Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - September 7, 2018
A magical day
When daughter Mariya and fianceé Miriam decided to get married, Miriam said she was happy with any theme Mariya chose as long as
long as there would be a taco bar for the meal. Mariya was good with that and, for her part, suggested a “Harry Potter” motif for the
wedding. September 1 was selected to match the time of year when students in J.K Rowling’s famous books returned to Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry to begin their school year.
As the day drew near, I volunteered my services and quickly became immersed in the magic. Husband Art, who never became caught up in the “Harry Potter” mania, viewed all these efforts from some distance. But even he was impressed and felt that the work Mariya and Miriam did was something of a magical miracle. Almost all of the decorations were either made by them or at their direction. Over the course of the days leading up to their nuptials, I helped paint wands, purchased succulents reminiscent of the plants in the herbology classes at Hogwarts, and helped fold napkins into owl shapes, complete with felt beaks, Googly eyes and red and blue ribbons to represent the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw houses - the ones Miriam and Mariya most-closely identify with.
Mariya and friends painted large storefronts for Ollivander’s - a wand shop, and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes - a novelty joke shop, while Miriam fashioned “Bowtruckles” - spindly green creatures from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” - from wire and clay. In between, Mariya made potion bottles and created terrariums filled with tiny dragons, owls, keys, centaurs and clock faces while Miriam made chocolate layer cakes, chocolate ganache icing, raspberry filling and cake toppers that represented the two of them fighting a Dementor, which Mariya made.
They purchased other items: a Triwizard Cup, a Quidditch ball set, a Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 broomstick, Harry’s glasses, a sorting hat and peanut M&M’s in the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin house colors - red, blue, yellow and green - in jars with corresponding house emblems on each.
One day when the two were too busy making decorations, friend Cheryl even cut their grass.
On the day before the wedding, some of us gathered at Manhattan’s Sunset Zoo for the rehearsal. The wedding ceremony was to be at the Chautauqua Amphitheater, which was pretty enough without any added decorations. Groundhogs in a nearby enclosure stood on their hind legs to see what was happening as the couple and their attendants practiced. A peacock and a peahen with a youngster strutted by, seemingly unimpressed.
When the big day arrived, many of us headed out to the zoo’s Nature Exploration Center to set things up for the reception.
We spent several hours doing the usual - arranging tables and chairs, putting tablecloths onto tables, stringing lights, setting up the food, cake and gift tables - and some things that were not so usual - arranging centerpieces of potion bottles, old books, Bowtruckles, terrariums, candles and succulents and arranging the storefronts. The gift table included an owl cage for people to put their cards in, a box of wands where people could choose one that suited them and a trunk with various other items.
Then, with the room ready, we scattered to various homes to ready ourselves.
Art was just going to wear black pants and shirt, but with it being a somewhat quirky theme, he decided to add a colorful tie containing Snoopy looking over electronic parts - a present from his older daughter Karen at Christmas. I wore a black dress, a Time Turner - a “Harry Potter” timepiece which resembles an hourglass on a necklace, and a Ravenclaw-colored blue-and-bronze belt with buckle. I had already visited a salon to get my fingernails painted bronze and my toenails blue. According to the Pottermore website, I identify most closely as a Ravenclaw, so I wanted to look the part as much as possible. Younger daughter Katie, who with husband Matt had traveled 11 hours from New Mexico the day before, wore a black dress and a navy beaded headband to represent Rowena Ravenclaw, the founder of the house named for her.
It was nearly time for the ceremony to begin when we gathered at the zoo. Mariya and Miriam, their attendants Miriam’s cousin Anabell and Katie, Miriam’s parents Carlos and Guille, and Art and I walked from the air-conditioned reception site to the amphitheater. John, our DJ, was playing background music when we arrived.
When the appointed time arrived, Katie and Anabell led the procession and Art and I walked with Mariya while Carlos and Guille walked with Miriam. When the girls were on stage and the rest of us were seated, the couple’s friend Miranda officiated. Everyone chuckled when the couple promised to share their “nerdy life” together. After photos, the reception area was a welcome relief from the 90+ temperature outdoors.
But even those of us who had helped set up the room were struck by how magical it looked. Lights twinkled, Harry Potter theme music played, and small “wizards” accompanied their big-people parents played animatedly with wands.
Before long, we were served tacos with rice and beans at a buffet prepared and set up by Miriam’s cousin and family. The food certainly didn’t follow the Harry Potter theme, but everyone raved about how delicious it was.
Later, Art told several stories about Mariya growing up and another about an incident involving Miriam at his work. I spoke about how Mariya had been my joy in life after my first husband Jerome - her biological father - died.
Cake and dancing intermixed with conversations completed the celebration.
Art and I left for home about midnight, quite pleased how the day had unfolded and how the efforts of the couple, their families and friends had indeed made it a magical day.
Top left-to-right: Wedding invitation as an article in the Harry Potter newspaper; Miriam's parents Guille and Carlos; Miriam and Mariya after the ceremony; Mariya's parents Art and Gloria; Bowtruckle. Bottom left-to-right: Mariya with little sister Katie; Friend Pat and daughter Sharnée pose before store fronts; Mariya with Harry Potter fan Cy.
The couple’s friend Miranda officiated at the ceremony, while Mariya’s sister Katie, left, and Miriam’s cousin Anabell, right, were attendants. The couple symbolically jumped into their new life together with a leap from the stage.