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Ireland Trip Day 5: Monday: The Wedding

Posted by julival on August 23, 2004

Hopefully you’ll get a number of other PoVs for this day. At least the first portion of this is going to be pretty limited to what I was doing with the other bridesmaids and Uli.

The day dawned early for the bridal party. At least for the female portion of the bridal party. I don’t really know when the guys had to be up. Anyway, I was up and showered and downstairs for breakfast by about 8:15, so I could get in a nice big hot breakfast to tide me over til the reception that afternoon. I had to eat all by myself that morning :-( but Tony took good care of me. He brought me a paper to read (very tabloidy, but amusing) and fixed me up with my usual tea and whatnot, along with my nice big plate of eggs and that thick country bacon and potato bread toast. MMMMMMMMMM.

We did have one garlic bread moment when he asked how I was doing…

Tony: How are you today, then?

Me: *smile* Fine thanks – a little bit sleepy, but not too bad. Yourself?

Tony: Sleepy, myself. I was out late last night…[garlic bread garlic bread garlic bread] awake? *looking at me*

Me: *smile* yes, I’m awake.

Tony: *mild look of confusion* nono - perhaps you don’t use the term in America. It’s like a gathering for a funeral…

Me: *momentary confusion of my own, followed by sudden awareness* OH! A. WAKE. *inappropriate laugh* yes yes. I do know what a wake is. I’m sorry, I misunderstood!


Once I was nicely filled, I gathered up my necessary items (shoes, hose, make-up, tissues, etc.) and set off for Petra’s. Louis and Uli had driven me back by the guesthouse on the way back from the curler appt. the day before so I could see how to get over there walking the next day. It wasn’t too far – maybe 3 blocks or so – straight through the little shopping district. I passed the post office (jeff mailed out our family cards from there later in the morning) and the bank of Ireland, and came across Uli’s dad as I approached the hair salon. He had been off on some errand or another and was returning to give the bride cash for Petra. Uli’s parents generously paid for all of us girls to get our hair done in addition to paying for the dress fabric and for Uli and Carin (Shaun told me how to spell the names *g*) to have make-up done. The rest of us opted to do our own.

I was running just a tiny bit late when I arrived, so the other girls had all gone ahead of me. Petra was busy ironing out Ida’s hair and someone was fussing with Eva’s and some others were working on Uli’s and Louis’ sister’s. Our littlest bridesmaid got beautiful little buns and splashes of baby’s breath. Ida and Carin got French twists, Eva got mostly lots of gel, fluffing, and several sprigs of baby’s breath. I told her she looked like a sprite. *g* Uli’s hair was left mostly down, with the ringlets of curls pulled back away from her face and left to cascade down her back – it was really lovely! They had some trouble pinning the veil over it, as there was not a fastening part built into the veil, but after a few hundred or so pins *chuckle* they had it all in place.

The plan was for me to have a French twist, as well. Heh. I had one for Caly and Mike’s wedding, but that was over a year ago, and I’ve been letting it grow out since then. The length might not have been such an issue if I didn’t just have so dang MUCH hair. And it’s thick and not particularly cooperative. Most of the girls were still in the room when I got put into the chair around 9:30 or so. We had to be at the church at 11:45 for our pre-wedding photos. I think the groomsmen were to be there at 11:30 and the wedding was to begin at noon.

First, Petra did something that no other hairdresser has ever done to me. She ironed my hair. That was _Weird_ It was all flat and silky looking. She told me that’s how all the Hollywood stars have such nice long straight hair. OK. I’m not sure how this was supposed to benefit the French twist, but whatever. Then I got to sit. And wait. And wait some more. I watched Eva get her sprite look, watched Uli get her veil pinned, and watched some old lady get her hair colored.

About half way through all my waiting, there was an abrupt pause in the action. All the lights went out, all the hairdryers went off, the music switched from pop to some lilting Irish pipes playing a slow tune, and outside, a funeral procession went by. I’m not talking about a line of cars with a hearse in the lead…I’m talking about a hearse followed by a whole crowd of walking mourners, followed by a line of cars. The whole hair salon was respectfully silent, except for that mournful Irish tune in the background. It’s nothing I’ve ever seen before and no one was able to explain it to me a regular sort of thing or not afterward. I was embarrassed to ask there at the shop, so didn’t ask anyone til later at the reception. But none of them knew.

