Romeo and Juliet
My son's wedding was such an exceptionally beautiful and memorable occasion. I feel compelled to share it.
My son, Ken and his fiancée, Phoebe chose Romeo and Juliet as their wedding theme. The research they did into reducing the cost while increasing the quality and enjoyment for their guests and themselves really paid off. Firstly they had a local wedding coordinator sit down and help them plan not only what they wanted in the wedding but how much it was likely to cost. She showed them what had to be done immediately and what could wait. They never could have done it without her. Once Phoebe had it all down on paper she began working on it right away.
The wedding was reasonably small, with approximately 100 guests and everyone was involved with the preparations, which made the experience a lot of fun.
The invitations were really beautiful. Each was hand written on parchment scrolls by a professional calligrapher and closed with faux wax seals. They were sent to only about 100 guests.
To save time and money, the wedding and reception would take place at the same location. The building was a replica of a medieval manor house which had been used in a couple of movies. Everyone was to come dressed in costume so Phoebe and Ken gave us the address of a costume rental house that would supply all of the costumes for the wedding party and guests at a discounted rate.
The florists wove garlands of artificial cabbage rose blossoms and flowering ivy all around the main hall and reception hall. They brought scented candles to place in the wall sconces. The arbor was decorated with purple and gold brocade ribbon, silk flowers and realistic fake doves she bought at the party supply shop.
Phoebe arrived at the site about two hours before the ceremony so she could dress and have her hair and make-up done. She looked stunning in an exquisite scoop-necked gown, with its soft touch of lace and gentle lavender colour which set off a stunning Medieval- inspired necklace. Phoebe's gown was mostly made of ivory crushed velvet. The front of the gown was lavender crushed velvet with an over layer of ethereal flowing silk chiffon. The sleeves repeated the same pattern, having puffed chiffon over lavender silk with the transparent chiffon caressing the rest of the arm. There was a gorgeous lace ruffle around the edge of the majestic train. The gown also had a graceful, slimming laced up back. She wore a Medieval-style rolled head dress with a long ivory, silk veil edged in lace matching her gown. The photographer took pictures of her on the grounds and in the great hall. Though it did seem a little of an anachronism to have a camera around.
The guests arrived in gorgeous medieval costumes and went into the reception hall for snacks. I was glad this era did not require corsets. There were a variety of bite sized snacks breads and crackers cheeses, slices of fruits as well as meat tartlets. The food was very delicious. There was sparkling apple cider, mead, ale or wine to drink. Everyone was eating and chatting while a string quartet played medieval chamber music.
A half hour later, the lute player set his instrument down and picked up a heralding trumpet, put it to his lips and blew a half dozen notes. He then announced that the ceremony was about to begin and everyone filed outside and took seats in the chairs that had been set up behind the decorated arbor. A harpist in a medieval gown began playing a lovely piece of music selected by the bride and groom. Each of Ken's groomsmen wore swords on their hips and were dressed sumptuously as Montagues in velvets and satins. Each Capulet bridesmaid, was dressed in a gorgeous lavender and ivory satin medieval gown and walked at the side of the Montague groomsmen.
Pheobe looked radiant on her father's arm. He looked a little uncomfortable in his medieval lord's costume. Ken looked so handsome standing under the arbor in his Romeo costume of gold and ivory brocade trimmed with red and gold braid. Even the minister was dressed in medieval priest robes. The minister read the marriage preamble and then Phoebe and Ken each read the Medieval-style vows they had prepared. Ken slipped the wedding ring on Phoebe's finger. They both decided not to be absolutely authentic with the groom's kiss at the end of the ceremony. It was not the fashion for the groom to kiss the bride in public in medieval times, but since this was the 21st century Ken and Pheobe exchanged a passionate kiss beneath the arbor. Guests were given a special type of designer rice shaped like little hearts that doesn't hurt birds and crushes into a powder when it is stepped on, to throw as the Bride & Groom left the ceremony.
