Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Summer Wedding (Part 5) Il giorno degli sposi

Saturday (Il giorno degli sposi)

Today was the wedding day and it was perfect.

Last night about midnight a ferocious cool wind began blowing hard. My frosted glass bedroom door slammed shut and at the same moment the two French doors to the outside did the same. They slammed so hard I was afraid the glass had cracked. Luckily I was still awake, writing in my dairy.

The clamor was loud! Neighborhood shutters, which had not been secured, repeatedly opened and closed. The wind was coming straight through the house, from the living room windows, which were open due to the heat. The inside room doors have glass panes and they were all vibrating.

Outside there was a constant unrelenting sound of the rattling of metal objects and window panes. The noise resembled what we hear during a California earthquake. I thought I missed that excitement this week.

It was too stuffy to have the windows closed so I reopened my doors and moved a chair in front to secure them. The chair was too light weight to do any good. Instead I pushed one heavy suitcase in front of the bedroom door and I wedged the other suitcase in between the balcony French doors. It was the first time heavy suitcases have been a help to me!

Rosa appeared in her pajamas outside on our shared balcony. She needed to secure cupboard doors which were flapping and some garden tools which had fallen out and were clanging against the balcony rail. I went out to help.

After the storm had passed, the cool breeze was a wonderful relief. I slept very well, from 1 to 6.30 am. We saw on the news today that last night's storm did a lot of damage in Milano – many trees down with some flooding.

At 6:30 in the morning I hurried over to Primo and Marina's flat to take the first shower, using one of the two bathrooms. The water here in Nonna’s flat is still running only cool.

Marina worries that wet hair brings on sickness, so I dried my hair thoroughly. I was scheduled for the 7.30 makeup appointment. Mario’s sister arrived right on time. She setup her tools at the kitchen table.

For me she used only Borghese Princess Marcella Violet Treo eye shadow, which is my standard. I had no worries about allergic reactions.

I didn't see any facial make-up applied on anyone today. It is so drippy muggy here and besides the girls are beautiful without it.

It was so hot that even a robe was too much, so we girls all stayed in our underwear and pajamas in the kitchen.

Marina and Rosa walked to their 8.00 hair appointments in shorts and tank tops. They came back with their hair up and very lovely. Rosa was named for a saint and our Rosa believes in keeping things simple. Her hair was pulled back in a smooth up-do with an ivory flower over her left ear.

Anna, the housekeeper was the first guest to arrive. I was happy but surprised to see her. Marina asked her to help Nonno dress for the wedding and afterwards she will stay by his side for the ceremony and reception. I watch as Anna assists Nonno. Anna and Nonno are very comfortable together. Anna is trustworthy and I like how she is gentle but not condescending with our elderly grandfather.

Anna had said she would not come to the wedding and Rosa was disappointed. Anna is much more than a domestic, she is a part of the family and we all love her. When Nonna (Primo’s mother) still lived here and did not require 24 hour assistance, Anna was always available to do whatever needed to be done. Marina was then able to leave the house, go to mass or run errands.

Anna and Marina have always worked as a team cleaning. The house is sparkling clean today after their two weeks of daily cleaning.

The family started arriving around 10. Marta and I ran to get dressed after I peeked out of the kitchen to take pictures and came face to face with the teen-aged nephews. Opps! We forgot we were still in our nighties.

Rosa stayed in the kitchen, the last to get her make-up done. The kitchen door was closed to the family men.

One by one the family arrives. Emanuele is a handsome young man now. He was I think 6 when I first met him. He and his cousin, who studies voice in the conservatory, said hello and then left to familiarize themselves with the church acoustics. His parents must be here, but I haven't seen them yet.

Julio, Primo’s good friend, and his wife Mari arrive. Mari brought the bridal bouquet. Lovely and sweet, it is made up of perhaps fifty tiny colorful flowers, packed tightly into a posy and wrapped with white tulle. Mari and I found a spot for it in an antique vase to keep it upright. They departed for the church.

