The hippy wedding (2)

June 19, 2006


C’s tattoo; photo by Roger Bourland.

The wedding was one of the best I’ve been to. We met so many very interesting people from New York Pennsylvania, and DC, but it seems unlikely we’ll ever see them again.

It was a golden afternoon when we arrived at the location for the wedding. It was hosted by the town’s glass blower who owns 97 acres, complete with the town’s original mill, many old buildings, and cornfields that local farmers rent from him. The ceremony was next to a beautiful little creek that meandered through the area. We gathered around a little area in front of a creaky wooden bridge that crosses the river. Across the bridge is a beautiful open field where I saw a fox dart, an eagle soar, and heard a wild turkey gobble. Young M played two introductory folkish pieces for solo violin, then viola. (Bach was nixed by the couple.) The attendees sat in a U-shape group facing the bridge. Behind us to the left we squinted and saw M with his two parents slowly coming down the hill. This was especially touching as his parents have been divorced for 2 decades, each had come to the wedding with their “new” spouses, and to see them accompany their son brought a tear to at least this blogger’s eye. As the groom reached the ceremonial area, all eyes turned to the opposite side of the valley where the bride and her parents slowly processed down the hill to the adoring crowd. The parents peeled off to sit in the front row and the couple floated together from opposite directions to finally stand facing the bridge. C’s gown was backless which enabled all to see her gorgeous back tattoo. (It looked like the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the lady replaced by a three legged spiral.)

The couple’s best friends conducted the ceremony (Latino male and caucasian female). After several somewhat dark if not erotic poems were read, once in Spanish, and then in English, each friend spoke about their friendships with the couple. The vows were beautiful. C’s friend softly prompted her to say her vows to M. M’s friend prompted M to say his. After the ceremony, we all came forward to the bridge and took a handful of red or white rose pedals and threw them in the meandering creek. As this happened, C’s uncle intoned a Native American chant accompanying himself with a hand drum.

The reception provided excellent food and drink for all who were there. Fabulous cheeses featuring raw cow’s milk, a delicious array of Pennsylvania beers, and good selection of wines took the edge off the cool sunset. The table next to ours was the smoking table, Korean and black dudes dressed to the nines looking like mafiosi. I went over to visit them and they were all great chaps There was no traditional toast by the best man. There was an open microphone where family and friends were encouraged to share stories, which they did. The most touching moment for me was when M’s mother announce she was going to sing a song for the couple. I was nervous. Would this be an embarrassment? On the contrary, it was unspeakably touching and beautiful. A quiet little voice in the chilly Pennsylvania evening carved out a beautiful melody whose text encouraged them to be still and listen, be patient, to love one another, and be there for each other. As her delicate voice finished her final note, tears were streaming down many faces, including mine.

The rest of the reception was not much different than any other wedding. Music, dancing, and high spirits. I was glad to have experienced this unique and marvelous wedding. Today, we go to NYC to spend four days there, and on Wednesday, hear Rufus Wainwright’s concert in Carnegie Hall.


I was still curious about the notion of a self-uniting wedding. As far as I can tell, it only is an option in Pennsylvania, it is between a man and a woman, and requires two witnesses. No religious or state official is required to officiate or sign the document.

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