Wedding Day

So – I’m newly married – almost an entire week! That’s barely enough time to start thinking about using the word ‘wife’ or wearing a wedding ring – but that’s mostly because I’m still on a buzz from a terrific wedding.

I did some math the other day to see if I could figure out how many weddings I’ve played for, and I bet it’s close to 100 – so I’ve seen a LOT of weddings. Mormon, Catholic, Episcopal, no religion at all. Indoors, outdoors. Fun. Boring. Big (500). Small (about 20). And everything in between.

So you can imagine that over the last 20 plus years – I’ve also had a lot of time to imagine what my wedding might be like (as well as to imagine not having a wedding at all! My friend Alexandre almost brought a "mission accomplished" banner to the wedding – for a long time – no one really thought I’d find the right girl!).

In any case – that vision sure changed over the years. When I was working for the Catholic church, I imagined a big Catholic wedding. When I wasn’t, I imagined a smaller Catholic wedding. In recent years, I imagined almost anything but – and it’s not because I don’t have a lot of respect and fondness for the Catholic Church. But knowing that my gay friends wouldn’t really be welcome, that marrying someone not Catholic wouldn’t be a great match for the Church, and knowing that (recently) the Catholic hierarchy has largely missed the boat regarding social justice – I stopped imagining a catholic wedding two or three years ago.

So – Puja and I made it all up. Not from whole cloth, mind you – we had a lot of friends and family to ask for ideas, and we borrowed heavily. But we figured early that the key elements to a great wedding would include:

  • A location that required some travel. We wanted friends and family to come and say for two or three days so all of us could really visit.
  • Great food.
  • A ceremony that included standing up in front of our family and friends and making our commitment to one another external and out loud.

And that’s it – the rest of the details (suit, dress, flowers, type of food, cake, borrowed, blue, old, new) those largely faded into the background.

So – here’s what we had for our wedding weekend:

A FABULOUS location and weather on Galiano Island. Low of 60, high of 80, and sunny from Thursday through Tuesday. Wow!

We arrived on Thursday with my mom, after driving through Vancouver for liquor, a marriage license (courtesy London Drugs), a haircut (Puja, not me) and fresh goodness from Granville Island. Traffic was fine, the border crossing was fine, and if the car was packed tight – it just meant we had lots of good stuff with us – including mom, our dog, musical instruments, and spare tents, just in case.

Friday was pub night – many of our family and some of our friends were on hand Friday night to join us at the Hummingbird, where the festivities kicked off with tasty food and drink and rousing good cheer. Some friends came from as far away as New York, and others as close as down the street – but we all mixed and mingled and laughed. And laughed. It was pretty fun alright.

Saturday was off to a great start with a "groomsday" run – but alas – the pub night must have taken its toll, for I was the only person to show up at the starting line! I thought "well – you go to the altar by yourself to meet your girl – so the day before – you go for a run by yourself!" It was clear and sunny at 8:00 AM, so I enjoyed a few minutes to myself. 3 miles worth of minutes, to be exact.

The day was full of other fun stuff – my musician friends arrived and we practiced music, including a pair of secret songs that Puja didn’t know about. And we prepared for a BBQ (HUGE thanks to Jenifer, Craig, Lesley and Andrew for organizing, cooking, chopping and more!), had a quick and informal rehearsal, chatted up the good folks running the Lodge, mixed and mingled with our friends, had a henna ceremony, had a cocktail hour with our two families . . . By the end of the evening, I think all of our guests had meet each other, and people were relaxed and happy! Some had kayaked, biked, shopped, and walked – taking advantage of the great weather.

Sunday also dawned sunny and clear – but we were expecting that. Frank and I ran up the Ridge and into the woods to get the day off to a good start, and then we all settled in for a bit of breakfast (fresh Belgian waffles, among other things) and ironed, squeezed lemons for the featured cocktail, and kept our eye out for the Original Tandoori King, who arrived right on schedule.

