We did it! We flew away to Sicily with 40 or so of our favorite people and we got married! It was absolutely breathtakingly amazing. I had a giant smile on my face for 10 straight days. It was epic. It was magic. It was everything. I apologize in advance for all the gushing – it can’t be helped. Here is a little play-by-play – some highlights of one of the very best weddings I have ever been to 😉
We arrived on a Wednesday after a sleepless (for me) night on the plane and then a (surprisingly) short layover in Rome and then another plane to Catania, Sicily. My parents had been traveling in Spain and met us at the airport. We picked up a rental car and loaded up the kids and the luggage and followed my dad’s car through the Sicilian countryside up crazy winding roads. Arriving around 7 or so, we were welcomed with happy tears and open arms by Concetta, the owner of Le Querce Di Cota. This was to be our home (and the wedding location) for the next 10 days. My father discovered this gem twelve years ago and has since returned with my mom numerous times. As the kids ran around, E and I walked around the property, our hearts filling with joy and amazement at our surroundings, bursting with happiness and humbled by the beauty everywhere we looked. The place is a stunning 19th century former olive oil mill with beautiful grounds, a great pool and lovely, charming rooms. It is surrounded by mountains and, on one side, the twinkling lights of Troina, the closest town. On the other side is an active volcano – Mount Etna. We could hear the sheep in the nearby pasture and swallows flew around the rooftops. We had wanted a country wedding and in that moment, walking hand in hand, it sunk in that we really were going to get one. And though it was rustic, it felt like a private resort. A quaint, simple, country resort. And for the next few days it was all ours.
That night we sat down to the first of many delicious, simple, multi-course meals cooked by our host, Concetta and her family. By this first night, we already felt completely at home – a testament to our hosts’ welcome and to the magic of the place itself. This was to be our first and last night on our own – as of Thursday afternoon, our friends and family started trickling in. By Friday, it was a steady stream. It was a little stressful getting people settled into the right rooms but once everyone managed to plop their luggage down and take a breath and look around, it was all worth it. Seeing everybody’s delight at discovering their surroundings made us so happy. The joy on people’s faces mirrored our joy at receiving them in this place. All of it was just so special. E and I realized every time we showed a new arrival their room and the pool and the view that we had most definitely, 100% made the right choice in choosing this far flung destination for our wedding.
We then had two and a half days of long breakfasts, lunches and dinners, of lounging and splashing poolside, of walks or hikes (not me but other people), of World Cup watching, of Campari drinking, talks and laughter and general merriment. People that don’t get to see each other that often caught up. New friendships were made. Friends of ours from different groups mingled and became closer, more than acquaintances to each other now. We had friends and family with us from Dusseldorf, Berlin, London, North Carolina, Paris, New York, Montreal (of course) and even Azerbaijan. It is difficult to put into words how much seeing those faces every day meant to us both. Everybody was happy for us and happy to be there in this particular place for this particular event. Imagine going on vacation with 44 of your favourite people and it going really well with no drama and no tension and very little weirdness. Heaven.
Sunday morning E and I turned to look at each other and with big, nervous smiles we acknowledged that today was THE day. While he went to make us coffee and get ready for his morning run, I cuddled with our children and wrote my vows. I had planned to take some solo, quiet time that day to really think about him and me and us. Instead, the thoughts flowed out while the kids watched cartoons on the iPad. I reread my vows once and made myself cry and I knew that I was ready. We had a lovely breakfast with everyone, like every other day. My dear friend Elias asked me if there was anything he could do to help and I asked him whether he’d help me with the flowers later that afternoon. He not only said yes, but he and his husband went off right after breakfast to research the flowers. I later saw him and Barry wandering the property with a basket and scissors. They presented me with the most perfect, professional looking boutonnières and lovely bouquets. It really is wonderful having such talented and wonderful friends.
After a lovely lunch and more swimming, it was time to start getting ready. My beautiful, generous, wonderful best girlfriends all played a part: Rosella had offered to do my hair, Reema would be doing my make-up, Jessica was to help me get dressed, and Christine and Erica were on kid duty helping get the kids dressed and keeping them entertained. I was filled with butterflies but so very happy and weirdly calm. (The Prosecco helped a ton.) Some of my favourite moments from that day were spent in Ro and CC’s room getting primped and prepped, with my favourite women surrounding me, showering me with love and strength and my beautiful children kissing me and laughing in the background. There was a weird calm-yet-nervous aura to the room that I’ve never felt before. When it was time, Rosella took Lou by the hand and Erica took Oscar. Jessica buttoned me into my dress. My beautiful, incredible mother came to get me. We tried not to cry. We failed. My dear friend Rebecca who was acting as usher/MC came to get us. My mom squeezed my hand and we walked down the old stone steps. Here are some getting ready pictures- some of my favourites from the day.
