By Margie Doyle
Here on Orcas, one of the major branches of our tourism economy is weddings. My family recently gathered with my son and his bride’s family and friends for a marriage ceremony after a six-year courtship. In those years, they’ve worked all over the U.S., spending the longest amounts of time in Seattle and Washington D.C.
When the time came for their wedding, they decided they wanted their wedding in the most meaningful, fun and beautiful spot on the Pacific coast; and they decided that Rosario Resort on Orcas Island was “just right” for their 200 guests to gather and celebrate. They wanted their guests to have the chance to know each other a little before the ceremony, and so four days of partying began.
The women in our family — my daughter, daughter-in-law, the bride, her mother and grandmother had lunch together on Thursday at Chimayo. My daughter and her husband had made a pact that they would break with family tradition and be on time for all the events; their arrival on the first ferry of the day was a happy harbinger of the fun to come. My daughter-in-law (and the mother of my only grandchild) was the first to show up at the restaurant; she is the most delightful combination of eccentric and reliable. I marveled as my two “girls” engaged the bride’s mom and grandma with the ease and charm of born friends.
The bride was distracted by her guests’ flight cancellations on Kenmore Air due to bad weather and was orchestrating alternative ways for them to reach Rosario. Chamber Director Lance Evans responded to my appeal to do anything he could with phone calls and other research. Back at home, my husband and sons and other groomsmen called around to find a flight to bring the bride’s dad to Orcas, and chartered a trip though Northwest Sky Ferry.
That evening, I hosted a cruise of the wedding party and spouses about the island’s west side aboard Wes Heinmiller and Alan Stameisen’s Northern Light. San Juan Transit picked up the van load of partyers who traveled from Rosario to Deer Harbor for the cruise. The weather was cloudy and mild and the waters were calm as the many travelers settled in to a four-day island party.
That night was the first of nightly campfires at the groom’s Rosario residence (The Perch) and on the beach at Rosario. My son’s childhood friends and his buddy from the Marines, a Missouri lineman, party just as well as they work, which is excellent.
On Friday, my son and his Marine buddy shopped for groceries at Island Market for the barbecue he was hosting at the Perch on Saturday before the wedding. His bride treated her bridesmaids to a luncheon. Then the bridesmaids and two intrepid men joined Leslie and John Ginnes’ Patina crew at Rosario’s Beach House to tie the double-bow ribbons and arrange seating cards for the reception.
I stopped at Beth Baker’s home to pick up my dress that she had hemmed and altered. I didn’t dare try it on as the zipper was iffy and had maybe one more run in it, and Beth like the sweetheart and professional she is, agreed to come out to Rosario before the wedding ceremony to make sure the dress would work to keep me covered and decent for the ceremony. (On the other hand, my daughter had her bridesmaid’s dress altered by Svetlana in Seattle, whom she’d found on Yelp. The dress, like a pale silver-gold cloud, fit her beautifully, though it sounds like Svetlana was a tough “customer.”)
The sun emerged from the clouds earlier that day, and guests were able to hike and kayak and shop the island. Our island was refreshed from the rain and cool mornings and its “paradise” face was on in full, but not fierce, glory.
We had a run-through rehearsal at “The Point” at Rosario later that afternoon. My son’s former boss lined people up and ran through the logistics of the ceremony, at which Sandy Playa officiated.
That evening, my children’s father hosted a welcoming reception at Rosario. The dining room was filled with families and well-wishers, including the next generation aged 2 to 16. (It was pointed out that the dining room, with its tiers of semi-circular booths and ramped aisles, is an exciting simulation of the Pac-Man maze, which the 2-year-olds utilized to full, fast advantage.) Old friends from their teenage days recounted stories of our boys’ high school mischief and misadventures. We are greyer now, and they have grown up just fine.
To my delight, my son and his buddy stopped by our house in Eastsound every morning to hang their tuxedos, to pick up a barbecue grill, to plug into cell phones and the internet (reception is iffy at Rosario). Meanwhile my other son (who met his wife working at Camp Orkila and who was married in 2008 at Odd Fellows Hall) prepared his toast to the groom at Enzo’s while I was content beyond words to follow my two-year-old grandson around, watching our shadows dance, drumming on coffee can drums, chasing each other around the kitchen island and circular fireplace, picking parsley from the garden and watching the planes take off from the airport. My daughter’s best friend (our new daughter upon the death of both her parents last year) flew in on Friday to complete our family.
The wedding day, August 17, again dawned grey and cloudy, with showers threatening. The bride looked up at the sky and said, ” I just want two hours….”
She got them.
She and her bridesmaids started the day with a hike around Mountain Lake in Moran State Park. I had delayed one important detail — purchasing a tie for my husband, who out of his love for my son had agreed to wear a necktie for the first time in our marriage. But, yikes, there was none to be found at this last minute. Then I ran into Tony Ghazel at the Farmer’s Market who said, yes, we could borrow his necktie, he would bring it by the house. Just for insurance, I ducked into Fashion Fairy’s “Man Cave” and found the perfect tie — and a spare. I looked for Tony back at the Farmer’s Market to tell him never mind, but couldn’t find him. I knew he’d understand.
The groom’s barbecue went off as planned from noon to 2 and beyond. The seven bridesmaids had hair and make-up appointments scheduled from morning to mid-afternoon at Rosario. Carol Whitbeck of Celtic Beauty arranged my hair in an updo.
I drove out to Rosario, to the room I’d taken just in case there was any need for it, and as it turned out, my son the best man and his wife and toddler were able to party until the last dog was hung, thanks to the greatest babysitter, a counselor at Camp Orkila whom Linda Sanders connected us with. The baby ran naked through the room as Beth helped me into my dress — the zipper worked! and the alterations were perfection. Beth had joined this game with me early, advising me on dress styles, graciously veto-ing one choice, helping choose jewelry — always making it fun and making me feel beautiful.
Then I drove to the Mansion for the wedding party photos. Ally, the bride, was as calm and beautiful in her Vera Wang confection as she is in her running gear. My fun-loving son Rory was as handsome and serious and sensitive as he is on his toughest assignments. The bridesmaids were as beautiful and varied as Grecian cloud-goddesses. The groomsmen were as stalwart and gracious as wartime diplomats. The sun shone warmly with a gentle sea breeze freshening each moment.
The string players of Tres Voci played classical music as the guests assembled on the lawn. The two-year olds were ushered to the back of the lawn where they played peek-a-boo (with unheard giggles). Everyone was silent and spellbound as the couple promised to always be faithful to each other.
At the reception in the Beach House, the bride’s father toasted her, telling the story of how, as a four-year old, she’d commandeered the care of her younger brother and sister in a Singapore hotel room, ordering ice cream for everyone — including the two babysitters — from room service. The best man gave a toast worthy of the finest country preacher, with calls to respond with “oh yeahs” and finger-snapping if the guests had shared a similar experience with the groom. The maid of honor told a simple and telling story of how, as a child frightened by nightmares, she would climb into bed with her sister; and my sister and I locked eyes across the room, sharing a similar story.
The Beach House was soon rocking to music, the outside decks a shifting population. The reception ended at midnight, and there was a bonfire that lasted until dawn on Sunday morning.
We had a casual family brunch at our home off Mt. Baker Road later that morning. The bride and groom looked ready for a vacation where they could talk to each other about their wedding. Theirs will be a great marriage; and Orcas Island was the perfect place to begin.