By Will Grignon
Reader’s Note: This article is a follow-up to “Wedding Plans,” by Mary Ann Alexander and Will Grignon which was published in the spring edition of The PCB Advocate.
March 6, 2015 was unseasonably hot – in the low to mid 90’s. For the two previous days, Mary Ann’s daughter Julie worked tirelessly– transforming our townhouse into a nuptial bower by festooning surfaces with flowers, balloons, garlands, and other exquisite fancies. She turned our lanai into a fairy tale space befitting the wedding of The Princess (as Mary Ann is rightfully known to a select few). So, regardless of the heat, we were determined to exchange our vows on our lanai and have our sliders opened so our guests could see and hear us.
We outfitted our living room with three 8-foot tables and seating for twenty-five. Amazingly, we were able to arrange tables and chairs so that there were ample lanes for guests, servers, and, most importantly, the bridal party to pass through with ease. Our bridal party consisted of my bride Mary Ann, her daughter Kaitlyn as Maid of Honor, me, my Best Man Kevin, and leading the parade, Mary Ann’s guide dog Percy, resplendent in a black bow-tie. Indeed, it was especially nice having the ceremony and reception in our home. Pragmatically, it was a lot less expensive and it allowed us to enjoy the day in a space with which we were familiar, so we were able to move about with grace and not worry about getting lost or bumping into strange impediments, which we might have done at some rented space. Emotionally and spiritually, it was important to us to share our wedding in our home with the people that meant most to us – this was home – our nest, our sanctuary, our place of love, peace, and joy – and having our special people around us only served to celebrate the specialness of the occasion and further bless our home with love.
On another practical note, we made sure that we did all the legwork, planning, and check-listing in advance, so when the day came we had a minimum of fuss with which to contend. The process started by selecting the officiant, caterer, cake-maker, and videographer who shared our vision of what kind of day we dreamed of for our wedding. Probably even more importantly, we sought professionals who were temperamentally compatible with us – i.e., calm, punctual, and professional. We did not want any last-minute crises or brush-fire type of chaos.
We added emotional depth to the ceremony by having family members play and sing our chosen songs. Julie’s boyfriend Taylor, a talented musician, played and sang the entrance song while Julie, also a talented musician, played and sang a song during the pouring of wines segment of the ceremony. During the reception, we played songs on our sound-bar drawn from our iPhones from play-lists of songs we had selected in advance. The songs were both meaningful and gave a sense of gentleness and comfort to the celebration. They were played at a volume level that allowed for easy conversation. It was perfect – no dictatorial DJ, no blaring cacophony of unknown and unlikeable “modern” hits, and no wall of sound that rendered one virtually deaf and blind.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the other wedding details. Flowers scented the room. Mary Ann wore her hair up and her shoulders bare. We served wine before the ceremony, drank toasts with champagne during the ceremony, and enjoyed adult beverages throughout the reception. The food, soup, sandwiches, and a cold pasta salad, was perfect for an afternoon reception. It was light, yummy, and satisfying – and did not make a mess. No, Mary Ann and I did not smash the wedding cake into each other’s faces when it came time to serve one another. Indeed, we were playful while being careful and we fed each other with ease, because it wasn’t the first time we had done this…
There was no dancing, just hugs, laughter, and joyous conversation. Looking at our wedding video, we were once again struck by the sheer bountiful joyousness in the house – so much laughter, so much expressions of best wishes, so much genuine affection…
When we watched the video with Kaitlyn, we decided that we really didn’t need audio description. We could recognize all the voices. And during the segment in which the videographer interviewed couples and other guests, many gave their names, like, “Hi, it’s Kathy and Paul…” This was another advantage of having a small wedding – we knew and loved everyone who attended so there were no strange uncles or half-recognized friend-of-a-friend lurking in the video…
The following day, Mary Ann and I hosted a brunch for about fourteen wedding guests. Mary Ann made a scrumptious egg casserole which was accompanied by bagels, coffee cake, and other goodies prepared by Panera Bread and delivered by Kate and her boyfriend Ray. We also served mimosas. Once again there was laughter and song. Our guests helped us break down the tables and chairs and lug them out to the truck. They even helped with the clean-up!
In closing, it was a gentle, loving, and delightful wedding. As I noted above, the professionals we chose contributed mightily to creating a calm and easy ambience, but it was the guests and having the event in our home that blessed our wedding with such warmth and meaning. Bringing this around to an audience with vision loss, I would say that the most important things to keep in mind when planning a wedding, or any event, are picking the right people to support you, choosing a location in which you can control and navigate with ease, and doing your homework well in advance so you address foreseeable contingencies and thereby minimize the chance for upset and chaos. I will cherish memories of our wedding for as long as I live. I am proud to share that day and all the days to come with such a gentle, kind, sexy, loving, wise, and remarkable woman!