Our future son-in-law came to our home one fall night nearly eleven years ago and asked for our only child's hand in marriage. We were touched and thrilled. He is a wonderful guy and we knew our daughter loved him, so we would too. The next week, he proposed, she accepted, and they began to think about their wedding. What he wasn't prepared for was his future mother-in-law, who had only one chance and a whole year to help plan their wedding and reception...and it was going to be a special one!
The ceremony was held in a beautiful historic downtown cathedral. A trumpeter, organist, and soloist provided the music. Seven bridesmaids and groomsmen attended the happy couple. It was truly a storybook wedding.
The reception was held at a local hotel, chosen because it was one of a few that could handle 300 guests. His and her families and friends came together for a night of celebration.
….But I'm getting a little ahead of myself....some background information....
One chilly night during their courtship, the couple stopped by after an evening out. I was humming Barry Manilow's “Copacabana,” as I rounded the corner to unlock the door. Our daughter began singing the words and I did too, door still locked. I finally opened the door as we were finishing our duet. My future son-in-law was not as amused and thought we were both crazy...and that was okay. Once we knew it annoyed him, we would periodically break into that particular song in the months leading up to the wedding.
Sometime during the planning phase, there was the “selecting the band for the reception” process. I learned from our daughter that her future husband had actually requested that the chosen band not play Copacabana at the wedding reception because his fiancé and future mother-in-law acted goofy when they heard it (not a direct quote). This would eventually come back to haunt him.
...Okay, now back to the wedding reception....
Music was playing and everyone was eating, drinking, and dancing. When the band took their first break, the bride, bridesmaids, and “our side” of the family came dancing out of the side wing of the ballroom. We were wearing Carmen Miranda type fruit hats and strutting to a recording of Barry Manilow wailing…..you guessed it....Copacabana. There were quite a few of us. As we passed the groom, he knew exactly what we were up to. We continued crisscrossing the dance floor through the refrain and choruses, then picked up people as we formed a conga line. It was very a long song! Unfortunately in hindsight, we failed to explain to the rest of the guests, including the groom's family, why we were behaving so outrageously. We were just welcoming our newest member to the family. Bless his little heart!
For the entire year before the wedding date, I had collected house keys. All the Home Depots, hardware stores around us, and friends who no longer needed them gave them to me. I handed them out early at the reception to only the male guests....old men, young boys, a couple of men with canes. I only told them to hang on to the keys and they'd know what to do with them later. When the band took their second break, our nephew stepped up on the bandstand, and invited the happy couple to come up to the dance floor. He then announced, “Now that my cousin is married, I think that anyone who has a key to her condo should come forward and give it up. Just drop it in the bucket here on the stage.” And they came, and they came, a lot of them …..stepping up to the stage one by one and dropping off their key. Clink, clink, clink, they went into the bucket. Our daughter pretended to be shocked, as she knew what I had planned. Everyone clapped and laughed.
As the clapping began to fade a bit, the Maid of Honor jumped up and said, “I think it's only fair that any girls that have keys to the groom's apartment should come forward and give up their keys too.” There was a very, very long pause. Just as the new groom turned to his parents and mouthed, “See, I was a good boy,” a hotel waitress we had hired for the occasion, wobbled out from behind the bandstand in her orthopedic shoes. Dressed as an old crone with gray hair and a shawl, she shuffled up to him with her cane and in a feebly, high pitched voice, screeched, “Here, take your old key!” And the ballroom went crazy!
I must add here before someone thinks the worst, our daughter had the only key to her condo, as did he to his apartment. That's what made it so much fun!
Our new son-in-law has a very large family. His parents decided they wanted a formal photo taken of their family at the reception with the bride and groom. I thought we should do the same, so after politely waiting for their photo shoot to end, our much smaller family gathered and sat for ours. One traditionally formal, and another...with a bit of a twist.
Just before the cake cutting, our new family member came up to me with a smile and asked if I was planning to do anything else to him. I returned the smile and whispered no, but only because I had run out of time!
It was a great party and a memorable one. Our newest relative has settled in, if somewhat reluctantly, to our rather crazy family. I'm fairly sure, though, I'm probably never going to get his nomination for Mother-In-Law of the Year. ...sigh.