Mother-in-law

Well, we did it.  I’m a mother-in-law now. The wedding was Saturday and it all went really well, despite being thrown together at the last minute.  The snow ended early enough that the roads were in good shape for the wedding. The day began with my husband going across town to the reception site to take delivery on the dance floor and help with set up. The woman who has cut my children’s and my hair since they were “sitting on horsies and watching cartoons” while they got their hair cut demanded to “do” E’s wedding.  She came to the house and grabbed and “did” the hair and make up of everyone she could catch, including visiting relatives.

The wedding was lovely and sweet and very much my daughter’s own. Guests had been encouraged to come “in garb” and there was a wide variety of clothing, including one friend who wore a mask dressed as a fairy.  The groom lit candles in honor of his deceased parents.  They processed to the music from the final awards ceremony in the first (i.e. episode IV) Star Wars movie and, at the end, recessed to Holtz’s Jupiter, my daughter’s favorite music.  As she insisted she wanted to, E was married barefoot. She wore a red dress made by her friends, a long dressy formal Victorian-looking ensemble worn over a corset with a shiny red under-dress and a slightly darker red jacket with a stand-up collar and gold buttons and a bit of a bustle.  The maid of honor and another friend made it for her, finishing Thursday night.  The maid of honor sewed her into the jacket just before the ceremony.  (The stitches were pulled later in the evening when she took the jacket off for dancing.)  The maid of honor was also barefoot, and wore a flowing corseted black dress — originally part of a vampire costume — that looked surprisingly good next to E.  The groom and best man and father of the bride and ushers wore suits and shoes. I wore a pretty party dress and shoes. E looked radiant and happy.  Her father walked her down the (short) aisle in our church and kissed her on the forehead before handing her over to be wed.  We read poetry as part of the service, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, Corinthians 13, and the section from John Donne’s Eclogue for the Marriage of the Earl of Somerset that closes Sayers’s Busman’s Honeymoon. The minister, who knew my daughter when she was young, performed a ceremony that was personal, religious, serious and at times funny, especially when she reminded them that their first answers about why they wanted to get married were “to get presents” and “set something on fire.”  One of my daughter’s vows was to tolerate her husband’s hobbies, including those that become obsessions — big laugh. But the other vows were serious and thoughtful and bespoke a couple who had thought about relationship issues. The desire to “set something on fire” during the reading of the Donne — pretests involved a bowl of burning alcohol which produces a spectacular effect, but we ran out of time for fine-tuning just how this would be done without setting off the sprinkler system or cracking crockery — had to be expressed in lighting a unity candle.

At church we had an hour for visiting and the first round of food with the Indian appetizers and coffee and punch — no alcohol allowed at the church.  The reception was at a game store, basically a big shed with Magic banners hanging from the ceilings and plenty of room.  We forgot to put out the guest book — our only major blunder — so we don’t know exactly how many people showed up, but the tables at the reception had been set for 150 and the room l0oked pretty much full.  About 20% of the people at the wedding and 10% at the reception were relatives or my work friends, the rest were friends of the bride and groom, mostly gamers.  A lot of the guests were playing Magic or board games.  The groom’s family provided the liquor, as is customary in this region, and the groom’s sister took care of setting up the bar. The Indian buffet went well and the food was kept hot thanks to my last-minute negotiations with the caterer.  My husband and I had to don aprons to put out the second pan of some of the food and again when it was time to get the food out of the caterer’s pans so he could take the steam tables back to the restaurant for Sunday buffet, as we’d neglected to line up food help, but otherwise things went fine.  The cake was great.  Three tiers, white with white chocolate sprinkles, no decorations.  The game store manager pulled a gold plastic dragon out of the display case and it made a great cake-topper.  Another bigger dragon was put into service (next to the flowers) as a head table decoration. A sociologist friend and her husband and the daughter of another sociologist friend leaped at the chance when I said I needed someone to help serve the cake, letting my sister off the hook.

My daughter loves to dance, mostly West Coast swing. When she got engaged, she said to my non-dancer husband: “And, Daddy, you have to dance with me.”  We’d talked about taking “dancing for weddings” lessons, but that never happened in all the confusion.  So the night before the wedding, my husband was reading up on waltz steps on the Internet — he’s always thought theory ought to get you by.  My husband is an opera fan, and he has passed this love onto the children. I did not recognize the import of the music E selected for the father’s dance and thought he was just tearing up because he dotes on his daughter.  He explained to us later that they were dancing to Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro.”  Now I tear up. Here are the words:

O mio babbino caro
Mi piace è bello, bello
Vo’ andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l’anello!
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
e se l’amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno!
Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
O my dear papa
I like him, he is handsome, handsome
I want to go to Porta Rossa
to buy the ring!
Yes, yes, I want to go there!
And if my love were in vain,
I would go to the Ponte Vecchio
and throw myself in the Arno!
I am aching, I am tortured!
Oh God, I’d like to die!
Father, have pity, have pity!
Father, have pity, have pity!

