|This is another Wiccan wedding. Other than the lack of a red robe on the officiant, it looks rather like the one in which I participated.|
I don't blog about her much because she's actually one of the more normal members of my dad's family, but I have an aunt who is a Wiccan. What does that say about my dad's side of the family whenone of its more normal members is a practicing Wiccan? Christelle, my father's youngest sister, converted to the practice of Wicca at some point after her first year of college. She didn't want to finish her education at BYU, so she transferred after her freshman year to a university in Massachusetts, where her parents had lived before she was born, but where she had never lived. She lived with an aunt and uncle there to keep costs low, and my parents paid her tuition, books, and other related costs.
During one of her years there, my aunt accidentally wandered into a meeting of the university's Wiccan Society. She liked what she saw, and gradually became increasingly involved. She met and fell in love with a man associated with the university's Wiccan Society. Soon after receiving her bachelor's degree, she married the man in a Wiccan wedding.
Despite having a Wiccan aunt, I'm not neccesarily an expert on all things Wiccan. I do know that it's related to pre-Christian Paganism practiced by Celtic populations, that it focuses heavily on nature, and that it is not associated with Satanism in any way. My parents had in their heads the idea that Wicca was just non-mainstream enough that I might embrace the religion solely for its shock value, so for a long time they didn't expose me much either to my Aunt Christelle or to Wicca. Still, they didn't feel right sending their regrets when we were invited to the wedding of Christelle and her husband-to-be, Mendel. I was even asked to be the flower girl at the wedding.
My dad's and Christelle's parents didn't attend the wedding. (I learned later that my grandmother had wanted to attend but that my grandfather had thrown a bit of a hissy fit, as it wouldn't have been fitting for the wife of a high-ranking official in the LDS church to be in attendance at a Wiccan ceremony of any kind, even if it was the wedding of her youngest daughter.) My dad and my Uncle Michael were the only two of Cristelle's siblings to attend. My Uncle Steve would have attended, but his wife was great with child and actually gave birth on the day of the wedding. My dad videotaped Uncle Steve's best wishes to the couple, which were projected onto a screen for all to see during the wedding. The generator powering it did little to add ambience to the ceremony, but Cristelle and Mendel thought it was important to have Uncle Steve's presence in the wedding any way they could have him there.
The wedding itself took place in a rural wooded setting somewhere in central Massachusetts. I do remember we had a great deal of trouble finding the place and very nearly missed the wedding. While my dad's parents and siblings were noticeably absent, by dad's aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of his family were present in full force. They may have been devoutly practicing Catholics, but they weren't about to miss out on this latest freak show from my grandparents' branch of the family tree. Furthermore, the wedding offered an opportunity for free alcohol, which most of my dad's non-Mormon relations were loathe to decline.
The attire of most of the wedding party was slighly beyond the norm. The bride, groom, and attendants wore white robes that were corded at the waist. The bride wore a wreath of dandelions around her head as well. I thought they looked like my angel costume from the last Christmas pageant I had been in. My dad thought they looked like LDS temple gowns, minus the headgear and fig leaf aprons. The officiant, a friend of the couple's who had obtained his ministerial license online three days before the wedding so that the marriage would be considered legal, wore a red satin robe.
I mentioned earlier that I was the flower girl. Aunt Christelle called my mom to get my measurements, which my mom painstakingly took and emailed to her. My mom asked what I would be wearing. Aunt Christelle told her it was just a typical flower girl ensemble sort of thing. I don't know what weddings Cristelle had attended prior to her own that had colored her perceptions concerning what was typical attire for a flower girl, but when we showed up for the wedding (there was no rehearsal, which would have impeded the spontaneity of the event,) my aunt handed me a very shiny pink leotard, shiny slippers to match, pink fairy wings, and a glittery and hollow battery-operated wand (actually more like a sabre)stuffed with flower petals that would blow out with an air blast whenever I pressed a button. It was the coolest flower girl getup I could ever have imagined. If my parents wouldn't be upset, I'd post a picture of myself in it. I wore the outfit for my next Halloween costume as well.
Future Uncle Mendel told me not to merely walk through the aisle with people seated on either side, but to "float on air," dropping pedals as I floated by. He also told me not just to float down the center aisle, but to float between each horizontal row as well, dropping flower petals on everyone (I mostly power-blasted the petals right into the astonished guests' faces), and taking my sweet time. My dad said I took my sweet time, all right; if I'd taken much longer, he said, he would've had to sneak out behind a tree somewhere and take a leak before the ceremony was over. (Everyone freely imbibed before, during, and after the ceremony.) I remember my mom holding her hand over her face as I did my floating act diredctly in front of her. I don't know if she was hiding her embarrassment or she was merely concerned that I might give her an extra-potent blast with the magic wand and mess up her carefully applied makeup.
For what it's worth, Uncle Mendel said I floated better than any flower girl he'd ever seen before or has ever seen since. It must've been my gymnastics training. Uncle Mendel is, along with Uncle Ralph on my mom's side of the family, one of my two biggest fans. He said of me repeatedly throughout the day of wedding, "I don't know where you found this child, but she's positively delightful." I have other relatives who like and even love me, but I don't believe anyone before or since has ever referred to me as delightful. Relatives and people in general for the most part considered the young Alexis a sort of miniature Ramona Quimby on crack, which makes sense only to anyone who's ever read Beverly Cleary's books.
The officiant faced one direction and spoke about air. Then he turned and spoke about water. Then he turned again and spoke of fire. Then he turned again and spoke of the Earth. Then Aunt Christelle turned all four directions and spoke of all four elements. Then future Uncle Mendel did the same. Then Aunt Christelle told who she was - who she really was. The future Uncle Mendel told who he was -- who he really was. Then someone tied Future Uncle Mendel's right hand to Aunt Christelle's left hand, after which they told who they were -- who they really were -- as a couple. Then, tied together, they turned all four directions and addressed all four elements.
Then came the part my father had dreaded, and the reason he drank so much before the wedding. He stood up as directed, walked to the front of the gathering, faced the audience, and announced in the most deadpan voice imaginable, "The Clan of Rousseau supports this union." His face was approximately equal in redness to the officiant's red satin robe.(You know how some families have secret code words or phrases for use in the event that anyone who doesn't ordinarily pick up their children is asked to do so? Shortly after the wedding, we changed our secret passphrase to "The Clan of Rousseau supports this union" because we knew it was the one sentence none of us would ever forget.)
The marriage was pronounced and obligatory doves were released, followed by the recessional. An oboist played "Flight of the Bumblebee" as the wedding party proceeded down the center aisle, followed by me, leaping down the aisle in a series of jetes and temps levé sauté. Again, thank God for gymnastics training, as the only dance instruction I had ever received was at the gym; I hate to even think of how disappointed Uncle Mendel might have been if I had just stared blankly at him when he told me to perform jetes and temps levé sauté in the recessional. It probably would have ruined the wedding for him.
Not only have I been to a Wiccan wedding; I've been in one. If anyone ever needs advice on how Wiccan weddings are done, just contact me here. I'll be happy to share my expertise.
My leotard was brighter and more sparkly, my wings were more gossamer, and I didn't have a tutu, but you can get the general idea. For the record, I rocked the look far more than this kid did.