When my brother got married last November my cousins and I tried to decide which one of us would be next. We all ventured a guess, but as fingers were pointed, each of us denied it would be us. The actual answer came sooner than expected; one of my cousins in LA got engaged and planned a September wedding on Lopez Island in Washington.

Lopez Island in Washington

On our way to the wedding, my boyfriend and I flew into Vancouver and took full advantage of the city’s good food and still somewhat favorable exchange rate. The night we arrived we went on an Izakaya crawl on Robson Street, where we feasted on all kinds of Japanese small plates at Hapa and Guu with Garlic.

Fall colors in Vancouver Canada

The following morning our jet lag awakened us at 4:30am, so we got coffee at Prado then grazed on chocolate doughnuts, blueberry tarts, fresh fudge and maple cookies at the Granville Island Market. I think that’s what they call a breakfast of champions. We also bought some good West Coast pinot noirs at Liberty Wines then went shopping for clothes back on Robson Street.

Mangosteens at Granville Island Market in Vancouver

In the afternoon we left Vancouver and headed down to Washington. We thought we had plenty of time to get to Anacortes for the ferry to Lopez, but we forgot to check the wait time at the U.S. border. After an hour in the line, we drove as fast as we could to Anacortes and literally ran to catch the ferry.

Mount Baker from the ferry to Lopez Island

My extended family met us on board and we had a power session of catching up on the 40 minute ride to the island. Once there, we checked into our hotel and saw some of the local color, namely a red hummer with God Bless America detailed on the side and a few NObama stickers on the back. Next to it was a bicycle with a beer can in the water bottle holder. Ah America, how I’ve missed you!

Hummer with American bumper stickers

For dinner we met the rest of my relatives at a local restaurant called the Galley. Between my family and the groom’s family we pretty much took over the restaurant. I met my cousin’s fiance and got to catch up with the rest of my family, then feasted on fish tacos and–because my mother was there and you can’t have a meal with mom that doesn’t involve chocolate in at least one of the courses–about five different desserts.

Boat off the coast of Lopez Island

After dinner it was time for some good old fashioned family bonding. What better way to do it than singing a little karaoke? I had never seen any of my family members sing on stage before, but that night I saw almost all of them. There were sibling duets, couples’ duets, and my uncle even got up solo and sang “Brown Eyed Girl”. We may not have been the most talented group of performers, but we certainly had the most fun of anyone there.

Lopez Island scenery

The next day we all went out to my aunt and uncle’s house on the other side of the bay. They gave us a walking tour of some land they recently bought. The trees and woods were beautiful, but it was the ocean that really amazed me. On the rocks below the land there were oysters growing everywhere. Two huge purple starfish were lounging in a rocky crevice and and a red one was hanging out in the water near the shore. There were sea birds everywhere and gorgeous views of Mount Baker in the background. It was gorgeous.

Purple starfish on Lopez Island

After the tour we headed into the village for a quick lunch and then went to the wedding at Center Church. The ceremony was lovely and it was so great to see my cousin and her husband so happy.

Center Church on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands

The reception took place at the Bay Cafe, a restaurant in the village with a great patio for cocktails and amazing views of the bay. During the reception I learned some new Danish wedding traditions from my aunt’s side of the family, and once again debated with my cousins about which one of us would be the next to walk down the aisle.

Bay Cafe on Lopez Island in Washington

The next morning my jet lag worked to my advantage, as we had to wake up at 5:30 to catch the ferry back to Anacortes. We watched a beautiful sunrise from the dock, and once back on the mainland we had a quick family breakfast before heading back to Canada.

Sunrise in the San Juan Islands

The border crossing went smoothly this time, and we even got to see some real Canadian Mounties marching around for a ceremony. Back in Vancouver, we had a few hours to spare before our flight, so we snagged some bubble tea, walked around the waterfront and took a quick drive through Stanley Park.

San Juan Islands ferry in Washington

The flight back to London was a pleasant one, as the kind people at the check-in counter upgraded me to business class for no other reason than that they felt bad that my boyfriend was flying business and I was stuck in economy. I spent the flight upstairs on the 747, where I caught up on sleep and conjectured as to who would be the next cousin to get married…

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