Saturday, June 23, 2007

The wedding of the decade (thus far)

The big day started at 6:45 AM with a quick run in the woods. We figured we would be eating a lot of junk that day, so we needed to burn at least some calories. Once back at the house, I declared that I was available to perform required manual labor until 10:30 AM at which time I needed to jump in the shower in order to be ready for departure to the church at 12:30 PM. The offer was much appreciated by my frantic mother who had an appointment with her hair dresser at 9:30 AM.

First task: Pick up frozen bread, high chairs, and microphone stands at Södertälje Baptist Kyrka in the closest “big” city of Södertälje. I decided to drag my brother Tobias along for fun (and because he had escaped much of the wedding prep by conveniently leaving town). We managed to navigate to the church, unlock (very tricky), and find all the items. It felt like a very bizarre scavenger hunt.

Second task: Haul drinks and other food/cakes/stuff to the reception hall and also check on my sister Miriam who was already there decorating with wild flowers that some of the girls had picked the previous day. Miriam was still working on the flowers when we arrived, so we helped her by cleaning up the mess in the kitchen (flowers and water everywhere!).

Third task: Once we were done with the flowers, it was time to put all the roast beef (not sure how many kilos, but a lot!) on serving platters. We worked out a pretty good system where the guys (Todd and Tobias) were in charge of opening the vacuum-packed meat and wrapping completed platters in plastic foil while Miriam and I were in charge of artistically placing the meat on the platters. It was a bloody and time-consuming activity. At one point Todd mentioned that we had reached the 10:30 AM cutoff, but I was determined to complete the task. And we did!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it into the shower until after 11:30 AM. It was a very quick one, because I had to dry my hair and then walk over to the location where my sister was getting ready to use a flat iron (yes, I had left mine at home). I made it over there only to realize that it takes Swedish flat irons a LONG time to warm up and – well, it never did get warm enough to straighten my hair. Oh well. I did get some snaps of the bride makeup session, so it was worth the trip.

Getting ready...

At the same time, my mom had returned from her hair appointment and learned from her hair dresser that Red Bull will give you energy. Thus, she stopped by the local grocery store and picked up a four-pack. My mom has an amazing amount of energy without stimulants other than coffee, so the added dose sure made her a close runner-up to the Energizer Bunny. Whew!

I managed to gather all of our stuff (bouquets, wreathes, dresses, brush, extra shoes, party purse, etc, etc) and get off to the church only 10 minutes late. The old Lutheran church was beautifully situated by a lake in the small village of Hölö.

We met the other little members of the bridal party there and practiced walking down the aisle a couple of times (no formal rehearsal here!). Once the children were all settled, I slipped into my new silk dress, strapped on my new shoes, and put on my new jewelry. Aaaaaahhhhhhh – now we just had to wait for the bride and groom to show up.

Waiting for the bride and groom.

After a while, the host and hostess nervously asked me: “Have you heard from them?” “Nope,” I replied. “This wedding couple will definitely be late,” I added with a smile. I told the priest the same thing. Who cares? People are having fun chatting and waiting with anticipation.

Then finally: “Here they are!” OK, get the kids ready. “You are so amazingly beautiful!” my sis-in-law Emily squealed with delight when she saw the bride. And she was striking indeed. Probably taller than 6 feet in her golden high-heeled sandals, decked in a cream-colored tango-style dress, and with peacock feathers in her hair and bouquet, she gracefully strode into the church with her long-haired hippie husband-to-be by her side.

Singing a hymn.

The wedding service was very long and very musical in traditional Åhlén fashion. Some of the members of the wedding party were fairly fidgety (I won’t name any names), but Rebecka handled everything very well, especially guiding the little ones back out of the church when it was all over. A fun little detail is that the priest actually used my first name rather than my sister’s in the ceremony. Fortunately, we both go by our second names. Nobody knows where that came from or had the heart to tell the sweet priest that he royally messed up.

The organ is too loud!

After the service, the wedding party gathered in a small room at the back of the church to regroup and get ready to face the crowd outside the church. We hugged and took pictures and breathed big sighs of relief. Fredrik just stared at his new wife in awe:

After the wedding ceremony, we tried to take as many pictures as possible knowing that we would not all be dressed up like this in the same place at the same time for years to come.

Bride, bride's maids, and mothers.

This could've been our 2007 Christmas card if Sophie had been present.

The wedding reception was a blast! I was immediately placed in charged of serving punch. People came back for seconds and thirds until we simply ran out of juice concentrate. Then we moved to an ad hoc concoction of soda, ice cream, and frozen raspberries. Somehow it worked!

The friends and family concert was awesome. As one of my uncles exclaimed: "This is better entertainment than on TV!"

Punch, food, friends, family, laughter, concert, coffee, speech, cake, dancing, heat, fresh air, and many, many hours later we finally drove home around 1 AM in the morning. We had danced our hearts (and legs) out to the music from my cousin’s record collection. It sure is cool to have a DJ in the family. I’m feeling that he is very much underutilized.

When we came back the next morning to clean up the reception hall and kitchen (oh yes, it was not over yet), we met some of the guests that had spent the night there. They reinforced the feeling that we all had that this really was the wedding of the decade – or as one girl said: “This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to – ever”. Let’s see what Apple D and his bride-to-be can come up with this fall… ;)

The partying didn't end just because the wedding was over. In the afternoon, we all gathered in the backyard for more food and fun and pictures to watch the newly weds open their presents and also take a few more family pictures. In the chaos of the "after church" time, we had managed not to capture everybody in one picture. Thus, we managed to organize a not-so-well-dressed family picture time with a camera on a tripod. Here is one of them:

Bye for now friends. More Sweden to come, but now I have to go to Target and buy luggage tags.


Anonymous said...

Jättekul att läsa, Tabita! Du är verkligen duktig att få till det.
Very fun to read, Tabita!
You are very good at telling the story. Kram/Love mamma

Tabita said...

Tack mamma!