After dinner and toasts and the initial dances, the dance floor was used alternately for dancing and frisbee games.  At one point, when my daughter was dancing with her brother and the frisbee got in her way, she grabbed it and marched over and put it next to the groom’s grandmother.   But later she retrieved it and played some frisbee herself.  The older generation mostly just sat and visited and enjoyed watching the young people.

Edit: I forgot this part.  In lieu of the local custom of dollar dances with the bride, guests were invited to  pay a dollar to get in one of the battle pods and try to blow up the groom.

The owner of the game store (who donated the use of it as a gift) wanted to be able to go home, so at the end time announced on the invitation, we demanded help from the guests to help get the presents moved and, with some effort, got them to go home.  One group took the rest of the beer keg along for an after-party. We loaded a lot of stuff into the cars and got home by 1.  The next day, my husband and brother-in-law went over to take apart the dance floor, and my sister and I repacked the left over Indian food (which had been chilled in the below-freezing garage).  The kids came over later to pick up my daughter’s car and eat Indian food and take the rest with them, looking pretty much the same as before, except with shiny new rings.

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Wedding Update

One commenter I don’t know and some friends have asked about the wedding.  So here is a quick update.  B’s father died October 23 after a hard month.  We traveled to his home city on Saturday to meet and express our condolences to his family, and then again on Tuesday for the funeral.  B’s family appreciated our efforts to show that we cared about B and his family.

The wedding is on, it happens December 6.  That’s about 3 weeks from now!!!  Yikes.  The wedding will be at our church, officiated by one of the ministers who pastored my daughter through her eighth grade confirmation year in which she questioned and rebelled against everything and ultimately decided to refuse confirmation.  It will be a religious ceremony, although with a light touch on the religious end.  The minister has done weddings and has given them a nice set of ideas and choices to work with.  As both of B’s parents are deceased, we cannot have a “parents blessing” part without pain, but are talking about whether we can have some kind of family element.  So there will be a wedding, check.

Oh, music.  The most obvious person to ask was Daniel, a gifted pianist and long time family friend who was killed in August.  Another suggestion surfaced at church, a gay man who used to be music director at a Catholic church until he was fired for being gay.  He hasn’t answered yet, we asked again about the contact information and the correct spelling of his name.

Oh, guests!  Whoops.   B & E just published an invitation to their friends via Facebook.  I’ve been scrambling to try to get a list of B’s relatives as well as put together my own list.  I’m going to be emailing invitations today to my list, to be followed with phone calls and paper  mailings to people old enough to expect them.  Have to include an explanation about why this is so late.  No time for fancy engraving or double envelopes.  I’ve been emailing/calling B’s female relatives to try to get a list of names & contact information for the people on his side and calling my spouse’s female cousin to get a list of names & contact information for his side.  (Detect a gender pattern here?)  B’s sister is representing his family in executing his father’s desire to make the groom’s family’s contributions to the wedding events, so she and I have been emailing pretty intensely about possible arrangements for alcohol, rehearsal dinner, etc.  Although last night, as I was emailing back and forth with her and we were discussing what B would want, I realized B (who had come by and was using my spouse’s computer across the room from me) was also communicating via computer with his sister about the same issues at the same time!

Clothing?  It is to be “dressy but fun,” not traditional.  E asked her best friend (an experienced costume designer) to make her wedding dress.  They were here last night working on this: Friend is panicking as there is no fabric and E’s choices of what kinds of things she likes seem to have no common characteristic except that they are dresses.  A trip to the big city to shop seems scheduled.  Another friend will be making B’s outfit; I assume she is panicking too.

Reception will be at a game store, “Indian buffet, dancing, games.”  My spouse and B are in charge of finalizing the food plans.  My spouse is also negotiating with a baker about cake, and he and B will make the cake choices.  Flowers?  That’s getting worked on, and photography.  After sticker shock about the price of a professional (and, yes, I know why a professional is expensive), we are checking with needy friends who have taken photography classes.  Oh, and I need to call the church & the game store to make sure I understand how to get arrangements set up.  I just got reminded last night about rehearsal and its dinner — we’re working on that.  Every woman I talk to asks me about a shower for E: I tell her, “I’m not doing one.  I don’t think anyone else is, either.”  So, not your traditional organized extravaganza. But it will happen.

I’m getting emails from my grad advisees who need letters from me, and comments on theses.  And I’m supposed to be working on a book during my sabbatical.  Oh well.

Don’t expect to hear much from me until this is over.