Fortunately, this is a role that comes to an end. It’s tough on an introvert to be sociable and hospitable for five days in a row. It’s nice to see relatives and friends, but weddings are a lot of work.
The white-dress ceremony and party were celebrated at a castle on the Rhine. History and opera buffs will recognize a location known for spawning all great German sagas. We’ll have to wait to see if this match-up will lead to arias or verse. If the day is any indication, things should work out, even without fat ladies singing praises.
I had it easy on the day. Beyond driving a van full of female relatives to the location, all I had to do was accompany my daughter down the aisle and then pretend to be friendly with any guest wishing my attention. After handing her over to the unfortunate guy now responsible for spoiling her and enduring her moods, I tripped over her train: she had not warned me that the dress had such a tricky device. As you know, no one is supposed to see the dress before she shows up at the aisle.
The ceremony took place in the castle park with a view of vineyards and the river. It had not rained in Germany for eight weeks prior to the day. The forecast was for partly cloudy with a chance of rain late in the day or even the evening. Guess when it rained? Yup, in the middle of the vows. The organizers responded quickly with red umbrellas, which added a nice touch of color to photographs. I told my daughter to consider it similar to a ship’s christening, which also includes moisture for good luck. Everyone took it with humor and rushed to the champagne reception, which was moved inside from the garden. People will remember the great wines from the godmother’s vineyards just up the river and the outstanding canapés. Another big hit was the cake, an arrangement of nine different flavors. My daughter had claimed that she married only to have a big cake. All boxes were ticked, as one is wont to say.
At the dinner, I was required to give a speech. I cannot recall much of what I said, but people seemed to like it. I do not remember anything that my daughter said to me over the years, but I do recall one statement she made at the age of 14. She told me that she would marry the guy she did. At the time, I did not take her seriously, but she kept her word. The party raged until four, but I pooped out at two. New shoes prevented me from holding out any longer, and I needed to be fit for the return trip with the women.
It all went by in a flash, so I am happy to have plenty of photos to remind me of what happened. This old fool would have liked to have a shot of a sunset from the hill above the Rhine, but there was none. Later in the night, the weather cleared to reveal stars and a moon. We would have preferred clear skies during the ceremony, but will settle for a great event, a happy couple, and the return of my solitude.
No post today, the fathers gone away....
Today is wedding day, so I have other duties than blogging. Sorry.
The first hurdle has been passed (if one could even call it a hurdle). My daughter is now married, having completed the civil ceremony in a lovely castle (mentioned earlier), surrounded by family and some friends. The big-deal, white dress, romantic affair takes place next week.
As with most such events, it was pleasant but anti-climatic. It is another example of controlling people through government fiat, elaborate ceremonial words, and manufactured illusion. Most people play the game, even if they have lived together for years without official sanction or start to squabble the moment the ceremony ends.
I could not help thinking of a Doris Day song from the distant past: Que sera sera. Because she used it as her theme song, it became implanted in many peoples minds. Few know that it won an Academy Award, because it was used for a Hitchcock film. The words relate a woman's lament about life not living up to her expectations and her disappointment at everything not meeting the illusions she has created in her mind. Once a milestone was reached, she noticed her mistake and decided to keep on dancing. Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see.
I had no illusions about yesterday, but I'm sure that my daughter did and has plenty about the future. She seemed happy, which was the most important aspect for me. I have given up on illusions and take things as they come, for better or worse. Que sera sera...
I have already mentioned that my daughter is getting married. The first of the two ceremonies that I mentioned a few days ago takes place tomorrow. All I have to do is show up in a suit, pretend to be happy, and allow my photograph to be taking (remembering to smile).
This is the less-romantic portion, because it is conducted by a civil servant and there is no white dress. At least it takes place in a nice castle (one occupied for a short time by Napoleon on his way to Moscow to get a haircut), which is now owned by the government.
To mark the day, I'm including a cartoon that I sent to the groom to warn him about what was to come...
It's entertaining to watch the run-up to my daughter's wedding. Various characters are acting as expected...or differently.
Growing up, my daughter was never interested in expensive fashion (fortunately for me); unlike her brother, who was always enthralled by brands. She even liked Payless shoes as a teenager! Now, she has discovered brands (fortunately for me, she has a boyfriend/future husband to support the habit) and a fashion sense. This is exacerbated by magazines with photos of weddings and bridal accessories. As I mentioned above, it is entertaining to watch and listen.
