Matrimony in the great outdoors

I’m not really a fan of weddings.

I guess I enjoyed my own wedding, but overall, they’re just not that appealing to me. They are too often a big production that has little to do with making a sacred vow before God, family and friends. The spectacle and expense are too much for me to take seriously.

Alex and Natalie get married on a dock
The view from the congregation at the King-Vinson wedding posted to Facebook by one of the couple’s friends.

That said, I have been to a number of very nice weddings and have enjoyed being a part of a number of ceremonies in which friends or family have done their best to put the emphasis on what’s important. This past week, Carla and I attended one such wedding that turned out to be the perfect combination of scenic venue, enjoyable conversation, delicious food and a meaningful ceremony.

I guess it’s just natural when you’re married that when you attend a wedding you end up comparing it to your own. Even though we married in May, we couldn’t help but think about the similarities and key differences in this union of our friends, Alex and Natalie, and our own wedding more than 15 years ago. We were good, Southern traditionalists and attempted a simple, tasteful and aesthetically-pleasing outdoor wedding. A heavy rain sent us indoors, completely changing the venue and vibe of our wedding, and Carla has harbored regret ever since.

She even gets a little jealous, I think, when couples get to have their nuptials outside, which was the case last weekend for Alex and Natalie. Because we have been in dialogue with them at church during their wedding planning for the past few months, we were eager to see their vision come to life.

Unlike our wedding, the weather cooperated magnificently. You could not have custom- created a better Georgia October day. It was clear with a slight breeze and warm without a trace of humidity. The lakeside setting with trees turning autumnal red, orange and yellow provided scenic vistas from nearly every vantage point of the several hundred attendees. The wedding party assembled on a flower petal-strewn dock, tastefully and simply adorned with two huge urns of fall flowers.

The music was a mix of violin and keyboard and included the classic as well as the bride and groom’s special selections.

Alex chomps a piece of the grooms cake as Natalie looks on.
Don’t they look like they’re having fun? The chocolate-peanut butter groom’s cake was a hit.

I care very deeply about Alex and Natalie and was glad to see them taking such efforts to ensure the event was about what weddings are supposed to be about, and when they tied a fisherman’s knot instead of lighting a unity candle, I couldn’t help but think how the metaphor was appropriate on so many levels. All that was missing was a fish jumping out of the water at the moment they set their completed knot down into a ceramic basin.

As the ceremony ended and guests made their way to the lit tent by the lake, the photographer got busy taking the obligatory after-the-ceremony photos. Unlike many weddings we’ve attended where the guests are left to socialize in hunger for what seems like hours, Alex and Natalie wisely invited their guests to help themselves to the buffet during the photography session. Having left our children with Carla’s parents, we were appreciative of the rare treat of uninterrupted adult conversation. The time at the table was a special gift for us as we and our friends reflected on our own wedding experiences, laughed at our naivete and reconnected with the reasons we had all chosen our mates. And it was a powerful reminder to me that Carla is a lot of fun to be around.

I’m glad the weather cooperated. I’m glad I was invited. I’m glad Brian, Amy and Rebecca sat at our table and provided easy and enjoyable conversation. I’m glad Alex and Natalie seemed to get what a wedding is supposed to be about. And for this wedding Grinch, I’m glad I had one to chalk up on the good side of the ledger.

Maybe my attitude will change about weddings. There are precious few years left before I may have to be the father of the groom myself. I might as well get ready for it.

Have you been to a particularly enjoyable or meaningful wedding recently? How did you make your own wedding a unique expression of your style and your relationship? Do you hate weddings? Leave a comment below and share the love.

2 thoughts on “Matrimony in the great outdoors

  1. It may just be sentiment talking, but this is my favorite blog so far, Lance. Beautifully described and sincere. Congratulations to Alex and Natalie! And congratulations to you; Carla really is a catch!

  2. Great job capturing the essence of a beautiful and meaningful wedding ceremony for Natalie and Alex–thanks!

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