While the groom, bride, wedding party and families had pictures taken by the photographer the rest of the guests returned to the reception hall for more snacks, drinks and music. I later heard the band taught them some of the medieval round dances which everyone enjoyed.
After all the pictures were done I went back inside and mingled with the guests for a few minutes before the heralding trumpet again sounded. The herald announced, "All welcome Lord Kenneth of Jackson and Lady Phoebe Jackson."
A huge runner of ivory brocade decorated the centre of the table and a dozen custom made gift baskets filled with a variety of fruits and nuts were lined up on centre of the table that also had freeze dried rose petals tossed freely about. A white disposable camera stood in front of each basket so the guests could take pictures.
Phoebe and Ken took their places in the middle section of the huge table and the wedding party took the seats on either side. The guests took their places at the two wings of the table which extended nearly the length of the room. Each seat faced the centre of the room. Waiters dressed as a servants filled everyone's goblet with either wine or sparkling apple juice so everyone could raise a toast to them. On each plate was a wedding favour sachet of rosemary--an herb associated with remembrance.
Ken welcomed all of us to the gathering and thanked us for witnessing this first meaningful event in their lives as husband and wife. The servants brought out bowls of hearty barley and vegetable soup. The best man gave his speech after everyone had been served. Most of the speech was serious, but he ended it with the words, "May I never have to wear tights again!" All of the grooms men laughed and cheered. Between the soup course and the main course Ken and Phoebe stepped onto the dance floor in the centre of the three sided table for their first dance as husband and wife. Only I knew they had been taking dancing lessons rehearsing for this dance. They performed a perfect medieval dance while the band played a lively medieval tune. They looked so lovely I couldn't help crying. After the first song the herald called the bride's father up to danced with her and me up to dance with Ken. After he was announced, the best man cut in on Pheobe and her father and then the entire wedding party came out on the floor and danced.
The main course was more like a royal feast. They roasted cornish game hens, legs of lamb which were served with honey glazed carrots, asparagus, creamed spinach (since potatoes or corn had not yet been brought from the New World) and dozens of loaves of bread. There was red and white wine, or fruit juice for those who did not drink. The place settings were all period pewter plates. There was only a knife and a spoon next to each plate since forks had not yet been invented. Everyone had to eat with their fingers and chunks of bread.
The meal was so delicious we stuffed ourselves until most of us could barely move. There was more dancing then, Phoebe called all of the single women to the edge of the dance floor for the bouquet toss. She had a bunch of dried lavender in her hands. When she tossed the bouquet, the dried blooms separated into a dozen pieces, so there was more than one winner. After that, Ken removed Phoebe's garter and instead of doing the traditional toss he handed it to his younger brother, Robbie. I explained to the guests who asked me, Robbie had been trying to work up the nerve for months to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Later, Robbie announced he had asked Missy and she said, "Yes!"
After more dancing Ken and Phoebe cut the beautiful wedding cake using a pearl handled serving set. The wedding cake had been decorated to look like the famous balcony from "Romeo and Juliet". A miniature Romeo stood below while Juliet stood on the balcony. It was still a shame to see it cut even though everyone had been taking pictures of it all evening. While the wedding cake was being served more guests gave speeches and toasts to the newlyweds, including my husband. Some of them were particularly humorous because more than a few guests had drunk more than their share. Phoebe and Ken had made a pact before the ceremony not to smash cake in each other's faces so their costumes would not get messed. I'm so glad the photographer took a picture of Ken's mischievous grin as he held the piece of wedding cake he was about to feed Phoebe, but he kept his promise and Phoebe took a bite without getting even so much as a crumb on her face.
After everyone had finished their piece of wedding cake there was more dancing. At midnight Ken and Phoebe left in a lovely horse-drawn carriage decorated with real rose and ivy garlands. Everyone went home after seeing them off with confetti and wedding bubbles.
The best pictures were enlarged, framed, and sent to every guest in the picture. I helped Phoebe look through all of the pictures and placed the best ones in a very Medieval looking wedding album bound in ivory suede with brass fastenings. Even without the pictures, there is no way any of us could forget such a fabulous event.