It’s been a couple days now, and I feel like life is getting back to “normal”, whatever that means. I hope Peg will take time to reflect on Kate’s wedding – her thoughts are always deeper than mine.
We – mostly Peg and to a degree Kate – planned and prepared for Kate and Colin’s wedding for almost a year. It began last Labor Day weekend when Colin asked us for permission to ask for Kate’s hand in marriage. I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a glorious weekend, Lori and some friends were visiting, and my mobile phone rings – Colin calling. Reception being pretty bad on the hill, I asked him to call on the landline. When he did, he said he was “in the area” and could he stop by. I said sure, and he said he’d be up in five minutes. In the area? He was probably at the base of the driveway.
Peg, Colin and I had a great chat. No one other than his good friend Jason knew he was at the farm – not Kate, not his parents Rick and Linda, not his sister Cailin. Just the three of us (and Lori!). His best line: “I’m so glad you guys moved to Vermont from Chicago – makes it a lot easier to do this.”
The next weekend, in a convoluted ruse, Colin asked Kate to marry him at her grandparents’ house in Conway, NH. Rick and Linda were already scheduled to spend the weekend with us at the farm, so Kate and Colin came back to surprise them with the news and we had quite a celebration.
After that – preparations began. I arranged for room blocks with four local hotels. Peg reserved the Porta Potty. Kate and I talked to one caterer, who almost made us give up on the idea of an outside wedding. Why? Well, we are on a lot of “ledge”, and if the stakes that keep the tent poles secured hit rock before going deep enough, it would be expensive to drill holes in the rock. But Pete from Rain or Shine visited the farm, looked around, and said no problem. Hurray, back on track!
Pete gave us names of caterers and spoke highly of Chris Sailer – his references agreed. We had our caterer. I was given responsibility for finding the photographer (Jeff Woodward), purchasing the drinks, printing name cards and table cards, arranging for bus and shuttle service for about 60 guests. Peg made tablecloths, table toppers, napkins, worked the invitations (and so much more). Cheri – with her wonderful penmanship – addressed all the invitation envelopes (her wedding present to Kate). Eileen handled ALL the flowers. Kate and Colin took care of selecting the music. We made a rustic bar, two bentwood trellises, painted direction signs. Peg and Kate developed the seating plan for dinner (ARRGH that was hard to watch). I mowed the field along the driveway for parking cars. Peg found two polite young men to do the parking. Thursday before the wedding the tent went up, Friday the Porta Potty arrived. Eleven months after popping the question, we were going to host 160 friends and family members on Saturday.
That last paragraph was written to try to give a sense of the multiple, frenetic activities that lead to tremendous stress building up to a wedding – stress that is compounded by the fact that the entire affair is being held at our home. Last week, I can’t count how many people asked how I was doing as D-Day approached. You’ll have to ask Peg, as she did most of the work, but I felt remarkably calm. The only time I felt the least bit anxious was in the aisles at Price Chopper on Thursday afternoon. Then I got into a checkout line with a Trainee at the register. Looking at him try to deal with his stress actually calmed me down, and I felt great leading all the way to Saturday afternoon.
The Wedding – it was, in a word, fantastic. The weather was perfect. Our guests were stunned by the setting. During the ceremony, they could look at the wedding party or gaze at the spectacular view. Kate and the bridesmaids were beautiful. Colin, the groomsmen, the bridesmen, all stunningly handsome. Sean – the minister (and Colin’s uncle) – presided over the service in a way that was reverential, warm, humorous, and touching all at the same time. The music was glorious – with I would guess at least 25 people playing and/or singing. After the ceremony, cousins, uncles and aunts moved every chair into the tent. The tent and dance floor couldn’t have been better. Families and friends reunited. The seating plan worked. The food was scrumptious. The toasts were heartfelt. The first dances were charming. Photographs were taken, and taken, and taken. Martha jumped over the fence, and James helped me get her back without a problem. No one got lost, sick or hurt (I think). The sunset made everyone stop and look, the moon was almost full. The dance floor was mostly full most of the night. Sparklers amused the kids (I tried not to think about the possibilities). People actually loved the Porta Potty. Kate and Colin made a lot of noise as they left, thanks to cans tied to the bumper. The last shuttle van left around 11:30; Peg and I went to bed around 1:00; David, Patch and Jen kept going until 4:00.
The next day, family and friends dropped by, helped clean up, sat and visited. The Porta Potty and tent were both gone by mid-day. Peg and I slowly cleaned up, working for a while, resting for a while. Around 4:30 Peg asked how I was doing, and I was a little deflated – 24 hours earlier we were at the beginning of the best party we’ve ever hosted (and we’ve hosted A LOT of parties). I wished it could have kept going. By 5:30, when Julie, Tom, Dana, Gayle and Luke arrived, you couldn’t really tell there’d been a mighty shindig at the farm. Fun games of Blongo-Ball and delicious wedding leftovers for dinner.
The wedding – the weekend – makes me thankful for so many things.
- For my wife – I am the luckiest
- For our bride daughter – she is radiant and gracious
- For our maid of honor daughter – she not only gave a wonderful, heartfelt toast about true love, sometime during the night she said to me, “I’d like to have a small wedding.”
- For our son-in-law – Sunday afternoon I walked into the kitchen to find him doing dishes, while his bride was napping in the hammock
- For our family and friends – everyone travelled a long way to be with us for this special occasion
- For our home – Savage Hart Farm is a truly special place
- For our flock – they are proof that you are never too old to learn
- For our life – this past year has been truly transformative, and I look forward to many more transformations – they make the world truly interesting
In closing, I’d like to have Van Morrison sing me out…
Have I told you lately that I love you
Have I told you there’s no one else above you
Fill my heart with gladness
Take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles that’s what you do
I miss you, Dad.