Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flash-mob wedding

I love the concept of flash mobs. I've seen a video where shoppers in a crowded mall at Christmastime are treated to the Hallelujiah Chorus. You can't tell me that those in the audience didn't appreciate it. That song just sends chills down your back no matter what (or lack thereof) religious persuation you happen to follow. (When it's done well, of course. I know that piece very well. Serious challenge for the top-sops - first sopranos).

So when Jim (my now-husband) suggested his idea for our wedding, I was on board 100 percent.

Jim and I met at Fenestra Winery in the fall of 1995. I will write a full-length post about the day we met at another time. For now, it's enough to know that some 15 years later, we were regular visitors to this winery and Jim had gone from a casual, volunteer-paid-with-wine pourer to a regular paid employee who poured there every Sunday. We wanted to get married there, but unlike some of the area wineries, this one didn't really do weddings. The upstairs gathering room was, um - shall we say, rustic. So perfect for tasting. Not so perfect for weddings and all their associated trappings.

This was fine with us. We didn't want the dress, the attendants, the invitations, the cake... no, wait. We wanted the cake. But hey - this was going to be the third time for both of us. Jim suggested that I just show up at the end of the day one Sunday and we could be married then, after they closed. Surprise! The workers always hung out a bit anyways after cleaning up, so we would have a small, intimate gathering. I'd bring my brother and my mother, and we'd have our two closest friends there to stand with us (they'd said long ago that they would do this, if we ever got married). Perfect. They would be the only ones to know. We weren't going to actually tell anyone at the winery that we were doing this. Except for one gal, who was usually off on Sundays. We clued her in so she would pour that day.

For awhile we were stuck on who should actually marry us. We thought about one of the other winery owners who has some sort of "license" to marry people. Then Jim came up with a really great idea - one of the winery's club members was a real minister at the First Presbyterian Church in Oakland. We met with him and explained our plan, and God bless him - he loved it!

We picked a date - January 16, 2011. I selected a cake (pumpkin spice, mmm!) at my favorite local bakery - all natural ingredients. (Bay Area people - it's Amia Bakery in Fremont). We picked out simple rings at a local jeweler. I even found a small bouquet of flowers at a craft shop. Okay, so I guess I wanted some of the trappings... :-) We told my brother a month before; we told my mother a week before that all three of us were going wine-tasting that day. She didn't know a wedding was at the end of the wine-tasting until the day before. It's not like she didn't like Jim, she did. I just didn't want this to become an out-of-control, invite-the-world, twenty-seven-potluck-dish extravaganza.

Januarys in the Bay Area can be windy and rainy, but the 16th was crisp and clear. I picked my brother up at BART, drove over to Livermore to get mom, and off we went. Since no one really likes drunk brides, and besides - I was the driver - we only went to two wineries. It was fun as usual - I really enjoy wine tasting. Then it was time to head over to Fenestra.

The plan had always been to wait until they closed at 5PM. It was a little after 4 when we arrived and the minister was already there, enjoying the fruits of the vine. Our friends came in a few minutes later. Jim was busy - the winery was pretty busy at that point. He winks at me and leans over to Ken, the unofficial tasting room manager, and says, "You always wanted to know if Anita and I were getting married. Well, we are - today!" He went on to tell him not right this second because he could see they were busy, but after 5.

I didn't actually hear this conversation. Jim told me about it later. What I heard was Ken's big booming voice: "Attention! For the second time in the history of the winery, we are having a wedding here today!" There were about 20 customers in the winery at that point, and they all stopped talking. The minister quickly explained that this was only going to take about 10 minutes, Jim came out from behind the counter and joined me and well, - we got married!

We served the cake afterward, paired with one of Fenestra's dessert wines. People kept coming up to us and saying how wonderful it was, and how happy they were that they chose to come to Fenestra that day. One family had relatives in from Wisconsin - "Does this happen all the time around here?"

I don't know if we were the first "flash" wedding at a Livermore winery. But I do know it was very special to Jim and I. And yes - we both wore jeans!

PS. The first wedding at Fenestra? The owner's son got married there some years before.

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