It really WAS the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to some pretty great ones.
My niece Sarah Reimann married Jeff Likens, and now they’re Mrs. and Mr. Sarah and Jeff Likens! The service was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis – a place sacred to our family because my sister Alice and hubby John were married there in 1978. My dad Otto’s funeral gathered 650 there in 1999. And it’s a place where many great ecumenical speakers have spoken. Plus, it’s a gorgeous sanctuary, with big stained glass windows arranged around a central dome.
First of all, the people were gorgeous. Michelle Obama’s obesity campaign not much needed here. The wedding party could all be models. Many attendees, too.
My nephews Johnny and David look on as Alice lights a candle
Second, we were treated to luminous music played by my cousins Charlotte Wuepper (on flute) and Francia Mann (on violin), with Francie’s husband Brian accompanying them on piano for one of my favorite pieces (Delibes’ wonderful Flower duet) while the couple lit their own "union candle" and blew out the two their mothers had lit before. Tears trickled from my eyes.
Reverend Richard Phenow, married to one of Alice’s friends who danced with her in the Edina High School Hornettes precision dance line, officiated in an intensely personal, humorous, affirming, down-home way. Practical spirituality. He encouraged a long, heart-melting kiss.
Click on the photo and see if you recognize anyone...
Afterwards, the crowd blew bubbles as the couple exuberantly burst out of the church and headed to the Minikahda Club, where I had learned to swim as a child and where we’ve celebrated many weddings, funerals, and high school reunions.
John Reimann introduced the wedding party, who sat at their own long table while the rest of us sat at round 10-tops which seemed more intimate than most because the stunning flower arrangements, featuring mock orange, carnations, and hydrangia, were on high “towers” that allowed you to see everyone at the table. He said, "Before we walked down the aisle, Sarah turned to me and said, 'I'm so ready for this!'" -- and it showed all night.
Gordon & Mark celebrating on the terrace at the Minikahda Club - the weather was great!
The best men (Jeff’s older brother T.J., and his best friend Brandon Heider) gave heartfelt talks which were revealing about Jeff’s dry humor. Sarah’s bridesmaids gave moving and hilarious reminiscences about her bawdy leadership at a young age. The dinner was over-the-top, with Minnesota walleyed pike and boneless beef rib, a vegetable mélange with white and green asparagus, an amazing salad, and chocolate brule for dessert. (The cake was small and only for the wedding party.)
Sarah and Jeff dreamed up an apt theme of “new story,” and invited people at the tables to tell stories of first dates, weddings, and about Sarah and Jeff themselves. Many told hilarious tales. Jeff, a professional hockey player whose latest gig’s in Ingolstadt, Germany (about an hour from Munich), had a number of his childhood and hockey friends at the wedding. He and Sarah will live in Germany with their bulldog, Quinn.
Helen, Alice & Steve at the Club
Sarah, and my sister Alice and her husband John Reimann, have so many friends in Twin Cities area that they had to severely limit the number they could afford to invite.
One of my favorite moments was when the excellent band played a Lady Gaga tune, and my nephew David rocked out like one of her dancers. My mother Helen danced along. Many of us are still dancing.
I wonder whether this generation of young adults – many of whom have lived together and wait until later in their 20s to get married – will have a lower divorce rate than we boomers. Time will tell.