Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two Weddings

My brother-in-law Steve and my sister Annie got married a week apart on Saturdays in July. Both are the second oldest among their siblings. Both had destination weddings. For the happiness of both these family members our little family had been praying.

Steve married his longtime girlfriend Joy on a beach in Hawaii:

And my lovely sister Annie married her man under an enormous tree of wedding lore in San Saba, Texas:

There were no bridesmaids or groomsmen at Steve and Joy's wedding, but they asked all of his nieces to be flower girls. The girls wore Aloha dresses and shell jewelry, gifts from their uncle and new aunt. Jon's oldest daughter, Lily, flung the flower petals down on the ground by fistfuls, scowling as if she had great disdain for the flimsy things, making everyone laugh. The best part of the wedding was the look on Steve's face when he saw his bride walking down that verdant aisle toward the ocean. He cried. My husband said it was the first time he had seen his brother cry, and, I must say, Joy truly did look stunning in her gorgeous gown and white, fragrant lei with flowers pinned in her dark hair.
The older nieces jostled each other for the chance to take the bouquet from Aunt Joy. The look on their faces when the bride and groom kissed was comic; they all looked as if they were watching a fairytale ending. 
Our Danny Sam was the ring bearer. He kept scratching his sandaled feet during most of the ceremony. He even tried to lean on Uncle Steve to get better reach to his tickly toes during the presider's poignant discourse on the meaning of marriage, slipping off his sandals and attempting to balance. 

That wonderful event was the whole reason our family went to Hawaii this past July. The reception was a blast. The DJ invited all the married couples to take the dance floor, and then he started adding up years for anniversaries; anyone who had been married less than the pronounced time had to exist the floor. Matthew and I were there for a good while, we thought, but his parents stayed much longer, married now for more then 40 years. I felt a lump in my throat watching the few remaining couples; it was a beautiful testimony in a fickle age. When only one couple remained, neighbors of Steve and Joy, the DJ asked them to reveal their secrets to the newly married, and the gentleman replied, "Say, 'Yes, dear.' " It was cliché, but we all laughed. Then the wife added, "Have fun."
Matthew was having a good time
Fire dancers performed, making me clutch my chest and suck in my breath the whole time in fear of mishaps and in awe of their maneuvers with spinning rods of flame. It gave whole new meaning to burning your candle at both ends. The youngest one was a mere five years of age but full of bravado.
What was more astounding was that my oldest son Berto danced with his little sister Ella. I really wish I had gotten pictures. I would frame them on the wall in a collage as a reminder that those two do indeed love each other. Watching all my daughters and sons dance with their cousins, uncles and grandparents was precious and memorable. For me it was the best part.
I was home but a day from Hawaii before flying out again for my sister's wedding. It was a small gathering of close family and dear friends. We all stayed in a quaint, tidy B&B in San Saba.
On the morning of the wedding, my sister Annie, Dad, Mom, and I sat downstairs and put together the bouquets, corsages, and buccaneers for the wedding. What am I saying??? My sister Annie did it all with precision, beautifully with a little help from Mom. I myself was confused by how to properly manipulate the floral tape.
As we dressed and primped before the wedding, the ladies had delicious mimosas. (I know, because I had at least two.) We chatted, shared feelings, laughed and cried, and the bride fixed our hair. Yes, she fixed our hair, because none of us had her crazy skills in braiding, curling and pinning.
We drove to the Wedding Oak down a dirt road bordered by barbed wire fences and hay fields. It was hot, but a welcome breeze followed us. My sister hid from Keith, her groom, behind her friend's SUV. Our mother was already crying. As I looked at Annie, I cried, too, because she looked so lovely. Her cascading golden hair - which she had fixed herself in intricate curls pinned back by silvery pins - embodied the rays of the bright sun.
The flower girl was the daughter of Annie's good friend, Jen, and her wheelchair was ornamented with pretty ribbons. Keith's dad was his best man. I was the Matron of Honor. The father of the bride was also the preacher and celebrant. He walked her down the dirt road as Keith's mother, Jan, played the violin beneath the sweeping branches of the colossal oak, and Keith's brother took pictures. Then Dad gave Annie's arm to her groom and turned to face her.
He asked, "Who gives this woman in marriage?"
My mother replied, "Her father and I do."
It wasn't long after those words that Dad got emotional, and as he struggled to speak, the breeze sighed through the broad leaves above.
And someone in a pickup truck idled just up the lane in order not to disrupt the ceremony.
What an unusually beautiful place for a wedding, beneath that magnificent oak! Just as Dad prepared to pronounce Keith and Annie husband and wife, the wind picked up dramatically and rushed about us for several moments, rustling the leaves. It was an impressive moment - at least I thought so. It was as if the Holy Spirit said, I make it so.
After much picture-taking, during which passing Texans in their trucks cried, "Congratulations!", we all went to the charming Wedding Oak Winery to celebrate. My sister designed the decorations for the reception area herself. Her gorgeous bouquets and hand-stenciled mason jars with tea lights rested atop burlap squares on the tables. She had made pretty little name tags tied on the keepsake wineglasses, and a cake topper of her own creation presided over the cake. The décor was rustic yet artsy, accented as it was by enormous wine barrels. It was completely unique, and I was amazed by what my sis had done - but not too surprised, considering all that she did for my own wedding.  
We ate a wonderfully filling meal with delicious wine - I particularly enjoyed the Viognier - and then Dad brought out his guitar and sang the most beautiful wedding song ever meant for a daughter: Where's The Little Girl, a song he wrote many years ago. It's the right of each of his daughters (and granddaughters someday) to hear it on our wedding day, and Annie had it sung to her for the first time. Then she and Dad danced to Landslide (Fleetwood Mac). the perfect choice, before Keith took her into his arms for At Last (Eta James). As I watched I, though missing my own man pretty badly on such a romantic occasion, was so very grateful to witness and experience it all.

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