Monday, July 09, 2007

Bridal Bouquet

Shelagh on her father's arm

June 23rd is a rough time to find wedding flowers. It was a hot spring, hot enough to rush the spring and early summer flowers through their paces. I watched the lilacs, spirea, peonies, even the irises, bloom and fade overnight, while the annuals seemed to just plod along. In the end the white zinnias that I started from seed gave me just a few blossoms and the white sweet peas are still just thinking about it.

So I decorated the hall with centerpieces made from ferns from Grandpa Gord's garden, wormwood and wild pink sweet peas from our yard, and a few buckets of flowers from Omena Cut Flowers. But I made Shelagh's bouquet from the best things in our yard: some white snapdragons that overwintered, sweet william that I got years ago from Gord, a lone sprig of blue lupine that persisted in Richard's beds, two sprigs of rosemary that curved to suggest a heart. The bridesmaids each got a few stems tied with asparagus leaves. Richard patiently pulled all the berries off of them while I was arranging Shelagh's bouquet.

I sent the flowers to the church with the Anna, sprinkling them with water, slipping them into plastic grocery bags, and telling Anna to put them in the fridge at the church. It was time for the parents to get ready. My girls and I all wear the same shoe size, so I really shouldn't have been all that surprised when I grabbed the black pumps from the shoe rack and they turned out to have a broken heel. I found another pair of shoes, in the dress up box, brushed my hair, and we were off.

At church, everything looked great. The girls had prepared for many choir concerts in those same Sunday school classrooms; they were on time and relaxed. Laurie Glass, the photographer, was getting a kick out of seeing Ellen (always the tomboy) with her hair out of the pony tail and getting curled. Jon and Christa Kiessel were dressing the three flower children and trying to keep them corralled. We posed for some pictures with the groom and then I went back downstairs to check on the girls. They looked great. Guests were starting to trickle downstairs to use the ladies' room so I packed up the makeup and hangers and went upstairs to wait for my cue.

The grandparents were already seated and Jordan's folks were ready to start down the aisle when word came that there was "a problem". I couldn't imagine what it was, but I didn't have much time to wonder, as the word was soon "problem solved". The moms came in and lit candles. The ring bearer gave the rings to the best man and after some whispered negotiations the best man talked the ring bearer into sitting down. The flower children scattered flowers, milled around a little, then found their parents and sat down.

Shelagh looked great. Both Shelagh and Jordan smiled broadly, happy to be there on their day.

But I smelled roses. I hadn't used any roses in their bouquets. Shelagh's bouquet had a rose in the middle. Did someone else buy flowers? Wasn't anything I did good enough for that kid? It was like our whole life together was replaying in my mind, where I provided simple and homemade, while Shelagh wanted to go shopping for something fancy. Of well, just let it go. They're only flowers.

I hadn't used any yellow flowers, either, as they clashed with the ribbons on the bridesmaids' dresses, but Liz was carrying yellow flowers. I was still telling myself "Oh well, they're only flowers as I watched two yellow petals fall from Liz's bouquet and hit the floor. At least my flowers were fresh! I got up at 5:30 am to pick them with the dew still on!

It must have been about then that Laurie, the photographer, whispered in my ear: "Anna put your bouquets in the freezer!" I started to quietly chuckle. My mom glanced sideways. I whispered in her ear "Anna put the bouquets in the freezer." Mom started to chuckle, too.

After the ceremony, Laurie told me how they had gone to the church kitchen to get the flowers. Shelagh asked Anna, "Why are you looking in the freezer?" and that's when they realized what had happened. All of the flowers were frozen solid. Anna was willing to carry the sorriest bouquet. Shelagh was willing to just walk down the aisle without flowers.

Laurie and Christa (mother of the flower children) walked out the front door of the church, looked down the street and saw a yard with a flower garden. They knocked on the front door of the house and told the man "This is an emergency. We need your flowers."

The man of the house said "Sure!" The lady across the street was working in her yard; she volunteered some of her flowers. Laurie and Christa grabbed what they could, tied them up with the ribbon from the frozen bouquets, and off went the bride!

Years ago, Shelagh and Liz, just 19 months apart, used to play four handed piano duets. Or at least they attempted to play four handed piano duets. Although they were each accomplished pianists in their own right, the wheels would eventually fall off the wagon when they tried to play together. They started off sweetly enough, and it was lovely, watching the two of them moving so well together. After a while, someone would hit a wrong note, or bungle the tempo a bit. I couldn't hear it, but I could tell from the "stink eye" look that would be exchanged. Pretty soon it would happen again, and the sideways glance would be more pronounced. Eventually the performance would dissolve into a chorus of accusations and shrieks, just short of heaving each other off of the piano bench.

There was none of that at the wedding. Anna made a mistake. Shelagh forgave, focused on the important stuff, and carried on. I can't think of a better way to start a marriage.

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