My daughter got married today, October 10, 2010, and it hit me emotionally in ways that I didn’t expect – I did well-up during the blessing and vows but it was the flashbacks that I experienced, of my daughter as a flower girl, in braids painting at her easel, introducing friends into my life, naming all her dolls Sally and George, editing her homework essays, shopping for clothes, making bread and Christmas sugar cookie creations, that started me sniffling. My little girl became a wife today and may soon become a mother, I could go on … but as I have been reminded, her wedding is not about me – although this Blog is – and I thought that I’d commemorate her wedding ceremony on these pages.
While its true that the wedding has been a long time coming, it felt like it came too fast because it really surprised close friends as well as family. After hearing my daughter list the reasons why she didn’t want to get married and didn’t want to have children I believed her and looked to my son for possible grandchildren in the upcoming future. So, the engagement announcement was at first treated as a jest, (both parties were straight-face pranksters), then celebrated. We awaited the wedding celebration because we knew we would be in for a treat of epic renown! The decision to marry didn’t come lightly for either him or her, both were in their thirties, both were seeking fulfilling careers and both were thoughtful individuals, there was a lot of soul searching, as in – was the economy right, and how did political climate, religion, children, hopefulness, role attributes, and timing affect their new roles as husband and wife? What, ultimately, would their marriage be defined as in our present day and age?
My daughter and her husband-to-be planned, scrimped, saved, registered for gifts, planned some more, made jam and pies, organized, rearranged, made lists and invitations and programs. They received RSVPs, tasted catered food, cakes, beer, wine, chose their friend be their DJ, tallied up the website music votes, chose flowers, made agendas and crafted their wedding website. And when they weren’t working she was planning where guests could stay, activities guests could participate in and he was deciding on the rehearsal dinner restaurant and menu, after party taverns and side trips to colorful brewery/restaurants.
Upon arriving in Chicago I noticed that my daughter looked amazingly perky for a woman burning her candles at both ends. Her future mate looked tired, always running lists through his mind, finding time for his next smoke and young nieces and nephews to console. She has the kind of no-nonsense voice that commands action and if you don’t move then you’ve got her undivided attention. Her eyes would turn in your direction and like a laser, she could fathom your complaint or reason for inactivity in a blink of an eye – usually it would be far better to just follow her suggestions in the first place, but I digress.
Her brother and his girlfriend live in Boston, some 1500 miles away from Chicago, I live an additional 45 miles south of Boston. Her brother has always loved trains, so it is because of him that we traveled by Amtrak to Chicago which took us 18+ hours (due to waiting for tracks to become available since Amtrak does not own the rails that it travels on) and a lot of video gaming, reading, talking and writing to pass the time. At this point in our trip (après wedding, on the way back to Boston, somewhere in the Heartland) I am hoping to be able to make my connection to the commuter train that will take me home late tomorrow night – Amtrak is notorious for overbooking its seats, and being late on arrival, much like waiting at the RMV. My son’s girlfriend is a trooper to put up with: a) my son’s hypochondria, he seems to always be on the verge of coming down with something – yet is reluctant to medicate himself to give those around him peace; b) sleeping in coach class with just a flimsy pillow and no blanket; c) sleeping in the lower ‘sleeping’ temperature (freezing cold) with all her extra clothes on to provide warmth. My son apparently has the gift of being able to sleep anywhere on just about anything.
Back to the wedding: My daughter was looking for a 1950s wedding dress to match her Fabulous ’50s theme when I shared my thought, “Wow, your grandmother’s wedding dress is nearly 57 years old.” Maybe she could try it to see if it fit and during Christmas vacation, it did! But, in order to wear the dress she wanted it altered and found a team of lady-tailors that specialized in altering vintage wedding dresses. Her grandmother was overjoyed to pass on the dress, pronounced the dress her granddaughter’s, and gave her blessings by paying for a part of the alterations. The dress was repacked and shipped off to Chicago first class air – so that, yes, like the Traveling Pants – it has become the Traveling Wedding Dress and will be preserved for the next young woman full of dreams. In order to do the dress justice, and to firm up her physique, my daughter joined a yoga class that broadened her shoulders and had to be put on hold because it kept interfering with the dress fittings. A select few of us were treated to pictures of the dress by email as it progressed through the alteration process.
My mother chose satin and lace as her wedding dress material, there would be about 50 working buttons down the back of the dress. The dress’s train was a river of while satin that could be gathered with a ribbon to enhance dancing. The alterations ladies wanted to see photographs of the dress because they liked the dress’s romance – it had been worn first by my mother, then my dad’s oldest sister wore the dress without alterations some 55 years before it traveled to Chicago. They marveled at the good condition the dress was in; how it had it been well wrapped in tissue paper, kept out of the light, and zipped up in an air-tight the bag. The lace had ripped in the arm pit area but the whole dress has discolored to a light cream shade that the ladies pronounced perfectly-awesome!
