Last night I acquired a son in law. This was an event that was supposed to have happened in about a year's time, but events have an odd way of surprising us. My daughter Bridget has been seconded by her employer to their new branch in Qatar, and if she was to take her fiancee Scott with her, what with Qatar being an Islamic state and everything, a marriage certificate had to be produced. So, a wedding was organised with about two weeks notice. This was not going to be the main event, you understand but a sort of mini wedding: a prequel. But events have a way of surprising us.
The idea was to have a small informal gathering with just ours and Scott's immediate families present and do the formalities, while a bigger grander wedding reaffirmation would be held on their return to New Zealand. We thought we might have a small family dinner back at our place afterward, but nothing fancy. So, I made sure the church was free on Friday night. A license was applied for and a dress selected. Caterers were booked and some rings were carefully chosen. We phoned and skyped every night and finally, last Thursday gathered the two who would make the vows and the nine who would witness it. We went through the practice; arranged the service and the cutlery; found a table big enough for 11.
Then on Friday we married Scott and Bridget. At 7 pm at this time of year Dunedin is absolutely dark, and our little church was lit by about 300 candles. It glowed with warm yellow light and the air was soft. I waited in the sanctuary with Scott and his family, while Clemency and Catherine walked over with Bridget. My beautiful, accomplished daughter and the fine young man she has chosen to spend her life with held hands and exchanged words that 4 centuries have not improved on for dignity and beauty. I declared them husband and wife and prayed for them. We took photos and walked back over to our house to eat and talk.
No one stood to make speeches. Between courses some of us spoke: Scott's father Richard, Catherine and myself. We looked around the table and talked to each other, simply and seriously, about what this young couple meant to us. Nick was present as a skyped in image on a Macbook, and he made a lovely tribute to his sister. There was nothing prequel or mini about it. Even discounting my own prejudices this was one of the most beautiful, gracious, warm, dignified, cohesive, friendly, enveloping, comfortable, loving weddings I have ever attended, and I have seen a few.
Today we have all sat around and talked and eaten more than is good for us, and got to know the people who are newly related to us. In about ten days my daughter and son in law fly out to the Persian Gulf and into a brilliant life together. Late in 2010 we will gather again, probably with a venue and a band and morning suits and many many people. It will be an event to look forward to, but I can't imagine how it could ever match the power and beauty of what we shared on Friday night.