My favourite picture of me of all-time: taken by Rosella. She did my hair and there is Reema doing my make-up. (Notice Lou’s milk bottle by the make-up.)
Erica getting Lou ready. The flower girl, Loulou and the ring “bear”, Oscar .
For the ceremony, we picked a lovely laneway/garden. When E and I first saw it, it seemed like the most special spot to get married in. After opening up an old iron gate, you end up in a long aisle with stone benches on the sides, vines, rose bushes and huge rosemary plants. Jessica had suggested borrowing all the ladies sarongs to form a sort of huppah/shaded area for the spot where we would exchange our vows. She did such a beautiful job adding magic to the already magical spot. To the sounds of Jessica, again, playing a lovely klezmer song on the violin, my mom and I walked through the corridor of people towards my love. Seeing the beautiful, happy faces of my friends and family, of my children through the blur of tears in my eyes was just such a powerful moment. Seeing my husband-to-be visibly gasp with joy when he saw me walk towards him, is a memory I will cherish forever. I was in awe at how gorgeous he looked. Like a movie star. My mom gave us each a kiss on the forehead and we held hands and faced each other, finally.
My mom walking me down the aisle. I’m totally trying to hold back the tears. I am NOT succeeding.
The ravishing Louloubelle. The dashing Oscar. The handsome officiant, my dad.
My father is an extraordinarily special man and he means the world to me and to E. He, and my mom, welcomed E into their home and their hearts with generosity and love very early on in our relationship. It was E’s idea to ask him to officiate at our wedding and it truly meant so much to me that the idea came from him. I have only ever seen my father this emotional once before in my life. His officiating was perfect. It was sweet and sincere, it was funny and loving, it was so completely him and us. E kept looking up to hold back tears and I didn’t bother holding them back. We then each read our own vows. E’s were perfect and made me and everyone else cry. Mine were pretty good and a little funny. As people laughed and cried and clapped, we kissed as husband and wife. The ceremony was so crazy special, I have a hard time believing that it happened. And even though people laughed or cried at times, in my memory the ceremony had this very special hush surrounding it. Like we were all holding our breath in a really good way. I’m sure it wasn’t quiet but it felt truly like there was a bubble of love around us during that time. Isn’t that strange? We were so focused on each other, so in the moment. With all the busyness and noise in our lives, that hush and focus is so rare, so very special.
The ring! Our aisle. We are Wed!
After the ceremony it was picture time. Our first order of business was a group photo. Everybody, including Concetta’s entire family, posed for the picture.
More pictures then followed by bubbles and snacks by the pool.
My besties. My beaming parents. Oscar had run off to play so is in very few of the photos. Oh well!
A toast by the pool. The table is set.
The rest of the night was filled with tons of food, lovely toasts, lots of wine, and a mid-dinner swim by the groom. Some dancing, some more food, more bubbles, throwing the bouquet and putting sleepy, sleepy kids to bed. It really is definitely a different thing to get married after you’ve had children. Less partying, more cuddles. Not better, not worse, just different.
E’s best man, his brother (AND MY OFFICIAL BROTHER-IN-LAW! Yay!) Simon, during his lovely toast. Ride on Daddy’s “soldiers”. The swim. Lou and Mommy. Oscar chowing down on a lamb bone like an animal.
The wedding of our dreams was followed by the most perfect mini moon – if you are ever in Sicily, go to Siracusa! And absolutely drive to Scoglitti and eat at Il Sakalleo – best seafood I’ve ever had. Anywhere. Ever.
Ortigia, Siracusa + the raw appetizer and the octopus from Il Sakalleo. Delicious!
I married the love of my life and it was better than I could have hoped for – the trip, the wedding, the whole thing. Our families, our friends, our children there for every moment (except the honeymoon cause that would be weird). After eight years together it blows my mind that getting married would change anything between us but it totally has. We are gentler to each other, more considerate and more in love than ever. Seeing that ring on E’s finger every day, takes my breath away a little. Marriage suits him. I think marriage really suits us!
And now we are back to work and routine. It was kind of hard to sit down to write this – it has been written in bits and spurts over the last three weeks. Other than the fact that there hasn’t been much time what with summer fun to be had (and work to be done), I think I’ve just wanted to hold onto the memories a little longer. Putting it down in print feels like I am closing this chapter somehow. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I do know that I’d go back to Sicily tomorrow and that I’d remarry E in the exact same way again and again. We are already planning a wedding anniversary at some point in the next few years with, hopefully, the same group of wonderful people. I said five years. E said it should be our two year anniversary. Basically, we both want a do-over. Not so we’d change anything but so we could live it all over again.
photo credits: Matthew Perrin, Gabriel Couture, Rosella Tursi