Sunday, April 24, 2011


Please indulge me a long, romantic post.

Last weekend, Jennifer and I tied the knot in typical Sprung chaotic style. Kids running, people unable to make it, others showing up last minute, few concrete plans...

It was supposed to be a surprise, in as much as a six year relationship, producing two children and raising a third, can be blessed and made official in any way with an element of surprise, but even in that respect we failed. The plan was to have everyone (20 or so people) lured into a surprise birthday party for my fiancee, Jennifer, as she turns 35 this week. We would then turn the tables on the guests, expecting to surprise Jennifer, by showing up dressed as bride and groom with the officiant.

As an aside, our intent was not to make anyone uncomfortable, but to have a nice, relaxed and happy calm wedding. We believed we were innoculated from the drama that is related to weddings by all those 'Say Yes to the Dress' and 'Rich bride Poor bride' shows. You know, where the princess and pretty boy get the perfectly monogrammed napkins, the funny thousand dollar cake and Luis Vuitton dress with $3000 in centre pieces, matching chocolate fountain, and juggling bartenders, mimes, and all that. This was good people, good food, and a ceremony that got back to the basics that my grandparents knew, and their parents, where people celebrated the marriage, not the wedding

We didn't even have a cake.

Instead, we chose our very favorite Italian Restaurant, Paulo's, in Belleville, and they were fantastic with us, reserving a private room upstairs at no charge, and making it intimate, even for the number of people we had. It was set up weeks in advance. All we had to do was make sure everyone showed, and keep it a secret. Right? No problem.

The first crack in the surprise plan was when my Mom happened to be watching the kids at our house while Jennifer and I were at a conference in Oakville. Paulo's called to confirm the room and the number of guests, and confirmed that it was a wedding party. My Mom, thinking still it was a surprise birthday, confronted me, and figured it out. In equally bizarre and unforseeable ways, one by one, it was blown for others. Friends unable to make it to a birthday, nephews wanting to bring friends, having to get Jennifer's Grandmother's ring. My Mom blew it for others, too, by setting the corsage and bouquet in the middle of the room when she was supposed to keep it quiet. On the day of, I think out of 22 people there were four who did not know.

Still, there were equally bizarre events that allowed people to be there, and so we are thankful that chance intervened. For better or worse as they say.

We gathered upstairs, and the kids were already running, so we shoo'ed them into the room and got it rolling by coming in dressed up. There were some shocked faces, but many more who gasped: "I KNEW it!!!"

The ceremony was brief, and we had written the whole text of it ourselves, so it was very personal and real, and many cried. For one, Jennifer's Grandfather, who had put the same ring on his wife Lily's hand 62 years earlier, was in tears. We are not religious people, but he also added a wonderful touch when the officiant (Larry Hurley, who was great!) asked "Do you bless this marriage?" and he replied "I do, and God does too." When Larry asked everyone's blessing, in unison they replied: 'Yes, we do', and not one second later our five year old burst out with a hearty "Yes!!!!!!" It was very cute.

Through the ceremony, Jennifer looked to be close to tears the whole time. Especially when Daisy, our three year old, ran up and was about to cry. It was better than we anticipated.

Then, the food. Paulo's did an excellent job, and our dedicated server, Cathy, was brilliant, a professional and a warm soul, who appreciated what we were trying to do. Not only did she take care of the guests, but she had an eye on the kids as well. Not a glass went unfilled, or a request unanswered. I commend her cool under pressure, as my family was loud, and raucous, having clean fun. Just my kids alone are a handful, and she was great.

Back at home, getting the kids settled in with my Mom for the long three days without Daddy and Mommy. I spoke with my brother, who was my best man, and for whose wedding I stood in as best man nearly 16 years ago. I got to bring down an old picture that we have on our bookshelf of Jennifer's Grampa Ray, and Gramma Lily, from their wedding day 62 years ago. They look absolutely radiant, happy and a little scared, which was how I felt when I first held Jennifer's hand six years ago. I knew that feeling, and now, full circle, the same ring that is in that photo, on Lily's hand, is on Jennifer's. I can only hope that our marriage is blessed with as much love as theirs was, and the rings perhaps rub off a measure of the happiness they had.