Although I can't really take credit for it. My daughter Zoe set the tone with her relaxed attitude. From the time she walked down the stairs on her father's arm to the left of the assembled guests and circled around to walk up the aisle, she was smiling at her friends and enjoying herself tremendously. Everyone followed her lead. Here comes the bride suited her just fine, and Scott's Garden in Walnut Creek was the perfect venue for our intimate gathering of 80 friends and family.
We talked about the weather that week more than I ever remember doing, and the break in the heat did not come Saturday as predicted. But temperatures didn't rise to the triple digits either.
I knew that all the pieces would fall into place and it would be a nice evening. What I didn't anticipate was that the whole day would be so enjoyable, even before the wedding took place at 6 p.m. Our son Pepe flew in from Berlin a few days ahead of time, and Zoe stayed overnight at our house after the rehearsal dinner Friday. So Saturday morning found the four of us sitting around trying to stay calm, our individual responsibilities going through our heads - Jim, the father-of-the-bride, and Pepe, who was a groomsman. Zoe thought her eyes looked strained so she lay down on her bed with cucumber slices on her eyelids; I wanted to stretch out my back muscles so I settled into yoga poses in my room. "Dad!" called out Pepe when he wandered upstairs and found us thus occupied. "The girls are acting weird!"
In the early afternoon "the girls" headed out for Zoe's makeup and hair styling with the veil. In between we discussed the rose ceremony the minister had planned, in which I was to hand the groom, Jeff, a rose to welcome him into our family, and his parents were to do the same with Zoe. The more we talked about the ceremony, the more we doubted that we'd included the two extra long-stemmed roses in the wedding flower order. So we made a quick detour into Alamo Flower Co. where Connie Peterson fixed us up with two pink-edged beauties.
Then it was back to the house where the bridesmaids had arrived in their swishy knee-length teal dresses, and it was time for Zoe to don her gown. It had seemed stiff and formal throughout the fittings as we worried over every detail but on this afternoon, Zoe slipped into it quite naturally, gave a twirl, and suddenly she was a beautiful bride, ready for her big night.
The ceremony went just fine, then we had a long photo session while the guests enjoyed the cocktail reception. We were all reunited for the dinner and the toasts. I loved Jim's speech, noting that when Zoe was 5 years old she announced that she wanted to be a gardener but instead became a kindergarten teacher, nurturing children instead of plants. On to her meeting Jeff while he was still in law school, then us meeting Jeff and how great he proved to be, even after we put him under "the in-law microscope." Jim drew laughs with his corny quotes from Henny Youngman and Dr. Joyce Brothers, including, "Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash." He said afterward that looking out at all the friendly faces he knew he'd never have a more receptive audience.
After dinner Jim danced with Zoe to Floyd Cramer's "Last Date," a flawless performance honed by a few practice sessions in our family room. Then the music ramped up and everyone, young and old, took to the dance floor. Jeff's parents proved to be great dancers! The rest of the evening pretty much went by in a happy blur of visiting, dancing, eating cake and watching everyone have fun. Before I knew it, the DJ announced the event was at an end and played one last song, "Oh, What a Night." Mainly the young folks were left and they threw themselves into this last dance, Zoe and Jeff in the middle. Jim and I stood aside, dazed and exhausted but totally satisfied with the evening.
Now friends are starting to send us photos so we can relive the moments and see some we may have missed. I can't wait for Zoe and Jeff to return from their honeymoon to pore over all the details. Plus they have a stack of presents in our dining room that reaches to the ceiling. Of course most important of all is that Zoe has entered into matrimony with a wonderful young man. I'm confident that together they'll build a good life and be able to face whatever is in store for them. And I'm glad we were able to launch their married life with such an exciting, exuberant celebration. Oh, what a night.
-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.