Yesterday I rounded out my 2009 wedding trifecta by attending the nuptials of Audrey, my old elementary school friend. The ceremony and reception were both held at the University Club, a fancifully neo-gothic structure on Michigan Avenue where captains of industry once congregated to indulge in mid-afternoon cigars and brandies. A large contingent of our old high school posse was there to celebrate the occasion, everyone dressed to the nines.
Ashley, me, and Taryn at the ceremony.
The ceremony took place in the Club's "Cathedral Room," a space which featured stained-glass windows and an ornately carved wooden ceiling containing many decorative buttresses. Although I am not a fan of Harry Potter, and have not seen any of the movies, my friends all assured me that the room looked much like the interior at Hogwarts. The chuppah was of dramatic height, and the billowing off-white fabric was gathered with branches bearing tiny orange berries.
The "flower boy," who dropped clumps of fall leaves along the aisle.
In accordance with the bride's wishes to minimize the carbon footprint of the event, they opted to keep the flowers at a minimum, as most flowers are grown on the other side of the planet, utilizing mass quantities of water, and flown to their final destination. Instead, the ceremony space was decorated mostly with large vases of water bearing floating candles, as was the cocktail space, and the centerpieces for the reception consisted of a mix of seasonal vegetables with a spare amount of seasonal blooms, and towering vases containing water and twigs. The only flowers to appear in force were in the bride's cascade of white orchids and some unusual orange orchid-clad faux purses carried by the bridesmaids in lieu of traditional bouquets.
Unfortunately, all of my photos of Audrey were on the blurry side, but you can get the gist of her dress.
The bride looked lovely, in a very trendy mermaid-style satin gown with rhinestone accents, a plunging back, and a intriguing train of pleated sheer and satin ruffles. She also sported a short veil, worn to one side, with a glamorous spray of feathers and more rhinestones. The overall effect was decidedly vintage, with strong overtones of 1930's Hollywood. The groom's attire echoed the vibe, as he wore tails, white spats, and donned a top hat for the reception.
We managed to snag one photo with Sarah, who was a bridesmaid, although you can't really see much of her dress. From left: Lindsey, Sarah, Taryn, Ashley, and me.
Of course, for me, the real story of the evening was the food. Audrey's mother, Laurie, was a foodie before the term foodie even existed, so I had high expectations for the catered fare. For the most part, I was not let down. The hors d'oeurves for the cocktail hour followed the current trend of miniaturized comfort foods, consisting of demitasse cups of tomato soup with bite-sized grilled cheeses, sliders with petite cones of fries, small dishes of mac and cheese, individual portions of falafel, and chicken nuggets. The dinner itself, despite not concluding until after eleven o'clock, was decidedly above average for catered food: the butter lettuce salad had an interesting strawberry vinaigrette and the chicken breast was still moist. The star of the show was the dessert table, which built off the theme of the hors d'oeurve course with scaled-down versions of homey sweets, such as root beer floats served in shot glasses, demitasse of hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, milkshake shots, chocolate chip cookie sandwiches on sticks, mini-donuts on sticks, bite-sized Boston cream pies, assorted fresh fruits, and, a somewhat out-of-place croquembouche, the traditional French wedding confection. As an aside, I now know that I don't care much for croquembouche, which makes sense, since I don't like profiteroles, but somehow, I never put two and two together that I wouldn't like croquembouche either.
The table arrangements kept with the theme of minimal flowers, using local fruits and vegetables instead.
Overall, it was a beautiful wedding. I have to confess though, with every wedding I attend, I become more convinced that a traditional wedding is not in the cards for me. All the artificial photo-ops, the enforced public dancing, and the embarrassing, drunken speeches turn me off. Maybe someday, when I find the right person, I might get all caught up in the romance of a big wedding, but for now, all that spectacle seems overwhelming to me. For now, I suppose I shouldn't jinx myself by putting too much thought into it. After all, for there to be a wedding, there has to be a groom first...