Last night the Farmer and I attended a wedding reception. A cousin's son was getting married and the party was to be held in a Chicago suburb.
Both the Farmer and I were raised within spitting distance of the Chicago city limits. This was a place highly charged with ethnic energies and traditions. In the 30 years we've been married we have attended at least a hundred weddings. In fact, on our first date we partied at a Mexican co-workers wedding which was held in a parish gymnasium. Think West Side Story and you'll get an accurate picture of the situation.
Years ago ethnic traditions were strong, but as the years march on and the children marry and everything is tossed into the great melting pot.
Weddings in Chicago are generally large, joyous occasions and run the gamut from Beef Wellington affairs to pass-the-platter homestyle events. Traditionally you're served Baked Mostaciolli, Polish sausage, sauerkraut, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, roast beef and gravy. That seems to cover all the ethnic bases.
Imagine my surprise when we were guests at a Polish wedding where we were the only people who spoke English. We managed to communicate on a basic "hand-waving" level. It was a small reception held at the bride's home and I found myself sitting in the basement bar with a group of very animated Poles. The only English speaking person explained to me that the gentlemen was upset because he'd discovered his daughter was dating a Ukranian. Hmmmm, I didn't quite understand his concern but evidently this group of Poles and a bone to pick with the Ukranians. Who knew?
I love the ethnic mix but as I mentioned, over the years the traditions are lost as we are further and further distanced from our immigrant ancestors. The more recent immigrants (Thai and Vietnamese) hold strong to their ways. Their children seemed to fall away and become Americanized very quickly.
I'm sorry I can't offer you photographs from the party but my camera and memory card decided to have their own clash. I will tell you that the party did not disappoint me in the area of people watching. What a joyous thing it is to watch people having fun and celebrating.
The groom's mother has cheated death many times over the past year. She attended in a wheelchair and gathered up enough strength to dance with her son. The bridesmaids were assigned to the special hell of wearing strapless dresses that required "hiking up" all evening. Luckily there were no wardrobe malfunctions!
The Other Mother and her two sisters found their matriarchs corner and spent the evening hashing over old times. There is a special sadness in watching this sight because we know that almost everyone they knew and cared for in their lives are gone. In your late 80's you discover yourself adrift in a world that seems foreign to you. Everything has changed, their friends and spouses are dead and the world moves around them as if they're standing still.
The police showed up at the wedding. Literally. Both the bride and groom are police officers and both departments showed up in full force. I can tell you for a fact that policemen have a great time when they let their hair down.
When the kids were little we always brought the table favors and wedding cake home. The first thing in the morning they'd run downstairs to see their loot. These days the kids are up and waiting for us, concerned that mom and dad have stayed out so late. My daughter spotted the items in my hand and shouted, "What did you bring me?"
"Handcuffs and a police badge" I answered.
"Yep, chocolate handcuffs and a chocolate police badge!"
They were gobbled down before I could get a photo, sorry. I will try and find the packaging though because they were so cute I thought the company should have some face time on the internet. Check back later because my daughter is sleeping in the family room and has rolled over on the plastic bag that has the label on it.
ED. NOTE: The name of the chocolatier is The Chocolate Vault. Check out their website. They've got chocolate in any shape you can imagine.
I was wondering, what are wedding like in your neck of the woods? Big affairs, small affairs?