Monday, November 16, 2009

Open-air weddings

I don't really remember any open-air weddings from my days in England. Barbara believes that we attended one a few years ago, on a hot day in June, and I certainly remember the reception being out of doors, but I think we had come from a church. Since most of the weddings I do remember were held in churches, the lack of an al fresco pattern is understandable. When I attended a wedding in South Africa a few years ago, we left the simple Presbyterian church for a reception at the country club. We were out of doors for an apperitif, but the large numbers made it more practical to sit down at our appointed places inside the clubhouse.

It is a different story in California. I remember a small wedding held outside a Presbyterian church, with the reception to follow. Over thirty years ago, close family members decided to exchange vows in a Bay Area park, and the weather was kind. Not so when, more recently, a young friend and her husband choose a nearby winery for their nuptuals. It was a drizzley day, and even the couples choice of two llamas as ring bearers did not make up for the weather. Fortunately, we could shelter in one of the barnes used for wine-making, although we did also venture out for the food.

On a recent Saturday, a lovely family wedding was held in a garden overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a foggy day along the coast, but we had been advised to dress warmly, and only a few in thin dresses were shivering. We were advised that the sun would come out in the early afternoon, and it made a fitful appearance, but the afternoon was never really warm.

I remembered one delightful wedding in the Napa Valley, famous for it's hospitable climate for the fruit of the vine. I felt very sorry for those who had dressed semi-formally for the occasion, because it turned out to be a very hot day.

I have an embarassing memory of attending a wedding in England when I was perhaps 11 years old. We left the church, and walked across for the reception in a garden. From somewhere I had picked up a phrase without understanding it's meaning, trying to make suitable conversation with two middle aged women ("ladies" to me in those distant days) I asked innocently if they thought the happy couple "had been a bit previous". The women were aghast. One of them said "My, you are a sophisticated young man." In those distant days, "nice people" did not cohabit prior to matrimony - though, being human, perhaps the couple had indeed sneaked off somewhere to be "a bit previous" in any case!


  1. Nigel,

    In a weak moment last year, I agreed to officiate oceanside for a young couple who were more than a bit previous. A promise made is a debt unpaid says arctic poet Robert Service. So it was that on a 25 mph windy afternoon, with a chill factor near the same temperature, that the event occured. Groomsmen were in khakis and short-sleeved, white gauze shirts. The bride's attendants were even more unlucky, but I will be discreet in this posting. The bride chose to be surly and sulky about it. Good reason to be married in a Church, I thought loudly, but did not say. As they reasoned later, "We'll have a better story now."

  2. Oh, Nigel! I have never heard that phrase before. I love it. A bit of previous, indeed.