Wedding Venues - Who Plans the Weather?
Wedding in the wind
Wedding in the wind.Blown away in the Eastern Cape!
Having a wedding in an outdoor venue is a great idea. Here we are under the blue skies with a gentle breeze stirring the forest/sea/lake as a perfect backdrop for the photos that will be an eternal reminder of the wonderful event.
Enter the East Cape “breeze”. Everyone forgets that East London and Port Elizabeth compete with Cape Town as the windiest cities, if not in the world, then at least in South Africa. With all the careful planning the organizer does and ticks off on the list, the one factor left with a question mark is the weather. There is normally a plan B, but then who wants to squash the crowd into the back corner of a tent flapping in the gale or beaten by the driving rain.
As a marriage officer in the Easter Cape I have officiated at some interesting wedding ceremonies that have “blown me away”! Yesterday at a great outdoor venue was no exception. The quaint pagoda overlooking the dam was a perfect setting with the rows of chairs neatly covered in white and the red carpets completing the picture. A setting to fill the organizer with pride and the photographer with breathless anticipation.
The first indication that we were going to have a slight problem was when all the chairs were blown over like dominoes. The table cloth, on the table where the marriage register was to be signed, was flapping like a bird trying to take off. The red carpets where periodically lifted and displaced in disarray. The delightful owner/hostess was also flapping in the wind, as her carefully planned venue was being decimated by gust after gust of 70km per hour wind.
Some last minute re-adjustment was obviously needed. I never interfere with arrangements but encouraged the guests who had arrived early to come and sit down to anchor the chairs. Much to the dismay of the owner/hostess who stared at the nightmare unfolding from the relative safety of the main tent/diningroom the chairs were no longer in the precise rows that that had originally been placed in.
The best man and other grooms men were organized to stand on the carpets and the table cloth was anchored under the legs of the table. So the scene returned to some sense of normality with the Scottish Pipers reminding us of other places where the wind also sometime blows. Can you imagine a bonnie Scottish Lass having her wedding on the windswept moors, with her veil blowing like a weather sock?
Taking my carefully worded sermon out to make some last minute adjustments that had just come to mind was my first mistake. The wind whipped it out of my hand and everyone watched in amazement as it was blown over the pagoda into the lake. My comment that “No one really wanted to hear that anyway” was met with a couple of muted cheers from the windblown audience. The second grooms man however left his station on the carpet and rushed around the pagoda, seemingly intent on diving in the dam to retrieve it. My shout of “don’t worry” was blown away in the wind and a few moments later he appeared triumphantly holding up the escaped sermon that had found a resting place in the reed beds next to the dam. I put it back in my pocket with a thank you and there it stayed for the rest of the ceremony.
Half an hour after the scheduled time the limousine arrived and the older sister of the Bride rushed down the isle to bring the ring cushion to the Best man. The 4 year old junior groomsman was supposed to lead the bridal procession down but had obviously refused to do. The family and windswept beautiful bride entered rather quickly as the Scottish Pipers started playing the wedding march and the Groom met the father and bride as planned. At this stage this was the only event that had taken place according to plan.
Carefully placing the couple in position facing the audience as we had discussed I welcomed and thanked everyone for their attendance and said the opening prayer. As everyone opened their eyes there was a collective gasp of amazement as the veil of the bride was waving wildly in the wind. Thinking quickly I repositioned the Bride and Groom, now facing me with the chief bridesmaid standing behind the Bride and holding the veil down. The only hitch in this maneuver was that I was standing on the Brides dress, but after she reminded me of this I moved and she managed to change her position.
The lesson on marriage seemed to go well from my perspective, but because the wind was blowing directly into my face I doubt that many heard it anyway. The microphone had been abandoned before the ceremony started as the howling wind could not be competed with. The ring exchange caused some concern as the Best man battled to untie the many knots that secured the rings to the cushion and then dropped them only to catch them again before they fell into the grass. With a great sense of relief I completed the vows and proclamation that the couple had now officially tied the knot.
Somehow I forgot to move on to the signing of the marriage register that would have been quite a feat in the windswept pagoda anyway and introduced the couple after asking the audience to stand. As they began their walk up the isle I remembered this and mentioned it the best man. He enthusiastically wanted to charge after them and call everyone back to witness this final event. I managed to restrain him and thinking on my feet I decided we would sign the register in the main tent after every one had congratulated the bridal couple and before they left for the mandatory wedding photos. With the help of my enthusiastic helper (he gave new meaning to the term "best man" with his enthusiasm now and his saving of my talk outline earlier) we informed the bridal party of this late but well thought out change in the plans. At this stage I may have been just a little confused, but after all, all is well that ends well.
In case you think that this wedding was a bit chaotic you are probably right, but as we snacked on the excellent eats in the main tent several guests came and congratulated me on how well I had conducted the service. After all these are East Cape folks, direct descendents from the hardy 1820 British Settlers, who have known hard times in the past and strong winds almost every week in the present. So this was probably nothing unusual to them at all.
One thing is certain; everyone will remember the wedding in the wind!