Saturday, January 23, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} next in the Series of Fortunate Events, the Rehearsal Dinner!

| a weekly capturing of contentment in everyday life | 

I'm almost finished with the Series of Fortunate Events (wish I'd thought of that title earlier!).  Today I'm sharing the pretty, happy, funny and real photos from the Rehearsal Dinner we hosted for Alex & Rebekah's wedding party and families on New Year's Day.  Next week, I'll share some about the wedding itself.  And, then, we'll go back to plain old, boring life moments for a little while.  Until a festive blip of birthdays and Easter holidays in March and then a Grand Finale of celebrations in May with Alex's college graduation, Brian's ordination to the Anglican priesthood and Natalie's high school graduation. (Yes, all of those things will happen within three weeks of each other.  As my sister said "Nothing ever happens one at a time with the Murphy family.") 

(Here's part 1part 2part 3part 4 and part 5 recapping this season of milestone celebrations for our family.)

| pretty, happy, funny, real |

Before the photos, here's a few bits of story regarding the planning of the Rehearsal Dinner.  I find myself still at a loss for words in the deep gratitude Brian and I felt about the entire affair, so a bullet list will have to do until better words form themselves in my brain.
  • This is our first time to be the parents of a bride or groom
  • By Austin standards, we are not well-off in terms of cash. By any standards, we are filthy rich in terms of friends.
  • Even though we didn't have a savings account all prepared for the day our kids get married, we did have plenty of dreams and ideals of what celebrating with them would look and feel like.
  • There is no place I would rather have celebrated Alex & Rebekah's rehearsal dinner than FoodHeads Cafe -- even with every resource at my fingertips.  The atmosphere is delightful during every season, and the food is spot-on yummy. Always.

photo credit: FoodHeads website

As it turns out, we are fortunate enough to call FoodHeads owners Chip & Candi Wendt our friends.  When we asked to reserve their venue and hire them as caterers for New Year's Day, we knew we were asking a lot.  When we told them the number of people we were hoping to feed and the budget we'd set aside, we hoped they would still consider us friends!

The day of the rehearsal, we stopped by to drop off a few items.  Chip, Candi, and their beautiful daughter Lily were bustling around adding finishing touches.  The kitchen was warm with delicious aromas.  I stood in the middle of the room and held back tears.  

Later on, in the privacy of our car, I actually broke down in sobs. Not only had Chip & Candi welcomed our ideas and our budget, they made my dream of a lovely, warm, charming rehearsal dinner come to vibrant life.  All that before I even tasted the heavenly, perfectly-prepared food!

Here's Chip! (Unfortunately, we didn't catch Candi in time for a photo.)

So there's the background to the story.  And here's a couple more points of "dreams coming true" this evening.

| the space |

While we could have managed the evening had the pouring rain forecasted all week actually happened, it was so much better that we didn't have to worry about it.  With the help of Chip's kerosene heaters, some wind-protective tarp and a toasty fire pit, the guests were able to mingle both indoors and out throughout the evening.

| the music |

What's an Austin party venue without live music?  One of the first people we talked to after Alex & Bekah set their wedding date was our precious friend Scott. Not all of the world's best guitarists live in Austin, and we have missed hearing him play for all of these years.


| the parents |

How many parents of the bride and groom actually WANT to sit together at the rehearsal dinner?  We couldn't wait for a few quiet moments to spend with Bekah's parents.  Bernie and Jodi have become some of our dearest friends (so much so, that we told the kids years ago that no matter what happened to their relationship we planned on being friends with the Cummins family for life!) 

Joy beyond joy, fortune upon fortune.

| the food |

The photos might speak for themselves:  pulled pork sliders, home fried chicken strips (with the zippy honeydill ranch dipping sauce), a-mazing baked salmon, delicious spicy slaw, homemade macaroni & cheese (a huge hit with Brian!), savory roasted brussel sprouts (another favorite) FoodHeads famous homemade icebox pickles, cheese platter (Vermont cheddar, brie & peppered goat cheese), creamy, comfy butternut squash soup, all rounded off by sweet jars of tartlets (chocolate cake, peach cobbler and succulent key lime).  With all the scurry of wedding prep and travel -- this felt like a moment we got to hit "pause" and pay attention to the delicious food and friendships.  It may go down as one of my favorite meals of all time. (although the reception BBQ we'd be feasting on the next day is a sturdy contender!)

| the toasts & blessings |
Another first decision we made about the rehearsal dinner was to ask my Dad (Alex's grandfather) to open our time in prayer.  He has loved his grandchildren so well, and his blessing was another one of those "dreamed about since my kids were babies" moment.  Add to that the few words I prepared, and it was all a bit surreal. And, it may sound over the top, but I promise you it felt fitting in the moment:  Brian and I concluded my toast by singing the lullaby we sang over our kids during the years we were the ones putting them to bed: Barocha by Michael Card.  In those days we could have never known that we'd be singing the same words of blessing over a new daughter-in-law belonging to the very people who gave us the Christ of the Aaronic Blessing.  (and, how I wish I could share a video of her uncle singing the blessing in its original Hebrew during the ceremony the next day!)

After our toast we opened the floor for anyone who wanted to give blessing.  It's one of those moments every mother remembers again, and give thanks for the tribe that surrounds her children, broods over them, prays for them, and walks with them through life.  May God be praised for this wonderful gift of community who have loved Alex and Rebekah so well all these years.


| the friendship & conversation |


| the finale |
While the rehearsal dinner is truly for the Bride & Groom and their wedding party to relax and refresh before the big day, we chose a couple of moments to be about our own little wish dreams.  For example, a week or two before the dinner (probably on Christmas Eve when we think about this memory the most), I blurted to Brian "You and Scott should sing Silent Night at the rehearsal dinner!"  
If you knew us in New York, this was the tradition: at the close of our Christmas Eve services every year our church -- like many other churches -- would sing Silent Night during a closing candlelighting service.  For the years that Brian and I were on the worship team at the church, Brian and Scott would lead out on the song.  It's just one of those sweet things you don't really think about too much until you've moved across the country and it's Christmas Eve and you're lighting candles with a different church singing the same song.  
I didn't actually expect Brian to follow up on the idea, assuming it was just one of many last minute sappy, over-the-top ideas I tried to pull off in the days leading up to the wedding (most were, thankfully, vetoed).  To my delight, as the evening was winding down and the kids were leaving and it was just a few of us left lingering around the porch, this happened: (and may my husband be forever blessed)

Have YOU captured any contentment this week? 
 I'd love to hear about it!

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