Friday, May 6, 2022

...and THAT's How You Do A Wedding!

From the moment we walked into the chapel for the ceremony until we said our thank-you’s and good-byes late that night, every aspect of the wedding exuded class. The experience was unforgettable.

Our son-in-law’s sister got married last weekend, and my wife and I were fortunate enough to have been invited. Bride and Groom Lisa and Greg have come to be our friends over the past couple of years. We are blessed that our son-in-law’s big Italian family has included my wife and me in so many get-togethers. They have truly made us feel home in our new surroundings in coastal Connecticut.

The ceremony was held at the O’Byrne Chapel at Manhattanville College, just across the New York state line from us. The bride’s mother and father were married in this beautiful chapel not quite 49 years ago. My wife and I were among the first to enter the chapel, early enough to hear the musicians running through some of the music they’d be performing during the ceremony.

My first career was in music performance. For that reason, I observe a lot of things that other people may not pay attention to. One of the first things I noticed was that the trumpeter was playing a Schilke S-22 horn. An instrument like that will set you back around 8 grand, and it’s for serious players only. As the ensemble was rehearsing “Jesu, Joy”, I turned to my wife and said, “the trumpeter’s low B-flat is a bit sharp.”

She smiles and nods, having put up with this kind of stuff from me for decades. Then, I noticed that as soon as they finished rehearsing that piece, the trumpeter – Ken Tedeschi, a fabulous player and, as I later learned, principal trumpet with the New Haven Symphony – pulled his tuning slide out about a quarter-inch. “He caught it,” I said to my wife. “He’s a real pro,” I added.

Before long, it was time for the main event. Our daughter was one of the bridesmaids and our son-in-law and his brother were the groomsmen. Our darling grandchildren were also members of the wedding party: little Lola was the flower girl, and her brother Joey was the ring bearer. They performed flawlessly!

Here they are with the mother of the bride (aka grandma, or “mamma” to them) in this photo taken by their great-aunt Annemarie.

The ceremony was moving and inspirational; the music was fantastic; the bride and groom were glowing; it was a feast for the eyes and ears, classy, emotional, charming, delightful. Lisa and Gregory’s smiles lit up the chapel as they walked out, now husband and wife.

I must take another personal moment here. For the past couple years, neuropathy has increasingly robbed my sense of balance. I can’t stand without holding onto something. It can be terrifying. I walk easily with the aid of a rollator, but often the rollator impedes rather than assists my mobility. Going out of the chapel, there are three steps – but no railing for me to hang onto to make the descent. As I approached the exit, two of the bride’s cousins, Frank and Paul (Frankie and Paulie to family members) immediately approached me and asked if they could assist me down the stairs. These two “big, strapping young lads,” as my Irish grandpa would say, who were both ushers at the ceremony, came to my aid and helped me navigate the stairs. They are both wonderful young men, a credit to their parents and the extended family.

The reception was held a few miles away at the beautiful and historical Westchester Country Club. We began with cocktails and appetizers on the terrace, overlooking the championship golf course. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm, and soon the terrace was filled with the sounds of laughter and conversation. Everyone was having a wonderful time!

Meanwhile, the bridal party was finishing up the wedding photos. Here’s the beautiful bride and her father, with a vintage Rolls-Royce limousine, at the front portico of the Westchester Country Club. Talk about classy and elegant!

Soon it was time for dinner and dancing. We were led into the spacious ballroom, which looked like something out of a Hollywood movie. Fantastic floral arrangements adorning every table; tasteful decorative touches everywhere; a sensory overload of beauty.

And the music? Out of this world! The 11-piece band played a variety of genres, tempos, textures, and styles. And they were really good. The father of the bride, knowing that I’d have a keen ear for the music, came up to me and asked what I thought of the band. “Fabulous!” was one of the superlatives I used, along with others like “exceptional’ and “remarkable.” “How about those horns,” he said, enthusiastically. “You gotta have horns,” he added, smiling broadly. I told him he’d hit it out of the park with the ensemble at the chapel and the band at the reception.

And, of course, this was no chicken-and-mashed potatoes kind of meal. The first course, served hot and efficiently by the uniformed staff, was lobster with parsnip puree and fresh salad. The second course was filet mignon and shrimp fricassee. The presentation was five-star, and everything was delicious!

We were having a wonderful time. There was much merriment and frolicking, particularly by the folks on the dance floor. Granddaughter Lola danced song after song, a bundle of energy and enthusiasm! The bride and groom stopped by, on their tour of the assemblage. I told Lisa how beautiful and poised she was and thanked her for inviting us. Gregory, the groom, leaned down to my ear-level and said, “I swear I’m going to get your ass out on that dance floor” – an inside joke between the two of us.

What a fantastic day, memorable from start to finish. And even as our daughter walked us out of the ballroom to the valet parking stand, we passed by a huge display of fantastic cookies, each individually wrapped and labelled “From Our Favorite New York City Bakery, Lisa and Gregory.” Had to be Levain Bakery on the upper east side of Manhattan, purveyors of outstanding baked goods. We each took one. (Well, OK, at our daughter’s insistence, I took hers, too.)

Congratulations to the bride and groom, and to their parents for the wonderful, unforgettable event they staged. We had a ball!


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