Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Bit of Southern Hospitality

The Mighty Mississippi River
This past weekend I drove to Portageville, Missouri for the wedding of one of my best friends from college. I met one of my college roommates in St. Louis and the two of us drove 3 hours south for the weekend of events.

We were immediately welcomed to Malena's family's home (and their pool) for a relaxing Friday afternoon.  Then we hit up the local bar where we made friends with everyone there within 20 minutes of sitting down. It was a typical small town pub and I was lovin' it. Around 8pm a few other people that were clearly visiting for the wedding came wandering in (which was evident by the big eyes and tentative steps they were taking into the bar). We quickly welcomed them and soon they were just as comfortable as everyone else.  And then the wedding party showed up with the rest of the family and the socializing really got started. It was a great way to start the wedding weekend.

Beth and I with the Bride
We got in some pool time again on Saturday morning (and for a little while we were joined in the pool by the Father of the Bride, much to the dismay of the Mother of the Bride). It was looking to be a beautiful day with just enough clouds and no more heat and humidity than was necessary to remind us that we were in the South. After cleaning up at the hotel we took a shuttle to the church (which was actually a couple limos - Awesome!). It was going to be a packed church so we were happy the A/C was cranked up. Another friend and I went behind the scenes to wish the bride a bit of luck before the ceremony (she looked gorgeous of course and despite our matching dress color we weren't actually in the wedding party).

It was a neat ceremony. Performed by the groom's uncle in a Catholic church that seats 270, it was stuffed to the gills. Andrew's family is Ukranian so the ceremony was Ukranian Orthodox and 90% was sung by the priest and his assistant. There were traditional crowns placed on heads of the bride and groom and the congregation participated in much of the ceremony with responses. I'm sure it was the most unique ceremony that they've had in Portageville for awhile (maybe ever) and I'm glad that I was there to witness it.

The reception started immediately following the ceremony (and we were treated to another ride in the limo to the reception hall). Although the exhibition hall, where the reception was held, was outside of town surrounded by fields of corn and cotton, once you entered it was hard to remember where you were.  The hall was decorated with tables, food displays, and flowers everywhere. It was set up for 500 guests so it had to be big, but with curtains separating the space it never felt overwhelming.

Andrew and Malena at the head table
That night we danced, sang, and enjoyed meeting new people. It was an eclectic group. Andrew's family is from the Ukraine and Pennsylvania. But the couple has been living in Montreal for the last several years.  Malena has lived in LA and DC too. People came from around the world and weren't disappointed with the hospitality of all of the wonderful people in Portageville. There were still a few Ukrainian traditions at the reception but it was clear that more of the small town flavor was felt in the dancing and drinking.

Dancing as husband and wife
We ended the weekend with a brunch back at Malena's parent's house. It included a farm tour for those that hadn't been there before, swimming, BBQ, and later some skeet shooting in the field out back. It was a sweltering day and you could drink the air it was so humid.  We took off just after lunch for our drive back north. It was a great wedding, a wonderful weekend, and an awesome way for the couple to kick off their new lives together.

No comments:

Post a Comment