On a lovely Sunday evening at a Portland bar two weekends ago, in front of well-scrubbed family and friends, our oldest son, Nathan, and his charming girlfriend, Sara, joined the ranks of the married.
For us, it marked the third time becoming in-laws. For them, it put an exclamation point on an eight-year courtship. For all in attendance, May 6th was a night to remember, with an emphasis on fun and celebration that stretched into the wee hours of Monday.
Unlike most weddings, which tend to follow a traditional format, this one had all the hallmarks of a mature couple doing things their way. As in no frills.
No wedding party of bridesmaids and groomsmen. No flower girls, no ring-bearers. No processional music. No father walking his daughter up the aisle. No printed programs. No posed photographs. No wedding cake. And, God forbid, no speeches by anyone.
Essentially, Nathan and Sara just invited everyone to come join their party with a drink or two and lots of dance music played by a half-dozen DJ friends of the couple. Half the crowd spread out at wooden picnic tables outdoors while the other half circulated inside the massive bar space.
The ceremony was short and sweet, and took place in subdued lighting inside Victoria Bar in North Portland. Jared, a 6-foot-7 teddy bear of a man and someone who’s known both Nathan and Sara for years, officiated, looking dapper in a purple fedora.
Reverend Jared told a charming anecdote about the early days of their relationship (something about Nathan being short on cash but offering to cook Sara a burger), then quickly got to the heart of the ceremony. Each pledged “I do” to the other — having already shared their vows privately — and that was pretty much it.
We raised small flutes of Champagne to the newly-marrieds and then spent the rest of the evening socializing, dancing, and noshing on beef sliders, cocktail shrimp and other nibbles before the dessert came out: churros with chocolate and vanilla dipping sauces.
It was wonderful seeing our first-born at the center of things, along with his bride. So many of their friends, from the worlds of music, food and hair-styling, approached Lori and me to offer congratulations and express their affection for Nathan and Sara. As one would expect, a majority of the crowd were sporting tattoos or piercings or both, just like the bride and groom.
The evening was extra special for us in that both of Nathan’s siblings were there, along with his one remaining grandparent. Our daughter, Simone, and her wife, Kyndall, came from East Portland. Our youngest son, Jordan, flew in from Missouri with his wife, Jamie, and our granddaughter, Emalyn.
My stepmother, Ora, came out from New Mexico and chatted with assorted hipsters as if she were a longtime Portlander. (My only regret? That neither my parents nor Lori’s lived long enough to see Nathan get married.)
The day before the wedding, both sides of the family gathered for a celebratory lunch at Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry, a favorite restaurant near Lori’s work. We preordered a family-style meal, topped off by a Lemon Olive Oil Cake, and sang “Happy Birthday” to Nathan, who had turned 38 just two days earlier on May 3rd, three days ahead of the wedding.
We’d already met Sara’s parents, Jon and Katie, as they live in Hillsboro (Sara’s hometown) but we also got to meet Sara’s older sister, Leslie, and her boyfriend, Jeff, who flew in from Massachusetts. Nice, nice people.
All in all, it was a busy but enjoyable few days.
Ora arrived Friday evening. Jordan and family arrived on Saturday. Nathan and Sara got married Sunday. Childhood friends came over Monday to visit with Jordan, while I took Ora out to see some of the city.
Early Tuesday morning, I took Jordan, Jamie & Emalyn to the airport, and a few hours later did the same with Ora.
Don’t know when circumstances will bring all of us together again. For now, we’ll make these matrimonial memories last. Pretty special occasion with some pretty special people.