Destination weddings are the newest rage. I recently attending such a wedding in St. Louis. St. Louis as a destination wedding site, you ask? All good stories have to answer particular questions. This one includes: Why here? Who was involved? and What happened?
I asked many of the participants to speculate on the choice of St. Louis–the “WHY HERE” question. The responses ranged from St. Louis being a very humble place, to its being half way between the home towns of the groom and bride (Bloomington, IL and Kansas City) to St. Louis being the gateway to the west (so what, I ask?), to being between the Royals and the Cardinals (actually it wasn’t between but aligned with the Cardinals). There was much speculation on the deeper meaning of the location–it was a North-South crossroads (breakfast included grits and biscuits and gravy), or an East-West crossroads (was the arch actually leading to the east or to the west and didn’t it depend on which side you were standing on?). The stronger opinions stated were that it was all about the humble church and was a choice that was meant to be inconvenience to all.
I was actually interested in WHO was going to attend this wedding, given its location. I came from Boston and my mother came from Grand Rapids, MI but we met in Minneapolis in the airport.
The groom’s parents came from Bloomington. The groom’s grandparents came from Central Illinois along with Beth, the widow of the cousin of the groom; the groom’s uncle, aunt, cousin and significant other–the first introduction to the family; Frank and Susie who I believe were related to the groom’s father. The invisible sister of the groom and her husband and daughter came from Atlanta, truly excited about the idea of a destination wedding in St. Louis and the 10 hour drive with a wonderfully lively ADHD daughter. They had to choose whether to provide medication for the drive or the rehearsal dinner–calm for them or for the bride and groom? They chose themselves, as would have I. Leslie, from Connecticut, was also there and was someone that the groom once kissed but with no sparks. Brittany, a waitress from a bar, came from Peoria. GG and Ingo were there from Texas. Who are GG and Ingo? I was never really sure who they were but their son, Chris and his girlfriend from Chicago were in attendance as well. They tried to visit the St. Louis Arch, thinking it was the one tourist site in St. Louis that was available, only to find the site was under high security. We speculated on why the arch would be such an important site that we were spending federal money to protect it from such humble people as GG and Ingo. But then, Ingo was German by birth.
All weddings include drama. Drama is the “What Happened” part of the story. If there is no drama, there is no real wedding because it means that nothing happened. I am glad to say that there was drama. The beginning of the drama began with the father of the bride failing to clarify with the hotel that several of the bride’s family would not be arriving until Friday rather than Thursday. Thus two rooms had been cancelled when they failed to show up on Thursday. I sat with the groom’s extended family at a distance while we watched the drama–tears, gnashing of teeth by bride and her mother. It finally ended with the arrival of the bride’s father. After some loud voices, the rooms became available to the bride’s party but would not be available to the two who held the reservations who would come later. There would be no room in the inn for them.
My humble job for the weekend was to transport my mother and the groom’s grandparents to the various venues. Friday night we started for the rehearsal dinner–three elders in their 80s, one aunt of the groom, and me driving them in a van. I was pleased with the help I received in navigating. All three elders watched the blue dot on my smart phone. We got lost once for each of them.
We were organized by fall themed decorations at each table. For example, there was an acorn table, a buckeye table, a squash table, and corn table. When I said that we were at the “corn” table, one of my elders thought I said “porn.” We made sure that all the hearing aids were adjusted before we sat down.
The next morning we had our southern boundary breakfast that included grits. We were also handed quarters for the meters near the church. I then headed out with my elders in the van to go to the church. We found a parking place and filled the meter with quarters. I was surprised to see a scaffolding over the church steeple. I was told that there was drama when the bride had seen the scaffolding. Luckily drama is essential to weddings.
The wedding was beautiful. The humble sister of the groom became visible for a brief moment when she read a prayer. The only slight drama was the sister’s husband being late for photos–he was outside feeding quarters into all the meters of all the vehicles on the street.
We returned to the hotel before the reception and thankfully a shuttle had been arranged for all of us so that I no longer had to drive the elders. We let someone else navigate to and from the reception–we were the party bus.
The food was good. The toasts were humble. We left before the Cardinal’s mascot arrived. After all, I am a Cubs fan. It just would have been too much.
St. Louis–Destination wedding site? A humble choice.
*The people involved played themselves. But this does not represent the views of all those present.