Sunday, June 12, 2011

Best Wedding Ever!

Sunday afternoon, I went to my sixth wedding. A young couple that I had met at the Young Adult retreat on Samish Island last year held their wedding today. They are a dynamic young couple with an amazing story. The groom, Andrew, was born and raised in the Community of Christ. His entire family attends the same congregation that I do and they are a musical family, who trace their roots to Norway. The father is a professor of psychology at Lewis and Clark College. Andrew attended Graceland University (owned by the Community of Christ) in Lamoni, Iowa. After graduating last year, he spent the summer on the church's WoRLDService Corps (a kind of Peace Corps experience for our church) in Argentina and Colombia.

The bride, Emily, is from Southern Illinois. She was raised in an evangelical Christian church. As a teenager, a friend of hers invited her to Spectacular, a week long Sporting event at Graceland University that is popular among teens in the church (I never went to it when I was age eligible, because my brother went and I was tired of being thought of as his twin by everyone. I decided to vacation with my parents in Florida instead and I was glad for it). Her experience at Spectacular made her decide to attend school at Graceland. She loved our church so much that she got baptized and eventually received a priesthood calling. She and Andrew met at Graceland and fell in love. After graduating last year, as well, she participated in the WoRLDService Corps. The church sent her to Hawaii, Fiji, and New Caledonia. When she shared her experience with the congregation, she called it her "Eat, Pray, Love" experience, because on each island, she experienced one aspect of those three elements. Most interesting is that she felt uncomfortable with the church in Fiji because members there tend to be more evangelical than members in the U.S. It was a culture shock for her, particularly when she heard the preacher tell the congregation that they needed to use the scriptures "as a weapon"! I would freak out as well.

At last year's retreat, when I met the couple, I was stunned to learn that this beauty did not know anything about celebrities. When picking a famous person one team didn't think the selected person would be able to guess, Andrew assured us that his girlfriend would not be able to guess any famous celebrity that our team thought up for her. The selected person had to listen to the questions we ask of them and guess who they might be. It was true, Emily did not know any celebrity name, even though I thought anyone would be able to guess. I forget who she was, but when it was my turn, people were shocked that I was able to guess mine within three questions. The other team had selected "Dora the Explorer" for me. From that intro mixer, I was impressed with Emily at the start. It was refreshing to see a beautiful, young lady who isn't the least bit interested in our over-obsessed celebrity culture. She's pure and quite a spiritual lady. Andrew definitely snagged a catch!

Their wedding was held at the Community of Christ, Lewis River Campgrounds. I've been there a few times (but I much prefer Samish Island). The wedding started at 4 p.m. and was outside. There was a misty kind of rain. I had forgotten to wear a hat. Saturday was sunny, so it was unfortunate that there was an overcast today. However, when the ceremony began, the sprinkling stopped. As the father of the groom mentioned to me later on, the sprinkling picked up again after the ceremony concluded. I didn't even think about that. Wow...that is amazing. A sprinkle-free wedding ceremony! Was this a divine occurrence? I like to think so!

The groom's younger brothers (and two boys I'm not sure what their relations to the groom is) served as ushers. They had cool T-shirts on that had a tuxedo print on the front. Very clever! Once the main VIPs were escorted to their seats, the ceremony began with the song, "Seasons of Love" from the Rent musical playing. When I first heard the opening chords, I perked up and knew that I was in for a treat. I was pleasantly surprised that they used this song in their wedding ceremony. After all, this is the song that I had selected as my theme song for this year as I begin dating again and search for the lady I am meant to marry. The wedding party walked down the aisle during this song. There were seven on each side. There were five bridesmaids and two "bridesboys" on the bride's side and five groomsmen and two "groomswomen" on the groom's side. Andrew's oldest friend served as the Best Man. Not sure who the Maid of Honour was. I thought that was an interesting set-up.

Once the wedding party took their places at the front, the ushers unfurled a long, silk cloth to serve as the path for the bride to walk on. The flower girl and ring bearer (also a girl) walked ahead of the bride. The groomsmen and bridesmaids suddenly broke out into song. The bride walked down the aisle to this song instead of the standard Wedding March. The minister (the father of the groom) told us not to stand when the bride appeared, so that everyone could have the opportunity to see her as she walked down the aisle. Another unique "break from tradition."

