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Adam & Amanda's Wedding

Thursday
May 8, 2008

Only one post in two months -- that's been the reality for LouPickney.com. Between a new (and more cumbersome) layout with my hosting company, a lengthy delay with the site being down last month due to payment information being e-mailed to the wrong address, and my full concentration going toward Draft King, this site has been neglected.

I actually gave consideration to shuttering the site (since this doesn't exactly make me any money), but ultimately I decided that since I've put too much time, effort, and creativity into this venture, it would be silly to give up on it after so many years. This August will mark 13 years since the original Lou Pickney webpage debuted on my University of Evansville webpage in 1995. My goodness, time sure flies.

This past weekend I returned to Florida for only the second time since I moved away in March 2006. As I've chronicled on here (as this post did just prior to my move), I had a great five-year run in the Tampa area from April 2001-March 2006, much of which fueled what were arguably the best columns that I've written on this website.

While living in Tampa, I met Adam Kelley and Amanda Chaney through my buddy Gary Graham, who I met through (of all things) the Wrestling Observer newsletter in 1993. Gary was living in Orlando when I moved to Tampa, and he knew Adam from their days in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Gary had convinced Adam to move to Florida, Adam met Amanda, and Adam/Amanda began a relationship. They had been dating for a few months when I first met them, so I never knew either one in "single mode", but they are both great people who grew to be very good friends of mine.

Lou and friends in Orlando, circa 2001
Circa late 2001: me, Gary Graham, Adam Kelley, and Amanda Chaney posed for
this picture as we prepared for a night of partying in Orlando, Florida.

It happened that I was in Florida last summer (trying out for the game show Millionaire) the same weekend that Adam proposed to Amanda. I hung out with them near Orlando, along with Gary and a girl that Gary was dating at the time. It was a fun weekend, to be sure.

I arrived at The Palms Resort (the site of the wedding) on Friday, but the good stories didn't begin until Saturday morning. Adam, who knows movies better than anyone I've ever met, planned ahead for a large group of us to see the film Iron Man. My knowledge of the character or the comic book series was nil going into the film, but I enjoyed it immensely. It was the rare blend of an action film with a strong plot and spot-on solid acting.

There were a few parts that were almost transparently obvious, to the point where a major plot twist was given away by a five-year-old in the audience shouting it out -- not because of having seen the film before, but because he was able to figure it out before it happened. But don't let that dissuade you from going to see it, as the movie was excellent.

From there we went across the street for lunch, which Adam very generously paid for. The guy was getting married less than six hours later, and here he was paying for us all to have a great lunch. His generosity was much appreciated, and we had a blast at the table talking about old school pro wrestling. I wish my brother Matt had been there to take part in the conversation, as it was something he would have enjoyed hearing.

When we returned, some of us helped Adam set up some photographs in the wedding reception area. From there I had time to relax, though it was an unusually bad sports day, with ESPN spending hours on pre-Kentucky Derby coverage and no NBA action slated until that evening. To point, the Spurs/Hornets game didn't finish until past midnight New Orleans time. Would it have killed the NBA to have a matinee game there instead? Apparently so.

Gary Graham and Lou Pickney
Gary Graham and I relaxed at the reception.

The wedding was an outdoor event, which worried me going into it since I had a double-breasted suit coat and matching black pants. Florida heat and humidity at this time of year is brutal. Sure, it gets bad in Nashville on into the summer, but the downside to living in Florida is that the oppressive heat creeps in much sooner than it does to the north. It was a contrast that, somewhat strangely, I had never really noticed before.

Luckily, by the time 5:15 rolled around (when I walked from my hotel room to the wedding area), the outdoor temperature had dropped to the point where I could sit outside in my suit and not break out into a sweat. Promptly at 5:30, the wedding began. While we sat in chairs placed outside especially for the evening, the wedding itself took place in a gazebo between us and the south bank of Lake Monroe.

The wedding was, by far, the best one that I've ever attended. Traditionalists or religious types might not have enjoyed it, but for me it was perfect. The moment was taken very seriously, yet there was a light-hearted flair to the proceedings that helped all involved feel at ease. With the religious aspect stripped from it (and, wow, was that ever refreshing), the readings consisted of a piece of original writing and a passage from Dr. Suess with "Oh, The Places You'll Go" that was read aloud with great articulation by groomsman Bryon Sheffield.

