One of the most striking things about the weekend was the sharp contrast between where the wedding and the reception took place. The wedding was at a very small, even quaint Missouri Synod Lutheran church nestled in the midst of a working class neighborhood on the north side of Chicago. . . a congregation struggling a bit but hanging in there. There was nothing whatsoever fancy about its sanctuary – or about its pipe organ – but there was something sweet about how completely simple and ordinary it was. And the service itself was lovely in a very plain- spoken, comfortable sort of way. Kathy and Polly and I did most of the singing, although for “Borning Cry” we were joined by seven of the bride’s relatives who all sing in their respective church choirs – with Kathy’s dad conducting. It was a case of two different families coming together in a rather uncommon sort of collaboration and the result was really neat. The groom’s brother, Kevin (also best man) played trumpet for the processional – another wonderful if uncommon sort of family moment. And although it was a warm day and that crowded church had no air conditioning, it felt like every single person there could not have been happier to be there.
Contrast that humble little church with the site of their reception . . . . US Cellular Field – former site of Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox! Both the bride and groom are die-hard Sox fans, and they basically chose their wedding date so they would be able to have their reception at The Stadium Club. When I first heard where the reception would be, I envisioned a menu of popcorn, peanuts, hot dog, and beer and of wedding guests seated in bleachers with the strains of “Take me out to the ball game” playing in the background. Was I wrong! I’m pretty sure I have never attended a wedding reception any more elegant than this was – and yet on top of it was the great fun of being in the heart of a major league ballpark. The Stadium Club occupies two levels – a lounge level with plenty of space for looking out over the ballpark – and the dining room one level below which also overlooks the ballpark. By the way, just ahead of the reception itself the bridal party had one hour down on the field to have special photographs taken. . . a dream come true for such devoted White Sox fans. (I suppose something comparable for me would be if the Metropolitan Opera House opened itself up for wedding receptions- – – and who knows? Maybe in these tough economic times this is something they should consider. Not that my bride would have jumped at the chance of having her reception in an opera house – although it would have been a step up from the humble church basement where our reception ended up occurring.) Anyway, this was a spectacular reception in every way. . . right up through dessert, which was a splendid combination of giant chocolate cookies, german chocolate cake, and a sundae bar you had to see to believe.
But at the heart of it all . . . far more important than the dazzling view or the magnificent food . . . was the joy of the occasion which we were gathered to celebrate and the happy, appreciate couple whose love for each other was our whole reason for being there. Without that, this would have been an intriguing trip to the ballpark. Instead, it was a celebration of the profoundest kind.
pictured above: Bob, Polly, Lorelai, Mark and Kathy enjoying the marvelous view from the lounge of the Stadium Club.