No Bridezilla here

DH has spent most of today washing, cleaning, and polishing my little Mini (Verdi) and his bigger Audi (Wombat) to within an inch of their lives. You see, tomorrow we are going to be the wedding cars for our friends’ wedding and we are pretty excited. Yes, the bride is going to try to squeeze her beautiful gown into the Mini. We’ll put all the bridesmaids into Wombat. Then after the service the bride and groom will travel in Wombat and we’ll work out the rest later. As my lovely MIL says ‘We’ll come to that bridge when we cross it.’

A couple of weeks ago there was another wedding in our church. Both the brides (tomorrow’s and last fortnight’s) have known each other since they were tiny (if not since birth) and have grown up together in the church. Both met their men around the same time and both decided to get married at approximately the same time.

This could have been a recipe for disaster, but it wasn’t. The two brides have worked together on timing – making sure one is back from her honeymoon before the other has her wedding. Making sure the first wedding was first because the second bride is moving to Western Australia immediately after her wedding.

They are bridesmaids for each other and I heard Bride no. 1 talk about how she was going to look out especially for Bride no. 2 this week and give her extra support. Bride no. 2 has talked about how grateful she is to have been part of a wedding already and therefore she knows what sort of timing things need – things like hair and makeup, for example.

They are mature enough to have their weddings reflect their own unique personalities without even the slightest hint of competition with each other. Bride no. 1 has had a bridal shower tea with gifts of kitchenware and this awesome game where we had six pots of different kinds of tea and we had to guess which tea was what. Bride no. 2 had a bridal shower picnic in the Botanic Gardens where she wore a veil and sash and we gave her photos and written memories so that she didn’t have to pack boxes of stuff into the ute that’s taking her to WA. Both brides were delighted with the parties (except for the part where the attention was placed on them).

These two lovely humble women are starting their married lives in what I consider the right way. The weddings are a reflection of who they (and their grooms) are, not a competition as to who can make the day the flashiest. They are still doing the dress, the flowers, the service and the reception, the cake, the speeches and the dancing, but they are doing it their own way as a celebration, and as part of a community, and it’s something I enter into wholeheartedly.

So I pray for them, long life and happiness. I pray that they can face the challenges of life with a commitment to their other half that goes way beyond signing a piece of paper. I pray that their wedding day will be a milestone in a journey that lasts the rest of their lives. And I thank God for the example of selfless celebration that these two brides are.Wedding cars

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Celebrations

In the last week I have been part of two major life celebrations.

On Saturday I went to a wedding of two lovely young people who are part of our church. They had invited the whole church, whoever wanted to, to come along, so I went. (DH wanted to come too but was stopped by a very inconvenient attack of hay fever.)

The couple getting married were young and beautiful. The bride (of course) was especially gorgeous. Thin, blonde, and radiant, she could have stepped right from the pages of a magazine. The groom was also a dashing young man, and the church was filled with the young and the beautiful, all dressed up to the nines. Now, I’m not that old, and I don’t consider myself to be ugly, but wow – I didn’t hold a candle to all this youth and beauty. But, you know, it was so great to have them all there, supporting their friends as they made their life commitment.

The service started with an announcement that I’ve never heard before.

‘Please, could you turn off your mobile phones’ I’ve heard that bit before, obviously, ‘the bride and groom wish to have all photos during the service taken by the official photographer.’ We weren’t asked to turn off our phones because they might ring, but because they didn’t want us taking photos during the service! That was the new bit. And then came this:

‘And while the bride and groom are happy for you to post to Facebook, please let them post first.’ Brand new. And oh so necessary.

So I’m going to have to make sure they’ve posted before I put this up on my blog, but that’s fine.

Anyway, the wedding was beautiful. It’s just so amazing to see people take the risk, take the plunge, commit to each other for life. And I realised, as they clearly (and a little tearfully) said their vows, that while I love individualised, poetic, beautifully written vows, for me there is something so special about the stock standard Anglican prayer book vows. And the something special is this: I said those vows. DH said those vows. And as I listened to another couple vow to love, cherish, protect, and honour each other for as long as they both should live, I could renew my own vow to my husband too. (It would have been more special if he could have been there, but we can’t have everything).

After the wedding we were all invited to share afternoon tea together, I said hello to people I hadn’t seen for (literally) years and renewed old friendships. I live in a small place and it’s guaranteed that you’ll meet with old friends at this kind of thing.

It was a truly special celebration. An absolutely joyous afternoon.

The other celebration in my week was the celebration of the life of DH’s grandfather. He was 92 and had passed away peacefully at his nursing home with his daughters by his side. We’re so used to having him around, it was hard to say goodbye, and there was so much to celebrate.

Pop had made it easy for us, he had written his own life story, so getting dates and names correct was not the difficult task it sometimes is. And both daughters and several grandchildren, as well as other friends and family, stood in front of the congregation and shared their experience of this outgoing, enthusiastic, energetic man. Even the great-grandchildren got involved – the youngest two stood bravely in front of everyone and sang ‘Down by the station’ as they had been taught to do by Pop.

One of the grandchildren had written her part of the eulogy but there was no way she could read it to us, even through her tears, so her husband read it on her behalf. That led to a fun moment where he told us about the time he was pregnant and Pop came to his rescue. There were a couple of other fun times in the service, particularly when Pop’s poetry was read out. He had so much fun writing his poems, he was quite serious about it, and if rhyming couplets are your thing, then these are the poems for you! But they make pretty hilarious reading.

Once again afterwards we had a morning tea, and then the family went out for lunch. We shared stories and caught up on each other’s lives. I met people who were connected to us through Pop that I probably will never meet again. It was such a joy to meet the pint sized Elsie (Pop’s sister-in-law) who is a tiny woman with a personality as big as a house. “I’m the small one!” she said when we were introduced. And it was good to catch up again with Pop’s elder sister Betty, who is still going strong. One of the great-grandchildren found out that she was the second cousin once removed of one of the teachers in her school. And even though the service was in Launceston, we met Hobart friends there as well.

I love being part of community. A part of a family tree that branches out through parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and down through the children, and grandchildren. A part of a church community that shares each others’ lives, that celebrates together and mourns together, and helps each other through tough times. A part of a friendship group that has been close for over 25 years and that knows each other almost as well as cousins do. And a friendship group that is new and growing as we meet more people that we make a special connection with. I feel connected, established, supported.

Sometimes the community means that you have to put up with irritations, with personalities that you just can’t stand, with little quirks like Pop’s poetry, or with being around people so shiny and beautiful that you have to wear sunglasses. That’s all part of the deal. But I am so grateful for the traditions, the celebrations, the people, that make me who I am and for the reminder of that in the celebrations this past week.

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.