Petra got very involved with the one of the Irish cousins who was to attend the wedding, as well, and assigned one of her girls to start teasing up my flat hair (back combing is the term they used) and to make the french twist. Poor girl. Later she said to me, “ I didn’t know I was drawin the short straw, then, did I?” *lol* First she teased it, then she started trying to twist it. Meanwhile she and her coworkers were chatting away to me and enjoying my accent *l* at one point, one of them said “I just love listening to her talk! She sounds so cultured!” *SNORT* And they asked if I lived near Graceland. And if I’d ever BEEN to graceland. They couldn’t grasp why I would not have been there when I only lived one state away most of my life. I think Irish people must like Elvis. Maybe the way French people supposedly like Jerry Lewis. Weird.

My lovely hair stylist was having no end of trouble getting the hair to go up. I suggested she try doing it in sections, as that’s what the girls here the states typically do – it helps with the volume. I don’t know if she didn’t grasp what I meant, or she thought that was a stupid idea, or what, but she never tried it. She just kept trying to force a twist. The conversation continued…

“So how do you know the bride then?” (they said ‘then’ at the end of sentences a lot!) I’m not sure if I used the book club line or what.

“oh, you have children?! So how old are they?!”

By now, I had 3 little Irish hairstylist chicks fussing over my hair. They were trying bigger pins and brute force. One twisted, the other pinned, the other made commentary. When I replied “my oldest is almost 14”, I thought the commentary chick’s eyeballs were going to come shooting out of their sockets. The twister’s jaw nearly hit the floor, and the pinner looked confused.” *beams* they said I must have started really young. When I told them I was nearly forty, they demonstrated just as much shock as before. *BEAMS* I told them my grandmother always told me to drink a lot of water. The one chick told me she’d thought I was 26. I Love my Irish hairstylists. *lol* then they went back to trying to make my hair behave.

The twister (short straw chick) looked more and more perplexed. She kept saying that the texture was a problem. It just wouldn’t bend! She couldn’t think of a word to describe the texture, so I helped her out – “it’s coarse”. “YES! THAT’S WHAT IT IS! COARSE!” and on it went. She kept telling the other girls that the hair was just too coarse to bend and that it should have been set in rollers first to make it bend.

Finally, around 10:30 or so, Petra came over to see what the heck was going on. Uli had already paid for all of us and headed upstairs to the make-up woman to have her face done. Carin was with her, and the other girls had gone back to the B&B to dress and do their faces. Well, as soon as Petra came over, twist chick says, “I keep trying, but her hair’s just too Coarse!” *lmao*

Petra’s mouth got rather compressed at this. She thought perhaps she shouldn’t have straightened it after all. Then she decided they needed to try a different tack. Rather than a French twist, they’d do a nice roll at the nape of my neck and tuck all the uncooperative bits up under that and surround it all with baby’s breath to hide the pins. Eventually, (about 897 pins later – no really more like 50) I had a very pretty little coif. I tried to pay them extra for all the extra time and labor (and pins!) involved, but they resolutely declined. I think they were thrilled to see me go.

Now remember, we were supposed to be at the church at 11:45. When I left Petra’s chair, it was 11 am. Uli and Carin were just finishing upstairs and Uli had called a cab to get us and take us to the B&B. All three of us still had to dress and I still had to put on make-up! AND…when we arrived at the B&B, Uli’s mom was STILL SEWING. I kid you not. I was a bit worried about how the dress was going to go over my hair, but Uli managed to make it work. Then it was speedy work getting into hose and skirt and shoes and finding something to cover up some lovely zits that had cropped up on my chin overnight (Eva had some flesh colored Clearasil *l* which combined with a little face powder, did the trick – til it got all flaky later and I had to brush off the clumps all over the place). One super-speedy make-up job later, and it was time for me to help with the last bits of sewing. *l* Uli had to get into hose, a corset, a big hoop skirt of petticoats, her dress, her coat, and her jewelry. She looked absolutely gorgeous! She put on her garter with tiny ‘blue’ bows, her ‘new’ everything else, ‘borrowed’ a tissue from me (Which she returned – unused – after the ceremony), and I sewed her great-grandmother’s wedding band into the lining of her gown with a little tab of fabric for her ‘old’. I think her mom finished everything but the button on her own little clutch bag (made to match her dress). She finished that at the photo session in the park after the ceremony. *g*

Meanwhile, someone was drying off the stems of the beautiful lilies that the bridesmaids were to carry, and the father of the bride was wandering around trying to hurry us along. I think we were only a few minutes late to the church in the end up.

