An Easter Wedding

Two of my daughter’s school friends got married on Saturday. They were just slightly older than the age that DH and I were when we got married. So it was a pretty special reminder for us. We’ve known the bride since kindergarten and we’ve known the groom since late primary school.

DD was a bridesmaid so we had a special window into the preparations. We’ve shared a few ups and downs and had a pretty good look into what it is like to be on the other side, the parent side of a young wedding. I shed some tears when the bride walked up the aisle. I’m sure it will be even more emotional when it is our own children getting married.

The groom and groomsmen looked very smart, handsome, even. The bridesmaids were all gorgeous. The bride was beautiful! Her shoes were to die for. OK the dress was amazing but so were the shoes. I love shoes.

bride and groom

One incredibly neat thing was that the girls made up their own bouquets – the flowers were bought from a wholesaler but the girls chose the blooms and greenery that they wanted and made up their individual bouquet. They also did their own hair and the bride did their makeup and they worked together and got themselves all ready. And they looked beautiful. Don’t you think?

bridesmaids and groomsmen

And that was the thing about this whole wedding. It was gorgeous, professional, delightful. But it was mostly put together by the family and friends. The reception was held in the groom’s family’s hay barn. The families and bridal party had worked so hard to carpet the ground (no floor, just carpet on top of the ground), to string fairy lights all around, to make decorations for the tables. The minister was the bride’s uncle, the (funky and talented) band was the bride’s brother’s band, the (incredibly detailed and gorgeous) cake was made by a friend. The parents of the bride and groom were running around all day making sure we had drinks, food, plates, cake.  It was all so beautiful but all so full of love, full of family, full of community.

cake

I’ve been to weddings where the stress of making the wedding a perfect day has been so full-on that no one enjoyed the day – the joy was lost in the pursuit of perfection. This wedding was not perfect but it was so full of joy, so beautiful. I am sure that everyone there enjoyed it. The bride and groom certainly did. It was a memorable celebration of a life-long commitment. A joining of two families. A day to remember.

I have to say, one slight imperfection of the day was that the reception venue was filled with wasps. Everywhere. The family had been laying wasp traps and each trap I saw contained about 100 wasps, but there would not have been enough traps in the world to get rid of the swarm that joined in with the festivities. Someone found the nest while we were waiting for the bridal party to finish their photo shoot but that was a little too late to help us.

The little boys were chasing the wasps around with bits of wood and trying to stomp on them, and one little toddler was trying to catch them like they were butterflies until her mother said something to the effect of, ‘Darling! Come over here, sweetheart! Leave them alone.’ through clenched teeth, trying not to let her panic show.

We could not eat without waving a couple of wasps off our plates between mouthfuls, and DS had to poke a couple off his plate with a knife because they were stubborn and didn’t want to leave. Once we had stopped fighting the wasps for our food it was actually quite interesting and informative to watch them chop bits of meat off the scraps on the plates and carry them away. To see whether they had bitten off more than they could carry or not. The fun of fighting with wasps stopped me from having seconds of the most excellent food but I would say that the wasp diet is not highly recommended…

As far as I know, no-one got stung, so that was good. Almost miraculous, considering the amount of wasps present as uninvited guests.

The party finished with some pretty amazing dancing, including all the bridesmaids spontaneously performing the whole ‘Thriller’ dance (with the brides mother!) and some sitting around a campfire chatting. It was a long day and we were all exhausted by the end of it but it was wonderful. A joyous celebration. Reminded me of our own special day. I hope we can make our kids weddings just as beautiful and joyful.

Before the wedding I had a quick chat with the bride about the stress and frustrations of wedding preparation. She asked me about our wedding: ‘was it a good day?’ I told her, ‘it was the best day of my life.’ It was! I’ve had brilliant days since but our wedding day still is at the top of the list. I was hoping and praying for the same sort of day for Saturday’s bride and therefore I was totally thrilled to hear in her speech, ‘Today has been the best day of my life!’ I know that this is just a milestone along the journey of their lives together. It is not the beginning, just a step along the way, but I’m so glad it came off well in the end, that it was a joyous and love-filled day and I pray for them both a joyous and love-filled long life together.

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Family

I’ve been doing a little reminiscing lately.  The middle of January always has that effect on me. I reminisce about previous wedding anniversaries and birthdays, and I take stock of my life and make goals for the year. It all happens in January and I think it’s a good thing.

DH and I were still teenagers when we got married. If we were the type to just move in together, I guess that’s what we would have done, but because living together for us required marriage, and because we were ready to make that commitment, we made it! I’m still not sure how my parents were able to cope with that, especially seeing as DD is now older than I was when we got married. But for us, it was the right thing to do. It hasn’t meant that life has been easy or that we haven’t had our ups and downs. I guess the challenges that come with a young marriage are slightly different to those that come when you marry a little older, but every marriage comes with challenges, as does every commitment. We’re very grateful to have come this far, to have made it over some significant hurdles, and to still be in love and committed to each other.

When we got married, we wanted our reception to be a party that reflected us, who we were and how we felt. And, maybe because we were so very young, we didn’t really see why we needed to invite all the aunts and uncles to celebrate with us. My mother is one of six children and my father is one of five and each of those had married and had children. At the time of our marriage DH had five living grandparents, let alone aunts, uncles and cousins. So, yes, a lot of family to invite and we couldn’t really see the point – we didn’t see these people very much in our daily lives, we just happened to be related to them. (Stay tuned wider family, the story gets better, don’t get upset yet!) We just wanted our wedding reception to be a party, and we could have that easily with the friends we had gone to school with, the friends we saw every week or every day.

But there was a problem. DH’s best friend happened to be my cousin. Obviously you can’t invite one cousin without inviting them all. It just wouldn’t be right. So we bit the bullet and invited everyone.

I still remember one night when we were working on the invitations and the cry went up (possibly from Mum) ‘Oh no! We haven’t invited Great Uncle Tom!’ Dad raced upstairs to print out another invitation while DH stood in the middle of the room, a look of confusion on his face, and asked, ‘Who is Great Uncle Tom?!’ he had never met my great uncle, and could not for the life of him understand why we should invite this person. The rest of us knew that he had to be there. He said grace for us at the reception – he’s a pretty big man in our family, very important, just doesn’t live nearby and we don’t see him very often. (Less now that he’s in heaven).

So there you go, all the family was invited, all the family was there. And you know something? I am so grateful now that that was the case! I have thought about it often. The relationships I have with my aunts and uncles and cousins are so special to me, so important. I am so glad that I didn’t unthinkingly leave them out of such an important occasion in my life. I am so glad I listened to my parents and invited everyone. How awful if we had missed that opportunity!

I wonder if the understanding of the importance of family grows with everyone as they get older? Is this the reason that retirees research their family tree? The reason that adopted children go to such trouble to find out who their birth parents are? I can tell you, I am not getting to know my wider family just so as I can tell some surgeon sometime that this illness I have is because so-and-so had cardiac problems, or tuberculosis, or mental health issues. There is no real logic to it, it’s just a desire, a necessity. It’s a bit like having children – there’s no logic there either, but it’s something that many of us just feel we have to do! You could blame it on genetics, or my personality type or an evolutionary necessity. I just know that this connectedness is important to me, these people are super special and I’m grateful to be part of a large loving family.