Everyone seems to know their part for today. They do it then step aside.

Meanwhile, I was constantly snapping pictures. I was starting to worry about the picture taking being disruptive, so I showed Primo a few of my shots to get his approval and support. “Brava Francesca!! Keep taking them."

Primo is handsomely outfitted in a charcoal grey silk suit, with a light grey tie and white shirt. He has a parking permit ready for Angelo's car.

Nori and Angelo, parents of Emanuele, are still here, in the house. Nori has a school for fashion design in Nonno’s village in the north. Angelo tends to his many acres of vineyards. In between they run the restaurant with its Bed and Breakfast. Nori made the gorgeous champagne colored silk jacket and skirt she is wearing. She is stunning.

In Nonna's living room, I see Nori has laid out Rosa’s cream colored wedding dress, which consists of two pieces. Nori exams the skirt portion and turns it right side out. It's obvious her hands know fabric and I watch as gently handles the fabric.

Nori and Marina begin to help Rosa dress. I keep snapping photos, leaving out modesty shots. They don't seem to notice me now.

Yesterday Mario’s sister told me no one should see the bride's face before the wedding. When Marina put a white cloth bag over Rosa's head, I thought perhaps her face was to be hidden from everyone. But, it was only for a few seconds, just to protect her hair as the skirt was lifted over her head. Then they slipped on the dress top and fastened it. There will be no veil.

This morning, Primo commented in English to me “the pressure is rising” --- oh so true!

Suddenly it's time to leave. Mario’s sister gets a hug from Rosa I noticed Rosa slipped her a small wrapped gift. We've re-entered Primo and Marina's apartment and the outside door is standing open. Anna and Nonno leave. I didn't see but they must have taken the elevator because it's two flights down. I raced back to my room to get the electric battery charger and its Italian plug converter. My camera feels warm and I'm afraid it won't last the rest of the day. (Thank goodness, because it did go dead right in the middle of the reception.)

I got back just in time, as now everyone is out the door. I snap a quick picture aiming down the stairs. I was wrong! No one has taken the elevator. Nonno is leading the way, then Anna, Marina, Rosa and Marta, with Henrique trailing. I am the last one out, so I shut the apartment door. I am carrying my tiny purse, camera and a power cord.

Angelo will be driving Rosa in his Mercedes. Nonno, his father, is already in the front passenger seat when I catch up. The car is parked just outside the large electric gates of the apartment compound. The gates are open and Rosa is assisted into the car by Marina. I see Primo seated in the backseat.

Marina and Marta quickly start walking toward the little church, which is two blocks away. I am following them, trying desperately to get one good picture. We cross one street of traffic. Anna is trailing me. Marina is quick and I see we've lost Anna and Henrique. I think Anna was more cautious with the traffic situation.

We three arrived at the church within 6 or 7 minutes. Henrique in high heels, scarf and camera sling, elegantly arrived, pedaling the green bicycle. Her tiny purse was in the bike's straw basket. I took an adorable picture.

I did not see Angelo's car with the bride. I think they were keeping out of sight for the moment.

I need to ask more about the history of this tiny church. I believe it's the oldest church in the village. It's only opened for special occasions.

Marina firmly told me Henriche will be taking the pictures now. It's time for me to turn off the camera and make my way to the front of the church. As two of the four testimoni (witnesses), Marta and I took our places to the left of the altar. Mattia and his two testimoni were already in place.

In Italy, the bride's family and friends sit behind the groom. The groom's guests are behind the bride. This shows their support for the new couple.

The priest and his 4 or 5 assistants were also preparing. It is very warm in this church. Marta and I adjust our shawls but we need to keep our shoulders covered. I am given a booklet, which contains the words of today's ceremony. Mattia has printed copies for each guest.

