Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wild West Wedding

Our friends, Becky and Gary, hosted the best wedding I've ever been to, including my own. They are two of the nicest, most down to earth people, so giving and caring and easy going. It is a pleasure to spend time with them, even when Becky was in full getting-ready-for-the-wedding mode. She had a notebook 2" thick with tabs for organization. She's been planning this event for a year. And I tell you, it took a LOT of planning. I know that weddings do (take plenty of planning) and most people go overboard, but this one was low key but because of the circumstances, you'll see why this took more planning than your typical wedding. The wedding took place at their 30 acre gorgeous piece of property 27 miles out a canyon road from Missoula, in the Ponderosa pine woods. 200 guests came and maybe I didn't mention this , but there is NO running water on the property. Unless you count the babbling brook that meanders across the fields. They have a small (about 10x10!) cabin on the property, where they've lived for 4 years, (Gary longer), with electricity but no running water.

The entrance to the shindig.

Guests parked 1/4 mile away and walked or got taken by rickshaw to the wedding site.

A map of the layout to the wedding playground.

They had 200 blocks of wood with names of the guests (in alphabetical order). Gary has a business, Heritage Timber, reclaiming and recycling old wood from barns, building, fences, etc. so he has a lot of scrap wood. The table number was on the back, directing you to the correct table.

Houston and I were some of the helpers, bringing fresh bread from two local bakeries. I had to rearrange the contents of our car so we could fit all the bread in, enough to feed this crowd for a week, I'm sure. When we were finished divvying up the bread into bread baskets, we helped with the butter and olive oil to be placed on the tables.

Then on to the flower arranging. Locally raised flowers and grasses were provided for creating bouquets. About 5 of us started in and had a great time. Becky used 27 antique Mason jars, the pale teal ones, once belonging to Gary's grandmother.

In each bouquet was a piece of wood holding a photo of a Montana wildflower, with the Latin name and common name, a description of the flower, and it's habitat. The number coordinated with the number on the blocks of wood with the names on it.

For a year, Becky has been buying dishes from yard sales and thrift shops. They didn't want to use any paper or plastic and buying the dishes was cheaper than renting them! So 200 large plates, 200 dessert plates and 600 pieces of silverware were trucked in. Friends and family counted all the plates which were stored in their basement and someone with a dishwasher washed all of them beforehand. They'll build shelves in their garage to hold all the dishes so others can use them for events. The tables looked charming with the eclectic mix of plates. I kept hearing, "Hey! I had dishes like that when I was growing up." Some were very retro 50's and 60's. The glasses were new pint canning jars, to be used later for putting up veggies from Becky's big garden.

Because there is no water on the grounds, Gary used his old truck to haul in a stock tank of water. All these dishes were going to be washed later, but the water ran out late in the evening and the dishes had to wait for washing later.

This was the rig for washing, a hose, gravity feeding the water into the sink.

They built this kitchen a few days beforehand. Recycled lumber was used for the shelves and counters, and a reclaimed stainless steel sink was put on a 2x4 stand. There were 2 fridges and a propane stove. I think the electricity was brought in from a pole down the lane. Most wedding planning does not include building a kitchen, hauling in a 500-gallon tank of water and bringing in electricity.

The young couple were brought in by a hand pulled rickshaw, up the tree lined lane. The day was perfect, blue sky and the high temps had subsided to give them a mild 80 degree, sunny day.

The official part of the wedding was held between two massive Ponderosa pines. Chairs were set up for the guests in a semi-circle around the couple. A friend officiated the ceremony and told a story about being at the property earlier in the month, taking a hike with Becky and Gary, past Finn's cabin and into the woods where they had heard that a calf had been killed, probably by a coyote or wolf. They did find the dead calf and contemplated on life and death and he watched as Becky and Gary interacted, giving and taking, agreeing and disagreeing and he was a great love and bond between them.

All four of the parents of Becky and Gary got up and gave their best wishes for the couple. They welcomed the new son or daughter into their fold and told a funny or clever story. Very spontaneous and fun.

The nieces and nephews came up one by one and brought a flower to make up the bouquet for the wedding table.

Becky and Gary said their own vows and gave promises for a life together. Becky said she would promise to close the drawers and cupboards and Gary promised to wear appropriate eye and ear ware when working. We were all laughing and crying.

Then they just turned to each other, kissed, and were off with no "You are husband and wife", no fanfare, just "Shiny, Happy People" blaring from the speakers as they walked cheerily down the grassy lane. Some of the words to the song are " shiny, happy people holding hands" and "all the people loved them". The song was perfect, and I had couldn't help getting all tingly and teary. Just beautiful.

Then on to the eating!

All the food, with the exception of the tea and coffee, was grown and made locally. Houston and Becky's dad had made 9 lasagnas days earlier, each one a bit different. Morels were bountiful as they've had a wet winter and spring and they grow well after a forest fire and there were plenty of those last summer. So one of the lasagnas was chock full of morel mushrooms. The one I got a kick out of though was the "antelope or mule deer", they weren't sure which. I didn't have any as I don't eat red meat but Houston said it was delicious.

Instead of a traditional wedding cake, they had a dessert table. Good choice. Handmade chocolate chip cookies, various delicious cakes from a local bakery, cheesecakes, tarts. Yum, yum and more yum.

Sixty kids attended the event so they had a kid's area set up, surrounded by straw bales. There were bubbles, balls, toys, a craft table and the coolest things were these 8 twig structures, all various sizes, covered in silks and other gauzy fabrics. The kids could crawl through the series of them, through the tunnel and out the other side.

