Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - November 18, 2022

Wedding snapshots

When I began writing this column 21 years ago this month, I chose the "Snapshots" name principally because I enjoy taking pictures. People are accustomed to me always having a camera and my corralling them for a shot to document this or that. Now that the quality of cell-phone cameras is so good, that addiction has accelerated.

A quote attributed to author Eudora Welty has always stuck with me, too: "A good snapshot stops a moment from running away."

But recently I thought about how our recollections of the past work in much the same fashion as a still camera ... catching snapshots of larger events. I wandered down that mental trail recently because of a family milestone event. Sister Gaila's youngest daughter Larisa married the first Saturday in November, the last of the six cousins to tie the knot. It prompted me to began thinking of the previous five weddings.

Paul, my brother Dave's and sister-in-law Linda's son, was the first, marrying in July 2001. The wedding was in Dallas and, yes, it was hot. While I remember parts of the ceremony and the long trip in our seven-seat van, other things also come to mind. The first is that Paul was the only grandchild my dad saw marry as he died the next year. Another is that Paul and Rachel married on Linda's parents' anniversary. I also recall driving home on I-35 while sharing "Hostess" cupcakes. I had eaten part of mine, when a Hostess truck began to pass. Husband Art honked the horn and several of us held up our tasty treats. The truck driver grinned and honked back.

Dave's son Michael's wedding was in Salina in June 2004. It went extremely smoothly, and I remember Michael and Kristina were transported from the church to the reception in a black vintage car. Another recollection is from a time much earlier. I no longer remember why, but despite having dated for some time, Michael and Kristina broke up. But after some period apart, Michael announced at a family gathering that they had decided they were meant to be together. They now have three boys, with the oldest in high school!

Daughter Katie was married in August 2017 and her and Matt's small outdoor wedding was in Wyoming's Grand Tetons. My go-to image is of them saying their vows with the Snake River to their backs and the mountains over their shoulders - a wedding scene hard to beat. I also recall that the ceremony was delayed because Matt's sister Caitlyn and fianc´┐Ż Colin had forgotten the rings and had to scurry back to their B&B to get them. A bonus was seeing three national parks - the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and the Badlands - within a one-week period.

Daughter Mariya's and Miriam's wedding didn't involve any travel for us because it was at the Manhattan zoo in September 2018. Both are Harry Potter fans and so it inspired the decorations for their nuptials. While the authentic Mexican cuisine Miriam's cousins provided was delicious, the Harry Potter-themed wedding cake made by Miriam was also noteworthy. The seemingly countless figures from the Potter stories, crafted by Mariya and Miriam, as well as weirdly-shaped succulent plants, were stand-out centerpieces. Guests were encouraged to take those decorations, along with wizards' wands, home with them.

Gaila's and Humberto's daughter Gabriela married Bernie in Washington, D.C. in early June 2019. The outdoor ceremony had to be moved indoors due to a light rain. The wedding was notable because of the bilingual English-Spanish ceremony and the table decor being related to their Bolivian and Salvadoran backgrounds. It was the only cousins' wedding Art didn't attend as he was in Germany with his daughter Karen and grandson Josh. We two were also hosting a group in France later in the month, so I barely got home before having to re-pack to head overseas to meet Art.

Larisa's and Keenan's wedding was planned for September in Lawrence, Kansas, where they met while in school. But Gabriela discovered she was pregnant and Emilia's expected arrival was that same month. So Larisa had to change the date because her sister was pregnant! A shift to November in a college town on a game day can be a challenge, but all went well ... or so it appeared. Gaila later mentioned that the DJ couldn't attend and his last-minute replacement didn't have time to pull together the music they had selected. But folks were up and dancing and having a good time, so what more could one ask?

It's a bit too early to know for certain what snapshot memories will first pop into my head from Larisa's and Keenan;s wedding, but I have some candidates. One is of Kat, the officiant, a friend from when they lived in Bozeman, Montana. She is young, but handled the ceremony well, speaking the vows first in English and then in Spanish. The couple had been together for nine years, so when Kat reached the point where those assembled are asked if there are any objections, she said she wasn't going to ask as "that window of opportunity had closed years ago."

Larisa had said she wanted a wedding not dictated by tradition, but rather one that fit them. While it had most of the usual elements, it did seem very relaxed, and everyone I spoke with said how much they had enjoyed it. It was also the first time in five years that we three siblings and all our kids had been together. What better snapshot can a person have than that?

Top row (l-r): The first five weddings in order: Paul and Rachel; Kristina and Michael; Matt and Katie; Miriam and Mariya; Bernie and Gabriela. Bottom row (l-r): Larisa and Keenan with Kat officiating; the bride and groom; the siblings: Dave, Gloria and Gaila.

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