A Wedding on the Bluff

Not this year! But last year on Labor Day weekend our older son and his bride were married here on the bluff.

Rain and a windstorm the night before alerted guests staying in town to the kind of peninsula they were visiting. But on the bluff we woke to a glimmer of hope in spite of a few clouds and rain sprinkles  during the set-up. The wind wreaking havoc with hairdos on Water Street was an offshore push here – blowing ripples away across the Strait – a warm breeze.

In mid-afternoon guests arrived from town and walked the gravel driveway up to the house, through the garden, and onto the trimmed, but late-summer-brown front lawn. I often remember the scene I saw from upstairs: white chairs in curved rows facing a rusty-metal arbor as altar on the bluff, a big white tent in front of the Buffalo, and a small one for the musicians on the deck. A mix of generations milled about. Young women in sundresses wore shawls that slipped to reveal bare shoulders just as a drum roll (from the little balcony here) and a trumpet fanfare (from the Buffalo balcony) brought a break in the clouds and sunshine for the ceremony.

It was perfect. Looking back we often call it a miracle.

The bride provided the animating spirit of this event (in every aspect from the lemonade stand greeting folks as they walked up the driveway, to her burnt-orange satin shoes peeking from under her wedding dress). The skills and talents of local people brought her wishes to life: the oyster man parked his cart in the driveway and cooked fresh oysters gathered from a nearby bay; three serious young musicians performed with cello and violins; the delightful planner made the day run smoothly, organizing chairs and details, arranging champagne glasses in perfect rows on colorful tablecloths – a sprig of lavender in each; our cabinet builder provided the drum roll; a young cook friend baked the requested wedding pies; and my clever friend helped me make 100 cotton napkins from a mix of flowered patterns (with highlights of orange). Weddings are definitely about “making special.”

Children who came as guests responded with enthusiasm to the chance to participate and started the ceremony with a procession – each carrying a stem of Chinese lantern flower out to the altar on the bluff. And the very best, most memorable and heartfelt parts, were the vows of the wedding couple (presided over by the father of the bride) – and speeches by their sweet siblings and their best friends, honoring them and welcoming the newcomers to their families.

The mother of the bride created an elegant document by copying the vows in calligraphy onto a huge sheet of paper – and all the guests signed as witnesses. Toasting, hugs, and photos – then departure for a delicious dinner in a festive tent, lighted by candles and lanterns, behind a Victorian hotel in town. Dancing lasted into the night.

September can be full of new beginnings but also full of memories of other beginnings – this is a cherished one.

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