Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Montana wedding

Nothing much going on. I'm at yet another temp job, and at this particular moment I have no work to do. It's the perfect opportunity to take care of some old business, and I owe you a story about the wedding I attended in Montana. This was the story so far. Now, here's what I meant by scenery:

This is Flathead Lake viewed from the wedding site. When I took this picture, I was standing on the wooden deck around the lodge building, looking out over the lake at around 9:00 in the morning. The lake is one of the most strikingly beautiful things I've ever seen.

While Serbian wedding ceremonies take place in the city hall and the Orthodox church, officiants in the US are free to conduct weddings pretty much anywhere, and many couples choose outdoor locations. (I myself was married in the Public Garden in Boston.) This trend explains why The Simpsons' Reverend Lovejoy lamented that more people don't get married "inside the church with God, instead of out here in the cheap showiness of nature."

In this case, the choice of location was also one way that the couple adapted the wedding ceremony to reflect themselves and their personality: the groom, A., grew up in nearby Kalispell, Montana. Naturally, he became an avid hiker, skier, and all-around mountain man; in addition to being convenient for his family and beautiful to look at, the Flathead Valley has an important meaning in his life. In a way, I felt that I got to know him better by just being there.

Aside from the setting, an original poem written and read by a friend, and the choice of music - during the ceremony, a string quartet played, among other things, familiar melodies from The Beatles and Radiohead - the wedding was pretty traditional. A. had his best man and three groomsmen in tuxedoes; K., the bride, had her maid of honor and three bridesmaids in matching red dresses; K.'s father walked her down the aisle; they read the traditional vows from the prayer book.

It was the first time I'd been to see friends of mine get married. The last wedding I attended was my own, nearly three years ago, and it was much less traditional. We invited only fifteen people, read silly love poetry, signed a Jewish marriage contract, and were married by a justice of the peace (not clergy) who did not mention God or use the phrase "till death do you part." It was a perfect wedding for Meaghan and me, and I've been very snobby about our decisions since then, assuming that people who had "big" weddings were sacrificing their own best interests for the sake of family pressure and tradition.

Attending A. and K.'s wedding helped me to understand why someone might actually want a big wedding. During the rehearsal dinner, which is a smaller gathering held the night before the wedding, they distributed lists of phrases describing guests who were present, such as "once transported horses across the Atlantic" or "lived on a farm in Taiwan." (Mine was "knows how to dance Argentine tango.") We were instructed to match our fellow guests to the descriptions, just like on the first day of a language class. Of course, his relatives received descriptions of her family, and vice versa.

During this activity (and in between conversations with random North Dakotan relatives) I spoke briefly to A. and K. They were taking in the spectacle of all these people meeting - their parents, cousins, friends from high school and college, everyone they care about. It was like seeing their whole life in one place. What better way to celebrate the symbolic joining of their two lives, than by physically bringing all the important people together in one place?

1 comment:

milica said...

Daniel,
Good to hear from you again. I've checked your blog several times, hoping for more funny stories from work.
I remember seeing an off-Broadway show written and performed by a woman who'd had some fifty odd jobs. As I remember, it was rather funny.

best,
Milica