The dress was shortened to a mid-calf front ending with a slanted, modified “train” in the back. The row of buttons were scaled back to a workable 20 and under-laid with a zipper. The Mandarin collar was replaced with a v-neck front and back, the pointed princess sleeves were altered to elbow length. A row of lace covered buttons connected the front v-neck to the skirt using the original pointed weskit. The satin skirt had been overlaid in lace but now the skirt showed off the beautiful thick satin puffed out with a crinoline. My daughter chose a satin wrapped disk attached saucily to the left side of her head, pressed off-white flowers held an oval “veil” over her eyes; she looked demure. Her hair was ‘shellacked’ into brunette ringlets defying gravity, a feat that I could never accomplish. Braids could hardly persuade it to stay in line when she was a child although thick it was heavy and mostly wanted to hang straight.
The wedding rings were made of titanium; an eternal metal. Her ring had inlaid scattered sterling silver rods that created different size pinkish polka-dots around the band, his had treated hard wood veneer pressed around 2/3rds of the concentric band. The bands suited each partner; one hard wood solid, the other dotty but strong. My daughter tied both rings onto her childhood homemade tooth fairy pillow turning it into a ring-holder. The minister officiating the ceremony (best friend since high school) blessed the rings through the telling of the pair’s first meeting, of which he had had a part in introducing the couple some ten years ago during my daughter’s farewell-going-off-to-art-school party, she was traveling from Boston to Chicago, he was hanging out in Boston with his old roommate, returning to Madison, Wisconsin before Halloween. They looked each other up and the romance began and thrived in Chicago; it was a tearful telling for all with friends playing support roles throughout the 10-year saga.
The rings were passed around the room to be blessed by friends and family in attendance and after they circled back to the front, vows were exchanged and the couple was pronounced husband and wife. My daughter’s bff of 17-years and her matron-of-honor, a hard rock/punk recording artist, sang a “surprise” song accompanied by a friend and her half-brother on guitar, the whole room rocked to Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. Steph has grown up visiting New Bedford with my daughter during their high school years, and for a few years beyond. I admire Steph’s bubbly personae and love her throaty, at times gutsy voice. She can really croon and her Cash is good, too.
Surprises kept on coming throughout the reception: the caterers brought out plates of hors-d’oeuvres: miniature coconut tropical drinks made out of halved dates with cream cheese froth and green herb straws, roasted cheese pastry that also resembled a drink, a Polynesian looking shrimp ‘bowl’, juicy mini-hamburgers, and portobello mushroom mini-burgers. Stuffed eggs and tomato-fish brochettes rounded out the pro-offered platters. A hors-d’oeuvres buffet was unveiled while guests chose their beverages, samplings of small brewery beers, wine, soda and water were lavishly poured at an open bar. After heart-felt toasts (during which a glass fell and broke everyone called out Marzel Tov!), Steph sang another Cash song which became very emotional, both girls would alternately tear up, vintage hankies were put to good use. The bride and groom cut their tiered wedding cake and pies, and then strolled off to the dance floor to dance to eclectic songs chosen by both the guests and wedding party. Wedding cake slices and pie wedges of different concoctions were served by the catering staff.
Did I mention that all chromed metal and Formica tables and chair sets, rugs and assorted furniture were unique, vintage pieces from the 1950s? Catalyst Ranch is a museum of sorts to the ‘comfort’ period of baby boomers lives (and their off-spring), everything bright (as in orange, stunning yellow, chartreuse, turquoise, cobalt blue and violet) and avant-garde can be found hanging, supporting a pillow, stacked on shelves, arranged on poles. There was even a 50-year old photo-booth that guests could take their candid pictures and decorate pages for the couple’s old fashioned black-paged photo album. The bride and groom encouraged each guest to take home homemade jam as party favors that they made with the groom’s mother in Wisconsin in September.. The couple had successfully fuzed together a dissimilar group of relatives and friends into a united family with lasting friendships that would grow and grow throughout and around the country – their kitsch wedding was one that would never be forgotten on so many individual levels. Bonne Chance, Happy Trails, Congrats and Many Auspicious Blessings to the couple and to everyone in attendance!
Mucho gratitude to Danielle, my daughter’s friend who stepped up to the plate and directed every aspect of the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception – she had the time-line down, without her clipboard and watch the day would have been a little less sparkly. She has the flair & ability to be an excellent Wedding Planner – and she has already got one under her belt!
Photos were taken by KBP & DSP and combined to tell the wedding story. What a fabulous day!