Puja had a secret dress, I had a brand new suit, and we all gathered at the Lodge before heading up to the Ridge to get married. Puja was gorgeous in her attire, our guests were full of good cheer and anticipation – and I got to play a tune on the hammered dulcimer to send them up the trail towards the top.

My good friends Michael, Steve, Dean, and Katie were along the trail with musical instruments to speed us all along, and Puja and I walked up last. It was a pretty terrific walk – most people only have a short aisle to walk down, and we had an entire trail and could see our guests just in front of us!

Up top, the view of the water was spectacular. Leen escorted my soon to be mother in law down the aisle, I walked my mom to her spot, and joined our friend Jen (she presided over the entire affair) at the front. Ishi, Lilly and Olivia walked in with flowers, the band played a delightful Bach piece, and everyone quieted down to wait for Puja.

She came in with her dad (a bouncy version of Ode to Joy) and we were up and running!

Jen welcomed our guests, and then invited some of our family and friends to say a few words. Some (both Katy and Biji (Puja’s grandmother) sent messages and poetry from afar, and others stood up and grabbed the microphone. Not a dry eye in the house, and I’m happy to say I was the first to go – when my sister started reading Katy’s poem, I just couldn’t contain that sweet combination of happiness and sentiment I felt. Darren moved us right along with well thought wishes, my twin brother Paul did the same, and Leen, Frank, and Alexandre were both hilarious and touching all in the space of a few minutes. I suppose you really had to be there.

Jen brought up Leen and Puja’s mom to read that blessing from Biji, and my brother Matt cinched the speaking with heartfelt words about the importance of family, as well as a reminder of those that couldn’t join us for our special day.

The first secret song was next, and my friend Joe KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK! Not a surprise, really – Joe and I have been playing music forever – and I couldn’t have been more delighted. I don’t know if I can describe what its like having a great friend sing for you. I had fresh strings on my guitar, and my friend Mike had tuned it perfectly – it really was magic. So much so, that when Joe was done, Jen and the rest of us had to take a minute before we could continue!

But continue we did – Jen lead us through a simple and powerful exchange of rings (Puja is wearing the ring my Dad gave my Mom – and when THAT was said out loud, people really got teary eyed), and then we made our vows.

Our vows were short and sweet. We didn’t say many, just 5 or 6 – but we said the important ones.

While we signed the marriage certificate, the band played "Blue Skies" a terrific Irving Berlin song, interpreted by Joe, with our friend Eve singing vocals as well. Steve led it out on bass, Dean played a great mandolin solo, and Katie kept it in the groove for Joe and Eve.

And that meant we were married!

Some of our friends had said that the day would be a whirlwind -but it wasn’t – we enjoyed every long minute. We took a group picture at the top, sent our friends to the lodge to enjoy the featured cocktail (perfectly delivered by our friend Robert), and the Tandoori King delivered . . . and delivered, and delivered and delivered! The BBQ the night before had been outstanding, and the Tandoori King was, too. So fun to venture from BBQ to Indian cuisine in 24 hours and to delight all of our guests!

Before dinner, we played some additional music – Leen sang a favorite song, Eve sang the 2nd secret song, and Joe (backed up by Dean, Steve, Michael and me) delivered a handful of great tunes as well.

I did my best to saber open a bottle of champagne, but Matt had to finish the job. Incredibly, the Tandoori King had dinner ready – but before we had more of a feast, Puja’s dad entertained with a terrific toast and welcome. Dinner led to cake, led to more mix and mingle.

Some of our guests headed back home, some to other places on the island – and a few of us headed into the Lodge where we laughed, drank, and sang favorite songs.

Puja and I returned to our cabin to let our dog know that we were official – and on Monday morning we met friends, hiked up Mt. Galiano, basked, drank coffee, had another fine meal at the Hummingbird, where we visited with more friends. We saw whales (about a dozen), large winged birds and more.

Tuesday was just us – coffee in the morning, a bike ride along the water, and then packing our things to come home.

The ride home was uneventful. It was fun crossing the border – and this time – when they asked why we were traveling together, we got to say we were married!

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One Comment to “Wedding Day”

  1. wow.  beautiful.  congratulations!

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