As I sit here watching the solar powered Japanese lanterns swaying in the breeze on my patio, I look back on my daughter Kate’s recent wedding with a great deal of peace and happiness. We pulled it off. Best wedding ever. And pure magic on so many levels. I want to share a few highlights with you.
Kate’s wedding was to take place outdoors on July 5th, by the ocean and overlooking a lighthouse. So, we were a bit concerned earlier in the week when Hurricane Arthur was on its way to Maine, leaving a watery mess on its way up the coast.
On the day of the rehearsal, it was raining so hard that we held the rehearsal in my dance room. It’s perfect for rehearsing a wedding, since there is no furniture—just a free space for dancing. I had a tent in the backyard for the rehearsal dinner. And although it continued to pour, the tent kept the guests dry and the mosquitoes out of sight and off our skin.
My girls and I, along with some of our guests, did a ritual in my backyard to bring on the sun and invoke Divine Order. Then, the bride and I released the whole thing. If it rained, it rained. We would be happy with whatever Mother Nature had in store.
The Wedding Slide Show
Every party needs a focus. This was mine. Kate had asked me to create a slide show of her and her fiancé Mike’s pictures through the years. I immediately had the idea to get pictures from childhood through adulthood from the groom’s mother, while I found similar shots of my daughter. (A big thanks to the groom’s mom, who gave me the pictures on a flash drive—bless her.) And like in Jean Auel’s book The Valley of the Horses (a very sexy romance, by the way) I arranged them so you could see and feel that Kate and Mike were destined to come together.
I finally got them arranged when my iPhone disappeared, with many of the pictures. Four days later I discovered that my iPhone had fallen in a toilet! I got a new phone, took pictures of old prints—again—and hooked it up to the computer. The pictures disappeared. Again. I copied them once more. After spending hours getting them into the right order a third time, the slide show program then showed many of the images upside down!
Thankfully, we finally got it sorted out, with help from Mike (and a trip to the Apple store). As I was fooling around with what’s called the Ken Burns effect—where one slide flows into another—the impact of the wedding finally hit me. I had been so resistant to doing this slide show, because I intuitively knew that it was going to be a big deal.
It certainly was. And in the end, it was completely and utterly worth it. So touching that many of us were weeping.
The Blessing Way
Kate asked me to create a Blessing Way ceremony for her on her wedding day. This ritual is about having the women who have loved the bride for a long time sit in a circle and bless her upcoming marriage with prayers, words of wisdom, funny stories, or whatever comes up.
We included Kate’s stepmother, who loves my daughters, and her 12-year-old half sister. Heaven knows, we can all use as many mothers—and blessings—as we can get.
Before it started, I had walked around the yard of her childhood home (where I still live), gathering flowers and foliage, praying over them, adding spring water, and then squeezing the plant material, getting their essence (and the energy of my blessings) into the water. Several others did the same.
I opened the ceremony by lighting a candle for Kate’s past, pointing out the “my little pony” and other objects from her childhood, which I had placed in the circle with candles and flowers. I blessed her head and feet with the water. And then we began.
The ceremony was potent and moving. It ended with my 88-year-old mother talking about what she had learned about marriage and motherhood. The ceremony took the edge off wedding day jitters, and Kate was able to be fully present during the actual wedding ceremony.
Hair and Makeup
My daughter hired a mother/daughter team, who I have worked with many times in the past. As we finished the Blessing Way ceremony, they were setting up at the dining room table. Perfect timing. They did a great job with the bridal party (me, my two daughters, and their little sister), and helped keep us on time.
I drove Kate to the venue—an outdoor park right on the ocean, which is part of a community college. The closer we got, the better the weather. I met Kate’s dad on a grassy knoll on top of an old WWII bunker.
We took our places on either side of our daughter and then began to escort her toward the sea, where the guests were all seated. A 270-degree expanse of the glorious Atlantic Ocean, overlooking Portland Harbor, lay in front of us, including a lighthouse at the end of a jetty. The sun had come out about fifteen minutes beforehand.
As we walked down the path to the sea towards my friend Deb, the officiant, her processional Crazy Love played in the background and a three-masted schooner sailed by. The view was right out of a movie. And I will never forget that walk. I told Kate to walk very slowly, because this was the day she had waited for all of her life.
Just before we got to the aisle between the benches, I told her to stop, take it in, and to truly be in the moment, awash in the beauty and wonder of it.
Love Lifts Everything Higher
After a touching ceremony and the best vows ever, Kate’s dad spontaneously took my hand, and we walked back up the hill from where we had come with our daughter. He turned to me and said, “This is a day of endings and new beginnings. And I so look forward to including you in the new beginning.”
The circle of my family widened in that moment. Later that evening, his young daughter came up to me during the fireworks. They had been postponed because of rain, so we had a spectacular view of them during the reception. She put her arms around my waist and said, “How are we related?”
I had met her only once before because they were living in England until just recently. My oldest daughter Annie told her, “She’s your bonus Mom.” Then she asked me if I’d come to her home to see her hamster. When her aunt came and told her it was time to go home, she held me closer and said, “If I go now, I will regret it the rest of my life.” Words of an old soul from a young girl. A few days after the wedding, Kate gave me a couple thank you gifts, with a card that included these words: I also want to acknowledge you for all the work you’ve done around your own heart… To be able to enjoy this time free of worry about any tension between you and Dad or around the blending of families is the biggest gift. THANK YOU! There is, of course, so much more to tell. My heart is full. There is no grief, no regret, no loneliness. Just a profound sense of having come through a portal. And simply feeling “whole, complete, and lacking in nothing.”