July 22, 2007
The wedding reception for my brother and his new wife was held outside, in a courtyard that had been filled with round tables covered with white tablecloths. The band set up inside the gazebo, near a dance floor. Flamingos stood in the pond, separated by a railing and a curving garden of bright flowers. Amidst all the talking and dancing, guests kept wandering over to the big windows on the side of the building, peering inside, to watch a female lion who paced back and forth, sometimes standing on her hind legs to push her weight against the glass.
Yes, we were at the Snowstorm City Zoo.
Other than the unusual location, the wedding included all the elements a family wedding usually includes: food, talking, dancing. My brother's stepson, who took a weekend away from a Broadway play to be at the wedding, sang Look to the Rainbow at the ceremony. Drama Niece, as the "best man," donned a top hat and carried a cane as she gave her toast at the beginning of the reception. I've seen her on stage often enough to know that she'd do a terrific job speaking, but I was pleased that she did a great job writing the speech too: she included great details, a nice blend of humor and tenderness. Both my brother and Drama Niece took the microphone and sang during the reception. Drama Niece has such a great voice that she quite showed up the vocalist hired to perform, but the woman was gracious about it.
The dance floor was crowded very quickly with members of my family: my kids all danced, as did their cousins, crowded together in one big group. Even With-a-Why, who can be very shy when it comes to talking to strangers, was completely unself-conscious about dancing; he was sometimes the first one onto the floor, twirling and gyrating, his long hair swishing back and forth. As I danced with my husband, I saw Boy in Black dancing with his grandmother and Shaggy Hair Boy with his aunt.
Whenever the band took a break, we'd gather in clumps to talk, with all kinds of family photos being taken. I think someone on the bride's side had a video camera because some of the family photos seemed to include showtunes and fancy dance steps. The kids went over to play on the jungle gym, and as I approached with my camera, figuring I'd snap a few photos while it was still light out, I heard With-a-why whisper to his cousin, "Oh, no. It's the paparazzi!"
Some of the women of the family crowded into the bathroom to take a photo we've taken at other weddings: all of us looking into the mirror. As the afternoon turned to evening, white lights strung onto the trees came on, and big lamp posts shone onto the dance floor. People gathered near the dessert table and skewered fruit to hold underneath the chocolate fountain. Since my new sister-in-law is from Traintrack Village, I already knew some of her friends and family, although I kept getting introduced to yet another sibling. She's the youngest of twelve kids, but it seemed like more.
The party went on past 11 pm. We didn't leave until the band had stopped playing and were packing up their instruments. In the semi-dark lion's cage, the big female lion was still pacing, throwing her body against the window. We said our goodbyes in the dark parking lot, everyone heading to different cars, going home after a very full day.
Dandelion Niece, on the jungle gym, demonstrates why it's always a good idea to wear shorts under your party dress.
Top photo: Four cousins posing for the blog – Schoolteacher Niece, Red-haired Niece, Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter, and Boy in Black.
Posted by jo(e)