The past week has been entirely focused on the Big Event of the year: my oldest brother Steve, at the ripe age of 50, has finally gotten married. The shock notwithstanding, our energies have been directed to doing what we can to make sure the wedding came off as well as it possibly could.
This was a small, very personal, and low-budget event, so we all had a role to play. My job was as wedding photographer. My qualifications for this were ownership of two Nikon cameras and a willingness to take the blame if the pictures were awful. This was a bigger risk that you might think, since I’m accustomed to shooting Airstreams and having time to pose people inside them. A wedding is a dynamic and challenging event, and the lighting was difficult to say the least. We had a big bright lake in the background, harsh sun & sharp shadows, and the sun was setting right behind the ceremony site (backlighting the couple terribly). I compensated for my inexperience by shooting madly, taking about 100 photos of the preparations and 700 photos of the wedding day. I think about 200 are worth keeping.
Three different women told me that I wouldn’t get good photos of them because they weren’t photogenic. I’ve found that as a photographer, the best response to this comment is that “I make everyone look great — don’t worry.” Then they relax when you come by with the camera later. Of course, all three women turned up in shot after shot looking absolutely perfect.
Eleanor had the bigger job, however. She volunteered as caterer. For months she and Carolyn have been going over menu ideas, and as they did so, the guest list grew from 20 to 25 to 33 “plus leftovers.” She cooked for “40”, just to be safe, but you need to understand that Eleanor’s portioning usually allows for 2-3 times the actual guest count. Nobody goes hungry at one of her events. Thus, we had food for about 80 people. Two days later, we’re all still eating it, which is not a bad thing since it was all terrific.
I’d post the menu but it’s almost too long. One person could never even sample all the stuff on the buffet table, much less eat a full portion. There were sandwiches, cheese platters, hummus with pine nuts, skewers of marinated chicken and spiced shrimp, champagne grapes and raspberries, compound salads of wild rice and barley, and tons of other stuff. In the photo you can see her preparing fresh figs with a vinaigrette sauce and goat cheese — always a crowd-pleaser.
Because the bride requested a “fresh” menu, all cold dishes and predominantly vegetarian, Eleanor and I spent about 10 hours preparing vegetables and meats on Friday, and then Eleanor spent another four hours or so making sauces and handling details. She got up again at 7 a.m. on Saturday to spend another eight or nine hours at it before the guests arrived. I was on hand to wash dishes, carry things up and down to the basement refrigerator, chop things, and generally lend a hand where I could, but she did the really heavy work. It was an enormous job, and yet it was great for Eleanor to have the chance to flex her culinary muscles and make a lot of people happy.
Emma’s job was ring-bearer, and to deliver a short reading during the ceremony. She read a selection from A.A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six” about Winnie-the-Pooh, and did a great job. The book she practiced on was mine when I was her age. I wonder if, now that she’s been introduced to Milne’s poetry, she will read the rest of the book?
Of course, the Airstream had a role as well. We had volunteered to get it out of the driveway before the wedding, to free up parking space, but Carolyn wouldn’t hear of it. She arrived after having her hair done and used the Airstream as her dressing room. So the picture at right is the first moment when anyone saw her, ready to get married. Now our Airstream has a small piece in family history too.
I like small, personal weddings. There are more decisions to make when you act non-traditionally, but the result is very gratifying. Everything suited everyone there: the comfortable clothing, the music (as the bride walked across the lawn, we heard Iz’s version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow,”) the food, the ceremony, and the lakeside setting. There’s also a lot of risk in trying to hold an event on the shores of Lake Champlain because of the changeable weather, but as you can tell from the photos it was perfect for a memorable day.
The best part of a good party is when it doesn’t end. About half the guests pitched tents on the lawn and spent the night. It was sort of like having an Airstream rally. One of the friends fired up a grill and made egg & cheese muffins for everyone in the morning (flavored with maple syrup, of course, since this is Vermont), and then we sat around in the Adirondack chairs while a few gifts were opened. I don’t think anyone left before noon, even though it started to rain. You know you’ve done it right when people don’t want to leave.
Now the wedding is behind us, and the leftovers are nearly eaten, and I’ve culled down the 700 photos to fit on CD’s for people who couldn’t be here. We’ve got to start thinking about the next events coming up. The Addison County Fair and the WBCCI Region 1 Rally will both start this week. Next week is the Vintage Trailer Jam. We are going to all three events. August has started with a bang and it looks like it will continue in the same festive vein for quite a while.