I’ve been to more weddings than I can remember – sometimes as a guest, more times as a paid musician, but always as an interested observer. Outdoor and indoor, big and small, Jewish, Christian and secular, formal and casual, lavish and simple, traditional and themed, nice and not-so-nice – the list goes on. Since at one point in my teens I was averaging 1-2 weddings per weekend, I can say I’ve seen my fair share of how it’s done.
My cousin Gillian got married on Saturday to her high school sweetheart Jamie. Their wedding was indoors, formal, somewhere in between simple and lavish, fairly traditional and Christian, and definitely nice. There were many wonderful moments throughout the day, but I’d like to mention the two aspects that made the biggest impression on me.
One was the music. Gillian’s father plays in a fabulous jazz band called the Deacons of Jazz and they provided the musical accompaniment during the ceremony. There’s nothing quite like singing energetic hymns with a trumpet blasting up front and the drums setting a smooth swing beat. The bass, keyboard, and vocals brought it all together, and with a church full of Mennonites – who love singing in four-part harmony – the room absolutely exploded with musical energy.
I started dancing in the back with my fussy little baby, whose wails of discontent quickly turned to hysterical laughter. There’s nothing like music to set the mood, to announce to the world that this marriage was taking place, and to kickstart the celebration. We could feel the joy working in our bones.
The other thing that blew me away was the late-night spread. My aunt had orchestrated the homemade creation of more cakes than there are in a bakery – tiramisu, hazelnut tortes, cheesecakes, a magnificent chocolate-whipped cream cake, Napoleon tortes, almond crostate, regular chocolate cakes, carrot cake, and more. There were bowls piled high with fresh Ontario strawberries and chunks of mango.
And then there was the cheese – oh, the heavenly cheese! I’ve already blogged about my love of strong cheeses, so you can imagine my delight at seeing entire wheels of these locally-made, artisanal cheeses: orange-rinded Niagara gold, rounds of white sheep’s-milk cheese with a grey-green rind, and, most spectacular of all, an impressively oozy, creamy soft cheese with a moldy, rosemary-studded crust. Toss that on a piece of crispy bread and it’s a taste of heaven.
As I savoured, a quote came to mind from Jerome K. Jerome’s belly-aching classic “Three Men in a Boat.” The narrator describes a few cheeses he carried home for a friend: “Splendid cheeses they were, ripe and mellow, and with a two hundred horse-power scent about them that might have been warranted to carry three miles, and knock a man over at two hundred yards.” While the cheeses I ate weren’t quite that strong, they weren’t exactly insipid either.
All in all, it was a great wedding, and Jamie and Gillian make an even greater couple.