A Hunk, A Hunk of Burning Love

Once you hit your 40’s, weddings are few and far between. It seems you spend the entirety of your 20’s and part of your 30’s attending wedding after wedding after wedding and then, all of a sudden, the wedding wave crashes, and your social calendar instead becomes populated with things like “Birthday Party at Chuck E. Cheese” or “baseball practice” or “Back-to-School Night”. None of these things feature a band or an open bar.

So when a wedding pops up, you jump for joy. And when it’s the wedding of your super awesome cousin, you jump even higher.

Cousin Kate’s wedding is what took us all to Washington, D.C. this past weekend–from San Francisco to London, folks flew in to celebrate the big day.

My cousin Leigh Ann and I are both only children, and our cousin Kate only has a brother. So these gals are my sisters. We have had so many laughs over so many things through the years. I wouldn’t trade these cousins for the world.

Proof that at one point I was taller than these two.

I used to spend Christmas Eve at my Mama B’s house, wishing so badly that I had siblings. The inside jokes my dad and his 3 brothers share are priceless. And now that I have 3 boys of my own, pictures like the one below make my heart swell. It’s a rare moment when my dad and all of his brothers are together, so Leigh Ann and I made the most of it, snapping pictures of them whenever they were in close vicinity of each other.

Then we’d show each other the picture or tag it on Facebook and both wind up teary eyed.

Brotherly love, I tell you, is hard to match.

Tucker loves a good party as much as his mom does; Kate and David’s rehearsal dinner did not disappoint.

Tuck’s had one too many Shirley Temples at this point…

The venue, PJ Clarke’s, was walking distance from our hotel, and it was packed with all the folks who love Kate and David. It was a perfect warm-up to the main event.

Tucker had the best time hanging out with his Uncle Beardy (my dad’s brother David) and the rest of his family who had flown in from London. Tuck was absolutely enamored with David’s son Nick, who not only tops out at 6’5″ but who also sports the novelty–to Tuck, at least–of a British accent. When he wasn’t climbing on cousin Nick or badgering him to death to play “Where’s My Water?”, Tuck was doing this:

Sweet Uncle David didn’t seem to mind.

Best cousins on a Friday night, post-rehearsal dinner toasts (and Tucker in the background, riding his Shirley Temple buzz like a rock star):

That would be tall Nick on the right. And short Laura on the left. Tucker is behind Nick, staring up in admiration.

January 12th finally arrived. I think Tucker was equally as excited as cousin Kate was.

Kate and David were married in the gorgeous sanctuary of St. John’s Church in Lafayette Square. Interesting tidbit, regardless of your politics:  the Rector who married them is giving the closing prayer next week at the Inauguration. He is a phenomenal speaker and gave a terrific homily during the service. St. John’s is known as “The Church of the Presidents” because every U.S. President since October of 1816 has worshipped here at some point during his tenure (starting with James Madison). 

The church is gorgeous, of course. Filled with vibrant stained glass windows and individual prayer kneelers instead of a kneeling rail, it exudes history. It demands reverence–which is possibly why our clan cracked up when my Uncle Bill bumped his head on a dangling, multi-faceted chandelier which then proceeded to tinkle and chime all throughout the opening prayer. He was just making his presence known, that’s all. 

The first chill-bump inducing moment of the evening: Kate and her bridesmaids headed out of the hotel while we were all in the lobby bar enjoying a glass of wine (we’re Bedingfields, you know). She and her bridesmaids were all singing “Going to the Chapel,” which echoed brilliantly off the marble floors and pulled everyone out to the lobby to cheer as she headed down to St. John’s. It still gives me chills. Such a perfect start to a perfect evening.

Mr. Kate enjoyed his last few minutes as a bachelor with us.

A few family shots outside the hotel before we headed down to the church:

I love this shot. I love the angle, the wintery feel to it, the solemnity of it. It’s like bottled excitement. It’s a herd of Bedingfields off to a wedding.