[a little aside for jeff and the boys’ arrival at the cathedral: They had the camera and jeff must have been pleased with how the boys looked in their dress-up attire. *chuckle* here are a few photos he took of them before the wedding - approaching St. Patrick’s (I reckon jeff must have made them climb all those stairs. The rest of us came up the hill and around the back of the church by car and only had a few steps to climb.). top of the stairs (here’s a nice view out over the town from the courtyard at the top of the stairs. If you look at the center, top, you can see the squared off tower of St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland across the way. *g*). another view (this one is off from one side of the courtyard). And finally… a strange beetle (Jeff let the boys have the camera *sigh*).]

When we arrived, we had to stand out front and get our photo made by the hired photographer AND every person out front with a camera. Uli had worried somewhat the day before when we were having all that rain and wind. We, of course, had all assured her that it was just getting the nasty weather out of its system before her big day. And that proved true! It was a beautifully sunny day! Unfortunately, we had to pose with the beautiful sun right in our eyes. Talk about some seared retinas…I felt really bad for poor Eva. She has extremely light sensitive eyes and was tearing up worse than I was. We were glad when the photo session was over and we could all retreat to the little waiting chamber off the entryway. It was blessedly cool and dim.

That was our brief respite before the main event. It wasn’t long at all before the groomsmen were in place and the wee lass (louis’ sister, remember) was hunting down the older bridesmaids to join her at the start of the aisle. The photographer took charge, told the organist to begin, and we were off!

Here are a few shots jeff took of the interior of the cathedral and of us walking up the aisle. View inside (the groomsmen are already seated up front on the right and a few swedes are in place on the left). View to the left (the guys were interested in the monitors on the sides of the pillars). Waiting guests (you can see a long thin speaker attached to the pillar, too). Bored freaks (*snicker*). And finally here we come… (Jeff didn’t get a shot of the wee lass in front or of Ida, but here, in order, are Eva, Carin, Me, and - way at the back – Uli’s dad and Uli, who is blocked by the photographer). And then just me (as I walked past Jeff’s pew. I thought the hair came out not bad, after all that fuss.). I could kill him for not taking one of Uli and her dad! But I guess we’ll see the pro versions of her and Louis as soon as they get them back and have a working scanner.

The ceremony itself was really beautiful. There were at least two solos sung at different times during the service – love songs. I thought it was so sweet when Uli reached over and took Louis’ hand during the songs *g* Uli’s mom read a passage in Swedish and one of Louis’ friends read one in Irish (Gaelic). (Jeff didn’t read any prayers *snicker* but he said later that he was very relieved when he looked at the program and didn’t see his name on it.) Several of the children (including Louis’ siblings) read short prayers. For his homily, the priest told the story of how Louis and Uli met over the Internet. They hadn’t known that he was going to do that, or that he even knew the truth of how they’d met. Apparently, the good Father called Louis’ father and got the scoop. *bg* That was the part of the ceremony that got my tears flowing. I have so many fond memories of seeing the two of them fall in love on line. I remember her little poems and his antsy waiting for her to show up in chat. I was glad I’d palmed a tissue before walking down the aisle.

Everything else went just like it had in the rehearsal, except that Himself managed to keep the eyebrows at a relaxed altitude – even when he was handing over the silver. *l* At the end, we all paired off and filed to the rear of the sanctuary to a special room where we had to sign all the official papers. There were more photos (Uli got to sit on the Bishop’s chair, which looked like her throne. She was the queen of the day *g*), hand shaking, hugs, and then a procession back out to the main church so that everyone could watch us officially march back down the aisle, two by two. Jeff finally managed to get a shot of the bride and groom .

