Thursday, February 9, 2012

Weddings, chocolate chip pancakes and one giddy mom

When our daughter, Amber, and Paul got engaged, we were thrilled. But after a few days of celebrating, I began to panic. I started to have flashbacks of our own wedding, which was a series of debacles. I was determined Amber's wedding would go better than ours did.

It took me years to talk about our wedding, but my family wouldn't let me forget. Stories are retold over every holiday dinner table. The favorite is the one of the chocolate chip pancakes.

The week of our wedding, things began badly on Thursday when I went to the airport to greet our California guests. Everyone was there except Dave and the pastor. Dave's family said they didn't know what happened; they had seen them board the first flight out of LA.

Dave and Pastor Bob missed the connecting flight to Rochester. (They admit later it was because they were searching for Dove Bars, a new novelty at the time.) They rebooked a midnight flight.

My mom had planned dinner that night for the families to meet for the first time. We decided to meet for breakfast the next day instead.

I was nervous. I wasn't sure how my soon-to-be LA relatives would react to farm living. The guests arrived just as Uncle Russ was firing up his camp stove to make pancakes outside. (He loves doing this. He says there's nothing like eating breakfast in the fresh air--on a farm the air is fresh alright, ripe actually.)

Introductions were made and then interrupted when my mom got a call that that my brother's wife, Lou, was on the way to the emergency room. My mom was hysterical. She told us Lou cut her arm off in the lawn mower and she needed to leave. (It was only a few fingers. My mom tends to be dramatic.)  She told Dave's family to make themselves at home and left to pick up Lou's boys.

Breakfast was ready. Serving pancakes outside on a hot, humid summer day on a dairy farm wasn't the best idea. The flies were especially bad that year. It looked like we were serving chocolate chip pancakes. Only the chocolate chips were moving.

My little nephews dug in, smashing and licking the flies off their fingers as they went. The folks from LA looked startled and hastily said no to breakfast.

The first meeting of the families was only a sign of what was to come. I won't go into great detail here because I get heart palpitations and my hands start to sweat.

At the rehearsal dinner I drank pot after pot of coffee. I didn't sleep that night. When I wasn't laying there pulsating from caffeine overload, I was passing my mom on the way to the bathroom. We both had the scoots. Nerves.

The guys didn't show at the church the next morning. Turned out they were all in the ER with Dan, a groomsman and the musician in the wedding. He had tripped and broken his ankle.

His ankle was hastily wrapped before he was sped back to the church. We propped him up on a chair behind the podium where he could elevate his foot and strum his guitar. He looked drugged.

Finally, the ceremony began. I'll never forget Dave's face beaming as I went down the aisle on my father's arm. It was like time stood still. It was, in fact, the eye of the storm. After the pastor introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. the rest was general pandemonium and a blur.

Dave and I escaped as quickly as we could after the reception. Our family was left to clean up.  Upstairs in the church they discovered that no one blew out the candles. There were smouldering stubs in the candelabra and stalagmites of wax on the carpet. Replacing the carpet had not been in the budget.

But at the end of the day we were married. And, that's what I tell Amber. No matter what happens, you will have married the love of your life. (I am secretly preparing for every possible disaster I can dream up.)

To my utter amazement, Paul and Amber's wedding goes off without a hitch. It's flawlessly orchestrated. I keep waiting for the worst to happen. But there are no gaffes at all--no fires, broken limbs or blood baths. 

During the ceremony, I'm crying. Amber is achingly beautiful. I think of the privilege it's been to raise our daughter and see her marry a wonderful man who loves her as much as we do. Surrounded by friends and family celebrating with us, we are richly blessed.

I am so happy, I'm giddy. The reception and dance begin. It's time to party. 

In honor of our 25th wedding anniversary, Dave and I dance to Louis Armstrong's It's a wonderful World. Yes, it's wonderful indeed.

P.S. If nothing goes wrong there are no stories. We failed in that respect with Amber's wedding. But Dave and mine will live on as they are retold every Thanksgiving. We laugh until we snort.

You can check out the recap of Amber's wedding on her photographer's blog:


  1. I kind of forgot some of the things that went wrong back then, or I didn't know about them. But, hey you and Dave have been together for 25 yrs, so that says something!:) I can imagine Grandma O saying that. lol

  2. Jacci....I remember all of that...oh goodness....that was a stressful few days...haha!! I can also remember thinking after each event... "You've got to be kidding me...we should maybe be writing this all down as not to leave anything out"...haha!! Wow..look how far you've come...such beautiful wonderful kids...etc etc..!! Joy