A Pavilion Wedding in the Swannanoa Valley
As promised awhile back here, I want to share with you the story of a fairy tale wedding which happened this summer amidst the magic and music of the Swannanoa Gathering. My summer friends, Ellen and David, who hail all the way from Massachusetts, and whom I only see at summer camp, opted to tie the knot amongst friends of the musical variety with the mountains of North Carolina as a back drop.
It was, in true south mountain fashion, a rather unpredictable day from the weather gods. All day it rained and rained and we began to steel ourselves for the wedding to be a drippy affair. Though we knew, that there was a pavilion to keep heads dry during the ceremony, a large hall for the ceili reception, and multiple tents for evening sessions. We certainly would not melt. And besides, we had work to do that day which had little to do with the wedding. We had new tunes to practice!!!
A strange thing happened while we were in our afternoon classes however…. the skies began to clear, just a bit, and hopes began to rise. The bride and groom went off to have a bite to eat, and to get ready for their magical evening and the rest of us gathered at the pavilion to begin arranging things…..
There were chairs to make into rows, flowers and cakes to welcome…
Champagne to open, of course.
And favors to welcome guests to the wedding…
Soon it was time for the processional. The ‘Flute Cousins’ all played a gorgeous Scottish march called The King’s House. This is one of those tunes that can give you goose bumps for all it’s soulfulness and it was the perfect choice for the event.
The wedding itself went as so many weddings have gone since time before history. There were lovely words and thoughts, tears and laughter amidst the solemnity of it all.
I was honored to be asked to read a poem called How Falling In Love is Like Owning a Dog, by Taylor Mali. This was a great choice for Ellen and David as they love all creatures great and small, especially dogs.
The newly married couple shared their first kiss after the ceremony….
…and were ushered out with a flute arch….
And a wedding reel!
Within no time, solemnity had shifted into raucous celebration….
Which lasted well into the evening, first with ceili dancing and later, more music – on into the wee hours…. For that is what we were there for.
Upon returning home from my summer’s travels, I began to ponder what I might put together as a gift for Ellen and David in honor of their big day. And so I began to build a little painting. Not so much of the actual way of things, but rather the feel of that magical afternoon into evening in the liminal world…..
I loved how the skies looked that afternoon when the clouds miraculously parted and the rains left everything clean washed and ready for celebration.
I enjoyed the way the pavilion looked before everyone arrived, but more especially after celebrating ensued.
Folks milled through the misty evening, filled to the brim with love, music, and a bit of drink perhaps as well. And the session tents around the campus were all full that night.
Here is the little painting born of a wedding celebration. It’s not a big thing, only 9×12, but I think it will be well received as a reminder of not only their wedding day, but also of the magic of the gathering in general, to which we all look forward to throughout the rest of the year. Many congratulations Ellen and David! May blessings abound.
As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.
As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.
As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.
As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.
As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.
As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome each other’s every gift.
As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.
As twilight harvests all the day’s color,
May love bring you home to each other.
~John O’Donohue (To Bless the Space Between Us)
(wedding pics by fellow ‘gatherers’, Kate Bradford McFadden and Natalie Wurz, concertina snapshot by Tim Smith, and art by me.)