I don’t actually remember if there was much milling about out front afterward or not. I know we all greeted the happy couple as we exited, and I know there were decorated cars to take us all to the park for the next round of photos, but I don’t remember what went on in between…

The photo session in the park will likely make for some gorgeous photos, but as any of you who’ve participated in such a thing know, it makes for a lot of standing around waiting. Uli’s mom was standing around sewing the button on her purse. I was helping with Uli’s coat and checking her make-up. We were all working to keep the bugs off her train and the wasps out of our hair. I really can’t wait to see the photo the guy staged where he had all of us bridesmaids hovering around Uli, gazing adoringly at her new ring. *lol*

For some reason, they made the bridal party all get into the cars quite a while before the bride and groom were finished having photos made. The beautiful sun had made the insides of the cars quite toasty by then, and Irish cars don’t seem to have air conditioning as a major standard feature. We bridesmaids were sort of wilty and very thirsty by the time we finally hit the road. But then the drive down to The Four Seasons (back across the border in the Republic) was very nice. Our driver (Louis’ uncle, I think) gave us a mini-tour and told us all about a huge mushroom farming venture in that area of the country. We also passed a military barracks area with recruiting posters.

Most of the girls had kicked their shoes off in the car, so we had to pause outside the hotel to get re-organized before our grand entrance. *chuckle* Ida was putting her shoes on in the parking lot. When we got inside, we were greeted with champagne and another round of photos. Now we have a great one of Mr. and Mrs. O’Connor.

While the staff was passing out the champagne, I sent Jeff of in search of water for all of us bridesmaids. We were very happy to see him coming back with a tray full of glasses. He brought cookies (biscuits), too. He was very fond of the biscuits – it seems he and the boys had been there a while and had already consumed quite a number of biscuits. *l* Here we all are (waiting for our water). We still had some time to kill before we were to be seated for the meal at 4:00, and the Bride and Groom had to make the rounds, doing the obligatory meet and greet, gathering up cash-filled cards, hugs, and well-wishes, and having more photos made. The boys took this opportunity to make some photos of their own. I left a lot of them out and cropped most of the ones that I included. Heh.

Alec and Rob’s photo session pre-reception dinner:
The Happy Couple greets the Freaks (here you can see Uli’s lovely veil of the 1000 pins)
some guests (Uli’s painfully shy brother is there on the right, having some alone time.)
Uli and Rob (you can see some of the detail on Uli’s dress. She had taken off the coat by then. I’m not sure if Rob thought he was Napoleon, or what…)
Jeff and Mark (neither looking much like he wants his photo taken.)
It’s Wee D!!! (now tell me – does that child NOT look like he’s about to be up to mischief?!)
Alec with Gladioli (apparently, the boys were feeling artistic, surrounded by all that beauty). And finally…
Wasp in champagne (no one was in any hurry to rescue this lush of a wasp that had crawled down into the half-finished glass of bubbly. We’d had enough of the little critters.)

Then I got hold of the camera and posed a couple of shots with Rob and the Wee Lass. *bg* Guess who’s arm I had to twist and whose I didn’t. Once (*Snicker*) and Twice (*weg*).

We called in for dinner shortly after that. The meal was amazing! They fed us and fed us and fed us, til I had to start leaving a lot on the plate just so I’d be able to sample the next round. *l* It was GOOD. We had beautiful, artfully cut and arranged fruit salads, delicious soup and rolls, and our choice of a roast beef or stuffed turkey dinner (I had the roast beef – it came with a veggie medley that was really good, a big roasted potato – also very good - that I had to ask what it was because it looked like a puff pastry *l*, a Yorkshire pudding that I declined to eat because it was strange and looked like there should be something inside of it and I wasn’t quite sure how to manage it, and some yummy carrot puree.) The staff was already coming around to see if we needed seconds before I’d eaten a third of what was on my plate! Then there was a choice of desserts – a scrumptious cheese cake with chocolate (my choice) or a little variety plate with several wee treats. And THAT was followed by our choice of wedding cake! I had some of the very tasty Swedish wedding cake that Lou’s mom had successfully managed the custard for. It had almond paste and strawberries on top! Mmmmmmmmmmm. The other choices were a chocolate cake (Lou’s choice) and a traditional Irish wedding cake (also known as a big ole fruit cake with white frosting. *lol*)

