The week of the wedding was a whirlwind of activities. Family and friends started arriving early in the week to clear skies clouded with black swarms of pesky love bugs. For those who are not familiar with the amorous little creatures, they’re an imported pest that swarms, in pairs, for a couple of weeks every year. Although harmless, their presence, in unusually large numbers this year, made being outside challenging as they flew, fell and crawled about us, our drinks and our food. With visions of the lovely white coconut cake dotted with an orgy of nasty little bugs and our guests picking tiny sangria soaked carcasses from their glasses, I began to wonder if bugs, not weather, would force us to go to our backup plan.
But there was no time for worry, with only days until the wedding we still had another dress fitting; garden lights to be hung; succulent bouquets to be made; a cake to decorate; a Marilyn Monroe inspired dance to perfect and perform – more about that in another post – maybe 😉 and a picnic for nearly two hundred guests to prepare.
I’d been collecting succulents for months, making starts from cuttings of my own plants and buying more from local nurseries, and my sister dug up and brought down with her a bunch of hen and chicks from her garden and from the gardens around Blue Antler Studio, we would have plenty for all our projects. The cake would be a combination of Publix bakery and homemade, the plan was for me to simply stack, frost, wrap with a blinging band, dust with coconut flakes and top with two fun flamingos.
In the early hours of the wedding day with love bugs still in the air, Wayne and I headed to the farmer’s market where I had arranged to purchase greens, cucumbers, squash, and onions from some of our areas organic farmers. The local citrus grower turns to distributing fresh fruit and melons from around the state during the summer months while their fruit is out of season. I contracted them to purchase and cut up fruit for the fruit salad. By giving them the freedom to select whatever looked best at the moment, we ended up with an unbelievably delicious medley of melons, pineapple and kiwi. I added a hand full of strawberries and blueberries from the supermarket for contrast – yummy and beautiful!
In the meantime my brother and an assortment of friends, young and old and from near and far, hung lights and set up chairs and the tables we borrowed from my son- in-law’s church. A couple of my best friends prepared, mac & cheese (with Gruyere cheese), baked beans (with home grown sorghum) and fresh potato salad (from scratch). My sister in-law led my sisters in a frenzied chopping and slicing marathon for the burger and salad fix’ns and then, like the wonder woman she is, mixed up the sangria and some pina colada for toasting. My mom and a family friend helped me make the bouquets and my son-in- law’s mother came early to help clean, make table decorations and set up the candy bar. To keep the bride calm and out of the fray, some friends hosted the girls in the wedding party at their home with pool side mimosas, lunch and massages! Another dedicated friend bravely documented the entire week and all the goings-on with her camera.
When the ceremony finally began the love bugs had gone and my husband and I walked our last daughter down the aisle in her perfectly fitted gown while our son played the wedding march on his ukulele and her sister stood as her witness. Then the entire crowd, that flowed out into neighboring yards, sang “All You Need Is Love” to the surprise and delight of the bride and groom. The vows were led by a family friend, whose stories from our father-children camping group days had the crowd at once in tears and laughter. Then dads from the old camping group tied on their aprons, fired up the old camping grill and cooked up one hundred and fifty four burgers (only six were left over), fifty six hot dogs (not quite enough) and twenty or so veggie burgers. The DJ, a friend, kept the air full of our favorite songs and another friend/bartender kept our glasses full. It was a real homespun affair and the perfect expression of my daughter’s dreams.
As I watched my husband twirl his little Cindy Jean, now all grown up, around the dance floor to “Brown Eyed Girl” , I was filled with joy and thankfulness for my many many blessing; from my three beautiful children and, now two, wonderful son- in- laws, to all the incredible friends and family and neighbors gathered around us, to the absence of rain (and love bugs). Even now, as I write, I am amazed by the enthusiastic participation of so many extraordinary people, their help and generosity made the ceremony wonderful but it was their love and friendship that made the celebration joyful.