Sunday, June 22, 2014

Saturday and Sunday: the wedding, part 2

With Summertime Comes the Wedding

It's officially that: the first day of summer and it is the afternoon of the wedding. When I return to the farmhouse all styled (to look breezy natural!) and made up (the last time I did that was two years ago for my old girl's wedding), I find the level of activity to have escalated considerably. Ed comments later that it is incredibly well orchestrated.

The coordinator is here, with two assistants and I explain the decision to move the chairs from under the willow.

It is starting to rain. They work in a steady patter of drizzle.

I go inside. No need to put the hair to the test of rain just yet. My girls arrive and they take over the bedroom upstairs to get ready. It is a poignant reminder of days when they would be more frequently like this -- sprawled on a bed or on the floor, together, laughing at a joke only they could understand.

I retreat. This is another kind of space that they deserve: their sister space.

I look outside. The rain has paused, but there are dark clouds in the sky. I check the detailed hourly forecasts on three separate weather sites. I study the radar. New little islands of yellow and orange (storm clouds) keep popping up over Wisconsin. One site tells me it will rain until evening. The other keeps it at fifty fifty. We're doomed, I'm thinking. What if there is a pause in the shower, we stay outside and right in the middle of the ceremony the rains come down?

It doesn't matter. It's out of my hands.

The frenzy intensifies. The caterers arrive. There is a bar crew -- they will serve wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres in our courtyard. They appear to be oblivious to the fact that it might rain. Who are these people, these crazy optimists? Hasn't life taught them better than that?

The cooking crew sets up in the back. Did I tell you? The young couple wants a traditional Wisconsin fish fry. A Wisconsin/Minnesota (the home states of the bride and groom) theme runs through this wedding. The newly marrieds leave a gift of a cheeseboard (which they brand with an image of the two states) at each guest's place setting.

The cooking crew is fantastically organized. Absolutely professional about every last aspect of the dinner. (Down to the clean up. Amazing!) They are so efficient, so targeted toward the hour of service that I don't think weather issues ever strike them as pertinent. They're to the rear of the barn. I suppose in a downpour they could do as the chickens do -- duck inside!

You're asking about the chickens? Well now, the plan had been to lock them up early, but they seem in noone's way (yet) and I know they'll have a long evening in the coop, so I agree to let them roam until 4. But when it's 3:55 I tell Ed to lock them up please. In the meantime, the flowers for the tables and for the wedding party arrive. My girl wanted there to be peonies and wild flowers. She got it!


There are bouquets for every table, and mothers and sister bouquets, and boutonniers for the groom, the dads, the brother. All so lovely! These are fleeting flowers -- they wont last, but then isn't the whole day just a fleeting set of hours? Flowers are the sweet pieces of memories that add tenderness to the event.

Ed shouts out from the chicken pen -- I can't get the white hens in the coop! I need help! Erin, from Daffodil Parker florist says to me -- can I help? I have chickens. I go through this with them all the time. I gratefully hand the task to her and withing two minutes she and Ed have the hens locked up.

And the clouds keep their dark tone and I'm wondering why the crew doesn't move everything under the tent. The weather sites keep predicting an elevated chance of rain until evening time. Everything is still wet from a random shower an hour ago. The bartenders ask for spare towels to wipe down the chairs in the courtyard. I don't have spare towels! Ed and I don't really do spare anything! I give them my best (and only) guest towels.

I check the tent area: there are three long rows of beautiful wooden tables. With linen runners and the bouquets of wildflowers, they are something else!

I know that three buses are leaving from downtown with the wedding guests at 4:15. Most everyone will be arriving by bus. These same buses will return to pick up guests at 8:15 to transport them to Act II of the wedding -- dessert and dancing at the rented space of the High Noon Saloon. It's past 4 now and I see that Ed is not yet in his "dress clothes" -- patched chinos and a black t-shirt (it's as good as it gets). Ed!

I go upstairs to see my daughters. All dressed now and ready to go.


And the guests arrive and it's not raining (yet)!

Whoa, what's this? What a treat -- a tiny break in the clouds. People are milling, sipping wine (or beer, or water). I go outside and snatch an appetizer. Or two. And a glass of Horse and Plow rosé. I greet a few of the arrivals but then catch myself. Not yet, not yet. The wedding party is to wait in the farmhouse until the guests are seated. The wedding starts promptly at 5.

The bride and her sister are upstairs. All others are milling downstairs. The groom waits. Isis wonders: who are all these people?


The air is electric. I turn up the AC.

The wedding coordinator comes in and tells us that Frank is playing the guitar already. One song for the inlaws and siblings. Another ("the Book of Love") for my girl, escorted by her mom and dad. We begin.

