Thida and Castor had their wedding on February 23, and I was privileged to attend.
The wedding and reception were held in Kohl Mansion, which is in Burlingame, on the grounds of the Montessori school, I think. The mansion and grounds are wonderful, in a century-ago kind of way.
We were about 5 minutes late, but this didn’t make much difference after all, since the actual ceremony was delayed by about an hour. (I believe this was because they moved the ceremony inside, when it was initially planned to be outside.) On arriving, we ran into Yuhri, who we had not seen in a long time. We spent the first 10 minutes writing notes to put in the “memories box” for Thida and Castor to look through some years from now. After this, we wandered a bit around the mansion and grounds. There was a huge sitting room with a fireplace, a huge courtyard with a fountain and some large fish inside.
The ceremony was planned out to have about 10 parts of about 5 minutes each, and there was even a program. What impressed me most about the ceremony as a whole was the total lack of obedience to any organized religion. The flavor was vaguely pagan or druidic, and there was no specific mention of any religious figures or traditions. Despite not having a dogma to lean on, it still managed to have a “sacred” feel about it. There were a man and a woman conducting the ceremony, referred to in the program as “celebrants”, who were dressed in robes; the man carried a staff, and with his gray beard, he looked like a wizard.
They started by sanctifying the space and creating a sacred circle – the wizard-looking celebrant inscribed a circle in the air with a sword and gave a blessing for the place and the ceremony to follow. I’m not sure if I’m getting the order right, but there were: a reading of Madeline L’Engle on marriage, blessing of the parents, declaration of love from both parties, lighting of candles, blessing of the rings, exchanging of vows, and some kind of closing. It was all very beautiful. I especially enjoyed the part where they declared their love for each other. Thida had written a several-page essay about “Why I love you,” which she read like a litany, and Castor had a few words that were a bit more ad-hoc.
(My guess is that there were probably about 150 to 170 guests. I’m not sure how close this is though.)
After this, the wedding party filed out the back, and the rest of the guests filed out the side into the courtyard. There was about an hour of waiting while the wedding party took pictures eight ways from Sunday, as with any wedding. We roamed the courtyard and sitting room. There were drinks and snacks circulating about, which was good.
(More about the mansion: the sitting room has a lot of books on the shelves, many were cheesy Readers Digest five-in-one books, but some were real, genuine, old books, encyclopedias, etc. One even referred to the Great War — what WWI was probably called before WWII happened. This mansion would be a great place for a murder mystery game/larp.)
After a while, the dining room was opened and dinner was served. What an impressive spread it was! There was an Italian buffet (pastas I think), a Continental buffet (herbed chicken, potatoes, breads, cheeses) and an Asian buffet (salmon of some type and string beans). Everything was excellent.
There was a toast (roast?) from the best man, a somewhat long rambling toast given by Thida’s father, and a few words from the groom.
Dessert and Dance
There was a cake-cutting, and obligatory photo opportunity. Michelle and I ducked out as the cake was being served and didn’t stay long enough to dance the night away, so the narrative ends here.
In all, it was a very lovely ceremony. I was happy to be there. My heartfelt congratulations go out to the happy couple!