We got hitched!
On the most gorgeous October 5 in California history (we swear), on a hillside overlooking the broad Pacific with a wee San Francisco in the distance, we exchanged vows and rings officiated by two dear friends in the presence of 75 friends and family. It was beautiful, and just the way we wanted it.
But it almost wasn’t. The story of how gives us chuckles now, but mostly in hindsight. Several times in the week right before the wedding it looked as if it wasn’t going to play out according to plan. Rehearsal evening, and literally up until the morning of The Day, we hit two roadblocks.
One of the effects of the 2013 Federal Government #Shutdown was the closing of national parks. It was April who realized that Rodeo Beach, the beach we’d chosen for the rehearsal dinner picnic Friday evening, is part of the Golden Gate National Seashore and might be off limits. We did some scouting of options — Rodeo, Crissy Field and Golden Gate Park (which was definitely out due to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival) — and saw that while facilities like parking lots and bathrooms were off limits, the beach and park grounds themselves were not.
So we launched Occupy Rodeo, telling everyone coming to the Friday picnic about the predicament and that we might have to bounce off Rodeo Beach to another spot.
When we got to Rodeo that Friday afternoon, there was indeed an officer standing next to a small barricade blocking off the parking lot, but she waved us on with a cheery “enjoy!” as we followed others out onto the beach. The weather cooperated wonderfully as we enjoyed locally made international food and drink. Once the sun set and stars came out, though, it got chilly quickly, sending us home.
It’s been dry and windy…
On Thursday at 1pm, while we were figuring out what to do about the #Shutdown, April got an email from the person who had given us the permit to hold our ceremony on Trojan Point (which is luckily not a national park), who asked her to call him right away. This time it wasn’t the Government interfering, but Nature: the local fire department had put a Red Flag Alert out for the northern part of Mt. Tam due to heat, dryness and high winds. Our reception spot was still safe, but the ceremony site was off-limits until further notice.
So on Friday afternoon we rehearsed at the Mountain Home Inn, twice. Once with crazy gesticulations and pantomime explaining how everything should play out over the terrain on Trojan Point, and once for our Plan B: holding the ceremony there at the Inn. Then we headed off to our Occupy Rodeo adventure.
Saturday (wedding day) saw us up at 6:30am to check the fire station’s alert website, which had turned from this:
We were on with Plan A! Woo hoooo!
How Plan A worked
The Marin headlands are very special to us both. April’s parents brought her there hiking often. She returns there all the time now, and we often hike there together. Rodeo Beach is extra special, with short, medium and long loops starting and ending there. Trojan Point is way above beach level, about halfway up Mt. Tam, with clear views usually above local clouds.
From the parking lot at Trojan Point to the ceremony site is about 250 paces. Our friends Debbie & Barnett created beautiful flower arrangements with succulents in slices of beautiful weather-worn tree stumps, with which we decorated the last stretch of that path. Barnett also designed a travel signpost, which I then built at TechShop in downtown SF with a lot of help from an awesome “dream coach” there named Zack. (It’s super fun to run a Shopbot CNC machine! Multiple coats of urethane, not quite as much fun.) The local rangers frowned on our unloading the signpost at the ceremony site, so it graced the entrance of the Inn instead. (The unexpected charms and irony of local officials throughout our entire weekend still makes us smile.)
Holding the space
Two officiants held the space and saw us all through the ceremony. Charles is a dear friend from Jerry’s Manhattan days; he did the welcoming, vowing and ringing — the parts we think of as constituting a wedding — with humor and love.
Marti, a dear friend and mentor, carries indigenous wisdom from several traditions around the world. She created a despacho: As guests arrived at the parking lot, they were asked to choose a flower from a box full of them at the start of the hill. On their way out to the site, might they think about relationships, love, world peace, us, them… whatever came to them, then hand the flower to Marti at the end of the walk. Marti bundled the flowers ritually and blessed us with them. (We came home and buried the despacho in our back yard the following day, with some more ritual.)
Our delightful nieces helped a bunch. Ella played a beautiful violin solo; Amelia bore April’s train across the rugged terrain and kept our rings safe and sound.
Some of the people who made the wedding work were our friends already. Our photographer Gregory shot our engagement photos many moons ago, including the one that graces the top of this blog (more on that photo in a moment). Our DJ Jim is a maven on African and Latin American music (and world-class unicyclist); we met him at BarCampAfrica. Our florist was marvelous, too, with perfect advice and beautiful arrangements.
Then we were married. Hubby and wiffy. Double woo hooo!
At the end of our ceremony, right after “you may kiss the bride,” a friend flew a video drone over us all, then swooped it over the area, taking in the view.
At the reception at the Inn, before dinner was served, we had 15 minutes of Quaker-inspired sharing from silence. We all went quiet and anyone could speak up to tell stories or offer wisdom. We had also set up a wishing tree, which collected some wonderful wishes in the course of the evening.
Jerry set up a photo booth by renting some gear from a local photo shop. We’re amazed at how well it worked.
On Sunday, after brunch, 20 of us took a short hike from the Inn, looping down through ancient redwood groves to the still-closed Muir Woods. The #shutdown standoff lasted a bit longer, but we were happy that its effects on our event had been so minimal.
A fun historic note: It turns out that “the world‘s crookedest railroad” used to come up Mount Tam. It apparently went directly past the Mountain Home Inn. The dance pavilion at the top of Mt. Tam burned down twice. Later the railroad, like many others of the same era, fell into disuse and was removed.
If you’ve read this far, your prize is another really fun “project” in the week before the wedding. We had applied to be listed in the New York Times’ wedding section, not thinking we had much chance of making it in. We’re not Manhattanites or investment bankers, and we know nobody at the paper. A week before the wedding, they called and said they wanted to feature us. Woo hooo! They liked the photos we’d sent but they were too low-resolution (and we couldn’t source the originals quickly), so we ended up doing two photo shoots with patient friends (thanks, Brian!). In the end, the Times took the photo that sits atop our blog instead of all those. Here’s the resulting story, as printed:
Now we’re wed, thrilled at all the love and community that was present and surprised that wed-ness feels different from before. You’ll see our honeymoon later on this blog, because we haven’t scheduled it yet. Right now, we’re basking.