My son and his bride exchanging wedding vows
This was going to be a short post, mostly sharing photos thanks to friends who have posted on various forums. But, as often happens when one sits down to write, more and more memories come flooding back.
Thanks for sharing these highlights with me — and many friends’ photos as well — from one of my life’s most memorable events, my son’s wedding. Thanks to friends for sharing their photos on Facebook and/or emailing them to me: Jennifer, Mary, Chris, Rick, Emily, Aaron, Leila, Marybeth, Diane and Larry.
I’ll no doubt be adding to this list in the days and weeks to come. At this moment in time, these are memories and moments I hold dear. This post is, in a way, my letter of love and appreciation to Caitlin and Gary.
* the Australia engagement, on one of my son’s favourite Sydney beaches, a place of the heart that for many years had nourished not only his body (body-surfing!) but also, especially after his father’s death, his soul — the place he chose to take the girl of his dreams for one of the most important events of his life, his marriage proposal.
* London shopping days and ultimately finding my dress in Felixstowe, less than two blocks from our apartment
* Special UK friends, who gave us a beautiful gift for the couple and a hugely helpful ride to the train station on our day of departure; friends who couldn’t join us in the U.S. but sent wonderfully supportive messages and emails letting us know they were thinking of us
* the beautiful New Jersey bridal shower with its Paris theme
A shower of love: Paris in New Jersey
The groom with his bride and her bridesmaids
* my dear friend Sandy in Connecticut, who was the mother of the groom (MOG) three years ago and gave me generous, priceless support and encouragement each step of the way
* Lynn, the fabulous, helpful woman at my mother’s assisted living facility, who was also an MOG three years ago; Lynn not only provided great input and support but also took delivery in the U.S. of my ‘backup wedding shoes’ and, along with Sandy, told me she too had purchased a backup pair of shoes for her son’s wedding, which made me feel a little less crazy.
Days in the USA before the wedding
Impressively relaxed a few days before their big day
* time with my son and the bride and her family – lunches and dinners together, time to just talk with each other and have relatively calm (while at the same time quite excited) time before the big event
* time with my son on his own – lunch and two dinners, including the night before the rehearsal dinner, when my late husband Gary’s brother and wife arrived and joined us for champagne in our room
* that afternoon, our friends Chris and Sandy’s arrival and being grateful beyond words for Chris being our ‘dedicated Uber driver’ for several days. He and Sandy drove us from the hotel to the church rehearsal and from there to the rehearsal dinner and back to the hotel; drove me to and from the bride’s home on the wedding morning; and, after the wedding ceremony, drove Clive and me back to the hotel so we could all take the bus to and from the reception.
* seeing my friend Mary from Washington DC in the hotel lobby as we all departed for the rehearsal at the church; knowing she and her husband and other close friends would soon be joining us at the rehearsal dinner.
* reconnecting with the best man — my son’s best friend from Australia whom I’ve always adored and hadn’t seen in several years — along with his most wonderful parents and husband. Thank you so much, Siena and Ian, for travelling across so many miles and oceans to be with us.
* how everything came together at the dinner – the jazz trio, the flowers on the tables, the meal and most of all, having our family and friends together – seeing friends from all over the world meeting and connecting with each other – truly a joy to witness and be part of.
Rehearsal dinner flowers (a few days later, with my mother-of-the-groom rose)
* that my remarks went well, and I was very moved by the words of my son and his bride.
* meeting the bride’s ‘New Jersey’ table and the family’s Texas friends; also feeling how life comes full circle since I was born and raised in NJ.
* loving the generous gift the couple presented to me and Clive – an striking cobalt blue bowl. I keep taking it out of the box and marvelling at it; the more I hold and look at it, the more I adore it.
Wedding morning bride and bridesmaids
* being invited and included with ‘the girls’ and the bride and her mother at the house, watching these delightful young women having their hair and make-up done and being part of their friendship and fellowship and support for the bride.
In no particular order, Amelia, Hahna, Julia, Courtney, Emily and Chelsea, it was a great pleasure to spend this time with you and I know your own mothers are very proud of all of you.
* as mentioned above, heartfelt thanks to friend Chris who drove me to and from, saving me the worry of ‘what if I get a flat tire on our rental car on the wedding day?’ and other probably-silly but nevertheless looming-in-my-mind unwelcome possibilities I did not wish to encounter on this momentous day.
Wedding morning – the beautiful bride
At the Church before the Ceremony
* Clive and I riding in the limo with my son and his groomsmen; feeling grateful to be part of the fellowship and friendship of these young men so important to my son
* seeing family and friends come into the church – my cousin Ted and his daughter Kayleigh, who played the harp more beautifully than ever before the ceremony; my friends Larry and Judi from South Carolina; our own family members dressed up for this special day.
