Ironing day. Fifteen tablecloths, 36 napkins, and a last minute pressing of the wedding dress. The temperature outside was in the high 80s. Inside, the thermometer was set to hell.
|THE dress. It had satin covered buttons on the placket and a feather stitch-trimmed organdy sash. The Bean wore a matching sash on her little muslin dress.|
Tuesday, June 26
Packing day. It took three trips from car to garage, unloading everything that lives in the trunk of my car, then five trips from house to car, loading everything I was to carry to the wedding.
Wednesday, June 27
Airport day. I picked my daughter up at 10 a.m., jammed her suitcase in the one available empty spot in the back seat and off we went to C's house. The bride-to-be was in a well-controlled dither. Taped to the dining room wall were large sheets of paper covered with wedding details. Together we checked off J's arrival. One more airport run was scheduled for Wednesday, and three more headed Fridays' list. We piled back into the car with Mama and baby and went off on a grocery shopping expedition. By Friday there would be ten people in the house to feed.
|The "wedding wall" - who, what, when and where, all spelled out.|
Thursday, June 28
Never was there such a hurrying from one detail to another, never was there such a marathon of cooking and cleaning and making of beds. Never were there so many trips from the house to the store to the center where Friday night's festivities would be held, to the wedding site where the tent was being erected. Never was there such a long night of fashioning wildflower seed-filled burlap bags for party favors, arranging of flowers in coir pots, printing of menus and calligraphing of place cards. Never was there so much banter and laughter and camaraderie.
|Each little burlap bag contained a packet of wildflower seeds for the guests to take home.|
Friday, June 29
After downing numerous bowls of cereal and washing a sink full of dishes, one carload of house occupants headed to the mall for last minute purchases. Another headed to the wedding site to set up tables and chairs and arrange hay bales for seating in the meadow where the ceremony would take place. I stayed back in the suddenly quiet house to mind a sleeping baby.
In lieu of a rehearsal dinner, a help-with-the-wedding-crafts night was held at the local civic center. All the guests helped to twist wire around the mouths of canning jars to make candle and flower holders, pulled tissue paper leaves to create giant white flowers, tied printed cards to burlap seed bags and ate chicken enchiladas followed by ice cream (to soothe hot throats).
|Hard at work making giant tissue paper flowers.|
|Friday night cooks heat up the kitchen.|
The three airport trips netted five more people so that night my sisters and I took ourselves off to an inn nestled among the trees in the next town over. One sister read directions while I drove. It's a good thing my car has a reverse gear. We got lost no less than three times before finding the place. The building had once been an old mill and we fell asleep to the music of water of water sliding over an enormous rock dam.
|An old mill building renovated and turned into an Inn.|
|Flanked by my sisters who are twins.|
Saturday, June 30
The rush was on. Everyone headed for the wedding site to help set the tables for the wedding feast, decorate the tent and the ceremony site, hang Chinese lanterns from trees and canning jars full of flowers from shepherd's crooks, cover hay bales with blankets, and practice the march from the top of the hill to the arch where the families would join. From 9 till noon we worked, transforming a meadow into a fairyland, ordinary tables into works of art, and ourselves into sweaty messes.
Back at the house we cycled through the shower, shouting, "Your five minutes are up!" to anyone behind the closed bathroom door. The bride and the Bean and I climbed the stairs to the guest house on the wedding property and changed into our finery there. I felt tears spring to my eyes as I helped C with her dress. The Bean wriggled and squirmed and refused flat out to put on her shoes. "No no no no no!" She was so adamant that I carried her, barefoot, to the ceremony.
Promptly at four, C, her dad and stepmom, one of her brothers, her sister and husband, and the Bean and I started down the hill. My oldest son stood halfway down the grassy slope, waiting for a signal. Through the woods we heard the beating of a drum, calling us down, calling C to A. B's drum answered, "Boom boom, boom boom!" Down we went, getting closer and closer to the white wooden arch that stood serenely in the sunlight before the seated guests. The justice of the peace wore a bright blue shirt that glittered in the light. With a crescendo of drumbeats the couple met and approached the arch. For a moment there was no sound but birdsong and the gentle sigh of the wind in the pines. Then began the service that would unite them officially and the vows that would unite them emotionally. A promised to work at being the best husband and father he could be. C promised that she wouldn't be a grad student forever. There were tears and there was laughter and finally a great cheer arose as they were pronounced man and wife. Afterwards, we all trooped back up the hill to the celebrate with food and wine, laughter and dancing.
|Boom boom went the drums, calling us together!|
|Food, glorious food awaited us at the top of the hill.|
|In addition to the three wedding cakes (lemon, coconut and chocolate) there were several pies, one of the bride's favorite desserts.|
|Grilled lemon garlic chicken or tofu, leek and herb rice pilaf, grilled squash with peppers, mixed greens salad and assorted artisan breads followed by wedding cake and pie!|
Sunday, July 1
All good things end. Laughter can turn to tears at the turn of a car wheel bearing loved ones away. Hellos become goodbyes too soon. Hugs are more poignant, promises to call sound choked and sad. But the memories, oh! the memories are balm to the aching heart. Here we are all at the hall on Friday night, sharing the cooking and craft making and eating and the washing of seemingly hundreds of dishes, all to the sounds of laughter and good-natured teasing. There we are bustling about setting the wedding tables with my grandmother's tablecloths, folding napkins that haven't been used in decades, laughing off how hot we are and how buggy the meadow grass is. Here are all four of my children together in my company again for the first time in years and all three of my grandchildren in my arms. There's A, resplendent in a white shirt holding C's hands, telling her he loves her, loves the little family they've created. Here I am tying C's sash and giving her a kiss. There's the Bean, struggling out of her little dress and dashing off in just a diaper to join the kids cavorting outside the tent. There are all the relatives and friends gathered together to honor the bridal couple, raising their glasses in a toast to love and continued happiness and a future filled with joy in one another.
|My four children and my newest son.|
|Memere and her delightful grandchildren.|
|Happy little family|
And here I am again, alone in my little cottage, all the anticipation and work behind me and my own life in front of me. It was a splendid wedding. Now, for the next adventure!