There were, of course, speeches during the meal. The priest gave a lovely speech about how they’d all thought Louis was going to be a priest when he grew up because he was such a fine altar boy *lmao* and how Uli had lured him away from his calling. He talked about all the fine people who loved them and had come from as far away as Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, America, and Hawaii *lol* to see them wed. Then Louis and his demon brother the best man each had to make a speech. Oh wait, Uli’s dad made a VERY short one. *l* I hope someone remembers exactly what he said – I don’t. it was over too fast. Louis stood up to applause, thanked everyone for applauding first because he said they probably wouldn’t want to after, and proceeded to make a very humble speech (so Lou) thanking everyone and mentioning that he was amazed that everyone had come so far for the wedding (I told him it was just so we could see Ireland). The Demon gave the final speech, which deteriorated into a long chain of garlic bread by the end. *lol* (by the way – it came out that that wake Tony had mentioned and that funeral procession that had stopped the hairstylists were part of a funeral that was originally scheduled for the same time as the wedding at the same church. Oops. Luckily, a relative or friend of the family had heard about the funeral plans that weekend and notified someone at the church so it could be moved up to an earlier time. Thus the procession while we were getting our hair done. Whoa.)

Afterward, all the tables were quickly cleared off to the back and the floor was set up for dancing. There were to be two types of dancing that night – first a traditional Irish…Ceily (pronounced Keely, I think. Maybe Kayly)…band to play Irish folk tunes and call steps for the Ceily dancing (a lot like American square dancing – lines of couples, swing your partner, promenade, etc, only they call it differently). Second, a DJ to spin all the fun dance tunes from the last several decades. He really did a great job with the music and had people out on the floor all night. They also opened up the cash bar at that point and folks started in on the libations (on top of the toast champagne *l*).

For the very first dance, the Band leader called out the bridal party couples by name (bride and groom first, of course, rather unexpectedly followed by myself and the Demon). I got spun round the floor by Louis’ brother quite a bit. Later I tried to get revenge by spinning him ‘round when he was good and full of the old EtOH, but somehow I was still the one who ended up unable to see straight and walking with a decided list.

I was going to try a Guiness while I was over there, but I chickened out and went with the less ‘thick’ Smithwicks. It was good! Oh, and the food wasn’t really over yet. The staff came out with snacks again, half way through the dancing. That Ceily dancing is raucous stuff – gets you right on up to your target heart-rate and beyond *l* so everyone was ready to eat again after a few rounds of that. There were little wieners, chicken wings, tiny sandwiches, and I forget what all.

I had a bit of a tiff with my own Himself early in the dancing part of the evening when he tried to tell me we were going to have to leave before dark for the drive back to the guesthouse and THEN rubbed salt in the wound by refusing to dance with me. I’d been looking forward to that irish dancing for weeks and couldn’t get my sons, my spouse, or even Uli’s dad to dance with me. (Uli’s dad looked about one more dance away from a heart attack when I asked him, so he’s forgiven *w*). I had a minor meltdown out in the lobby and darling Alleeeeeeeeee came out to console and commiserate on the stupidity of men. (oops, this was after poor Bad Man made the timing error of coming off the dance floor and finding me sitting to one side of the reception Internet circle – yes, we clumped at the reception, too – and saying “Julie! Why aren’t you dancing after all that talking about how much you wanted to try the Ceily dancing?!” at which point I hopped up and scurried out to avoid a scene.) heh.

ANYWAY…all’s well that ends well and whatnot…Jeff changed his mind about leaving early in the face of my distress, and carefully planted an escape route for himself by saying he hoped the DJ would play Come on Eileen (That traditional irish pop song of the 80s *lol*). And I got several mercy offers for Ceily Dancing after I gathered myself and returned to the room, so I did get to get out there and aerobicize. I also made sure to request Come on Eileen, so when they got around to playing it, Jeff graciously joined me on the dance floor. The kids loosened up faster than he did. Alec and Rob seemed like they had a blast out there dancing with the freaks. Poor Rob did get shot down late in the evening when he asked the Wee Lass to dance (after much pestering and a bit of shameless bribery from his parents). She was not interested. I can’t say that I would have been, either, after the way he grimaced when he had to pose with her.

