Sunday, June 08, 2008

June 4th – the wedding

God, it was perfect.

For the past few months (and $3000) I’ve been wondering why Rachel and Hendre picked Sifnos. They are value-conscious and family-loving people, and knew very well that the exotic venue meant a smaller attendance and a large expense.

But it also meant heart-stopping beauty and a wedding banquet that money literally could not buy in America caterers, served by a restaurant they booked three days before (when the first caterers backed out due to an important festival they had just remembered).

Wiz had an adaptor that fit the video camera, so I had plenty of juice to film the service and the speeches. Aunt Kathy officiated (another last-minute choice, when it turned out that the local priests would have nothing to do with the marriage of a heathen Episcopalian and whatever Hendre is – the First Church of Braai, perhaps?), and she did and excellent job. Katie clearly had a hand in composing the service. We all cried. I damn near fell off the cliff trying to get the best angle for the video. There were some cicadas buzzing in a nearby tree, but Jerry discreetly whacked it right before the ceremony and that quieted them down a good bit.

The reception setup was pretty typical – head table, assigned guest seating, dance floor – but with a gorgeous ocean backdrop. Afrikaaners give more (and drunker) speeches than Americans, and they were a hoot. Rachel was repeatedly, dramatically pitied for getting herself leg-shackled to a useless, feckless, fractured, lustful sot. Apparently insulting the hell out of the groom is another one of those Afrikaaner traditions.

Along with the acres of food came oceans of booze – strong fruity cocktails with the hors d’oeuvres, half a bottle of wine apiece with the first five (not kidding) courses of lamb, salads, bread, cheese, etc. etc. etc., then an open bar with dessert where the standard serving was (not kidding) 3 oz. of liquor and a tiny amount of mixer, and then we danced and yakked. Oh, how we danced and yakked. My handsome Wicker cousins, who normally are very reserved, were downright jolly. They both have Master’s degrees and Eastern European spouses now.

One of the Hendre’s friends insisted with great force that I should move out of South Carolina so my kids don’t grow up warped, which I thought was a bit rich coming from a South African, but then again he was pretty drunk. All of the South Africans, even when sober, were astonished to meet Americans with passports who had visited other countries and had some vague idea that Shrub is the leader of just OUR country, not the entire world. Every single American at that wedding was made aware that we had exceeded expectations simply by being able to find the international terminal at the airport. I think that the media we export is not showing us in the best possible light.

Around 1 a.m., the bride started calling for shots. After the round of vodka and the round of tequila, we went home and went to bed. I learned that later that one of the female Afrikaaners was dropped off at her pension to sleep it off, but the rest of them went out to a club, took it over, and keep drinking and dancing until 5:30 a.m. These people are incredible. They must be about my age (Hendre is), but their livers are eternally 18.

Anyhow, I think Rachel got just what she wanted – gorgeous, moving ceremony and riotous reception. The aunties (Callie, Wiz and Marcia have adopted the term as a nod to the beloved aunties of yore, since that’s how Debbie addressed their gift bag) are very glad they made the trip. So are we.

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