As I prepare for my son’s March California Wedding, I am reminded of the last California family wedding I attended. The following is a written account of personal survival and, I must report, marital success… (From about 6 years ago…)
I am in the airport returning from a California wedding in the coastal mountains just north of Santa Barbara. It was probably the best wedding I have ever attended. For me, except for the stress of getting there and now back, it was fairly easy as weddings go. My wife’s family was celebrating the great choice my wife’s niece made. Kaitlyn and Will are really a great couple and I wish them the best of luck, happiness, health, and a long life together. Now the dysfunction of the two colliding families is something special to behold. What a weird combination of people and yet the dance floor was completely full of happy, well-behaved people who had indulged in a great deal of food, family stories, and alcohol.
If you have not participated in a “California Wedding” then let me explain… You do not over dress unless you want to look like a tourist from the East Coast. You find your way to the top of the mountain or the sand of the special beach or by the mystical river-lake-rock formation-ski area or whatever natural phenomenon that the wedding planners assume would be the test of your physical, emotional, and spiritual limits. You must really want to be there because the heat, dust, gale force winds, or attack of insects will be proof of your love for the marrying couple. It becomes a spiritual experience of survival that bonds you with your fellow wedding witnesses. Be prepared for poetry, music, ring bearers that are dogs, cute little flower girls who have to be dragged through the wood chips to accomplish their task, and of course the late start because someone important or something important has gotten lost or is late getting to the remote location. Hopefully, the open bar has NOT open prior to the ceremony or else the ceremony will have many added contributions that were not included on your program.
After the beautiful and spiritually bonding and uplifting ceremony, you may have to find your way to the port-a-potty line and start eating and drinking to re-hydrate after sitting in the sun for way too long. Your next task is to find the reception and the California wines and of course your place. I heard that the father of bride needed a double shot of tequila to prepare for his role of walking down the aisle and telling his stories at the wedding and then the reception. He looked fairly sober. The groom in his flip flops was relaxed. The bride was spectacular in the handmade wedding dress that her loving, and talented, mother had created. (Mom, of course, was a bit stressed but radiantly glowing in the moment.) The ring bearer dog was well behaved and did not jump up on the bride as had been feared. The band and played surf rock for the first set… Of course, this is coastal California and the graying surfer dudes loved the vibes…
Hey, it was a perfect wedding. My wife smiled a beaming radiant smile. She held her two sons. She saw her Florida based step mom. She loved the warm California evening and everything about this wonderful event. Somehow late that night, we made it back to our hotel and began to feel the sadness that this much anticipated event was coming to an end. My plane will be boarding soon and we will fly back to Seattle but I know that I survived the California wedding, the new in-laws, and the California sunburn (that is required as proof of participation.)
Kate and Will, I say again, we love you and have the best life together. We know you will.