The Simple Things

I recently attended the wedding of one of my brothers up in Washington, Vermont – Population: 1,057. Considering that the town's one general store sells assorted clothing with the slogan, “Where in the World is Washington, Vermont?” (or something to that effect), I wasn't quite sure what to expect on this, my first visit there. 

I was fairly certain it wasn't going to be anything like the traditional weddings we've grown accustomed to here on Long Island. That hunch was confirmed when we received the invitation, requesting us to attend their outdoor ceremony on a hill, followed by a reception in a barn. Yes, that's right - a barn.

The wedding weekend got off to a rather dubious start when, in the process of looking for a restaurant in downtown Montpelier, our little caravan instead managed to take a tour of about three neighboring towns as well. Once we finally located the place, we determined that it was literally one turn away from our hotel. Yes, that's right - one turn.

The next day was the rehearsal and dinner and, with the forecast calling for rain on the wedding day, it was determined we should move our final run-through to the back-up location of a local church. It was at this point that my brother asked if I would be willing to perform a reading at the ceremony. Sure, why not? Couple my absolute love of public speaking with less than 24 hours to practice? No problem! What are sisters for, after all?

The wedding day arrived at last, gray and damp as promised. We all dressed in our summer best, grabbed extra jackets and layers in preparation for an evening in the three-walled barn, and hoped for the best.  

The ceremony began with the soft strains of two cellists seated on the altar. This was followed by the entrance of a bagpiper – a real, honest-to-goodness bagpiper, with the traditional outfit and everything! Then came the wedding party, which included my other two brothers serving as groomsmen and my seven year-old niece, proudly clutching her basket of wildflowers as she marched down the aisle, fulfilling her duty as flower girl.

Readings were performed, songs were sung, wine was sipped (and, miraculously, not spilled, considering the two groomsmen were responsible for its safe transport) and vows were exchanged. The groom, despite looking a little unsteady at times, held his ground until the end. And when the minister officially pronounced them man and wife, the entire congregation of family and friends erupted in the longest, most sustained round of applause I have ever heard at a wedding ceremony.  

The reception, while most definitely in a barn, was nicer and more intimate than most of the so-called “country club weddings” that I've been too. Thousands of tiny white lights twinkled from the rafters, illuminating the huge stalks of sunflowers which stood against the beams; the tables were set with an “elegant mishmash” (their words) of plates, glasses and cutlery, most of which were set to be donated following the festivities. The food was provided by local merchants and friends, in keeping with the natural, “home-grown” theme adopted by the happy couple.

Toasts were given by both the father-of-the-bride and of the groom; touching, heartfelt words. But, just when we assumed this portion was finished, there came the booming voice of my middle brother, echoing down from the rafters of the barn's balcony. He then proceeded to wax poetic for a solid ten minutes or so, recounting his own fond memories of my brother, his numerous past girlfriends... At one point, a childhood friend of theirs – who happens to be a cop – muttered to the (literally) blushing groom, “Want me to shoot him for you?” Thankfully, the toast was wrapped up just in time. No shots were fired.

As the evening wrapped up, one thing was clear - no matter the location, no matter the difference in tradition, it simply didn't matter. In the end, it only came down to the simple things – family, friends, love...

As the invitation read, a quote from Rumi:

“A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,

apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.”

It just doesn't get much more simple than that.


{Published: September 20th, 2006}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment