Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh, Happy Day!

Daisy, Emma and I make our grand entrance.

Daisy and I got married on October 2 at Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virgina, amid the rugged splendor of the Allegheny Mountains. After a year of planning and worry, the wedding weekend went off without a hitch.

My parents used to take my sister Carol and me to the park almost every autumn to see the leaves. Their families lived not too far away, so Blackwater Falls became an almost-annual pilgrimage for us from wherever we were living at the time (Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania -- we moved a lot).

I have fond memories of walking the wooden stairs down to the falls, holding my hands over my ears because of the deafening roar of the cascade (or so it seemed to me at the time).

When Daisy and I were talking about places to hold the ceremony, I thought of Blackwater Falls -- especially since we were planning a fall wedding. My father was not in the best of health at the time and likely couldn't have made the trip to Prague, or anywhere else too far away. He was thrilled when I told him where we'd decided to get married.

Sadly, he passed away in February. His spirit was with us on our wedding day, though.

Despite torrential rains just a few days before, our wedding day was bright and sunny. Around 75 family and friends from Prague, Syracuse, Denver, Seattle, Gainesville, Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, and various other points across New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland all converged for the big day.

We were so grateful for their presence.

On an obviously slow news day, "The New York Times" even saw fit to write a fun little story about us, which you can read here.

Before I get to the photos of the ceremony, I wanted to publish a wonderful poem that was written for us as a wedding gift by Carolyn Reamer, the mother of Keith Reamer, who is Daisy's uncle and the husband of our celebrant, Murphy Birdsall. Carolyn and her husband, Leon, are lovely folks.

Daisy and I were so tickled to receive this hand-written poem, which is so charming for so many reasons:


Do you know the why and wherefore --
You're the one I seem to care for --
A lovely phrase from a song of my youth.

Whither you goest, I will go:
A simple statement, don't you know,
From a biblical lass named Ruth.

Oh, I've taken the plunge:
Well: More like a lunge
To partake of the nuptial confection.
After substantial reflection
And wee bits of correction.
Aren't we pleased with our selection?

Some ladies will cry;
As they swabbed each eye,
I asked them why.
Romantic bliss
Can collect in a ditch, they said.

I fled.

To be always ecstatic
Won't be automatic
Dear ones, there is nothing to fear.
I'll bet in the attic
There's a dusty schematic
On how to put love back in gear.

When the multitudes
with platitudes
And amplitudes
Defuse --
That labyrinth of soulful views:
Which to keep, which not to use.
Give everyone credit
Then edit.

You both sparkle and glisten.
We are on exhibition
We lean in to listen.
Are they married yet?
Trilled in soprano pitch.
"Five seconds ago, ma'am. a bonafide hitch!"
That should suffice --
Throw the rice.

Thanks again to everyone who made our day so special.

Daisy and I applying for our marriage license on a rainy day at the Tucker County Courthouse in Parsons, West Virginia. Everyone was so nice.

The lodge at Blackwater Falls, built in the late 1950s.

The canyon at Blackwater Falls State Park. The fall colors were not as brilliant this year, they said, because of a severe drought during the summer. Still plenty beautiful, though.

The spectacular 62-foot-high (19 meters) Blackwater Falls. Due to all the rain, there was more water spilling over than I had ever seen before.

The water in the Blackwater River is the color of dark tea, due to the tannins in the water from the hemlock and red spruce.

On the morning of the wedding, we organized a nature hike led by the park naturalist, Paulita Cousin.

The nature hike took in the smaller -- but no less beautiful -- Elakala Falls, not far from the lodge itself.

A gifted local musician, Roy Levine, who also happens to be my brother-in-law, played piano during the ceremony.

The wedding party, with the Blackwater gorge behind us.

Daisy's aunt, Murphy Birdsall, a celebrant with the Universal Brotherhood Movement, wrote and performed the ceremony. So many guests came up to us afterward to say how beautifully written and personal they thought the ceremony was. Thanks, Murphy!

Daisy's father, Paul Sindelar, and his wife, Alyson Adams.

Daisy, looking ravishing.

Modeling The Most Expensive Tie In The World.

Daisy's mother, Robin (left), and my mom, Mitz, helped out with a traditional Slavic bread-and-salt ceremony. The bread was baked by Daisy's aunt, Jennifer Elgrim. The salt came from Hallstatt, Austria, where I proposed to Daisy.

Even Emma got to taste a bit of the wine.

My best man, Stewart Moore, a great friend who lives nearby here in Prague.

Emma (right) and Hannah Sholar, Daisy's father's stepdaughter, recited "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear.

Daisy's college friends from her days in Moscow, Kristin Witting (left) and Anna Connolly, performed a song by the Russian band Akvarium. The song title is translated as "Sitting On A Beautiful Hill." They were wonderful. See a video of their performance below:

The traditional kowtowing before the bride. Actually, the ground was really uneven, which made for a lighter moment at one point in the ceremony.

A shivaree was sounded after the vows were said, to scare away any bad spirits. We handed out all sorts of noisemakers before the ceremony began.

I think Emma was a bit overwhelmed by all the noise!

Our friend Momchil Blagoev got the noisemaker-of-honor.

Clothespin Daisy, Grant and Emma at the reception. Our cupcakes were baked by a local Mennonite bakery. So good.

Our good friend Tanya Kancheva (Momchil's wife) took this portrait of us for "The New York Times." She also took most of the photos you see on this post.

My mother, Mitz, has a laugh. She's doing so well in her recovery from hip surgery.

Some of the guests played croquet out on the lawn of the Blackwater Lodge after the ceremony.

We got married in West Virginia. Where did you think we'd go on our honeymoon?


  1. Even the waterfall swelled in tribute to the rightness of this union.

    The Bride ... Luminous
    The Company... Rich and deep
    The Groom ... wait a minute, how much was the tie?

    Great photos, great friends, great day.

  2. Wonderful! Now I'm really sorry we couldn't attend. Good luck to both of you.

    —Rob Romig

  3. What a wonderful tribute to you both to have so many friends join you from all points of the globe. Congratulations on your union and your thoughtful and beautiful day.

  4. Thank you, Karen. And everyone, for your lovely comments. We're very happy!