Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wedding Party

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.

"What the???"

"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?


GemStateMom said...

Weddings in Idaho can often be subdued affairs. Many only serve cake, mints/nuts & punch at the reception.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is more what I grew up with in MN...only substitute Polish and a Polka band at the reception. Everything else was pretty much the same! Big dinner after ceremony, dancing, laughing, free beer/wine/spirits and all the pop a kid wants to drink. (Along with much-told stories of resulting 'accidents' during evening Mass!)

No wonder cake, mints, nuts and punch seems so subdued to me!

jazzi said...

I'm just a bit south from you, so the weddings here are similar, but not so varied in ethnicity. There's mostly one; German! The last wedding I attended included a buffet dinner with roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn and green beans. The dancing including the polka! It's not a wedding for my family unless there's a polka.
I do have an eighty-six year old great aunt who always gets out there and dances to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll". She can shimmy with the best of them!

suzanne bellerive said...

I live in Saskatchewan, Canada (also a farmer's wife, but I hope not for much longer -- as long as I still get to *live* on the farm) and weddings usually have about 300 to 500 invited guests for the supper reception. When I was growing up back in the 1970s, the bride's parents paid for everything, including the booze. Now both families (and occasionally the marrying couple themselves) pay for it together, and the booze is provided via a cash bar. (Tsk, what would Ms Etiquette say?).

The church ceremony is usually in the afternoon, then the wedding party takes off for photos; after the supper reception, the music starts, and the entire community is invited. It goes till the wee small hours and the music is generally so loud you can't hear yourself think, let alone talk.

Most times the suppers are buffets that include meat platters and a variety of salads, and perogies!
Lots of Ukrainians around, yes, but everyone loves perogies, whether of that ancestry or not. They have become standard fare on kitchen tables and definitely at special occasions.

And every dance has lots of polkas mixed in with whatever kind of music.

lifeinredshoes said...

Some big, some not so big. Many weddings are held in the LDS Temple with a reception to follow. I dislike the one's in the church cultural hall. Basketball standards and lined floors hold no romance at all. The garden outdoorsy kind are my personal favs.Can't wait til your 2 tie the knot! The photo's will be great!

Mrs. Romero said...

In LA weddings vary. Everything from a few hundred thousand to "let's go to Vegas!". I went to a wedding of a Mexican co-worker about 15 year ago. I was a waitress and he was a bus boy who had gotten the dish washers daughter pregnant) and it was at a pizza parlor. All in Spanish, but I cried anyway.

Just Plain Jane said...

Another good post. I haven't been to but one wedding in forever, it seems (we and our kids are out of that age bracket). The last one was when our eldest son married a lovely woman of Chinese heritage. The wedding banquet was as joyful as anything I've ever participated in and very, very new to me as Chinese traditions were carried out. Probably the best part of all was the way all generations accepted and rejoiced in the yet-to-be-born grandson. Times have changed.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

What? I didn't leave a comment? I remember reading this one; it must've been that I got interrupted.

Your wedding party sounded like such fun. You're a people watcher, I see. Well, here, weddings run the gamut from the church sponsored, Ladies Bible study receptions to the elegant tented affairs on the coast. The elegant, tented affairs on the coast are right up my alley!