She traveled farther than I did to get there. She had been decked out in some pretty fine cloth. She was due to arrive just in time for the event, for which she planned to be a prominent player. She started out the week of the wedding and all would have been well had it not been for the tire that exploded on the first day of the journey.
It was pretty bad – actually blew a huge hole in the wheel well. But four new tires later, and a quick clean up after the trip was finished, she was in place and no one was the wiser. She wasn’t the bride. She was the bride’s Airstream and this was not her first adventure, although it may have been her first wedding. We don’t know.
The venue was the Seattle Arboretum, Wisteria Hall. The day was July 24th, 2021 and it couldn’t have been nicer weather. Esther and Ryan had been planning their celebration of marriage since the summer before, when it was twice cancelled because of the pandemic. For the second time since COVID19 became a household word, I was mother of the bride.
The plan was to keep things simple and meaningful, and to share it with as many of their friends and family as were able to come. The husband and I traveled five days by car to get there. We were determined to be present and didn’t have near as much trouble as the Airstream did.
There were many things about this wedding that were non-traditional, and yet it had the important features:
The whole wedding script was unique to my daughter Esther and her Ryan. Never mind that there was no bevy of women wearing matching dresses that they would never wear again. Never mind that pizza and pie took the place of wedding cake.
Never mind that instead of musicians and soloists there were mothers, reading poetry especially chosen for this occasion.
At the end we were all invited to pronounce them husband and wife, and we did. Bubbles floated everywhere around us as they walked, arm in arm, back to the Airstream to sign official documents.
The happiness continued during the pizza party reception and the dancing. Yes, the dancing. It was pretty wild and joyous at times. We are just that kind of people.
To love, to commit, to live together, to help each other grow and thrive. Marriage. Esther Armstrong and Ryan Bruels. July 24, 2021
The “process”, as one reader said it, of putting on a wedding concludes in this post. The post is long, but ends well, and we all need happy endings in this pandemic year. You will see the beginning of a love story in the videothat closes out the post. Don’t miss it!
Next up was the bridal shower. There’s just something so celebratory about a bridal shower that there has to be one. The groom’s family not only has an expert event host mom, but also three sisters-in-law so you know they have experience in bridal showers. Decorations, fancy (delicious) food, friends from different walks of life, and semi-embarrassing shower games to make the bride-to-be blush a bit. Perfect. I was glad to be on the scene for this.
The next week was busy for me. It was the week that I finished the alterations on the wedding gown and broke my wrist, thankfully in that order. It was also the week we started watching Hurricane Delta head toward Louisiana. The beautiful fall weather we had been having was predicted to turn into a tropical depression and pass over the wedding venue on the day of the wedding. I got a little nervous since we had no plan for an indoor ceremony. I added another small tent (the only one available) to our order and the rental company brought them both out a day early. They didn’t want to risk putting them up in the rain.
Thursday and Friday were bordering on hectic. Pop up tents had been borrowed and the decision was made to keep all the smaller shelters bordering the main tent where the reception would be held. The ceremony was still going to be planned for the open field. I didn’t count, but all the tents got moved at least twice as the configuration changed from one moment to the next. People were arriving to help trim trees, hang lights, and set up tables. The large diesel tractor, doing some landscaping work, stalled and quit right next to the proposed buffet serving area. So in the midst of this, the bride and several of her girlfriends who had arrived early for the rehearsal that night, did what girls in bridal parties do – they escaped to high tea at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro. What a nice relief!
The rehearsal in the late afternoon and the dinner following got a couple more rituals checked off our list. We all met the minister with the Scottish brogue, and got put in our places, including the baby donkey chosen as the ring bearer. As he was pulled down the aisle, resisting all the way, another layer of risk seemed obvious. The weather might not be the only wild card.
