My Lizzo got married this weekend. I can't even begin to describe the joy I have for Lizzie and her sister Katy. They both found the greatest, greatest guys. It was great being back on the cathedral close too. It's funny what you remember about friendships and how they form. When Lizzie invited me to her high school graduation from the National Cathedral School for the Girls, it was at that moment I realized how important I was to her. I felt so honored and loved that one of my youth groupies wanted me to be with her and her family during that milestone. Katy also invited me to her graduation and I attended a presentation that she and Hadley gave at NCS on their trip to Normandy, France interviewing WWII veterans. "My girls." We traveled together. Sang together. Hammered a house into shape. Camped in the dirt. Crossed the sands. Met every Sunday for our youth group sessions. And somewhere along the way we became friends. I'm so, so lucky to have these girls in my life and to be present this past weekend was just a joy I hope you can feel in this post.
If you have been reading a while you know I simply adore weddings and the Episcopal church. This was my first time attending a wedding at the Washington National Cathedral. This large, magnificent place of worship however is very familiar to me and I know for the Thompson girls. They went to school here. Worshiped often. Rang the bells in the Whitechapel Guild and slept on the floor I'm sure for multiple lock-ins. So as grand and majestic as the space is, it was home for them and a perfect choice for a wedding celebration.
For some reason, I always remember that the limestone at the main alter is from Indiana, and that Helen Keller and Woodrow Willson are buried here. He is the only U.S. president buried in the District of Columbia. The carvings throughout the building are fun, modern, and playful. The front doors have a depiction of creation with thin nudes that appear to be formed out of the swirling clouds that you can see beyond the wedding party in the first photo. There were few who felt these male and female images were way too sexy for a house of God. Darth Vader is one of the more popular gargoyles but there are also hippies and yuppies depicted on the downspouts. My favorite scene is of a cat and mouse playing chase around a column on the north side.
Lizzie's father, Dodge helped her plan the wedding. The flowers were beyond gorgeous throughout the cathedral. I can tell you that I believe in spirits and I know for a fact that those sphere's caught on camera were some pretty important people who showed up from beyond.
The ceremony took place in the Great Choir where guests faced each other.
I broke all the no-camera-rules to steal a shot of Dodge walking Lizzo down the long aisle while the organist played Rondeau by Jean-Joseph Mouret. Just click the link to listen to that piece. It commands attention! Even the tourist's stood for Lizzie as she approached. It was so incredibly AWESOME! Stuart did an incredible job officiating. It's never about Stuart. He preached the gospel, the good news, and the fact that marriage is hard, but God is there to love and forgive us. It was wonderful to hear and reaffirm our marriage vows.
Hornpipe, played the married couple out of the nave. I see you Lizzo!!!
After the service, guests were invited through the Bishop's Garden to the reception while a quarter peal on the Cathedral's Whitechapel bells rang in loving memory of Lizzie's mother Sylvia and other family members who are no longer with us. The entire day had been rainy and gray. At this moment, the clouds cleared, and the most gorgeous blue sky shone through. Watch here to learn about the scaffolding that is fixing the earthquake damages.
The entrance to the Bishop's Garden is through this arched doorway.
I'm always inspired by these gardens. Everything was so verdant and lush after the earlier rain.
When I was going through the discernment process, I met with then interim Bishop Jane Dixon, and remember being able to see this tree from her office.
The reception and dinner took place at St. Alban's. It's basically Hogwart's for boys and a bunch of our youth groupies went here as well.
The reception was tented on the Frist Terrace.
Guests passed the escort card table and more fabulous flowers.
Stuart married Lizzie and K.C. this weekend and us almost 6 years ago!
The terrace was beautifully decorated with peach, sage and white accents.
We could see the Refectory from the terrace.
Occasions catered the event and knocked it so far out of the park. These hors d'oeuvres were an herbed cheesy gougere kind of deliciousness.
And after the bridal party photos were done and the guests enjoyed a wonderfully relaxed cocktail hour the bride and groom arrived and I got to hug my sweet and beautiful friend. Ali and I had been catching up about her new gig working for Good Morning America in New York.
E., Alison and I all pounced on K.C. to see if he was truly as legit as Lizzo had preached!
