Whenever friends tell me they are getting married, the first word out of my mouth (sometimes after “congratulations”) is “elope!” I am of the belief that people spend too much money and emotional effort in weddings – when they should be putting all of it into anything that lasts longer than a day.
When Luca and I got married we had nine people present (including the two of us.) Even before then I begged him not to bother giving me a formal engagement ring. Our wedding day was simple: we tied the knot in our living room and then went to lunch at a lovely place with a wide ocean view. I needed nothing else.
Having said this, this Sunday I attended the wedding of my good friends David and Emma, and it was everything a wedding is supposed to be. They invited 70 of their closest family and friends and got married in what I’d describe as an outdoor museum in Sonoma called Cornerstone. It was a love filled, heartfelt, admirably organized (although never over-choreographed) affair.
The first part was the ceremony, held in a grassy garden with vineyards as backdrop. From where I was sitting I could see Emma’s hair and veil but not her face. I could see David’s though, and he was so joyful, earnest, and emotional I felt my heart fill. This was, in addition, the only ceremony I’ve attended that makes guests partially responsible for what they have accepted to be a part of. Call me thick, but maybe for the first time I understood the real reason behind inviting people. I carry this gift with me – this sense that, through the years, I have to do my part to make their marriage stronger, because I was there to witness their vows. (So, no winning at Scrabble, Emma!)
The second part was a brief cocktail with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. I admit I wasn’t too enthusiastic about Pimm’s (so sorry, Em), but did drink the fresh lemonade and absolutely loved the fava bean and English pea salad served on endives; the blue cheese set on green apple slices and the mini- bruschette.
Dinner was served under a large, circular tent in a garden lush with flowers (and lovely orange and green flower arrangements on each table.) If the tent-in-the-garden- surrounded-by-flowers description sounds corny to you, I can assure you it was not. It struck the right tone of celebration, romance, and joyful, festive family reunion.
As much as the food is usually the part I consider most notable (mixed green salad with grilled pears and goat cheese; wild mushroom stuffed chicken breast; olive oil poached halibut; chilled cous cous with vegetables and squash tossed in balsamic vinegar) the part I liked the most - besides the actual ceremony - was the Toasts. I saw a new side to my friends – the part that is attached to family, a history. The part that fills in the missing piece of where they came from.
Luca and I feel honored to have been part of this wedding. And, most of all, I am grateful to friends who decide to completely ignore my advice.