On Saturday our niece Hannah got married to Justin at the Muscedere Winery in Harrow Ontario. Dave and I made the half hour drive to the wedding site from Leamington in the Handi-Van with Dave’s Mom and Dad. It was very special that they were able to attend the wedding. The staff at the Leamington Mennonite Home helped get them ready for this big outing. Here they are with our son Joel and Dave just after they arrived.
We were so happy that our whole family could be there. This was the first time the whole extended Driedger family had been together I think since Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary many, many years ago.
It was very fitting that it was my lovely niece Hannah who drew us all together to celebrate her wedding day. Family is very important to Hannah. When our son was married in Saskatoon five years ago she was the one cousin who flew out from Ontario for the wedding. Several times when Dave and I have come to visit southern Ontario Hannah has organized a party at her house on the shores of Lake Erie, bringing everyone in the family together so we can visit with them all. Hannah is the kind of friendly, caring person who draws people to her. Here she is walking down the aisle with her proud Dad, my brother-in-law John.
My sister-in-law Linda is known for wearing her emotions on her sleeve. Was she happy her oldest daughter was getting married? She was the most joyful mother of the bride I’ve ever seen. She had the biggest smile on her face as her future son-in-law walked her down the aisle when the ceremony started. Here she watches her daughter walk down the aisle with her Dad.
Isabella is the daughter of my nephew Michael and his wife Stephanie. One reason this was an exciting wedding was that Mike and Stephanie had to leave the celebration early to go to the hospital where Stephanie gave birth to their new little daughter Chloe Anne.
The wedding ceremony itself was fairly short and held under an arbor on the winery grounds. Dave and I were honored that Hannah had requested we sing during the signing of the register with Dave’s brother Paul and his wife Shirley. Dave and I had also been part of a quartet that sang at Hannah’s parents’ wedding several decades ago. We sang Devoted to You, an Everly Brothers song and our son Bucky and his fiancée Alisa played guitar and violin for us.
Hannah and Justin look so happy! They are married! Opa Driedger is a little taken aback with all the excitement. After the ceremony we took family pictures and there was time for visiting and meeting people. The winery served great appetizers, stuffed mushrooms, brushetta and marinated vegetables and there was plenty of Muscedere wine as well.
The dinner started at 6:00 and was interspersed with speeches and toasts. The weather was a bit temperamental and by the time the dancing started, the sides of the tent where the reception took place had been fastened closed since there was intermittent rain and some fairly dramatic lightening forking across the sky.
All the requisite dances took place–mother of the groom with her son, father of the bride with his daughter and when the bride and groom had their first dance we all lit sparklers and held them in the air. Here is Dave with his.
Then at 10:30 it happened. A sudden huge gust of wind almost tornado-like, caused the tent to begin to sway. The power went off and rain pelted down in blinding sheets. People screamed, the music stopped and we all began running as fast as we could to get out of the tent. In seconds the tent poles buckled and the whole tent collapsed. Everyone was running in all directions, slipping on the wet grass, calling out for family members in the dark, and getting completely soaked by the rain. I reached the main winery building and went inside where I was soon joined by my younger son and his wife. However we couldn’t find our older son, his wife or Dave. I knew our older son had been on the dance floor when the tent came down and I was very scared he might still be underneath it somewhere. I had seen Dave with his arm around our daughter-in-law running out of the tent but I had no idea where they were.
By now most guests had come into the winery building. A few had minor cuts and bruises and many were in a state of shock, crying and anxious about family members they couldn’t see or find. The rest of our immediate family arrived shortly and I just threw my arms around them all and hugged them. Dave had taken our daughter-in-law under a trailer near the tent. He had been worried a tornado had struck and there might be flying objects that could injure them—so he looked for the nearest shelter. My niece Hannah is a paramedic and some of her colleagues who were at the wedding immediately identified themselves to the guests and began to tend to those who had been injured.
Firefighters, ambulance and police arrived within minutes and just as quickly the wind died down and the rain stopped. The firefighters cut the tent in half and pulled the canvas aside so they could do a thorough search and make sure no one had been trapped beneath it. Then one by one the firefighters escorted the guests back into the tent area to find the purses, cameras and other belongings that had been left behind as they ran out of the tent.
The wedding was over, a rather abrupt and unexpected ending to a very happy celebration. Guests made their way somberly and slowly to their cars to head home. Luckily no one had been seriously hurt and the damage to tables, chairs, glassware, gifts and sound equipment was actually not as bad as initially thought.
The next afternoon family and friends gathered at Dave’s brother John and his wife Linda’s house to watch Hannah and Justin open their gifts. In the light of a new day we could look for the humor in the dramatic way the wedding had ended. Hannah’s cousins teased her that she would go down in history as having the most exciting and memorable Driedger wedding ever!
After tasting her own cake Hannah brought out another cake with candles lit and we sang “Congratulations to you” to Hannah’s sister, our niece Olivia who had just graduated as a Red Seal Chef. Olivia, who was one of her sister’s bridesmaids works as a chef at the Fairmont Hotel in Banff and the family had not been together to celebrate her achievement yet, since this was the first time Olivia had been home since earning her certification.
Just before we enjoyed a meal of my sister-in-law Linda’s delicious homemade pasta and sauce, Dave’s brother John said a prayer that put the events of the previous day in perspective. He said we had been reminded of our human frailty and the power of God’s creation, but we had also been reminded of the things that were important to us–the people we love and our bond as a family.
I want to thank my sister-in-law Shirley since many of the photos in this post are hers. Thanks for sharing them with me Shirley.