There was also one traditional FINNISH dance at the party, in honor of Jani *l* the Swedes were behind it, of course. I had been looking forward to watching the dance, but I ended up joining in when I discovered that in actuality, the traditional finnish conga line dance was the traditional American bunny hop in mildly modified form. *lol* Oh, and we did the Hokey Pokey, too. What wedding reception would be complete without the hokey pokey?! The only thing missing was the Chicken Dance. I guess that has more Polish roots…

Other dancing highlights included Jani’s Power Thrust move (scared the bejesus out of poor Lou), DK Twisting looooow, a circle dance in which all of us linked arms and converged on the bride and groom over and over again (my arms were sore for two days afterward from that one), and just watching everyone party and have fun. Wishy and Mark were great sports and danced with all of us freak chicks. I think Jana was dancing some with the Swedish bridesmaids – they were really showing some moves! *l* and it wasn’t easy to dance in those dresses with the fishtails on the back. I don’t know how the heck Uli was managing her hoop skirt. We did get her train pinned up in the back somehow. I took all the pins out of her veil at dinner so she could shed that. I’m pretty sure Alle, Jana, and Kitty all took turns dancing with my sons. I remember someone telling me how cute Jana looked dancing with Rob because they were about the same height…*lol* OH! And I also remember the Kitty showing us the bottoms of her feet at one point! We chicks had all shed our shoes by mid-evening and DK’s feet were BLACK from all the dancing. I reckon the rest of ours were, too, but I didn’t look.

Here are many photos of the evening:
Rob being cool (between dinner and dancing).
A hedgerow (I really wanted to see a HedgeHOG. Mark, the supposed Irishman, could not answer too many questions about hedgehogs, either. He gave me some hmming and whatnot and told me that mainly one sees them as little brown smears on the road between hedgerows…)
partiers (you can see jani’s back on the right)
DK and Alle (see the pretty braids alle made?!)
Jani, Wishy, DK, and Alle (watching this round)
Bunny Hop (there’s the start of the traditional finnish dance line *lol*)
Jana and Mark (I think mark must be explaining something Irish. Jana seems to be paying close attention. *nods*)
Wishy, DK, and Jani (watch out for the Power Thrust, kitty!)
Rob (resting up from all the dancing)
Alec (also resting up from all the dancing. And getting pretty casual…)
Moi (exhausted and faint from all the dancing, being attended to by the fanning wishmaster. Good man. *w*)

The Miller party did finally have to ask for a Freak volunteer to depart with us at midnight (we had two tiny cars and 10 not so tiny Freaks). MarkwBadMan made the sacrifice. I’d hoped to he’d be able to point out a hedgehog to me (or even the brown smear of one), but they must not be nocturnal like ‘possums. The ride back did have some interesting moments, however. Like the several times Jeff decided to turn off the headlights while he was trying to figure out how to work the brights! It’s a bit nerve-wracking to be driving down a narrow winding country road, on the perceived wrong side, hemmed in by looming hedgerows, and suddenly plunged into total darkness. It also got rather warm in the car because Jeff had had to run the de-fogger when we first got in. He’d left the blower on warm and was too busy concentrating on the road (And the light switch) to deal with adjusting the temp. Mark, who doesn’t drive, was unfamiliar with dashboard symbols. *l* So I had to describe the little thingy with red on one side and blue on the other. “Please put it on the BLUE side!”

I was pretty darned carsick by the time we got back to Armagh. Luckily, I made it to the privacy of my guesthouse bathroom, and out of my lovely dress, before emptying my stomach. AND no, smarty pants! I only had ONE BEER and TWO glasses of champagne the WHOLE DAY! Then I had to pull out all those dang bobby pins and baby’s breath sprigs. Some day I will re-visit Petra…

Not to end on a sour note – I really felt fine after that and slept like a rock. All in all, it was a spectacular day!