Rick Mecklenburg, Ben’s friend and former meteorologist at Fox 17, promised clear skies and 75 degrees over a week before the wedding, even when others were forecasting rain. Rick was right (actually, I guess it was 76 degrees.) We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.
Jen’s family making centerpieces:
It had been so crazy busy for the last week, it seemed strange to not have much to do. Sara’s family and Anna and Nick went out for breakfast. Junior went to pick up a ladder and help Ben and the guys put up 100 Chinese lanterns in the trees and the pavilion. Tom and Nick went to get the beer. Jen’s family and friends decorated the tables. I decided I actually did have time for a shower.
Anna and I went to River Oaks Park, where the wedding would be. I wish I had taken pictures then of the venue. It looked wonderful, and I never had time later. Thankfully, a few people did.
The chairs for the ceremony were past the pavilion, up a slight hill, dropping down, I assume to the river, beyond. I made sure the first batch of sangria was made and ready. We moved a chair to face the audience, off to the side, and placed “Gentle Ben,” Ben’s bear from Grandma Strack, and flowers. This was Ben’s idea, to honor his Grandma, who passed away about the time he and Jen met.
Guests began to arrive, many stopping at the pavilion to find their seat for the reception before going to the outside seating for the ceremony. Of course, there is always something. Just when Ben arrived it was discovered that there was no power to the sound system. Cords were found, working outlets were found at the far side of the building.
We were seated, the wedding party was in place, we turned to watch Jennifer, escorted by her mom and dad, walk toward us. I turned back to look at Ben. That grin on his face came and never left again that evening.
The service itself was perfect. I wish I had written things down sooner, because Pastor Tommy’s homily was so good. The most moving part, though, was a Celtic handfasting ceremony. As Tommy read a piece, he would wrap a different colored cord around their clasped hands. What I remember most, now, is the question he asked each of them, “Will you cause him pain?” “I may.” “Will that be your intent?” “No.”
Although there were several cameras, still and motion, for the official pictures, very little time was taken for picture taking. “First look” and wedding party had already been done. The guests were encouraged to start games and beverages while pictures were taken. The caterer had arrived , and hot dogs and hamburgers were on the grill.