My niece’s wedding! The first of my mother’s seventeen grandchildren to be married. A moving and momentous ocassion! Where to possibly begin? Ah, yes, of course! The mani-pedi’s! All six of my sisters and I, along with the bride and two of her cousins, practically took over the nail salon. When the last of my sisters arrived a bit late, having gotten caught in traffic, one of the staff smiled and proudly announced, “I can tell! You are one of the seven sisters!” It’s no small feat for all seven of us to be in one place at the same time, and it was both sweet and fun for all of us to hang out together, help one another pick out nail polish colors, and ooh and ahh with one another over the finished products. It was also fun to include the younger generation and realize what good memories we were creating for them. Although I doubt my mom ever got her nails done professionally, I am certain she was smiling down upon us, seeing us all so happy together.
The day of the wedding was sunny and clear. The night before, we’d gathered at the hotel–my sisters, cousins and families along with dear friends who’d come from near and far–and caught up with one another over a simple buffet. We stood in groups and took pictures. The seven sisters. The seven sisters with the bride-to-be. The seven sisters with their families and bride-to-be until everyone in the room was squished together into one frame. Who would take the picture? The friendly caterer got the job. Reluctant to leave when the meal was over, we headed down to the lobby and continued to talk until it was time to get some shut eye before we started all over again. Which we did the following morning after running first from room to room–one sister had forgotten her mascara while another had the other’s shoes. But we all seemed to make it over in time for the big event.
The wedding site was picture perfect–the ceremony held in a large, airy gazebo with chairs extending back in rows for the guests. Two of my mom’s dear friends joined us, both looking beautiful with their chiseled cheeks and white hair, one using a walker, the other at ninety the picture of health. Having named my daughter after this close family friend, I made sure to take a picture of her sitting next to my daughter. The last picture I had of them together was at my mom’s funeral four years earlier.
Several of us quietly moved our chairs into the shade as the ceremony began. The rabbi was a close friend of the family and was officiating at the wedding despite being on sabbatical. His love of the family was evident by the warm and personal words he spoke. Once again, I’m certain my mother was listening with a smile from ear to ear. I wish I’d been braver when the bride and groom spoke their vows for without a microphone, their words got blown into the wind. Fortunately, they repeated them at the ceremony for all to hear. Perhaps saying them twice reflects the strength of their meaning!
After everyone in the wedding party had marched back up the aisle to where the yummy appetizers were waiting, a second niece of mine and her fiance rushed over to me. “We have something important to ask you,” her fiance said. I racked my brain. They couldn’t be asking me to be their child’s godparent as they had no children yet. What could it be?
“We wondered if you’d be the one to marry us?” he asked. I was delighted, and despite an initial burst of fear–aack, I’d have to be my most confident self and step into the limelight–I knew I could do it! Even the online process of registering with the state to be able to officiate. That would be the easy part!
“Yes! I’d love to,” I answered, hugging each of them. The date was still not set but the venue was. After much looking around, they’d decided to keep it simple, and have it at my sister’s home where she’d had potlucks for all six of her children’s Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I’d loved those and knew this would be perfect.
But for this day, this venue was perfect. The food following the ceremony was elaborate and tasty enough to be the meal. I remember filling my plate with grilled veggies and pineapple. I’m sure there was more that I ate but I was focused on watching the antics between three of my nephews who sat at my table. Part of the joy of this trip was being with my nieces and nephews, and I was reveling in that.
After awhile, we drifted into the room where the party would be held, another beautiful site with large windows and natural light. There were lots of moving toasts, great music for us to dance to, and of course, more pictures. My favorite was the one in which the photographer had us seven sisters and the bride in a chorus line, with the groom jumping behind us. He told me later that he had to jump quite high to be seen despite our short statures.
At some point, I drifted out of the reception room toward some comfortable chairs and couches where it was also quieter. I continued to visit with friends and family until the wedding was over, and even then, with the place being cleaned up around us, we gathered on the patio for another hour, enjoying the fading sunshine and one another’s company.
That night, I couldn’t move. Others went to the hottub and diningroom for a late bite to eat, while I lay quietly in my bed, knowing I had to get up early to catch a flight. I thought over the day before drifting off to sleep. I was extremely happy for my sister and brother-in-law whose daughter was off to a great start in life. I was happy for my niece and her new husband who’d found one another and celebrated in grand style. And I was happy for me, having such a warm and loving family around me that my parents had blessed me with.