May 23, 2011
I got dressed up and went out not once but twice this weekend, first on Saturday night to go to a charity benefit and then again on Sunday for a wedding. Given that my social life on weekends is often limited to going out to dinner with Mr. Karen before doing our grocery shopping, this was quite a whirlwind for me.
The Saturday night event was for an organization that’s one of the charities Purple Systems supports through our corporate giving program, so a good number of my coworkers were there, too. It was held in a greenhouse, which was a nice change from the typical hotel ballroom or country club. It was a very fancy greenhouse, granted, with brick pavers underfoot and round banquet tables set up in a big open area surrounded by plants and organically shaped art glass (a la Dale Chihuly but I don’t know if these pieces were his or not). I bid on a lot of items in the silent auction and ended up winning more of them than I expected to—I got some hand made jewelry and exotic foodstuffs and wine and nail polish (not that I need more nail polish, I know). There’s even a gift certificate in one of the baskets for electrolysis, which I’d never considered getting but now I guess I’ll do some research. I figured it was for a good cause, and anything I don’t want to use/eat/wear I can share along to people at work.
The wedding was Sunday morning, and since the bride is the woman who cleans both my sister-in-law Faye’s house and mine, Faye and I went together (her husband drove himself so he could leave after the ceremony while Faye and I went to the reception; Mr. Karen was otherwise engaged and missed the fun entirely). I’ve been to a lot of weddings over the years, but never to one held in a Romanian Pentecostal church; it turned out to be quite an experience. First, the sheer length of it was incredible: two and a half hours from the time we sat down until the ceremony wrapped up. It was all in Romanian; thank goodness for the English translation delivered over wireless devices handed to us by a kindly grandmother who must have spotted our looks of incomprehension and went to get them for us. The women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other. Almost all the women wore scarves on their heads (we learned at the reception that two of the other uncovered women were guests from the Romanian Baptist church) and conservative clothing (I think Faye was the only female in the place wearing pants, and I was for sure the one with the deepest neckline even though it was something I could wear to the office if I dressed up for work). Oddly to my eye given the rest of their outfits, many of the women wore shoes I considered quite sexy, the leopard print high-heeled sandals across the aisle from me being a prime example.
There was a lot of music in the service, provided variously by a brass choir, what appeared to be the regular church choir, a men’s choir, an ad hoc children’s choir composed of the couple’s nieces and nephews, a vocal duo accompanied by piano, a male vocal soloist, and not one but two accordion players, some of whom performed multiple times. There were guitars in there at some point, too, and the congregation sang a hymn or two as well. No organ, though. In between the musical numbers, there were prayers and readings and much sermonizing from several preachers. One of the men spoke at length how a virtuous wife should submit to her husband as a ship submits to the direction of its captain, and another proclaimed the virtue of dressing modestly and avoiding the display of cleavage (or maybe the translator could see me from wherever he was and was ad libbing that part based on my dress). Mention was made about how the congregation had all prayed for a husband for the bride. There was also an offering in there somewhere, during which I took a restroom break—since there was no printed program (not that I could have read it anyway) I had no idea how much longer I might have to sit and squirm before I could unload the diet Coke I’d had with breakfast, and I’d seen other people get up and leave and then return, even ones who didn’t have fussy children, so I figured it was probably no greater an offense than my neckline, especially since I did put some cash in the offering basket before I left my seat.
Everyone at the ceremony was invited to the reception, so Faye and I made our way there, too. The bride’s parents greeted us and directed us to a table quite near the head table, where we sat just the two of us for a while before the bride’s uncle and his family joined us. The wedding party arrived and soon platters of food started arriving and we ate and ate but still had room for the dessert sampler at the end. Around that time, the uncle shared with us that his sister-in-law, the bride’s mother, had told him to sit at our table and be nice to us, which I thought was sweet. Everyone we talked to was very nice, and I didn’t notice anyone casting scandalized looks in my direction—curious, maybe, but not obviously disapproving. It was interesting to get a peek into this different world that exists alongside the one I live in.