My goodness, what a beautiful post! An evocative piece of writing, that called up forgotten moods and memories. Lovely.
Sigh. I think I'll make some tea and go to bed early, and take the beautiful images you drew with words with me, like a lovely bedtime story.
Damn, woman, you really need to write a book about this stuff.
Your word pictures are just fabulous! What a wonderful and romantic wedding it must have been.
What a beautiful description of a wedding and a community. I loved reading it :)
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Sunday, October 12, 2008
A Country Wedding
(No photos, lots of words)
Yesterday was one of those perfect blue sky days that are warm enough to remind you of summer but cool enough to make you comfortable in your clothes. Exactly what you would hope for if you were a bride planing to be married at an outdoor ceremony on a beautiful day – or the parents who were throwing a big wedding outdoors for their children . And that's just what happened. The last of the four 2008 weddings of the children of friends of ours was held yesterday and it was the most fun wedding of them all. I don't have photos because these are friends, not family and I knew if I took pictures I'd have to post them here – and the whole privacy thing sort of blossomed in my imagination. But I will try to paint a word picture of it nonetheless.
The groom's family are old friends and very distant cousins who live up-the-county-back-off-the-river. Their big farm is higher up than we are down here on the river flats and you can really feel the height when you're visiting. The land is rolling, with little folds and tucks and copses. It looks like artists' landscape and I've always been a wee bit jealous of the folk who live back from the river. Of course, I have the water and that's quite a compensation, but I'm a piedmont girl and miss those slopes and rises that you never get down where the water nudges up to the shore.
The farm is shared between what has to be the most loving brother and a sister who ever lived and both families have homes on the place. The brother's wife is my good friend but the sister is also a friend, and was LD's sophomore English teacher and is now on my library board. It's a small community. We all overlap. I could get all southern and tell you how their grandmother grew up across from my mother-in-law and babysat her as a wee one and how Ed's grandfather bought our flats farm as a dowry for his little baby daughter, from their great-grandfather but you know, this is getting altogether too twisty. Just suffice it to say it was a community wedding.
I had long ago sent in my RSVP but I hadn't really looked closely at the invitation till yesterday morning, when I noticed the line at the bottom. Attire: Casual, comfortable shoes.
Now, what, I ask you, is wedding casual? I mean, I know that one doesn't wear heels to an outdoor wedding. At least, not stilettos. But wedding casual? Does that mean no sparkles (rats – I had sparkles) or does it mean church dress or khakis and polo shirts or jeans and a t-shirt? Well. In spite of BD's capering about with glee at not having to wear a tie, I was not wearing jeans to a wedding. Fortunately, there are advantages to being a woman and of a certain age. I wore silky black pants and a favorite autumn colored jacket but no hat and ended up on the up-side of average in the dress scale. The important family women were in dresses but not fancy dresses and half the guests were in jeans. A few men had on the ubiquitous blue blazer but only the eldest had on ties. My guess is that a whole lotta ties got ripped off and tossed on the back seet of cars while irritated husbands hissed "I told you I didn't have to wear one of these things."
The bride did wear a dress but it was obviously rayon/lycra tricot knit, very flowy and looking like it was as comfortable as a favorite nightgown – no stiff boned straplessness for her and it suited her perfectly. It even had long sleeves and the prettiest lace yoke with a high lace neckband. Her attendants were in the familiar strapless dresses that all the young girls are wearing these days – very plain, very pretty, with teetery heels. The groomsmen though – they were adorable in prep-school uniforms of blue blazers, white shirts, ties and jeans with flip-flops.
Hosting something way out in the country like this has implications for traveling guests. Friends' homes are pressed into service as emergency lodgings. Pallets get thrown on the floor. Tents can sometimes be an option as was the case here. The younger out-of-town guests were camping just over a little hill, which partly explains the casual attire directive, and I heard both houses were full and every hotel room in town had been booked. There had been a Saturday morning duck shoot on the pond earlier and a football game in the afternoon.