Uncle Beardy and his awesome hat. I don’t think I saw him without this hat the entire weekend. I’d always thought our Papa B was the only one who could truly carry a fedora…until now. 

I broke the “no iPhone usage” rule while up in D.C., and Tucker took full advantage of it.

And once you break one rule, what the heck, right? Here Tucker and I break the “no photography allowed in the church” rule.

And again we are rule breakers, living on the edge in the House of God. But this was important. Here Popster is trying to convince Tucker to let him pull a loose tooth.

During the bus ride to the reception, Tuck sat with Popster and let him do it (don’t worry; the tooth was about to fall out already). Tucker’s response? “Mama, are you sad you didn’t trust Popster enough to ever let him pull out one of your teeth?”

What does one who trusts her daddy with all her heart say to that? I told him I was proud of him for trusting his Popster as much as I do.

But what I was thinking was this: It’s not about trust, son; it’s about pain. And tooth yanking ain’t up my alley. 🙂  Check out that permanent tooth growing up through the middle of his mouth…told you the tooth was wiggly!

Highlight of the evening: Kate and David’s first dance. I already knew these two had some moves, but I doubt anyone was expecting the marvelousness that was their dance. Elvis was smiling down, that’s for sure. I’ll never hear “Burning Love” again without picturing them breaking it down on the dance floor.

The picture below is easily the best photo I took this weekend. I absolutely love that you can see Kate’s parents in the background, and Aunt Dana’s hands clasped across her heart is such a simple, beautiful expression of love for her daughter. My Uncle Sid is standing behind her, and David’s mom is the stunning one on the far right, also clasping her hands. It was beyond obvious that both sets of parents were thrilled with this marriage.

Tucker’s dance moves are a little less graceful than his older cousin’s.

Kate and David with our brilliant Aunt Debbie, the reason Uncle Beardy was wooed over to London.

Let’s see: 1, 2, 3…4! Yes, all 4 there; better grab the camera.

Our Uncle Sid is the best speaker. Here he gives an incredibly touching toast to Kate and David. Referencing Seinfeld, he called the evening our own Festivus (though I doubt any of us had any grievances to air at that point). And then he spoke of how very proud he was of all Kate’s many amazing accomplishments. He was glowing just as much as Kate. He had the crowd in his palm, just as he should. His toast was exemplary. The two other married-off girl cousins gave it mad props. 

Aw…it’s the love birds, standing in the snow.

Photo booth time. It’s a good thing Tucker hit the wall a few minutes after this or else Leigh Ann and I likely would have spent the next several hours in the photo booth, assuring that Aunt Dana and Uncle Sid were getting their money’s worth on that thing. Good times, to say the least. Man, why wasn’t there something this fun to use for a wedding guest book instead of what I used close to 10 years ago?

The photo below shows only about 1/4 of the venue. You know that looks like a good party. Trust me: it was.

Back at the hotel post-festivities, Tucker had a mild panic attack about the Tooth Fairy. We had the concierge send up a fancy glass in which to put his tooth (because that would help her/him with her/his navigational skills; T was rather concerned that the TF would hit up our house in Atlanta and not the Sofitel. Such little faith in the Tooth Fairy!). The woman who brought the glass thought we were 100% insane.

The Tooth Fairy, however, appreciated the extra effort.

So now my sisters are all married off. I don’t look at them as little old married ladies, and I never, ever will even if they start wearing yoga pants everywhere and fixing hamburger helper for supper. If they wind up hosting their child’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese one day, I will shake my head at them, but still know they are only following the wishes of a small miraculous person whom they created, not selling out to the stereotypes of being a wife. They are both way more confident, intelligent and secure to do that. Neither Kate nor Leigh Ann will ever be swallowed up by being wifely. They know they are in a partnership, one for life.

