In the Suburbs / Where lives, cultures and flavors unite
We attended the perfect New England wedding in Rhode Island over Memorial Day weekend. And the real treat was a clambake -- complete with lobster, corn on the cob, chicken and two kinds of potatoes.
The nuptuals were at Mount Hope Farm, a bed and breakfast with magnificent grounds just north of Newport,
It was an international wedding. The bride, Gillian, is the daughter of our Rhode Island cousin; the groom, Danny, is from Colombia. Blending lives and culture, the couple will set up housekeeping in Bogota.
Gilly, as Danny calls her, is a teacher who has worked extensively with difficult children in New York. Danny is a versatile artist.
They met in Boston, where both her students. A complete stranger, Danny approached Gillian and asked if she knew of a place where he could go Salsa dancing. Gillian loved Salsa, and the two went dancing together. The rest is history.
Mount Hope Farm was lovely, with a rustic old barn for the reception and a setting for the ceremony that overlooked a field where a small deer grazed. We sat on benches covered with pillows in front of a wooden canopy.
"Gill told her mom a year ago that she didn't want some country club wedding," our cousin Buzz, the father of the bride, explained. "As a matter of fact, she didn't care if she was married in a barn."
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With Danny's family from Colombia in attendance, it was an international ceremony. The bride read her vows first in English, then in Spanish. The groom read exclusively in Spanish, with a warmth and passion that brought tears to the eyes even of people who don't know the language.
Especially beautiful were the things each of the parents said or did.
Gillian's mom, Natalie, tired a gold ribbon around the bride's bouquet, symbolizing the wish that the couple would never know poverty; she sprinkled sugar on it for sweetness and droplets of wine to be sure there would be laughter and good times.
Buzz read a Hebrew prayer to ensure that the couple's lives would be filled with good things and joy. It was beautiful and added a Judaic tradition to this very ecumenical ceremony.
Speaking through a translator, Danny's mother talked about her joy in welcoming Gillian to the family and about what a beautiful person her son was. Despite the translation, I paid closer attention to the melodic Spanish, caught up in her passion and her love for these special people.
Danny's father is a lawyer who works with organizations that try to save children , and he and had once been in grave danger in Colombia. He also spoke of his joy in welcoming Gillian to the family and of his deep love for his son.
We were particularly impressed with the minister, who had invited Danny to stay with him and his wife in New York. He wove the intricate threads of Danny's romance with Gillian into his ceremony offering anecdotes about each. As the ceremony ended, two geese flew overhead, almost as if they were part of the wedding. It was a poignant touch.
Once the ceremony was over, the weather cooled down beautifully, and we celebrated with good, old-fashioned New England clam chowder. And soon, the caterers announced the unveiling of the clambake.
Six or seven cloth layers were removed from the pit one by one, and we could see the corn, potatoes, lobsters and other goodies.
Dinner was to die for. I'd never tried clams, but I devoured my bowl of about 10 or 12, dipping them in the drawn butter. The lobster was juicy and tender and I tried to use my best behavior, cracking the many pieces and dipping them also in the drawn butter. One of the real delicacies of the clambake was brown bread that had a decided flavor of molasses. It was fabulous.
And then, as we caught up on the lives of family from near and far, the sound of Salsa music filled the air and we danced.
This was a special weekend, and being with family from the United States and Colombia made it even more so. It was hard to say goodnight and goodbye, but we'll be ever grateful to Buzz and Natalie for bringing us all together for this very beautiful occasion.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.