He most definitely was and is!!! This is K.C. telling us when he and Lizzie first started dating. I was with her in LA five years ago when this guy K.C. kept calling her on her phone. He was just as animated as I imagined, tall and absolutely darling. Turns out their second date was at his family reunion on Gull Lake!!! That is 15 minutes from where I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Not that it is all about me, but I have reason to believe that Lizzo felt comforted by the smooth Michigan accent of her beau, that she grew to love from her youth group days. He is a good Midwestern boy who truly loves his family. His little brother Brian, plays as a quarterback at Michigan...be still my beating maize and blue heart!!!
Brian (*football swoon*), E and Stuart.
During the cocktail reception, all those saints proved their presence again by showing up in a rainbow. It was really nice seeing Sylvia's brother's and the Howe cousins again.
Now for the event details! This is a horrible photo but I have to share this fabulous idea. Lizzie and K.C. had guests sign this Jenga set as a truly unique guest book! Ah Moonraker! This is the best, most awesome, most adorably you-guys detail of the day. I love, love, loved it!!!
Stuart really was looking for his table right at the perfect "capture-the-event-moment."
The tables were coded with cities and animals graphics.
The dining room was simply gorgeous. I snuck in before it got dark, again breaking the rules, to capture the moment.
The florist was putting the final pin spots on the tables. Jack Lucky is a genius.
The menu card fit beautifully into the napkin fold.
I've been to a TON of weddings. Seriously. For work and for play and this was the most fun, most delicious menu I have ever had at any wedding! Including my own. Click on the picture to read it more closely.
The blue linen and mahogany Chivari chair with chocolate bengaline cushion were such a gorgeous combination in this masculine boys school dining hall. The bridal bouquet was stunning.
Two turn tables and a microphone.
The wedding cake was so adorable with marzipan charms.
Lizzie's father gave a very touching toast and was proud to raise his glass to Mr. and Dr. Cleary. She just defended her dissertation a few weeks ago.
The first course was a perfectly dressed Caesar salad with full anchovies and parmesan crisp. How pretty is the china?
The herb popovers were hella yummy, as was the Willamette Valley Pinot.
The entree was the best surprise of the night, culinarily. It was a veal and pork Bolognese lasagna with the most delicate egg and spinach pasta noodles. It tasted like an Italian chef was in the chem lab at St. Alban's whipping them up a la minute. Our entire table devoured the plate, leaving nothing for the kitchen to clean. Even the green beans were crispy and tossed in a butter and tarragon dressing.
It was wonderful catching up with all of my girls! Hadley's getting married in September! So excited for you Hads.
First dance glances.
The Sundae Bar had a chocolate sauce that turned into "dip cone" crack. Oh my god!
The passed sweets and late night treats were so delicious and great nourishment for this dancing, dancing crowd. I mean, fried chocolate and banana ravioli was a requirement before droppin' it like it's hot.
I was partial to the carrot cake lollicakes.
Lizzo bustled my dress on 7-7-07. As we were at the ice cream station, somehow, some of the chocolate oh-my-god-crack-sauce got on the bottom of her dress. Eek! As she nibbled on her ice cream I took care of the wee spill and more dancing ensued.
The Sweetheart Brownies were so soft and had a dark chocolate icing. The event staff were truly so professional and fantastic.
They continued to pass chocolate chip cookies and then late night snacks of passed mini bacon and egg sandwiches, french toast on skewers, mini burgers and mini chocolate and vanilla milkshakes.
The sign of a good party is when all of the people at your table are on the dance floor! I kept hearing people say how much fun they were having. Seeing these two families come together was wonderful. We took the first bus back to the hotel, but part of me wanted to stay out until 2:30 dancing at the after party.
Lizzo, I hope you all love the photos! We wish you both the happiness that you felt this weekend will carry you for the rest of your marriage. Remember to communicate. Talk it out. Work at your marriage as Stuart said. It isn't easy but it is so rewarding. E. and I have something we call "talking time". When driving home together after work, we will turn off the car, watch the sunset and talk about our day. We give each other our full attention. When we get into the house, there are so many distractions. Talking time is a way to hear each other fully. With tons of love, Nelle and Eric