Something that stood out to me was the wine and rose ceremony, attributed in the program to Romeo & Juliet. I'm not exactly sure what it all entailed, though I recall white and red wine being mixed together and then consumed by Adam and Amanda. It came across as fun and spirited, yet also fitting for the occasion. If I ever get hitched, that's definitely an element I'd like to use in my ceremony.

Brad Daniels, Amanda Kelley, Tiffany Daniels, and Adam Kelley
From left to right: Brad Daniels, Amanda Kelley, Tiffany Daniels (Gary's sister), and Adam Kelley.

The reception took place inside the Palms Resort's main banquet room. Great effort and planning went into the seat assignments, not to mention creativity by giving European themes to each table name (Oktoberfest, Red Light District, etc.), done that way I presume because A&A will be going on their official honeymoon in Europe later this year. The "for now" honeymoon, for what it's worth, took place for them in St. Augustine, Florida.

Along with my wedding gift, I included a suggestion for Adam and Amanda to throw at least one chip on the number 24 (which has worked well for me in the past) when they hit up the roulette tables in Monte Carlo. I'm not sure if they still have roulette wheels in Europe without the dreaded 00. Such wheels are known as "European Style", presumably for a reason. As I wrote after my Las Vegas trip in 2003, you can find European Style single zero only roulette wheels in the United States, as I did in the lobby of the Stratosphere in 2003, but it's not easy to do.

At the reception, in a bold and very entertaining moment, Adam sang "Beautiful Girl" by Flight of the Conchords to Amanda in front of everyone (along with his friend Tom Tobey on accompanying vocals and guitar.) The version FotC performed on The Late Show with David Letterman actually fits more to how it played out at the wedding, but both are worth checking out. I'm not sure if everyone knew what that song was from, but Adam and Tom pulled it off very well.

After the reception, a large group of us hung out, had a few beers, and talked for hours. It was subdued, yet very fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Finally I tapped out at about 1:30 a.m. and caught up on some much-needed sleep.

Fried Grouper Reuben
Who in their right mind would order the Fried Grouper Reuben?

On Sunday, a large group from the wedding had a brunch at Oscar's Waterfront Bar & Grill, a restaurant right next to the Palms Resort. While I would have preferred to sit inside (in the air conditioning), I was outvoted and we dined out on the porch area, which turned out just fine.

The lunch menu featured the single most awful item I've ever seen: Fried Grouper Reuben. I despise the Reuben sandwich, as rye bread literally makes me sick and sauerkraut disgusts me, but this managed to top it in the unappealing factor. I was so horrified that I had to take a picture of the menu with my cell phone camera to document its existence.

Luckily, no one had the insanity to order the Fried Grouper Reuben, and the chicken parm sandwich I ordered hit the spot. Mmm!

Once back in Tampa, I found making it to the airport and returning my rental car (a 2008 Chevy Impala, which was a great ride) at Avis to be more challenging than I expected. I decided to utilize the old shortcut that I used to take when I had to make runs to the airport post office during my days working for Bubba the Love Sponge, but I was shocked to find that Frontage Road (the shortcut) ended in a dead end due to the expansion of the Veterans Expressway area going toward the airport. It had a surreal edge to it, hitting a dead end where once there was none, but I managed to find another way to the airport.

Unfortunately, even after I abandoned the shortcut idea, just getting to the airport was a pain, as road construction through that area made things very congested, complicated, and confusing. TPA used to be one of my favorite airports to fly out of, but now I'm not so sure about that with the construction madness. I'd hate to see that place in a rush hour/holiday travel scenario.

Once I made it into the car rental return area, finding the proper drop-off area for Avis was exceedingly difficult. Apparently I pulled into the wrong rental car company's area at first, as a man working there waved his arms frantically to let me know to stop. Unfortunately his English skills were sub-par. In part because of his confusing explanation given in broken English, I ended up having to circle all the way back around to find the right place to go. Arrgh! Surely I'm not the first person to be confused by the rental car return setup.

Overall, it was tremendous fun to be part of the wedding experience and to see some old friends. Good times all around -- and once again congratulations to Adam and Amanda on having such a great wedding. If their marriage is as fun and enjoyable as the wedding and reception were for me, they're in for a blast.


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