WOSTER: Together, facing the winds of life
It was chilly down by the Missouri River last Saturday afternoon. Windy, too.
The bridesmaids shivered in their sleeveless green dresses, and the groomsmen in shirtsleeves squinted into the sharp breeze that blew in from the water. Wedding attire for the invited guests ranged from suits and ties to heavy sweaters, light parkas and wool blankets. I didn't see any of the guests actually pull hoods or blankets over their heads during the ceremony, but I wouldn't call you a liar if you said it happened. It was a blustery day.
If my granddaughter and her soon-to-be spouse had decided at the last minute to move the ceremony indoors, I wouldn't have objected. I doubt members of the wedding party or anyone on the guest list would have raised a fuss, either. Late September is a tricky weather time in South Dakota. A wedding outdoors on the last Saturday of the month could dawn calm and 80 degrees, or it could arrive breezy and mid-40s, as this one was.
Outdoor weddings are always a gamble, and this bride and groom were willing to take a chance on the weather because they were determined to have the ceremony on the grass in the north park, under a couple of thick, old trees, right next to the Missouri River shore. It's a lovely spot, with the green of the grass and the lapping water of the Missouri reminding me of the 23rd Psalm with its green pastures and still waters. I always picture blue skies and a soft sun above, though, when I read that passage.
Still, they had their entwined hearts set on outdoors, so outdoors it was. It turned out fine. A light mist fell until just a couple of hours before the ceremony, but there was none of that foolishness once the guests began to arrive. During the reception that followed the ceremony, my big brother, who had attended the wedding, called to say he'd run into steady rain just this side of Kimball on his drive home. That means, he said, that someone was looking out for the young couple by drying things out while they exchanged vows.
And, if they had moved the whole affair indoors, they'd have missed the bald eagle that made a majestic pass over the park right about the middle of the ceremony. That alone was worth a little shivering and squinting. How many indoor weddings have you attended that included a fly-over by an eagle?
I think of Frankie and Austin as kids, but they're a bit older than Nancy and I were when we got married half a century ago. We didn't know what we were getting into when we traded vows in St. James Catholic Church (no bald eagles visited) not so many blocks south of the site of Frankie and Austin's wedding. Maybe they don't, either, although they're a couple of determined young people, intelligent enough to set goals, brave enough to take a few risks to move toward those goals and savvy enough to know they have their best chance of reaching their goals if they share the load.
He just started his own construction business. She started her first real job after finishing grad school in the spring. They both know how to work and what commitment means. That can carry a couple through a whole lot of adversity. They're pretty serious kids, but they laugh a lot, at themselves and with others. Throughout the wedding day and the day before it, they seemed to be smiling nearly every minute, even with the breeze blowing in their faces at time.
That's the thing about marriage. Wind blowing during the ceremony is no big deal. But winds, sometimes punishing storm winds, also blow during a marriage. That's when the smiles and the laughter and the sharing mean the most. That's when commitment counts.
These two kids don't really know where they're going yet. Who among us did when we got married? They seem to know that wherever the journey takes them, they're going together. That's as much as any couple could hope for at the start of a life together.