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THE WEDDING

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I tried to savor every moment, I did, of the crazy ceremony that was supposed to be outside . . . moved inside because of rain, not just a little drizzle, but a torrential downpour and flood warnings! I bought paper fans with our photo on them, I should have gotten umbrellas.  When the power went out at the church, I really thought that had to be the end of the mishaps.  We had not planned any flowers or decorations because we were supposed to be outside.  Lee Miller, close family friend went into his amazing garden in the rain to pick the flowers that would be my bouquet and the altar décor.  Friends pitched in arranging flowers in vases and lighting candles around the church.  They moved the piano to the front for more light.  The power did come back on, but we decided to leave everything in its spontaneous, magical state for the wedding.  And it was magical, seeing all our friends and family and the candlelight and flowers.  The music was sweet and beautiful, I just chose my favorite musicians:   Tami Byram, sorority sister on Oboe, Sharon Schussler on piano, my Brother singing and on guitar, Doug Klang, another good friend on bass, and my friend Kurt and my sister Ilene singing their hearts out.  Who'd have thought they'd all go together so well?   With everything, I felt as though everyone was there just for us. My dear friend, Alma, did the readings.  It all felt so personal. 
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Don, our pastor, talked about Grace, and was getting just near the end of his talk when the fire alarm went off.  I guess once the power came back on, the candles must have been a little too much for the smoke or heat detectors.  It was funny.  Don asked us to sit down while he handled everything.  Ted and I looked at each other and laughed.  He asked me what I wanted to do.  I told him, "Just cut to the end!  I do!"  We were told 3 fire trucks showed up, and joked about getting a ride to the reception.  It was hilarious.

When the alarm was silenced, Don returned and said, "Let's get married!"   As he started to vows, I suddenly remembered they were my own words.  I found they seemed to come from an amazingly truthful and deep place.  I had written, "Whatever life may hand us," and when I said it spontaneous laughter erupted from the congregation.  My dear Ted, with a tear rolling off his cheek, vowed to put me first, and in my peripheral vision, I could see members of my family wiping their cheeks in the front row.  Now, that was Grace.

A Jewish tradition we incorporated into the end of the ceremony as a way of including more people in our wedding, was the 7 Blessings.  My friend Ray, or as Alma has always called him, my "Ray of hope," with his teary eyes, he could hardly get the word out to explain the beautiful symbol he presented. We asked each of the blessers to write their own blessing and present a symbol to represent it.  Ray made his using stones and silver, symbolizing strength and power - beautiful.  AJ, too, with his framed picture of an orange tree, Dana with her seeds symbolizing a strong foundation, Andre with his book "The wheels on the bus," David and Suzanne, speaking so softly and intimately, Ted's Mom with her stained glass bird and my Mom with her bible.  It was such an amazing part of the ceremony.  For a few moments, it was like everyone else disappeared except the 7 "blessers" and us.  I can't wait to see the video to hear them all again and to get home and see the sweet symbols.
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The reception was amazing.  Held at a New Orleans themed night club (115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, IL), it was on the non-traditional side and we were only the 3rd wedding to be held in the place.  But Ted and I met in New Orleans, so it was the perfect venue for our reception.

The room itself already looked like an alley off Bourbon Street.  But we dressed it up with candlelight, confetti and mardi gras beads.  My sister dripped candles on wine bottles for 6 months before the wedding. My Mother made computer generated signs for every table depicting our favorite New Orleans' sites.  We also included homemade tarot cards, one for every guest, depicting their past, present and our wish for their future.  This was the biggest hit of the wedding.  None of our guests could believe we had taken the time to create a tarot card for every guest, that we knew our 100 guests that well.

The food only matched the decor:  boiled crawfish, gator bites, chicken wings and corn fritters for appetizers.  Crawfish etouffee, cajun chicken with pasta, red beans and rice, salad, cole slaw and corn on the cob for dinner.  And for desert:   praline cheesecake, bread pudding and pecan pie.  We did have a traditional Danish wedding cake, made by my Mom.  The Kransekage was adorned with American and Confederate flags (a nod to Ted's Southern heritage).  It all was delicious.

We had bride and groom Voodoo dolls where guests could stick their best wishes into us.   We still haven't read through them all.  My  Brother, Jim, emceed and wearing a feathered fedora, sunglasses and smoking a cigar completely set the tone for the evening. We've been quoting Jim, "Cayun Pepper and Own-eeyon" in his Louisiana accent, "Ask Connie Chung," he said to the crowd's delight, referring to the recent congressional scandal and follow up interview with Chung.  He sure knows how to poke fun at himself.  All through the night, our guests were encouraged to give presentations to "win" beads.  The toasts and tributes were endless and so much fun.

We had a rendition of the Brady Bunch and the theme from the Hillbillies -- hilarious!   Ilene and her husband Jim redid NY, NY and our Pocono friends did a version of Jazz Hot from Victor, Victoria that was not to be believed!  My parents had the sentimental entry to Edelweiss, and the Danish side of the family rewrote a song from the Danish American songbook "A World of Song."  The highlight, not to be prejudiced, was my 2 year old niece's performance of K-K-K- Karri, beautiful Karri.   She brought down the house. 
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We didn't do the traditional garter and bouquet toss, but we did have a first dance. The very first time we danced, Ted was walking me home in NYC after a date in the middle of winter.  We weren't ready to say good night, so Ted started singing "The way you look tonight" and we danced on the sidewalk.  So for the wedding,  our first dance was announced and Ted took the microphone.  He made this speech about wanting to recreate our first dance.  I remember thinking, "You don't have to explain it, they'll get it."  The intro played, but when the vocal came in, it was Ted's voice.  I just cried.  It was so sweet!  And he sounded so good.   He really sang with his whole heart.  What he had to do to record himself singing our song and then keeping it a secret, with all the other stuff going on at the time, it's unbelievable.  I keep replaying the last lines in my mind:   "Just the way you look tonight.  I love you Karri."  The memory is so fresh, so vivid, my eyes well up anew each time I remember it. 

The reception ended with a conga line lead by my brother in a red, feathered headdress and then a sparkler parade.  It was glorious.

After the reception, we piled in a limo with 8 other friends and family members.  We ended up at the 95th floor bar at the Top of the Hancock Building.  There we had drinks and watched a special fireworks display over Navy Pier - arranged especially by my brother (or at least that's what he said).

On the way back, we all got very silly.  There was a jar of Grey Poupon in the limo.   Ted was prodded and eventually couldn't resist, so he rolled down the window and offered it to a driver stopped across from us at the first intersection.  The driver declined, courteously and when we pulled away, we noticed he had Iowa plates.

We tried again at the next intersection with a lively SUV driver.  The driver said, "Believe it or not, this is the second time this has happened to me today."   He took it, and we all cheered.  But that left us with no Grey Poupon.   As luck would have it, we found ourselves stopped across from the same driver.   He rolled down his window.  We offered him a New Orleans' beer (taken from our reception).  He said yes, so we tossed it to him and he threw the Grey Poupon back!   We all screamed with laughter.

It was an incredible day that neither of us will ever forget.  When we got back to our hotel room that night, neither one of us wanted to go to sleep. We just wanted the night to go on and on.  And if we're lucky, it will.

 

 

for Information email  loripvp@gmail.com

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