A Joyful Family Wedding

John, Julie, and I attended my cousin Kim’s wedding (to Brent Wentsel) on Saturday, June 23. As most weddings are, this was a joyful occasion, and several of my cousins were present for the event.

We stayed with my cousins Joe and Catherine (father and stepmother of the bride). They had a full house with Uncle Paul (age 90) and his daughter Sue (Joe’s sister) from southwest Virginia; Jan and Jim from Pittsburgh; and Craig and Mona from Minden, LA; in addition to us.

It was a wonderful weekend. Kim & Brent’s wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch as far as I could tell. (Kim had a rough week leading up to the wedding, with two visits to urgent care, but she looked beautiful and no worse for the wear.)

The wedding was at Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda, Maryland. The ceremony was outdoors at 6:00 p.m. Thankfully a thunderstorm had passed through the area the day before, and temperatures were in the 80s, about 10 degrees cooler than on Friday.

Kim and Brent had planned some interesting details: the groomsmen wore brightly striped socks under their tuxes. Each person in the wedding party walked down the aisle individually, beginning with the minister, Kim’s maternal grandfather.

Brent walked down smiling, and the other groomsmen followed suit. The bridesmaids wore coral dresses of slightly different styles; they were beautiful, of course. Everyone looked hot as they squinted into the sun, waiting for Kim and her dad to come down the aisle.

The cutest part of the procession was the two- and four-year-old sons of one of the bridesmaids: they preceded Kim by carrying a banner that announced “Here comes the bride.” The two-year-old’s attention wandered a couple of times as he came down the aisle. I believe he dropped his end of the banner. Kim’s mother, standing at the front, called him by name and encouraged him to come on down.

I teared up as I watched Kim and Joe process down the aisle toward the white tulle-and-flower-wrapped arch under which Kim’s grandfather and the groom stood. Both Kim and Joe were smiling radiantly (I guess it’s okay to say the father of the bride was radiant). Kim was gorgeous, with her hair styled in several flat coils and adorned with a shiny floral headpiece to which her long veil was attached. I’m obviously not a writer who describes wedding dresses well, but she wore a strapless ivory gown with satin-covered buttons and a long train. She and Brent looked like a couple from Bride magazine.

The minister/granddad did a great job. In his challenge to the couple, he spoke about the joys of marriage but also reminded Kim and Brent that there would be times when they wouldn’t feel love for each other. It’s during those times, he said, that the commitment part of marriage kicks in.

Then came time for the bride and groom to exchange vows. Kim and Brent had written their own. Brent promised to love Kim and cook for her. (I loved that part of his vows. Turns out that he is a very good cook; his mother told me he wanted to go to culinary school, but she encouraged him to study finance and learn the business end first, so he got a degree in finance.) During Brent’s vows, Kim’s dad quickly handed her a handkerchief. Kim sobbed through most of her vows, stopping to wipe her nose every now and then, but her voice was steady and strong despite her tears. She and Brent have known each other for 7 years, so I think they are off to a great start.

After the wedding, family and friends celebrated together inside the Music Center with a sit-down dinner, generously flowing wine and champagne, much conversation, and dancing. John and I had so much fun.

John especially enjoyed the dancing (and the rest of my family was much amused by his moves on the dance floor). Julie danced with him for the first time in public. Julie, a couple of female cousins, and I danced together while John danced to his own beat, sometimes facing and sometimes turning away from us. Note to self: John and I really need to take a ballroom dancing class. All I know how to do is sway my body (sometimes not very gracefully) to the music, move my arms around a bit (mostly like we danced in the 1970s), and step from side to side. I don’t know how to follow in a couples dancing routine, and John doesn’t know how to lead. We make a good but awkward pair.

Anyway, we had lots of fun at the wedding. My cousin Bill (Joe’s brother) came from Cincinnati and stayed with his college friends Teddy and Mimi. I was glad to see him, although it was hard to have much conversation as the music grew progressively louder. I was going to pull him out onto the dance floor, but I wasn’t sure he could handle that (he’s the most staid of my cousins), and I didn’t want to embarrass him.

It was a great weekend full of time to catch up with my extended family. I can’t wait for the next wedding, my cousin David’s, in September!

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