Birthday boy and his niece on her wedding night
Wow! What a weekend! The fact is that I was so immersed in meeting with family and dealing with the realization that almost a quarter of a century has moved between my own wedding and that of my beloved niece's that I've had to stop and take pause. I see the beautiful young woman before me who has found a great soulmate and provider and I know that she is truly happy. I know that feeling all too well. My own wedding where she served as but a minor player nearly 25 years ago seems so distant and so murky, but I remember the feeling of peace and joy that I experienced that entire day. It conducted me throughout one of the most perfect days I've ever known and when I arrived at the synagogue there was no need to do anything but be there and experience the goodness and warmth of family and friends. The two families involved really put on a show and I was especially happy to see that the wedding, while simple and elegant, had all of the elements of a classic Reform Jewish wedding. The bride did not walk around the groom for seven times, as some Orthodox customs might dictate, but the elements of kiddusim and nissim that are essential to a proper Jewish wedding were there. The opening salvo of a rehearsal dinner that took over historic Antoine's Restaurant (literally) was amazing! The groom's parents had an hour of cocktails in the front room where visitors typically dine on St. Louis Street in the French Quarter before everyone moved into the large "red" inside dining room. There were nearly 200 diners and, unbelievably, most of them were out-of-towners from Chicago and other points. The food was incredible and after dessert I was asked to give a few choice words among the crowd to relate how I felt and to shore up the mother of the bride -- my sister-in-law -- who was a bit nervous. The words of love poured out from me like the flowing wine enjoyed by the crowd. The video of both bride and groom was shown on a large screen and documented both lives that would be joined in the wedding ceremony the next night. I was deleriously happy, but had to wake up early the next morning for a dose of reality in the form of district training for the Boy Scouts local council. It was still early in the morning in Luling, Louisiana when I received a call from the mother of the bride advising me that I needed to be in my tuxedo at the downtown hotel where the reception would be held later in order to have pictures taken by 4:00 p.m. There went the thought that I would have time to rest! I did manage coordinate with my son, who served as an usher, but both of us needed to be going quickly and the photographer didn't start snapping pictures until after 4:30. It made for a slightly stressful time, but it turned out to be okay. After the ceremony ended, I headed over to the Intercontinental Hotel and had a grand time enjoying the libation and cuisine accompanied by a very good live band that performed a number of Old School tunes. The crowd consumed copious amounts of alcohol. I believe I heard they downed 14 bottles of Patron. I shudder to think how many vodka martinis were made, each one poured through a tube that ran through a fleur-de-lis carved out of ice. By the time I left the gathering, the crowd had dimmed, but the music was still going strong. My birthday had ended just a few moments before I left the hotel, but I was due to return there in about another eight hours. That morning I was one of several sponsors of a brunch the Vieux Carre Rooms downstairs in the hotel's convention center and quite amazed that some of the more hardy partyers were in such good shape after such an overwhelming party. The next few hours I kept busy and met back at the hospitality suite to say goodbye to the new Mr. and Mrs. Within another hour, I was on my way to Ruth's Chris Steak House to have the third helping of steak in as many days. However, this time it was not to celebrate my niece and her husband, but to commemorate my 55th birthday, which like March came in like a lamb. I had no time to ponder the event other than as an offshoot of the wedding. Next year will bring another birthday and yet another wedding, this one even closer to my heart.