Last weekend, my whole family (mom, dad, my two brothers, and our three ladies) went to a wedding. It was the wedding of one of my oldest friends; her family lived on the acreage next door to us, and their three kids (two girls and one boy) were the same age as us three boys. We were inseperable when we were very young- mostly because of the fact that there were so few kids in the "neighborhood" - and were best friends until I was 10 years old, and we'd kept in touch over the years, visiting them in the south end of the province, riding around the family's cattle ranch, and rotating New Year's celebrations for almost a dozen years. We were all rather pleased to hear about the wedding, and there was no question that we were all going to caravan down together early Saturday morning for the afternoon ceremony.
I was asked to sing during the signing of the register, so I wanted to ensure that I'd get there an hour before curtain (and yes, I do think of weddings in terms of theatre lingo - when referring to my own upcoming nuptuals I have referred to tuxes and bridesmaid dresses as 'costumes', and the decorations and rings as 'props'). I'd wanted to leave at 8:00, and so at 8:15 the eight of us stood in my parking lot, eating Egg McMuffins and drinking coffee, going over the plans and who was riding with whom. Peach and I headed down with my youngest brother and his girlfriend, and we had a pretty good time. With the girls chatting away and my brother reading Lucifer in the back seat, I was able to put on the Hanson Brothers and sing to my heart's content as I made my way down Highway 2. When we had made it through Calgary and into our hotel in High River, we all piled into the only room that was available and watched the hockey game as we shined shoes, put on dresses, and tightened ties. We left the hotel at 2:00, which was when I wanted to be AT the venue, but whatever. I get used to that when there's eight of us going anywhere.
Drove from High River to the ranch with my middle brother and his girlfriend, and since she and Peach are pretty untalkative ladies, he and I did most of the talking. And we did pretty well, by our standards: almost forty-five minutes in the car together and we didn't once get in an argument, which for some of you might come as a shock. It was cloudy and threatening to rain the whole way out; a few drops splattered across the windshield but otherwise it was pretty dry. By the time we'd arrived at the ranch I had less than 20 minutes to figure out when I was supposed to sing, run the song through a few times, and talk to a few people. At 3:00, with increasingly threatening clouds overhead, we sat in our seats and awaited the start of the show.
The first of the groomsmen walked down the aisle between the fold-out chairs, and at that very instant the wind picked up and it really started to rain. Not a hard rain, and no thunder or lightning, but still: it was certainly no weather for people who'd left their umbrellas in Edmonton. That didn't really matter to me, though, because when she came down the aisle with a huge grin, I was right in the moment for a second. She's just the kind of woman who, when she's in a good mood, is so warm that you can't help being infected. The ceremony was nice - the photographer lent her his umbrella, and someone else lent the bridesmaids one as well - and despite having no preparation, my song went off without a hitch. I was so happy to be a part of it, and I don't mind saying that I couldn't look at the bride while singing because I started to choke up the moment I caught her eye, and spent most of the song with my eyes shut or looking up into the sky, something I've put to great use in Kow before as well. It was a very nice ceremony, all in all, and the rain didn't really get to us, mostly because it didn't get to her.
The reception was fun; Peach and I were seated with some of the bride's & groom's friends from Brandon, and an old classmate of mine from elementary/junior/senior high school. We remenisced a bit ("So and so's finally come out of the closet!" "So and so and what's her name got MARRIED?"), and the meal was very good. The open bar kind of put Peach on alert - we're still figuring out how we're going to do a bar at our own wedding - and the beer can count on some of the tables by the end of dinner made even my eyes widen. But everything was fine: no drunken relatives (well, no obnoxious ones, anyhow), and the speeches were short and lovely. The speech to the bride was made by her grandpa, and she started to cry as he was just walking up to the podium. As my middle brother's girlfriend said, "I'd never seen those two people before tonight, but when you look at them, you can just tell that they've got this incredible love for each other." It was an incredible experience, even if his jokes were a little hokey.
I cut a hell of a rug at the dance, which contained a lot more country music than most weddings I'd been to over the years. Peach went home early, as she's not much into dancing and didn't have a lot of people to talk to, but after feeling a little sad, worked out my frustrations on the dance floor; there were many cute women to dance with, and only my brothers and the bride's brother to break up the all-female monotony. There were a few surreal moments that stick out:
I was particularly surprised when the usual crowd-favourite "YMCA" pretty much cleared the dance floor. My attempts to get people to dance to it, i.e., yelling at the bride's brother that "there is no better way to celebrate your sister's new relationship than by dancing to a song about man-love!", fell on deaf ears, so I danced with his girlfriend and everything balanced out in the end.
At one point my youngest brother hijacked the microphone and tried to get a "Let's Go Oilers!" chant going, but the only people who supported him were the few of us who'd come down from Edmonton.
The bride's 92 year old grandma got up to dance to Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."
The last song of the night was "We Will Rock You" by Queen, and the twenty-five of us that were still left stood around in a big circle stamping our feet and clapping our hands.
It was a hell of a day, and by the end of it, the bride was just beaming, asking everyone if they'd had a good time, which is really just like her. My family's job was to help clean up the reception when it was all over, and by about 2:00 we had finished clearing tables, loading presents into the van, and taking the white Christmas lights off the topiaries. It was probably one of the best weddings I've been to, which is no slight to any of my choir friends, but any wedding where you have my mom dancing to "Get On It" by Sir Mix-A-Lot is pretty hard to beat.