The setting was all green curves rimmed with forests. The decorations were roadside flowers and pumpkins carved into darling jack-0-lanterns with hearts and initials. There were luminarias outlining paths and tea-lights woven through the pretty gardens that were still throwing off roses and dahlias in deep burgundy or pink hues. The ceremony was performed by the groom's father, the local commonwealth's attorney, while it was still light enough and warm enough to keep chill-bumps at bay. There was an assortment of music. Cousins of both bride and groom sang songs and played guitars for all the ceremonial music. I forget which songs but they sounded something like country-western stuff and there was a sing-a-long of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – a song everyone there thought was a James Taylor piece. Imagine being so silly. Most of them were old enough to know that's a Marvin Gaye song! It's also a very noodley melody and almost impossible for anyone to sing – but the guests did their best, sounding mostly Episcopalian.
There was an open bar but I do the night driving these days and I'm a notoriously cheap drunk so I stuck with diet coke. The photo session lasted a reasonable time – no Britany Spears photo shoot for this gang – and there were tiny hot crab cakes for the hungry. The food was country casual, barbecued pork and chicken with potatoes and green beans – hearty fare for a group that had been partying hard for 3 days. As the sun set it lit up the sky with streaky clouds backed by a fiery orange. It lingered a long time in the turquoise zone before giving way to a starry night, just as a fabulous Motown sound band started playing.
The bride and groom then gave the most adorable funky dance performance to a tune I know but now forget. I never laughed so hard at a wedding before. They were good dancers and cute to boot and half way through they ran out and grabbed parents, brothers, grandparents and aunts and began doing one of those chain thingeys. It really was an example of exuberant love to that soul sound beat. Even BD, who doesn't dance, took me out on the floor, managing to dodge the dogs who had been a part of the whole event and were determined to dance at the young master's wedding too.
This was a good mixture of friends of the couple and friends of the parents. Half the folk were my neighbors, my cousins, my dentist – who was there with a drop-dead-gorgeous beau who looked like Richard Chamberlain with dimples. The other half were as good as. There was a chance to catch up with friends, to celebrate the young ones, to realize that we are the oldsters and some of us are moving into geezerdom. An awful lot of health chatter slipped into conversations, and the fact that it didn't ruin the talk is proof of the passage of time. It only reminded us that we have been partying here many years. In fact, I remember playing my violin at a wedding right on the same spot some 25 or 30 years ago. Sigh.
But that is our job here on earth, if we are lucky. To live out all those roles, from carry-me-baby to ancient aunt teetering down the aisle on the arms of two great-nephews.
After about an hour or so of dining and dancing the bride and groom cut the home-made cake – baked by mother of the bride and chock full of almonds with a chocolate base. Not bakery wedding cake but kitchen cake, with that delicious feeling of love that no bakery could ever put into its concoctions, no matter how good it is. It was dark by then and chilly and even my red mohair stole couldn't keep me warm. We found a family member and hugged him goodbye and slowly drove on home. The clear night was the perfect backdrop for an almost full moon and we drove quietly, remembering another time we'd come back from visiting this family. It was deep winter, with snow all around and a full moon. We had an ancient car and somewhere around Lloyds the headlights went out. Lord knows what the problem was, but we just let the moon guide us home, driving around 15 miles an hour and crossing our fingers all the way. We still drive old cars, though not such rickety ones and while we didn't lug the engine, we kept it under 30 and talked softly about times gone by. The drive took us past our grandma's and the groom's great-grandma's childhood homes. We brought up some of the old stories; the gossipy ones that come down through the generations and the ones we experienced ourselves. Deer stared at us from the side of the road, but we were driving so slowly they weren't spooked and merely stepped back into the forest. Owls hoo-hooted to us along the way. The gravel of our own driveway crunched softly beneath slow moving tires as we pulled up in front of home. Way out in the country. Up the county. Down on the flats.
Labels: country life, Family, passage of time, weddings
posted by Bess |