We hosted a homemade wedding for my youngest brother and his long-term partner last Saturday.
Yes, it was a lot of work sprinting through spring chores to get the gardens and house cleaned up. But it was also a lot of fun, especially in the days immediately surrounding the event.
Everyone pitched in.
And I mean everyone.
When Tim and I married , we commissioned a custom crocheted chuppah from our neighbor Terry, who’d sold us crocheted snowflake ornaments our first Christmas. It’s been in the attic for more than three decades, and the mice have chewed a few holes. So I called Terry.
“Do you remember the wedding canopy you made for us?”
“I still have the thread!”
“Do you think you can mend it?”
“Bring it by.”
The contractor finishing up this year’s home improvement cut us some thin strapping, and a bunch of brothers-in-law spent Saturday morning constructing supports for the chuppah, under which the ceremony would take place.
One niece of the groom catered the event with her partner. These two are bakers and brewers as well as fantastic cooks. Six weeks earlier they brewed two beers just for the wedding. They also baked pita on the grill, and put together a delicious Mediterranean spread – and they cleaned the kitchen!
Meanwhile, the day of the wedding, my new sister-in-law and I wiped pollen off the outdoor furniture before repairing to the garage to arrange flowers the groom purchased from a nearby flower farm.
We set the tables with Indian block-print tablecloths purchased over a decade ago for my parents’ eightieth birthday party. At the time, they cost only a dollar more than renting tablecloths, and we’ve used them countless times ever since, both for parties at home and for the pot-luck suppers at Williamsville Grange after Tropical Storm Irene.
I’ve also been saving whiskey bottles for years, not knowing they’d make perfect water bottles at a backyard wedding.
Now I know.
Another of the groom’s nieces lettered signs for the parking; her partner directed cars into the field. I met with the couple to be married for a last look at the ceremony, then sprinted to dress as the guests began to arrive.
It was a lovely congregation of relatives and old friends who dove into spirited conversation we had to interrupt when it was time for the service of welcome, ritual, prayer, wine and vows.
Applause and Hurrahs!
The party was on!
Voices and the fragrance of the locust trees filled the June afternoon that softened into evening, and finally to dusk.
I distributed headlamps for those who stayed past dark, and we scraped and hosed down the rented plates, refrigerated the leftovers, stripped the tables, swept the kitchen floor. Those of us who worked hardest were giddiest with success. It was hard to come down from the high of a great celebration, but we had a brunch to put on in a few hours. Most of us crept off into bedrooms; others pitched tents.
The next morning, we brewed a big pot of coffee, sliced gravlax and fruit, and welcomed those who returned to visit again.
Relaxing in the empty house late Sunday afternoon, my newlywed brother spoke as a happily married man who’d defied what he calls “the wedding industrial complex” with a truly homemade wedding that was such a joy to give.