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79489dec-b864-4533-a926-ba6c2fc29f3b[Big aside. I finished about half of this post and was editing the photo layout when I lost the entire post. Zap! Pooff!  Every bit of it gone.  And you know, when that happens I am sure that what I wrote before was probably the most brilliant, thought provoking, sweet post I’d ever written. So, in the spirit of reconstruction, I’m doing it all again! How did I start???]

We were 13 adults, including the bride and groom, parents, siblings and partners, and three friends including the officiant and her partner, and 5 kids, nieces and a nephew from 3 months to 9 years. We stayed in the big green victorian house with a relatively recent turret addition.  Cheshire and Justin took the top turret bedroom, Cheshire has always loved turrets! We had the house for a week. Often during our week, someone would take note of something that someone who would have been at a bigger wedding would have enjoyed.  You were missed.

As you will see, I have a mess of pictures of what we did before the wedding and after the wedding. Conspicuously absent, is any picture of the ceremony itself.  That is because there was a photographer, masked and socially distanced, snapping away so we could all enjoy the moment. I’ll post actual wedding pictures and some of her family shots when available. For now, it is the pictures taken by various family members including me.

On Saturday, we did not all arrive but those who did, unpacked and set up for the week. Justin and Cheshire fed us that first night with take out from the restaurant which would have catered the original big wedding. The bar-b-que was wonderful! We spent the first three days in and on the water, hiking and playing lawn games during the day and sitting around a fire just off our tiny beach at night. We searched the night sky for Comet Neowise and the girls made a plethora of s’mores with a never diminished bag of marshmallows.

On Tuesday, work began in earnest. The weather did not feel like our friend. For at least a week, we had all been checking our phones and pads for some change to the weather report.  Saturday through Tuesday were glorious, Friday and Saturday were predicted to be the same, but Wednesday and Thursday . . . . Rain and thunder storms in high percentages through out both days. And so, on Tuesday, we began to formulate alternatives–this is an incredibly resilient group! There was a thought to move the wedding day; however, there was a private chef for the rehearsal dinner and wedding meal, a photographer for the wedding, a babysitter for the kids during the wedding supper. Even with this small a group, we could not pivot on a dime and have the wedding on Tuesday.  After much, much discussion, the decision was to do what we could to have the ceremony outside–there was a window of a few hours to shift around. The wedding supper would be set up inside in a closed in porch. The threat of the weather inspired us to set up what we could on Tuesday and to really enjoy the rehearsal dinner outside, under the string of lights and the stars. Chef Randy Brisson, of Dining by Design served us crab cakes, salad, chicken stuffed with prosciutto and spinach, greek ravioli and grilled veggies.  Everything was delicious.

Cheshire wore the dress that I wore for my bridal shower 40 years ago. Justin’s Dad gave a toast. We had lots of wine and much conversation. The night was beautiful and almost bug free.

Wednesday morning was busy.  I worked on flowers for the day.  Although Cheshire has very few flower preferences, Justin knows what he likes and I was thrilled to work with so many beautiful flowers—white lilies, yellow snapdragons, white hydrangea, pink wax flowers, cream and yellow Alstroemeria (Cheshire’s favorite), Queen Anne’s lace, purple Limoniums, fever few and white sedum. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of the flower vases, just one of Cheshire’s bouquet just after I finished it. Perhaps there will be a few professional shots.  

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The day was gray but not stormy.  We crossed fingers and put out the white umbrellas a friend had loaned me for insurance and as it turned out, it was a good policy.

In the afternoon, Cheshire, Julia, Kaitlin, Naomi, and I went to the hair dressers.  Again, we wore masks and distanced as we could.  There were no other customers in the salon and the work the stylist did was truly natural and lovely.

By the time we arrived back at the house, it was time to get dressed, gather and begin.  The nieces all wore flower crowns and matching dresses.  Julia’s dress had pink flowers and I wish I had a picture of it right now.

The service was simple and very sweet.  The chuppah, although it looks a bit wonky in the picture above, looked lovely with our bride and ground standing under it. Naomi officiated, Cheshire and Justin promised their lives to each other, Judy, Justin’s mother, and I gave them a taste of their korovai and a sip of wine.  And then we all toasted the bride and groom and Justin stomped on the glass.

The weather held for the ceremony and for most of our meal; however, the decision of eat inside was a good choice because around 9 at night at  the tail end of the meal, the storms came.  Our porch setting gave a good view of the lightening show. We joked about eating outside and having to dash inside clinging to our plates and wine glasses.

Chef Randy cooked for us again, serving up appetizers, the summer bruschetta with caramelized onion, fig and goat cheese was outstanding, and then a supper of lamb kofta kebabs with tzatziki sauce, tandoori chicken with chimichurri sauce, rice and tabbouleh.  Cheshire and Justin wanted their favorite tastes and Chef Randy skillfully blended the tastes and cultures they hoped for.  For dessert, we had pieces of the korovai (Ukrainian wedding bread) and Cheshire made three kinds of ice cream–banana, vanilla with candy and my favorite, coffee with espresso beans.

Cheshire and Justine danced to our musician’s last tune–Sweet Caroline–and we all sang not necessarily well or skillfully but with gusto and much joy.

We had two more days to enjoy the lake and the fires at night.  We all enjoyed kayaking, Julia and two of the nieces, Halsey and Emma, went tubing.  Julia loved it! More water play, more camp fires, many leftovers!

And then it was Saturday and time to leave.  Back to some sort of real life of quarantine and this strange summer.  We all enjoyed the week at the lake and found the particular joy of this time. We were able to do things, experience things that would not have happened at the big wedding celebration that was planned.  We would not have had the chance to all sit around a single table, or get to know each other as well, especially being able to watch the kids interact.  Had it been a normal summer, our gathering together would have been taken for granted, as it was, we all felt how special the mere act of being together was. We would have had meals prepared for the many and not dishes fit for a fine restaurant.  Certainly, it might not have been practical for me to arrange the flowers or for Cheshire to make our ice cream dessert.

And so, we missed friends and relatives that we had counted on seeing this summer, especially some of the littlest children of my niece and nephews and friends that live very far, and yet this smaller celebration presented its own unique gifts and perhaps we appreciated these gifts far beyond what we could have before this time. It was a good wedding.