Some time ago, I told you Gray Matter readers that I was looking forward to three summer weddings. I warned you there might be a follow-up. Well, here it is. The first wedding was local, the second took place in Louisiana and the last one was in Montana.
I have an innate love of small, older, rural churches, so before seeing any of the sites, I was certain I'd like the one here best, and I did. The other two churches were much bigger and much newer, but both lacked the loving details our forbearers lavished on their houses of worship. Maryhill in rural Cherokee is a perfect example. The other churches did have lovely stained glass windows. With considerable foresight the congregation in Louisiana had removed and stored windows from their old church, which they only recently installed in the new sanctuary. The windows in the Montana church were contemporary but very tastefully done, as was the Christ statue over the altar.
I must stop here to relate a local connection -- the sort of "small-world" thing I love. The pastor in that Missoula church is Rev. David Renfro, formerly of Aurelia, whom I'm sure many remember fondly. Having been the couple's campus pastor, he was most upset when the date they selected was the one on which he'd promised to marry a favorite nephew in Omaha.
Fortunately, the bride's sister-in-law's father lives close by. He serves a Lutheran church in Ronan, which is actually on the Flathead Indian Reservation. He is also a rancher, so he showed up in his usual dress -- boots, jeans and faded shirt -- to conduct a beautifully organized rehearsal. Next day he performed the solemn, worshipful marriage rites in crisp white clericals. He had traded his dusty brown boots for highly polished black ones.
The deep-south ceremony and the mid-west one were equally worshipful and meaningful. Just what I had expected for these fine young people. There was a common musical thread between Iowa and Louisiana. Many of the same great nuptial classics were chosen by both. The Iowa groom could call on his mentors and colleagues from the University of South Dakota School of Music. In Louisiana, the groom's father was a high school music instructor. Two of the bride's aunts are professional musicians, and she also has some very talented cousins. Families and friends provided musical perfection for both ceremonies. The Montanans depended on more contemporary music, the lyrics having special personal meanings for the families.
Then came the gala receptions. The dinner, complete with fantastic toasts, here in Marcus was great. Much to my regret, I ran out of steam and was unable to attend the dance that followed. I understand a great time was had by all. In Loiusiana, the toasts were followed by a clever poem, in which the bride's father regaled us with an emotional mix of memories and good wishes. He is a news editor and writer (in a free-flowing Garrison Keillor style) who can truly entertain. Dancing followed there, as well.
In Montana, the family toasts were poignant. Parents exchanged lovely sentiments and the sweet, sincere words from best man and maid of honor, brother and sister of the couple, had most of us in tears. Then came the dancing which lasted well into the night. It was truly "high-octane". Those Montana folks can ROCK!
Now, those three lovely events are history. Honeymoons are over and each couple is settling in, planning to pursue their chosen careers or continue their educations. May God be with them all !