As Kipling once wrote, "the female is the most vicious of the species", which seems to raise its ugly head around weddings. Mother and daughter have never competed, but now there are rumblings of sartorial competition at the official civil ceremony, which requires a special wardrobe, and the celebration, which requires formal attire and a big, white dress. For some reason, I have this image in my mind of a referee...
Men have it easier: an old suit for the civil ceremony and a tux for the wedding. In honor of the special occasion, I have invested in a new cummerbund. It's the least I could do for my only daughter's wedding...
My daughter will marry in May.
For years, I have been urging her to elope to Las Vegas and inform me by postcard. As usual, she has ignored my wise council and chosen a big wedding. The key factor in declining Las Vegas kitsch was her keen desire to have a large cake on the day, naturally with copious butter cream icing, and that works only at a big wedding with lots of guests to eat the bloody thing.
When I mention her wedding, anyone that has seen the movie thinks of the classic Steve Martin character. The only thing that I have in common with George Banks is having owned an Austin Healey 3000. Oh, I might have been as cynical with Frunk and Hunk, if my daughter had hired a wedding planner. Fortunately, such creatures are rare in this country. Hers will be DYI, but this is Germany, where things are usually well organized...if you pay.
One thing that I certainly do not share with Banks pere et fille is basketball, although I did buy a hoop for my daughter in her teenage years. It was the time of the 90’s basketball/streetball craze in Germany which, like the tennis craze in the 80’s, rose and fell as dramatically as a tsunami. I don’t recall ever tossing a ball with my daughter, because I probably did not. I am not a fan of the sport. It’s a dumb “game”, invented in a time when average male height was probably 5’5” (pictures of Monsieur Naismith on a step ladder mounting a bottomless bushel basket confirm this), but hijacked by men exceeding 7 feet in height. How tough is it to drop a ball through a hoop? I played ice hockey, which is true sport. One must first master skating, before even attempting skills far more complex than bouncing a ball. But, back to our hoop: I removed it after my children showed little interest (smart kids!), and it only attracted boys more interested in the only hoop on the street than in my daughter and cared not-at-all about damaging my flower beds. What we did share was reading, which started when she was still the crib. We progressed from nursery rhymes to Richard Scarry masterpieces to Eloise...until she was on her own. It is a far more-useful skill than bouncing a ball.
Wishing to emulate great sagas, the happy couple has chosen a castle on the Rhine. I doubt that either has read any of these, so are unaware of the drama. Anyway, the venue is very nice, and the catering is promising. That said, the menu selection must be decided months in advance. How can anyone know what they want to eat on a Saturday evening in May? I have difficulty deciding an hour before lunch. I could have some sympathy with the chef, if the hotel was located in the Seychelles (not a shabby spot for a wedding, by the way), where provisions must arrive by ship and Somali pirates wreak havoc on supplies chains. But the kitchen lies a few kilometers from Europe’s most heavily plied road, rail, and water arteries, plus being not far from one of the world’s busiest freight airports. Okay, it’s on a hill and supply trucks must maneuver through two small villages and along a winding road, but three months to prepare a meal....
What should be entertaining for me will be discussions on seating arrangements. Think of the most-sensitive diplomatic conferences called to tackle the most-contentious multi-country wrangle...
No swans, doves, or any animals are planned. That is one benefit of not having a wedding planner. That said, creatures can probably be sourced quicker than the menu can be changed.
If only I could control the weather....I would hire a weather planner for that...although many probably promise such a service and have mastered the art of making excuses for unfulfilled promises.
If it does rain, precipitation will join another free-flowing fluid: wine. This was not an issue in the film, because the wedding took place in the US. Hypocrisy dictated that alcohol should not be mentioned. But, in a more mature culture, wine is regarded as a necessity and normal. Talk about overkill: the venue is located in the midst of some of Germany’s prime vineyards, but the bride’s godmother owns one the top estates in the country (www.kuehling-gillot.de) and her daughter married into another one (www.battenfeld-spanier.de) . Imagine how much of the stuff is waiting to be consumed in celebration.
Let the hangovers begin...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.