This booklet is a treasure. It's filled with the couple's own unique thoughts and the back page shows Batman and his true love embracing, just as I saw in the draft copy. But on the back cover there is something new -- a precious drawing of the couple. A small child has created this charming picture with crayons. (Later, I discovered only our six copies had this drawing).

Everything about this ceremony is a reflection on the values of Mattia and Rosa. It is all from their hearts.

Suddenly Rosa is coming down the aisle. I can't see her, but I watched Mattia's face.

She arrived in front of us, looked angelic, matching the music.

Primo was on Rosa's right side. Then Rosa left her father and stepped up to the bride's position. Mattia grabbed her hand and squeezed it.

The little flower girl, wearing a wreath of flowers on her head carried a package containing the rings. She was reluctant to give them up. The priest held his hand out. I could see him talking gently to her. “OK come on...give me the package, please.”

The priest, my favorite for many years, has a fabulous singing voice. One year there was a special ceremony outside on a little street and he sang a capella. He will be singing parts of the ceremony today.

He began reading from Mattia's pre-written text. I am following along.

I realize I've lost my place, but no, the priest has decided to add a few of his own thoughts. He speaks without notes, to give them a personal message today. Many people are using their booklets as fans. It's so very humid. I can see beads of water on the priest's face. Several times he needs to wipe his brow with his white handkerchief as the water drips off.

Rosa and Mattia seem cool -- no sweating at all.

The ceremony continues with the exchange of vows and rings. The priest suggests a kiss! My wish for a kiss has been fulfilled! All the guests began to applaud. During this same time Emanuele and his cousin began their song. It was fantastic! I couldn't see them but Marta whispered they were in an alcove behind the altar. What beautiful piano music and the voice of an opera star.

Mass was also celebrated. At the point, where we normally greet our neighbors with a hand shake and greeting of pace (peace), everyone was moving all about the church for hugs and handshakes. Rosa and Mattia, now husband and wife, left the altar for a few minutes and touched everyone.

We all returned back to our places and the ceremony continued.

After a few minutes, we testimoni were asked to approach a small oak table located behind the bench where Marta and I had been seated.

I saw a sort of log book, perhaps for the Parish, and an official looking government form. The priest wiped off the document where his sweat had dripped.

The priest asked for our names. He was confused by mine. Marta leaned over and filled in my name. He then asked for my age and my city of residence. He let me write this myself.

After he had collected all our information, we returned to our places and from the altar, he read out loud the government form, stating our names, etc. When he got to my name he stopped...he couldn't pronounce it. I felt my mind trying trying to help him, but he was really stuck. My given name is Charlene and ‘char” is not a part of the Italian language. Rosa finally said it out loud. The priest was so cute, he looked at me then and shrugged his shoulders a bit, indicating 'sorry about that.’

I noticed most of the people in the church had departed during his reading of the document. I could see them waiting outside, beyond the steps.

The ceremony was complete! The priest gave Rosa a kiss and also Mattia. Then he went to Marina and gave her a kiss and a hug. He even gave me a big kiss on the cheek, plus a strong hug.

The priest returned to the little oak table and we all signed our full names in perhaps four places. Marta whispered to me ...take pictures Zia! And I did. all the way out the door, some interior shots, and the rice throwing on the front steps.

The colorful rice is called confetti. The wedding guests were very energetic in throwing the rice! I noticed a woman holding a large paper bag of confetti and everyone loaded up their hands and then went back for refills. Mattia seemed to be the main target and the children were having great fun tossing big handfuls at him. Mattia was laughing and good natured.

Suddenly, Mattia and Rosa were swept away to Angelo's waiting car. A very happy Nonno was sitting in the front passenger seat.

Inside the church during the ceremony Henriche had been taking still shots with her large Nikon while Stefano, her boyfriend, took video. I also noticed a man behind Mattia's testomoni. His video camera was on a tripod, running the whole time.

Henriche unlocked her bicycle and rode off. I returned back into the church to take a few more photos. Everyone was gone when I came out a minute later.

I quickly walked to the reception.

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