Saturday dawned, the day of the wedding. At this point, there were so many details yet to be decided and attended to that it could have been frightening. It was raining lightly. I can only tell you that I had an unreasonable peace and trust that it would all come together, because the concerns had been given to God and I knew he meant to give Julia a good wedding. I left to get myself and the father of the bride dressed.
I couldn’t have imagined the changes that took place – all the beautiful flowers that arrived, and the astounding transformation in the reception tent and the field where the ceremony was to be. Family and friends had pitched in to create a miracle. And the rain had let up, giving us a brief window of dryness.
As we watched the weather radar, the ceremony started. At one point, a song was omitted from the program to speed things along. During the last five minutes we began to feel an occasional raindrop. But it wasn’t until we were dismissed and headed to the safety of the reception tent that the rain really began in earnest. By that time we were so in awe of the beauty of the ceremony and the happiness of the bride and groom, and the timing of it all, that no one cared. Let it rain.
Again, an amazing video captured most of the best moments for us and I share it with you here. You will see us dancing, which was one of the bride’s “must have” features of this celebration. We feasted and danced as the North Carolina rain ran under the edges of the big white tent and met the red clay soil of River Bend Farm. It was wonderful.
It’s over and I am the first one back to the quiet house. The others are still at the wedding site helping put things back together. It was definitely an interactive wedding. My nephew, who hosted the event in his beautiful back yard, went above and beyond the call of family duty. He even had his hired workers over to help string up the lights. His patio and pool area was transformed with a serving area, a bar, numerous tables and the seating area for the ceremony. The pool, waterfalls and palms were gorgeously tropical and the weather was near perfect (maybe a little warm, but definitely could have been worse.).
I’m trying to think of the traditional elements of this wedding. It’s a bit difficult because many of them were dispensed with. It was a simple ceremony. There was no music to worry about, no singing, no parades of girls in poufy gowns, no children wandering off to find mommy, or running away with the rings. The groom escorted his parents in, kissed them and seated them. The bride, escorted by her parents, did the same. The bride’s father gave a short message. The couple read their promises out loud to each other and exchanged rings. They were pronounced husband and wife and kissed. We all waited for them to go happily down the aisle but that didn’t happen. They stayed by themselves in front of the audience and acknowledged and thanked everyone for coming. The groom prayed for God’s blessing on the crowd. To be honest, I thought it was a nice departure from the long receiving line where you have to hug and kiss people you don’t know very well and… I just am in favor of getting rid of lines of all kinds, whenever possible. Good job.
This part of the ceremony did finally end when the bride grabbed the groom’s hand and took off with a loud “Let’s party!” That was a bit untraditional as well, but then, that’s my niece. She’s not afraid to be herself.
And party we did. I am so NOT a party person. I go to occasions like this for love of family, not love of party. But I do like to see other people having a good time. George the chef had done a bang up job with the food, which took the spotlight next. It was hot, so the bar was busy serving up nice icy cold drinks, and the music started. People began to get their food and take it to the traditional sit down tables, or the untraditional stand up tables.
Then it began to be apparent that the one part of the planning no one had focused on was clean-up. The bar began to run out of clean glasses. Plates began to clutter tables and counters. But be aware that in every crowd there will be a few people who are clean-up ninjas, and they can’t resist the challenge. I am one. I love nothing better than to stay inside where there is AC going strong and scrape dirty plates. I get to see lots of people as they drop off their stuff. I get to be useful and oddly, I really do like washing dishes. It’s like making a difference in the world, one dirty plate at a time.
And when I was done I got to sit down with a cup of coffee and one of the bestest ever cupcakes. I will never recommend traditional wedding cake to anyone again. Really, cupcakes are a great idea and they can be unusual, fancy and delicious.
As I said, I am back at the quiet house, and it is still quiet. I love quiet. There were also a lot of really dirty pans left over from George’s labors. I washed them and cleaned up. I love cleaning up. Two nice things that I like, to finish up a very nice family wedding. I’m just sayin’ – it was good and I think we all had fun.