Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 8, 2006

Making the connection

Last Saturday dawned cloudy and cool. The rain that had been predicted started about mid-day. I felt sorry for our friends whose daughter was getting married that afternoon.

But I needn't have worried. The rain certainly didn't dampen their spirits and they were all smiles as they greeted guests entering the church.

Anyone my age has probably been to quite a few weddings. A wedding, by its very nature, is an attempt by the couple to connect with their community of friends and relatives. That connection is shown through ceremony - doing something that the guests have either done themselves or have seen done before. Yet each couple wants to be seen as special, as being unique as well. But the former often dominates, producing a certain unremarkable sameness to most weddings.

But I'll remember this one!

Little Joy, the niece of the bride, passed out wedding programs with great exuberance, her long dark curls contrasting beautifully with the white ribbons in her hair and her long white dress. She asked if we wanted to sign the mat framing a portrait of the couple - a nice touch, I thought, and different from the traditional guest book. She told me excitedly that she was also the flower girl. Her father told me that Joy was ecstatic to come all the way from Hawaii to be at the wedding of her Aunt Heidi.

Rather than the usual folded program, each person received a stiff slender sheet with a ribbon at the top. One side had the program and the other had the "cast." It noted that the flower arrangements were in memory of the couple's deceased grandparents - a nice way to bring them to the occasion.

A family friend played the saxophone - not your usual wedding instrument - while photos of the bride and groom from babyhood to the present, along with family members and friends were projected onto the front wall.

When the ceremony began, the mothers of the bride and groom walked to the altar table that had been draped with a white cloth and held three candles - two thin tapers on either side of a larger unity candle. Another nice touch was having the mothers light the tapers for they were the ones who gave the bride and groom the lives soon to be joined.

I also liked that the bride and groom faced the congregation. We could actually hear all parts of the ceremony!

The minister spoke to them about the six Cs of marriage - commitment, courage, Christ, communication, challenge and covenant.

"Marriage isn't for wimps," he said. He described how much easier it is to give up than to work at marriage, how the two are stronger than one and those two can be even stronger if Christ is the central cord binding them together. I also liked the way he emphasized the difference between a covenant and a contract - a term frequently used to describe the marriage connection. The latter is a carefully defined rigid arrangement of actions while with the former, it is the goals that are unchanging.

Before the couple exchanged vows and rings, the minister asked them to hold each other's hands, palms up. These hands - young and supple now, he said - will become wrinkled with age. But these same hands will work for each other, stroke each other and wipe away tears as the years go by.

As he said those words, I could see the tears mixed with smiles of the bride and groom. When I looked around the church, I saw they weren't alone. And when the bride giggled at one point, we all laughed with her. It is a rare wedding when the guests seem so connected to the couple.

Heidi spent many of her growing-up years in Hawaii and its influence was visible at the wedding and reception. Servers at the reception wore Hawaiian shirts and leis. Tables were decorated with hurricane lamps surrounded by seashells and tropical flowers.

But perhaps the most important part was the way all the principals did their parts with a genuine naturalness and grace. The ceremony lacked the stiffness that so often robs the event of the joy that should be part of the moment.

When we left for home, we all agreed it had been a very nice wedding indeed. It had all of what is expected, yet with enough differences that it was very fresh and individual. The desired connection had been made!

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