Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Get Married

If you're casting about for creative wedding ideas, how about asking your dog to be the ring bearer?  Get your uncle to sing to you--during the ceremony. And instead of cutting into a white wedding cake, serve cupcakes--especially a margarita cupcake with tequila frosting.

Nick and I recently attended the wedding of our good friends Natalie Rome and John Pendleton at the Sunriver resort in Oregon. We've attended our share of "I do" affairs in the past, but the 'Pendlerome' mashup was especially creative and touching. Here are just three reasons why, for me, it was an affair to remember.

1. Friends and family were part of the wedding ceremony.

Traditionally, the ceremony is all about the bride and (let's be honest), to a lesser extent, the groom. Not the Pendlerome wedding. On a beautiful lawn at the Sunriver resort, the attendees were seated in two large, bisected semi-circles. Between the circles was an open path for the adorable boys and girls to toss rose petals and, of course, for the bride to make her grand entrance (which she did, in a gorgeous gown that Princess Diana would have craved).

The flower boys and girls strewing petals
Natalie escorted by her fabulous father Don Gaines
About midway through the ceremony, the marriage officiant Micky Lloyd, a close friend of Natalie and John's who is licensed to perform marriages, opened up the proceedings. As John and Natalie were seated, the attendees were asked to come forward with anything we wished to say to the bride and groom, or to just sit and reflect.

Some friends had been asked beforehand to read inspiring quotes about love and commitment. Natalie's uncle Tom Gaines performed a song, which had many (including me) reaching for a tissue. Nick and I popped up and grabbed the microphone, too. I talked about how I'd fallen in love with Natalie when I met her in a cooking class in the mid 90s--she was adorable, smart, and looked quite capable of mischief (and still is). Nick spoke about the moment when we knew we loved John. He'd shown up at our home for a movie musical challenge night, wearing the world's smallest basketball uniform (an homage to John Travolta in Grease) and bouncing a basketball on our living room floor.

Later, Natalie told me they got the idea for including the guests in the ceremony from Quaker wedding traditions (though neither she nor John are Quakers).

Allison, Freckles, Natalie, Micky, and John
When you think of it, a marriage happens not just because two people love one another, but also because their close friends and family members have helped bring them together and have given them support along the way. It felt so right, including us in the marriage ceremony.

2. Their family pet was the ring bearer.

Granted, you don't want to try this with a young pup. And it's a risky proposition with an indoor wedding (what if the dog cocks up his leg on the altar?)

But Freckles, an 11-year-old German Shepherd, behaved beautifully, and her presence added yet more warmth and charm to the ceremony. Freckles has been John's faithful companion for many years and is now much beloved by Natalie and Allison, Natalie's 13-year-old daughter from her previous marriage. When it came time for the ring exchange, Allison (standing beside Natalie during the ceremony and looking so mature and beautiful), retrieved the rings from Freckles' collar.

Allison gets the rings from Freckles' collar

3. They didn't assign seats at the reception dinner!

As a wedding guest, I've never liked being told where to sit and to whom I must sit beside. Too often, it's an effort by the bride and groom to position the fun ones next to, how should I say this?, the tedious ones. I guess you don't want all the laughter coming from one side of the room.

At any rate,  I've gotten into trouble at past weddings by switching around the name cards so I could sit next to whomever I wanted. And if I'm fortunate enough to be invited to your wedding reception and discover that I've been assigned a seat, well, consider yourself forewarned.

Allison Rome, one of my best girlfriends, spinning me around on the dance floor at the reception

Nick, Natalie's sweet mom Sammie Gaines, and me at the day-before BBQ

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  1. All good tips Jim! But you know what impresses me the most? You are dancing up a storm and no pit stains!

    1. Bill, you're a hoot. I guess I have Mitchum (the deodorant, not Robert) to thank for the lack of pit stains!

  2. This is a gorgeous representation of a wedding where two folks who happen to love each other tied the knot. And they shared that love with all of their friends and it created a new community.
    This is the truest example of love.

    And, no PIT STAINS. :-)

    1. You're so right, JuJu. And not just about the lack of pit stains!

  3. Really nice story, Jim. Reminds me of some of the better weddings I've attended. Good advice, too.

  4. Awesome. In every respect. From the east coast brother of the bride. Who felt that this wedding allowed him to become a part of a stirring, loving, cool-as-hell San Francisco community brought together by my sister and my new beloved brother in law. Thanks Jim!

    1. Thanks Steve. You were an awesome part of the proceedings and it was great to have time to get to know you. Hope you'll come back out here sooner than later!