Five minutes into a walk, a neighbor about my age stopped me. “Where have you been? Are you ok? I’ve missed your blogs.” “We had a wedding at our house this last weekend,” I replied. “How exciting”, she said. “Who got married?” “My granddaughter”. After I shared a few more details, she whispered, “Golden memories for the bride to be married on her grandparents’ deck. And golden memories for you, too”, she added. She was so right! This blog fills you in as well, in case you had wondered, but focuses on the lasting joys of wedding memories and the strategic importance of repetitive family rituals as well as personal routine rituals.
The saga began at 10:30, Saturday night, May 6. I was up later than usual since I was hosting our church’s weekend inspirational speaker and we had unwound over popcorn and our last opportunity for conversation. I was seconds away from turning my cell phone off before climbing into bed when a text from Granddaughter Rachel in California arrived: “Grandma, can Nick and I get married on your deck?” “Sure!” I responded.
“Mom, you don’t have to do anything”, son Roger said on the phone. “We will take care of everything.” The events leading up to the wedding fell into the almost-miraculous category.
Power washing and staining the deck had been scheduled for some time in May, depending on the weather. On Sunday morning I texted my carpenter that a wedding had been planned for the 20th. He returned the text: “Oh, wow! We’ll take care of you.” Early the next morning, he and his crew arrived along with perfect weather.
Since the plant table had been sanded, power washed, stained and moved to the yard, I proceeded to plan B in setting up a substitute planting area in a garden area near a hose. Working on my knees, I planted the almost rootbound flowers purchased a week earlier, dodging possible frost.
On Thursday, the lawn-mowers returned the dried plant table to the deck, so they could mow, and kindly moved all the pots to the plant table. The deck and yard were ready!
Roger and Elaine arrived a few days before the wedding to purchase food, flowers and make a trip to pick up the air travelers—the bride and groom and their youngest daughter and her husband.
Elaine, following Rachel’s request for fresh York County strawberry shortcake rather than a traditional cake, mixed up the dry ingredients putting them in plastic bags ready for addition of eggs and milk right before baking. She was pleased that the first picking of strawberries from her cousin’s farm were available. Another fun memory for me was assisting Roger the morning of the wedding in capping and chopping the strawberries.
A couple of hours before the ceremony, the dining room table was covered with fresh cut flowers for designing floral crowns, a unique endeavor. As everyone, including the bride and groom, gathered around measuring crown wire, choosing the ribbon color and flowers that they wanted, the atmosphere was full of conversation and laughing as they crafted crowns. Kurt, a name blog readers know, came loaded down with sound equipment, computer, cameras, music and deck chairs and kept his eyes on his two- and four-year-old daughters while their mom designed their crowns. It was as though everyone attending the wedding were part of the wedding party, involved in the preparations. Great memories.
The lunch menu before the ceremony consisted of make-your-own sandwiches, salad and beverages occurring before the vows as Rachel requested. Because of the heat of the high noon sun on the deck, we all moved to the shady yard where Roger officiated the exchange of vows. Photos were taken and the reception of strawberry short cake and ice-cream fit the tenor of this unique celebration.
One week later, everyone is safely back home and I’m still enjoying the pleasant memories of the mingling of a loving and encouraging family as I put trays away, returned books and candy dishes to their original spots, watered several vases of cut flowers and pots of blooming flowers on the posts of the deck.
Thank you, Rachel and Nick, for making it possible for your extended family and friends to participate in your unique wedding ‘ritual’ that will be remembered for years down the road as we get together and look at the photos.
Indeed, rituals are the framework of families, providing security, confidence and family fun. Young children, especially, depend on the repetition of rituals for security, establishing routine and time management in recalling necessary details and avoid last-minute rushing. Listen to people discuss their childhoods and the presence or absence of rituals will be the focus of many memories—where they traveled, camped, worked together, shared meals, made moves, church, schooling, music, wedding, births, deaths etc. Tears and laughter often intercept the sharing. Whether it’s the family style of celebrating birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter or other holidays. Those shared memories knit the family together. My siblings enjoy discussing how Mom set the example by continuing rituals from one rental house to the next. Setting a new ritual of having family devotions after daddy left, was a spiritual bond that comforted and united us. That’s when our family began the ritual of expressing our thanks to God before meals, or at bedtime. A ritual which we all have incorporated into our lives.
The unique style of Rachel and Nick’s wedding celebration also sparked my vivid memory of Jim’s and my outdoor wedding 68 years ago. We graduated from Moody Bible Institute the night before and planned to get married the next morning for the convenience of our Ohio/Texas families traveling to Chicago and our classmates. Like Rachel and Nick’s, our wedding didn’t follow traditional ritual. In fact, our Moody classmates planned and paid for our wedding—the cake, photos/album. In essence, Jim and I merely attended our wedding.
On Saturday morning in perfect weather, June 11, at 11:00, 30 people gathered in the McCauleys’ back yard. I wore my sister Jane’s wedding gown. Brother John gave me away saying, “Her family and I give Ruthie away”. Dick Mohline was Jim’s best man, my sister, Shirley, was the Maid of honor. John sang two hymns that Jim and I chose. Dr. McCauley began his remarks by saying “Weddings, were God’s idea”, using the story from John 2:1-11 about the wedding Jesus attended with his mother, when they ran out of wine and his mother prevailed upon Jesus to do something to save the host from embarrassment. Jesus performed his first miracle at that wedding—a great story to reread. Jim and I reminisced many times about the details of our wedding and Dr. McCauley’s 30-minute sermon. Golden memories that bring smiles and tears.
I encourage you to recall rituals that are and have been memorable to you. Even routine morning/evening rituals play a strategic part of our lives, especially as one grows older. Doing the same thing every day to keep seniors on track reminding them to do what is absolutely necessary for their welfare. God is so good to have designed us with memories. The scripture is full of admonitions to remember the Lord—His unfailing love, presence, provisions and directions.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done. I Ch 16:11-12. NIV.
Thank you, Father, for families, rituals and the love that binds us all together.
FB: What childhood rituals do you still cherish? What rituals have you designed for yourself?
Click on: https://ruthmcrobertsward.com/treasures-of-a-unique-wedding/and view Kurt’s scene.