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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A wedding with a Muslim touch

We rushed through our farm chores Saturday so we could get ready for the wedding of a friend’s daughter. The event took place in the garden of their sprawling Kemptville property. The bride, dressed in a simple strapless white-and-ivory banded gown (from J.Crew online) was marrying a Muslim man in a simple dark suit, in a non-denominational ceremony with very simple vows. The bridal party consisted of the groom, best man, bride and man of honour, for a change.  The officiator begins by prompting the groom to propose marriage to his beloved. Then the bride answers, “I wed myself to you, promise to love and honor and be faithful to you and to support our children, and grandchildren, for the rest of my life.” The groom repeats that he will do the same. Ten minutes and it was all done. Which is a good thing because just then the overcast sky cleared and a blistering sun began beating down on all of us. Then it was time for the party. While the bridal group took wedding photos among the lilies and hostas in the garden, we were treated to lavender-infused gin-and-lemonade cocktails. Some of us found our way around the back of the house to the washroom-on-wheels, which was a treat in itself. You climb up a set of stairs to enter a lovely air-conditioned bathroom equipped with fresh, fragrant flowers, hair spray, breath mints, hand cream and anything else you might need to freshen yourself up a bit. I stayed in there as long as politely possible. When I reluctantly opened the door to re-enter the oppressive heat, a small group of my friends was standing there looking at me, perturbed. Those washrooms saw a lot of action that night, as the heat continued until well after dark.
Dinner was created and served by Epicurea, an Ottawa caterer, in a tent decorated in crisp white linens and perfumed lilies and roses. Interestingly, the bride and groom were seated at their own tiny table for two at the front of the tent. I impressed myself by eating blue cheese for the first time, but some of the farmer types at my table didn’t touch their antipasto plate at all. After a wonderful chicken dinner, each key person in the celebration delivered a short, sweet speech. The theme of less-is-more was refreshing and authentic. Dancing followed dessert, and the bride and groom danced their traditional first dance as husband and wife. After that, the father of the bride danced with his daughter. Sniff. Then the couple disappeared for a few minutes, to change out of their formal wedding clothes. As the music continued, I felt it was time to let the hair down, kick the shoes off and dance to a few Middle Eastern-fusion tunes with friends. One hand in the air screws in the lightbulb, other hand down low pats the dog, slowly turn in a circle and rise up on one toe, like a funky whirling dervish. That’s how I learned to dance in Asia. Soon I had everyone doing it.
 Then with a unique cultural twist, a troupe of belly dancers, one with a lit candlebra on her headdress, led the newly married couple back into the tent. We were treated to a series of traditional ethnic dance numbers, much to our collective delight. It was an honour to be invited to such a special event. I love weddings. And after all that whirling, I burned enough calories that I didn’t have to go for my 5-k walk the next morning.

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