Drove to upstate New York, along The Hudson River to a remote farm in rolling hills with a vista that fits my definition of "paradise." In L.A. when I lived there, people would always say, "another day in paradise," because the sun was usually shining and I lived hear the beach.
Certainly a lot of people who grew up living through Jersey and New York state winters consider warmer Southern and Western climates preferable, but after almost twenty years in the L.A. area I'm happy to be back in what I feel are the landscapes of my soul. Especially on a weekend that was predicted to be full of storms so severe large hailstones were expected.
But it didn't turn out that way. For the wedding of my sister-in-law and her love, the weather was perfect. Bright blue sky with puffy white clouds over a vista that rivaled any I'd ever seen, and I've seen extraordinary vistas.
But the view was nothing compared to the wedding party. There were several buildings on the land but the main house was a contemporary marvel. Not just all the amenities, but more so. Bathrooms as big as my bedroom in my apartment with showers as big most elevator cars. Beautiful art, etc. I'm too tired and incapable of describing the lay out and features but suffice it to say it was out of one of those articles in The New York Times magazine about amazing homes. And it rested on a knoll surrounded by hills but closer by looking down on meadows and ponds and frolicking baby goats and lambs, etc.
The ceremony itself was down from the house in a meadow next to a big pond where we waited for the bride and her entourage to come down and when they did, as someone said, it felt like we were in a movie. The groomsmen were dressed in their own choice of outfits, my youngest, looking like a GQ model in a slim pale suit with a lavender shirt and skinny tie, among them (there also was a kilted man, a handle bar moustached man, the best man in slim jeans etc.).
Two beautiful little girls led the procession of bridesmaids, each in their own version of a colorfully patterned floor length filmy dress, so that rather than eliciting comparisons of how different women wore the same dress each stood out with their own style that accentuated their individual beauty (and the varieties of beauty among them and handsomeness among the men made it feel like we were definitely in some sort of film or magazine shoot for the hippest wedding and wedding styles ever).
The bride wore an antique dress she had altered to her own specifications creating an outfit that, combined with her natural beauty, made her look like the hippest, most stylish, most uniquely beautiful and perfect bride I've ever seen. (Sorry I suck at photographs or I'd offer some as proof, though no photo could capture the impact her entrance and presence created, especially along with her long haired handsome groom.)
The ceremony was brief, starting out with a friend of the marrying couple officiating unable to resist for his first word: "Maowidge" cracking everyone up. The couple wrote their own vows that moved us all, I read a poem I'd been asked to write for the occasion (my sister-in-law came to live with her big sister and me and our son when she was still young and stayed for years so I got to watch her grow from a teenager to an accomplished—and beautifully tattooed—woman I feel I helped partly raise).
The reception was a short walk up to a big barn with an upstairs dance floor and rented tables and chairs and hay bales (yes, rented hay!) set up as couches! Friends of the couple provided some tasty Latin jazz (Miles style trumpet playing, and bossa nova style guitar strumming). Several people remarked on how beautiful the couple's friends, from California, New York, New Jersey and Florida, all were.
My sister-in-law is thirty and her husband a few years older, and their friends are their age and all with their own individually unique style, so the whole affair was almost like a hip fashion show. The love and celebratory feeling was contagiously satisfying as everyone agreed out of all the couples any of us had ever encountered the bride and groom were the one their friends most wanted to see together because they seemed so right for each other.
People had brought tents and sleeping bags, so the landscape was dotted with colorful little temporary abodes, some with small children and infants, but despite the rural setting and the camping realities, somehow everyone managed to have enough outfits to change into new and equally flattering ones as the weather and circumstances changed throughout the day and night.
The toasts, the conversation, the food, the dancing, the energy and love made the event what my youngest declared was "the most fun weekend" of his fifteen years. He tends to feel deeply, like many of us, and may say the same thing again before the summer's out, but somehow I doubt it. This really was, as many agreed, the best wedding they'd ever experienced (and I have the weddings of my older children right up there with the best I've encountered—plus on the same day my nephew Carl's wedding was happening in Alaska in a landscape definitely as or more spectacular as well as unique) because of the setting, the wedding couple, their friends, and the whole concept of a three day wedding on a farm with more than all the amenities and room (200 acres) in a landscape as close to my idea of paradise as is possible (outside of Manhattan at various times in my life and The Berkshires now) and given as a three day affair with swimming and communal cooking and eating and games and row boating and the sights and sounds of goats and lambs and one of the sweetest dogs you'll ever meet (who briefly wore a tie and interrupted the wedding ceremony itself as she ran up to the couple, no barking or bothering, just to check them out and then recede, as did one of the little girls, making the event even more natural than it already was).
I'm tired from dancing late into the night, or into the early morning actually, but wanted to get down some thoughts about my lovely sister-in-law Luloo and her great guy husband Evan down for the record, at least my record.