The minister mentioned that the couple wanted their rings to be passed around to each person in attendance, for us to give a blessing on it and passing it to the person sitting next to us. Another unique aspect of their wedding! When it made it around to where I was sitting, the rings were in a tiny mesh bag. The ring bearer served as the usher, passing it from one row to the next one. They made the ring bearer work at this wedding! By the time the rings made it around to every guest and to the groomsmen, the presentation of the rings part of the ceremony began. In the meantime, there were a few songs, poetry reading, and further instructions that the audience would be the one to pronounce Andrew and Emily as married. We also had to learn a song to sing in conclusion to the ceremony.

The couple shared their sentiments to one another, what they loved most about the other. With the exchange of the rings and the pronouncement of their married status, the minister granted them permission to give each other their first "married kiss." Earlier in the ceremony, when the minister spoke, he mentioned how much trees became a theme of their marriage. Emily teaches at an outdoor school, where she earned the nickname "Willow." I was pleased when I heard the tree theme, because one of the gifts I bought for the couple was a picture frame that had a tree design with the word "Family" on a branch. The frame can hold three 4 X 6 photos. Hope they like it. I was not able to find out where they were registered for wedding gifts.

The couple waited by the nearby lodge to greet each guest as we made our way to the dining hall to get our meal. The food was barbecue pork, a variety of salads, and cornbread. We had to get them at the dining hall, then walk back to the recreation center, where the tables were set up. The decor was consistent with an outdoor theme. There was a place to take photos for the couple that will be put in their scrapbook. The wedding party sat on the stage at special tables. The best man, another groomsman, the maid of honour, and the father of the bride all spoke at length before offering toasts. During their first dance, which I think was another song from Rent that utilized some verses from "Seasons of Love", Andrew and Emily really gave a good show. They obviously had it choreographed and their dance was popular with the crowd. At every other wedding I've attended, the bride and groom did the most basic dance (swaying back and forth, for the most part) I was pleased to see that Andrew and Emily have more of my style (if you're going to do the first dance as a married couple, the guests expect a little something special!). The groom also sang a song to his bride, about how he would never leave her during summer, autumn, winter, or spring for this reason or that. It was pretty funny and touching at once.

For dessert, there was chocolate fondu to hold the guests over until the cake cutting. I couldn't see the cake cutting from where I sat, but I heard cheers erupt, so I don't know how the bride and groom played that.

All in all, a spectacular wedding. The couple showed how a stylish wedding can be done on a limited budget. I enjoy seeing the personal touches of each wedding I've attended. I'm a collector of ideas, because someday, if I should find the love of my life, I want a classy, but affordable wedding. For me, music is a big part of it. I like the idea that I saw at a wedding reception last year (the couple's wedding was in Mexico months earlier): a Powerpoint presentation of the couple from childhood through courtship. Mine would be set to music, though, and in the actual wedding ceremony. I also like Prince William and Princess Catherine's reception idea of having each table represent a country or location of importance to them. I would use this idea, as well, with tables representing Thailand, Italy, France, South Africa, Utah, Washington DC, Stone Mountain, Portland, and areas of importance to the bride. Another idea I like is a cardboard tree as a table centerpiece in which people write well wishes on paper leaves to hang on the tree.

The family that gave me a ride to the wedding asked if I would marry in the church. I told them that I preferred an indoor church wedding, but I would not pick any Community of Christ congregation because none pass my "architectural standard." I have to like the way the building looks on the outside and the inside. There are at least three different churches in Portland that I really think would make awesome Wedding locations. All three have the half-timbered look that I love. It doesn't have to be a church, though. A nice looking mansion or even a faux-castle type would work as well. But, of all depends on the lady I marry and I obviously need to work on finding a meaningful relationship before any marriage talk will be reality.

In the meantime, Andrew and Emily's wedding was truly an inspiration. Best wishes to the great couple on their new life together. They got off to a great start!


Carla J said...

Hi, Just stumbled upon your posts while looking up something else. Awesome summary of the wedding. I'm very glad you could be there. Thanks for all you wrote!

Mamma Nilsen

Sansego said... found my blog! Thank you for commenting. The wedding was AMAZING. All day on Monday, I was thinking about various aspects of the wedding. It was truly inspirational and so unique. A very well planned wedding. All of you did a fantastic job!

aleifnilsen said...

Nick! We're so glad you enjoyed our wedding so! I'm sure your wedding will be filled with just as much joy, love, and awesome personal touches :) Wishing you the best, Andrew & Emily