Billy Idol sang “it’s a nice day for a white wedding.” That couldn’t have been more true last weekend when my niece Julie married her longtime sweetheart Sam in Middletown, Connecticut.
Everyone was, of course, hoping for good weather as the ceremony would be outside, but I took matters into my own hands by visiting my mom at the cemetery. She had a way with arranging for parking spots and good weather if given enough notice, so I asked for a nice day. And boy, did she come through. Saturday dawned picture postcard perfect. Willow tree branches fluttered more than wept gently in a breeze strong enough to keep us cool in the sunny spot, but not chill us too much. A heron preened and paraded up and down the banks of the small pond, as if on cue from an unseen director.
My first cousin Stephanie, an ordained cantor and rabbi, officiated with a thoughtful balance of love, wisdom, and humor. She held a special place in my father’s heart, and I’m sure he smiled down on us with my mother as Steph sanctified their union. Julie and Sam radiated an infectious joy.
Team Fields, led by my eminently capable sister Suzanne, had worked tirelessly over the year to make every detail just so, and they did it in spades – of the garden variety. The reception took place in a barn. Suzanne labeled wildflower seed packets with guests’ names and nestled these place cards in beds of verdant moss in wooden crates below a sign that read: Please be Seeded.
We supped and sipped on delectable treats. The DJ started the evening with some Motown for us old folk, and then the wedding party lifted the newlyweds and then their parents into the air in celebration to Hava Nagila. The young ‘uns danced to current pop tunes until the reception ended and the after party moved to the hotel. On the way out, we could grab donuts from a pegboard to replace the calories we’d burned celebrating.
The weekend afforded my boys and me an opportunity to reconnect with far-flung family that we only see at these gatherings. It warmed my heart to see them sit and chat with my mom’s brother and sister and the rest of the relatives as they regaled them with stories of their childhood. Since both of my parents are gone, I cherish this time with family even more and heard stories that I’d not even heard before. My aunt and uncle brought me a more than 100-year old milliner’s hat stand that my grandmother used while fashioning cloches – I could see the pin marks where she must have secured her creations. And my boys learned that their great grandfather went to school to study mechanical engineering, but had to come home to take over his father’s glazier business when his alcoholism prevented him from running it alone any longer. They saw old photographs of my mom with her siblings and of my grandmother and hers. What an invaluable time.
Even the grogginess we all felt at brunch the next morning couldn’t quell the warm glow the newlyweds wore and we all felt. There will be clouds, no doubt, in their life, but I wish them all the blue skies, and sunshine that we enjoyed on their special day.