But if either of them ever needs me, I can jump on the Ride-Ride and get there…eventually. And then we’ll poke holes in each other’s sandwiches, look for tornado magnets, take random road trips just for the heck of it, yell “souvenir!” in New Haven, CT, and sleep on Beulah’s cot. And all will be right with the world once again. Because sisters like these don’t come around too often (particularly with them being southern cuzzin-sisters and all). Life is so, so good.

cousins on Kate’s wedding night
cousins on Kate’s rehearsal dinner night
cousins at Mama B’s house, December early 1990’s

Thanks, Uncle Sid and Aunt Dana, for including us all in such a spectacular event. I’d relive it again this weekend in a heartbeat. The love and pride and dedication you have for your children is displayed by your every action. Well, well done. Thank you for being such good teachers, role models and friends.

Thanks, to the Kieve crew, for hosting the jam-packed and super-fun Rehearsal Dinner. You all were troopers to allow children; thank you so much for that gift. The South Georgia bunch gives a big “Hi, Y’all” to you all, all the way out there in San Francisco. Come see us or we’ll send you some onions.

To David Kieve, for being Kate’s prince, the one who gets to take our Kitty home every night. You write fantastic thank you notes because you write from the heart; I know that this is how you will live your life with Kate, too–by giving her your all, your 100% from your heart, to make sure she is happy. What a gem she found when she found you. And bonus! Look what a fun family you married into! 🙂 (After the party, it’s the hotel lobby. Toot toot! Beep beep!) 

To Kate the Great, thanks for making me want to get married again. With Russ’s and my 10th year anniversary coming up in a little over 2 weeks, seeing you and David and witnessing the energy and passion you have for each other, the pure love and admiration you share…it’s good stuff. It’s the elixir of a happy marriage. So glad I was able to dance around it a bit and be reminded of what simple goodness it is to wake up next to your best friend every single morning. Always keep yourselves–your marriage–at the forefront, even when (or if) the children come along (name of 1st girl? Kairee, of course). The marriage is what binds it all together and truly makes the family. I am so, so proud of you on so many levels, Kitty. I’d give you more f-ing blood any day, sister, even if it was due to an injury sustained while running through the screen door of discretion. And, unlike Leigh Ann, I would not put you in the yucky spot on the cot.

Sir Edmund Spenser wrote a beautiful pastoral poem entitled “Epithalamium,” which describes the celebration and joy we–bride, groom, attendants, spectators–should feel at the conclusion of a wedding.

Now al is done: bring home the bride againe; 

Bring home the triumph of our victory: 

Bring home with you the glory of her gaine; 

With joyance bring her and with jollity. 

Never had man more joyfull day then this, 

Whom heaven would heape with blis, 

Make feast therefore now all this live-long day; 

This day for ever to me holy is. 

Poure out the wine without restraint or stay, 

Poure not by cups, but by the belly full, 

Poure out to all that wull, 

And sprinkle all the postes and wals with wine, 

That they may sweat, and drunken be withall. 

Crowne ye God Bacchus with a coronall, 

And Hymen also crowne with wreathes of vine; 

And let the Graces daunce unto the rest, 

For they can doo it best: 

The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing, 

To which the woods shall answer, and theyr eccho ring. 

Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne, 

And leave your wonted labors for this day: 

This day is holy; doe ye write it downe, 

That ye for ever it remember may. 

[Well, lookie there! You just read some Middle English!] The last stanza of this verse has always been one of my very favorites and was even used in my own wedding program. This weekend was holy, not just because of the nuptials, but because of the reuniting of families, and all the vivid, palpable amounts of platonic, philanthropic, familial, and passionate love witnessed by so many on so many levels.

This day was holy, and now I have written it down. I will remember it forever.

The oatmeal will be heading your way next January 12th, Kate. 

A million congratulations to you, BedingKieves!!! We love you both so very much!

At the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ 

So they are no longer two, but one. 

Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

Matt. 19, 4-6

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