And here is the most bizarre thing. I'm absolutely telling you the truth. Ask anyone at the wedding, they'll nod their collective head and say  -- yep, that's exactly right, that's what happened.

When the wedding officially starts (at 5), the clouds pass us on their way east and the sky becomes brilliantly blue, with sunshine streaming down on us from the west. Of course, nothing in life comes without at least a tiny price. No one, not one single person expected sunshine. The chairs face east, but the wedding party stands facing more or less the west and they are very very warm during the twenty minute ceremony! Eighty degrees and sunny warm!

Here she comes, with her parents. Groom's parents to the left...(photo courtesy of Ed)


My girl's dad was ordained in order to be able to perform the marriage. (She is like that, this girl of mine: if it's mom's home that's hosting, dad must play a major role too. He will marry them.) He is a good and careful writer and he delivers the homily with many a catch in his voice as he sees his second and last daughter enter a marriage with her beloved.


My older girl, too, is full of emotion.


And let's not end the list there. The bride's eyes fill more then once during the brief ceremony. She will then look at the groom, take a breath and smile.

Two friends read chosen works -- a fragment of a speech from Goodridge v. Dept of Health  (the MA decision on same sex marriage) and lyrics to the Shining (Badly Drawn Boy).

And then the vows, the rings, and the recitation of the lyrics to Bob Dylan's Forever Young, and now they are married!


Summer Evening

And now picture this: a summer evening in the courtyard. Wine, snacks, happy and friendly chatter. The bridal party does a very quick round of photographs, but soon we are mingling too. Here are two people who have known my girl from the day she was born:


And at 6:10 I do the first toast to the newlyweds. If you were there, you would have heard me sing an old Polish peasant song ("Mnie Matula Nakazala"). (Photo courtesy of Ed)


I finish. Everyone is asked to proceed to dinner and the Underground Food Collective is cooking up a storm! No simple fish fry - their rendition is superb! Served family style, we eat assorted squashes in pesto, roasted potato salad, greens and then the fish in a bed of red cole slaw, with bread and butter on the side. I eat as if I hadn't eaten in years!



Buses take the guests to our next stop, but I linger for just a little minute... The farmette is quiet now. Somewhere in the distance, the caterers are packing up their wares. The sun is low, the willow is still. Having witnessed the wedding, it is contrite. The Wedding Phlox Miss Lingard shines its white dainty flowers in appreciation.


I smile... Then, together with Ed I go to the next venue and there we have the cake, baked by the groom's mother (a traditional Norwegian wedding cake)...


...and at least four other desserts.


More beautiful, passion-filled speeches and the dances -- yes, I watch those. Here's the one by the married couple:


When these end, the music goes full force forward -- every young person there knows, it seems to me, every tune and every lyric. And the dancing explodes. I wasn't going to sit this out. I dance without pause or interruption for four hours. Perhaps I'll not do that again, ever. I dont typically look for opportunities to dance these days. That belongs to another era of my life. But just this once more, just this night... And here's the thing: months of working hard outside have given me new levels of stamina because not for a minute do I tire. Jumping up and down for song after song? No problem!


While my older girl, her friend and her husband look on...


I stop at midnight. No one from my generation is on the dance floor (were they before? No? Ooops!). It is time to go home.

The Next Day

The day dawns misty blue and gold.


I'm up early: I have to be. The chickens. And, too, I am itching to clean up the chaos in the farmhouse. But I hold off just now. Only the flower bouquets get my attention. Trim stems, change water, place in prominent locations throughout.


The bride's mom and dad are hosting a good bye brunch for the out of towners at Merchant Restaurant downtown. As if we cannot stop partying!

No, not really partying anymore (although the hardy among us are drinking mimosas and bloody marys). This is where most are saying good bye to the young couple.


Or simply enjoying each others company one last time.



And now the wedding is behind us. The young couple isn't leaving until tomorrow, but we are all in unwind mode right now. 

At home, various rental places come to pick up various items. Ed has cleared most every piece of garbage and so there isn't too much for us to do.

You would think it's hard to switch to a quiet evening and old routines. No, it isn't. Too, I still have out of towners to see tomorrow and some packing to do as I leave for a bit of "away time" later this week.

But however the week proceeds, I know I'm going to be spinning back to these last three days for a while, just as I did when my older girl got married.

Marriage reminds you that your children are not children and that they have an intense life and pattern that has only a small overlap with your days and your habits. I am so hugely lucky that I love the lives my daughters have built for themselves. And still, I must hang back. And I do even on this day. They're downtown watching soccer with friends. I'm at the farmette, admiring my flowers that are starting to bloom right now.