Marriage represents the decision to share one’s life with another person. Magical moments are difficult to conjure, especially when they need to be timed perfectly, shared with friends and family, and negotiated with spaces and people who can enable them to occur. As T.S. Eliot wrote in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And for a hundred visions and revisions
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
How can you make things happen while still remaining true to each other and be authentic to those you invite; how do you find the time and space to connect with your guests in a meaningful and poignant manner in the midst of chaos? So many questions with only one answer: open your heart to love and allow it to occur.
Weddings are often filled with tantrums, failed expectations, outrageous demands to make the narrative perfect, and a series of random events which hold no meaning. Monika and I wanted to create a different event, one in which we brought our friends and families together for the first time in one space. The space we chose to begin was The Pretty River Country Inn. It is a beautiful boutique-style inn about two hours north of Toronto, where the owners, Paul and Linda, offer an escape from the stresses normally associated with travel. We found the Inn through an internet search which might have read: “Collingwood Inn Magic Horses Campfires Hot Tub Snowshoe Natural Beauty Weddings”. When Monika first found the Inn online she excitedly ran through the house murmuring about the possibilities of a miniature Norwegian pony and reindeer. How could anyone say no to that opportunity?
Our wedding was backwardly designed. First, I found a honeymoon destination: Paris. Then we found a restaurant, a venue, a date, and built a guest list based on twelve guests who we truly loved. If Jesus could have twelve in attendance for his last supper, then we could certainly consider the same number for our first one together as husband and wife. All went well. We met the Inn owners, the restaurant owners, and proceeded on schedule. The universe, however, often asks much of those who want a significant life. We then fell into a series of challenges that would push us to the wall time and time again. We lost our favourite dog and companion, Liivi. Our kitchen pipes burst due to the cold. Monika had a health concern. Our careers demanded a great many sacrifices, such as travel and the writing of reports. We wondered what else could go wrong, and each time something else did.
During the two months of topsy-turvy, we struggled to keep all of the pieces together. Email communications between us and the Inn became a little confused on our part at one point, but I have to admit that a simple phone call with Linda reaffirmed that we were both working towards the same goal: a magical wedding on a small scale. Speaking with Linda, I learned that she was a truly special person. She valued the environment and natural beauty of the area. They keep horses, bees, reindeer and garden organically. Their property is special, as are both her and Paul. The lesson I took away from my phone conversation, and one that I followed for the entire wedding weekend: trust people to give you their best versus attempting to control the details of an impossible narrative. We trusted Paul and Linda to deliver magic, and magic was exactly what they delivered to us and our families.
The night before the wedding was spent with our friends and family in a cozy, inviting guest area in one part of the Inn. We brought our own cheese, charcuterie and wines to share, as guests met and talked away for hours. We had planned a traditional Maritime night of card games, but conversation was so vibrant that we talking into the wee hours of the night after trudging out through a lamplit path towards a campfire nestled in a field behind the Inn. We connected and shared our lives in the present and the past. Guests wandered to their rooms with warmth in their hearts.
The day of the wedding was unforgettable. The main area of the Inn Home was set up with folding chairs facing the hearth, as we faced out towards the snow-covered hills of the Nottawa area. Perhaps our officiant was an hour late, but it was due to him needing to respond to a roadside accident on his way to the ceremony. No one was upset or angry; we accepted the narrative and simply adapted by taking family photographs before the wedding. Paul and Linda understood and appreciated that positive karma that might come from working with an officiant who cared enough about the safety of strangers to risk the disappointment of those safe in a warm room. The wedding went off without any other challenges, and it was a perfect moment to remember. In a world where people miss the few seconds we have to cherish each other, speak kind words and share positive energy, our wedding at Pretty River Country Inn was indeed magical.