Two of the adorable kids sitting at the wedding table.

I befriended these darlings. Having no girls of my own, I gravitate towards little girls, always wanting to braid their hair and just have girl talk. Tess and Ali are best friends.

At one time, Tess and Ali told me they were really jealous of this girl and they pointed to a cutie with a pretty dress. They said "She is so pretty and perfect and we are so jealous!" This, coming from four-year olds. I told them they were probably just jealous of her dress and that they were pretty too. I called Sophie over and introduced them and they played the rest of the day together. I really do like four-year olds the best. I told one of my boys when he was four that four was my very favorite age. When he turned five, he said that he was sorry to disappoint me and I quickly said, "Five is my very favorite age."

Modes of transportation:
There were many types of transportation. I had to get this photo of Gary's sister, wearing her fancy dress, driving this rugged, camouflage four-wheeler, hauler thing. Her daughter had broken her pelvis and had a wheelchair that just wouldn't go over all the bumps and humps of the land so she was brought in on the back of this.

And this home made go cart is what brought the bride down the gravel road to the entrance to the lane of the wedding. Becky had primped at a neighbor's house nearby and one of their boys suggested that Becky ride to the wedding in the go cart. She said, "Awesome!" and hiked up her long wedding dress, got in and was pushed down the hill. As you can see, the turning mechanism is just a rope tied to a piece of wood. I'm surprised she made it without injury.

This is the rickshaw that was used to carry the couple down the lane. The kids had a blast pulling each other around.

The bicycle rickshaw brought guests from the parking area to the wedding site. This guy custom made the bike and it even had an ipod and speakers.

Gary's workshop with neatly stacked lumber. One of the things that Becky said in her vows was that she knew Gary was the guy for her when she saw his workshop, so neat and organized.

The tiny cabin where they've lived for 4 years. This is a true test of compatibility, living in a 10'x10' space with no water, sometimes being snowed in for days at a time.

View form their front yard. Veggies in the front, chickens in the back.

Finn's cabin. Last year a friend of theirs needed a place to live so Finn and Gary built this cabin with reclaimed lumber. Finn lived here for a bit, along with his wife.

A huge bonfire was lit and we all danced around it for about 4 hours. That's Becky dancing on a stump with her arm in the air. She danced and danced.....

until they both collapsed after a fun-filled day sharing their life and dreams with their friends and family.

About 20 individual tents were set up around the property for guests to sleep in, so we just had to stumble up the hill to bed. The next morning, the wedding party continued with a brunch with French toast, bagels, coffee cake, sweets, eggs and more and more food. Becky's brother was short order cook and kept the French toast coming. This was a dress up affair, with most of the folks coming in costume.

The groom and dad. I hated to see the party end. We helped clean up but nothing what the couple would have to do when they got back from their short honeymoon (staying at a cabin of friends not too far away). We packed up our tent, said our goodbyes and were off to the mountains for more camping.

This was supposed to be another post but I uploaded these pics to this post so I'm not going to move them all. These are from our time in Missoula after the wedding and camping. Above is this black lab that we saw in the driver's seat of this awesome vintage Ford.

Walking around downtown.

The old Wilma Theater that is being re-done. Loved this ticket taking booth.

Missoula has three 'folf' (frisbee golf) sites. This one is out of town a bit, up on a hill overlooking the valley.

And at the farmer's market.

Saw this bike hauling 2 trailers, a huge basket on the front and 2 baskets on the back. People take biking seriously there. There's even a business picking up coffee grounds from all the coffee houses to use as compost. The guy rides a 3-wheeled bike with a large cooler attached in the back to put the grounds in.

Free Cycled is a place in Missoula where one can go to 'rent' a bike (free, but donations happily accepted), build a bike or donate a bike or even parts of a bike. There are a number of bike stations set up inside this warehouse with boxes and boxes of neatly labeled parts, tubes, pedals, etc. and row upon row of hanging frames outdoors. You can pick a frame, then start gathering the parts and assemble your own bike.... for FREE! There's even coffee and sweets offered while you work.... for FREE! With the new interest in biking, DC needs a place like this. It was a fun place to hang out and everyone was very helpful. We didn't end up building anything because we ran out of time, but next time we go, we're each putting a bike together.

the best bead store I've been to. So fun. Gotta love the 60's lights.

cool sculptures

There was a birdhouse theme in the shop windows. I loved these oversized birdhouses and Houston promised to build me one for our yard.

This is the home that Becky and Gary bought 2 years ago and have been rehabbing with recycled, reclaimed, re-purposed materials. They moved in not long ago so now have a country place and a city place. This home has been on home tours as an example of how to do a total rehab (they were down to just outside studs, floors and a roof when we saw it 2 years ago) for just $20,000, including windows, new roof, appliances, fixtures, cabinets, everything. Days before the wedding, 15 people were staying in the house. They had a work day where all of us volunteered to work.

I painted their front door 2 different colors (a dark raspberry, although it was supposed to be eggplant, with chartruese trim) and did some color swatch ideas for the house and trim.

Houston installed speakers. Some people put in overhead lights, some were weeded in the garden, some baked chocolate chip cookies (yeah!) and all of us had a great time. Our son, Forrest has been going to college at University of Montana for the last 2 years and is now going to rent a room in Becky and Gary's house for this upcoming semester. So, we'll be in contact to make sure things are going splendidly.