Nephews of the groom, aka the Barnaboys
Clive and the Aussie men
Me and the Aussie women
My beautiful U.S. daughter-in-law and her handsome ring-bearing son
*** My son seating me, before he stood at the front of the church (an idea from my friend Sandy which, as far as I recall, was the only specific request I made for the wedding) which meant the world to me.
*** My son waiting on his own at the front of the church; this is one of my most precious memories of all; as if he was saying – this moment is so important to me that I don’t want or need anyone else up here with me before the ceremony begins; I will handle this myself because it’s such a serious, special event and I’ll be there on my own, confident in myself with no distractions, waiting for my bride.
Huge thanks to friends Mary and Larry for their photos, Mary’s with the email subject line, ‘Waiting for Caitlin’.
Waiting for Caitlin
The groom waiting for his bride
* the duet who sang heart-stirring hymns during the ceremony
* the couple’s focus on their families; the emotional impact of hearing not only my late husband’s name mentioned multiple times but also my father’s name, spoken in the faith prayer and written on the program ‘In Loving Remembrance’ along with the bride’s grandparents.
* the emotion of watching these two exchange vows
The marriage ceremony
The marriage ceremony
You may kiss the bride xxxxxxxxxxxxx
After the Ceremony
Continuing thanks to friends who sent photos of the new Mr and Mrs Barnabo walking down the aisle.
The new Mr and Mrs
Eat Drink and Be Married
* The five minutes I spent alone in the ballroom, after the maitre d’ took me and Clive inside when we arrived. I tried to be present in the moment and soak it all in – the flowers, the candlelight and the beautiful atmosphere created by the vision of Tracy, mother of the bride.
Flowers and candlelight
My son and belle-fille entering the ballroom
A kiss before walking in
Mr and Mrs
Despite the blur, we love this photo
First dance & many others
First dance as husband and wife
A kiss on the dance floor
* Seeing the grandchildren dancing with their parents (and at times with me and Clive); everyone moving around having a fabulous time together
* watching the creation of amazing artwork of Event Painting by Katherine, who began with a blank canvas and over the course of the night, painted a marvellous remembrance for the couple
Early view of painting
* The speeches — by the groom, the father of the bride, the maid of honour, and the best man. All were brilliant, touching and amusing and tugging the heartstrings. I can’t wait to watch the video so I can soak up every word again.
* the ballroom in full swing – friends at tables, the dance floor, the candlelight and music; meeting many of the bride and groom’s friends including their college friends and friends from Washington DC and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy; seeing so many family and friends including my three cousins and three close friends from CT when the four of us hadn’t been together in many years (Cathleen, Deb, Nancy – reunion soon!)
Tables at the reception
* each table named after a place holding special meaning for the bride and/or groom
* the cake – which I was too busy talking and dancing to have a single bite, but thanks to the bride’s parents, we had a lovely piece of it the next day
Cutting the cake
* the dessert buffet – one of the younger guests told me ‘I’m in heaven’ over the sweet treats
Dessert treats galore
Sitting down for a moment
A Few Additional Favourites
*** The bride’s crystal headband. I remember when her mom told me they’d found this; I thought it sounded wonderful but seeing it for real it was absolutely perfect, a stunning ornament for a stunning person. I couldn’t stop admiring it the whole day and evening.
*** Having all Aussie wines at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding – two whites and two reds at each, bringing a special touch of Down Under and a country that means so much to our family into these momentous events.
*** My son wearing his father’s watch, a gift I gave his father for his birthday the month after our son was born. It holds deep significance, as after my first husband was diagnosed with cancer, he said about the watch and our son, ‘I’d like him to wear it on his wedding day.’
* Clive and I joining the young people downstairs for a short while, then going back up to the now-quiet dessert area and having a lovely conversation with my U.S. stepson – just him, me and Clive – sitting at a table, chatting, and knowing how proud his father would be of him and his family, and how blessed we are that he is doing so well coming up to the one-year mark of his kidney transplant.
Thanks to my brother-in-law Rick for this photo taken after the ceremony.
Chris, Caitlin, Gary, Carolyn and Clive
Wouldn’t it be great, at joyous events like this, if we could just stop time for a while and hold onto the moment for as long as we wished?
The painting at the end of the night
But time moves on. My son and belle-fille are now honeymooning in Paris, Clive and I are spending a few more days with my mom, and we’re looking forward to getting home to our tree by the sea in England. Then it will be time to count the days until we see our U.S. and Aussie families again.
Until then, to Gary and Caitlin: love you both so much and wishing you a very happy one-week anniversary tomorrow!
My son and belle-fille, a wedding to remember
Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.