
Roasted Red Potatoes
Green Beans,  Broccoli,  Carrots
Full open bar

After dinner, we cut our (somewhat leaning) wedding cake as well as the "Penn State-Purdue" groom's cake.  Despite an attempted hack-job by Steve, the Purdue side of the cake made it through unscathed.  Once the cake was cut, it was time for some more dancing.  Peggy and her dad were up first for the "father/daughter" dance.  Much to everyone's surprise, it wasn't your traditional father/daughter dance.  They broke out into the dance from the movie Pulp Fiction to the song "You Never Can Tell" by Chuck Berry.  It was awesome ... quite unique and offbeat!  They did follow-up with a more traditional dance to the song "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof.  Steve and his mom, Mary Ann, went the completely traditional route, dancing to "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton.  The entire wedding party then followed with a group dance to "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel.

Following the formal dances, our DJ Zoran cranked things up a bit and the dancing took off.  We did a conga line, where Peggy proceeded to get almost everyone in the room involved, the "Electric Slide" and "Cha-Cha Slide", a girl-guy line dance competition, and much more!

About halfway through the evening, it was time for the bouquet and garter toss.  The bouquet toss turned out to be quite a competition, with a little pushing and shoving involved, resulting in at least one competitor ending up on the floor (name withheld to protect the innocent).  In the end, Jeanie Barrow -- Peggy's best friend from Crestview Aerospace -- came out the winner.  When it was time for the garter toss, Steve came up a little lame.  The throw wasn't all that great and the garter ended up hitting the floor.  The competition wasn't nearly as intense as for the bouquet, so it was easy for Chris Lawson -- our friend from Birmingham -- to snag the prize.

Shortly after the bouquet and garter toss, we made some remarks to our guests.  Primarily we wanted to express our thanks to everyone who made our wedding day so special.  It was a huge effort, accomplished in a somewhat short amount of time, and we couldn't have done it without a lot of help from a number of people (especially Peggy's mom Joan).  In addition, we wanted to give away a couple of "prizes".  The first prize went to the first RSVP card we received -- from Cathy and Dennis Stuteville.  The second prize went to the first out-of-town RSVP card we received -- from Stephanie and Bob Benson (Peggy's friends and former clients from Chicago).  The third prize was for the longest traveled RSVP card -- from Robert and Tammy Key -- when Tammy accidentally sent the RSVP card to Robert in Balad Air Base in Iraq!  The fourth prize went to the couple who traveled furthest to come to the wedding -- Ken and Aly Walter from near Salt Lake City, Utah.  The fifth prize went to the couple who had been married the longest -- ???????, 46 years.  We hadn't planned any other prizes, but circumstances on Friday required a couple of folks to step-up and help us out with some last-minute preparations.  As a result, we decided to give "pinch-hitter" prizes to Mike Cause and john Miller for all their help.  Finally, we shared our wedding day with two guests who have a birthday on March 11th... Steve's niece Rachel Hoover and Kevin Kadamus, a co-worker of Peggy's at Crestview Aerospace.  We couldn't pass up having 100+ guests singing "Happy Birthday" to them!

The rest of the reception continued with more dancing, including the traditional "dollar dance".  Because the Empire Room is directly above sleeping rooms, the reception wrapped-up a little after 10:00pm.  But that didn't mean the party had to stop there!  A number of our guests joined us in the Oasis for an "after party" where we stayed until we were chased to our hotel room at 1:30am!  Some die-hards stayed in the Oasis even later than that!

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