Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weddings Rock

This past weekend we were in Chicago for the wedding of my best friend (since high school) to her Norwegian fiance, which was super-awesome. Twenty-five Norwegians flew in to attend, which I think is a great compliment to her new husband. They had the rehearsal dinner in the Sears Tower (Metropolitan Club, 66th floor) because it's a Chicago landmark and because the tallest building in Norway, the Norwegians told me, is only about 30 stories, so they'd never been up that high before. (Well, except when flying over the Atlantic, one assumes.) I also learned there are 4.5 million people in the entire country of Norway. There are 12 million in Illinois, about half of whom live in and around Chicago, so that must have been something of a shock to the system as well!

The Norwegian visitors were all quite taken with Chicago, which delights me, because I am always telling my European friends to visit Chicago when they come to the U.S., because I think it's the most American of U.S. cities and has such great architecture and so much to see and do. (Also it is full of midwesterners and so very friendly and helpful.) But no, they're all about New York and Orlando. Boring!

We did spend a great deal of the weekend playing the "where exactly is this Peoria you speak of?" game. Most of the other young Americans still live in big cities like DC and NYC and San Fran, places people have heard of. Then I would be a little stumped trying to explain what Peoria was like as a "small" city of 115,000ish in the middle of cornfields, but not a farm town, and "big" by Norwegian standards -- 115,000 would make it the 5th-largest city in Norway. ("You know the big yellow earthmoving equiptment that says CAT? I live where they come from. Also corn. I live where corn comes from.") We also enjoyed the "Guess What Real Estate Costs In Peoria" game with both American and Norwegian 20-somethings living in expensive big cities.

So we were one of those weddings taking pictures out on Michigan Avenue (to the delight of a contingent of Japanese tourists and many small children). I've always been hesitant to honk because I didn't want to be rude, but from now on I vow to always honk and holler at brides because one of the best parts of the weekend was all these random strangers driving by on Michigan Avenue honking and shouting "Good luck!" to the bride and groom as they went by. It was so awesome that all these people wanted to share their joy just because they were happy and it added to the generalized joy of the occasion.

The wedding itself was very interesting. It was a Jewish ceremony (I got to stand under a chuppah!), but in three languages so everyone could understand -- Hebrew, English, and Norwegian. I was standing next to the bride looking at her in profile, and that was sort-of weird for me, because it kept reminding me of all the times in high school I glanced over at her and saw her in profile but she was, like, 14 and now we're all growed up and married and she's all glowing with happiness and I'm all trying not to cry. WHICH I WAS REMARKABLY SUCCESSFUL AT, given how easily and often I cry as a general rule.

As matron of honor (heh heh -- I'm a matron) I gave a toast at the reception and I didn't know this, but it turns out that if you only cry a little bit it's touching rather than awkward. I didn't know because I've never stopped at touching before; rather I go right past touching, blow through awkward, and arrive sobbing at "Does this woman need sedation?" (True story: At my own wedding, I cried so hard coming down the aisle that when I got to the altar, the priest asked, "Do we need to stop the wedding?")

And yes, we danced the hora, which I haven't really had opportunity to do in years and it turns out the mother of the bride dances a fierce hora. It was Mr. McGee's first hora and he acquitted himself admirably. (Which is why the hora is such a great folk dance -- anyone can join in after watching for 30 seconds.)

It was a remarkably sociable wedding, I think partly because everyone was going out of their way to make sure the Norwegian contingent, who had come so far, was included and having fun, but mostly because the bride and groom are both such kind, good-humored, openhearted, NICE people that they draw other wonderful people around them.

The whole thing has just put me in a lovely mood.


Joel Steinfeldt said...

That post put me in a lovely mood, too. Thanks for sharing those moments with us.

CP said...

I was recently at a wedding where the groomsmen all said that if you squeeze your butt cheeks it will stop you from crying. Since I never cry I haven't had the opportunity to check the theory. It thank that just talking about it makes you not cry because it's so funny.