Houston, Part 1



Bouquet of fresh flowers for the wedding ceremony.

The bride’s colors were purple and light pink. Her dress had long lace sleeves, a v-neck, and layers of sheer white, and a cathedral length veil that flowed like a poem. The bridesmaids wore long gowns with purple sequins on the top, and layers of sheer lavender organza on the bottom. The groom looked dashing in a charcoal gray tux and vest with a pink bow tie. His groomsmen were decked out in purple ties with matching vests under their gray tuxes.

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

We spent a memorable week in Houston with dear friends Juliet and Mark. We celebrated their daughter Ann’s wedding with their family. I rejoiced in returning to a city and friends who are like family to me. The rehearsal dinner proved lively and tasty with chicken and shrimp as the main events. The next day, the bride was stunning and the groom handsome, the service sweet, and the reception rollicking, in the best of Texas traditions! The weather smiled upon the bridal party and the rest of us, with blue skies, sunshine, and 80-degree weather. We had shaken off the cold, dreary, grey northern Indiana skies the minute we landed in Houston. We readily embraced all that Texas sunshine!

We spent an afternoon several days prior to the wedding, placing white linens on the reception’s 28 tables in the Clear Lake Methodist Church’s Hall. We then arranged the silky purple and pink runners over each round table. The soon-to-be bride and groom spend copious amounts of their free time playing games with their friends. Board games, card games, bingo, word games, you name it, the couple and their friends play it. Therefore, in lieu of traditional floral arrangements, games were the name of the centerpieces! We arranged large and small die that Juliet had hand-painted and decorated, and assorted games on the center of each table. Sheets of Wedding Bingo and word games were handed out after the Wedding Luncheon.

Saturday morning arrived and wedding verve permeated the air. At 11:30 a.m., classically trained musicians began a 30-minute concert of sumptuous music. Thereafter, Miss Patsy, the grandmother of the bride, Juliet, the mother of the bride, and the mother of the groom were escorted and seated. The groom and his groomsmen assumed their positions, the bridesmaids, and matron of honor Janelle processed into the church. The flower girl and ring bearer played their parts without a wrinkle. The music then swelled, as Mark proudly walked his daughter Ann down the aisle. The minister has known Ann for years; he gave a fine sermon about marriage and commitment. When he pronounced them man and wife, and said to Karl, “You may kiss the bride,” Karl gave Ann a Hollywood kiss! I was proud of them, for I had suggested such a kiss several nights before the wedding as they were practicing the kiss at Ann’s family home. Whether he remembered my suggestion, or they Googled “wedding kisses”, the kiss sealed the deal.

The pork loin tasted moist and delicious, as did the side dishes at the luncheon. In high spirits we participated in the games, noshed at the Sweet and Salty snacks table, and danced to contemporary tunes the DJ spun. I conversed with old friends and met knew people at this joyous wedding reception. Later, we lined up outside and blew little bubbles with pink wands and cheered as Karl carried Ann to his big, shiny, white truck. Their faces wreathed in smiles, the newlyweds set off on a two-week honeymoon amid heartfelt wishes for a long, happy life together.

Ciao for now.

The Wedding, Part 4: Dance, Dance, Dance!

Lauren's bridal bouquet with my mother's cameo and her mother's wedding dress lace - tangledpasta.net
Lauren’s bridal bouquet with my mother’s cameo and her mother’s wedding dress lace – tangledpasta.net

 By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Indeed, my niece Lauren and her Romeo [Justin, actually] tied the knot on June 8, 2013 at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church.  Happy tears, smiles, and wishes for wedded bliss abounded after Father Mike pronounced them “man and wife”.  After the pews had emptied of wedding guests, the photographer herded us back to the front of the Sacristy for family photos with the newlyweds.  The wedding planner and the photographer shepherded the bride, the groom, the five bridesmaids, and the five groomsmen on to the wedding trolley for photo shoots all over downtown Indianapolis.

I returned to the hotel on another trolley.  As I entered The Conrad’s foyer, I spied my aunts, uncles, and some of my cousins placing drink orders with a server.  Hastily I placed an order for a ginger ale just to whet my whistle, for the temperature had reached eighty-one degrees accompanied by humidity.  Cocktails were to be served in the Rhythm Discovery Center, across the street from The Conrad.  It was a most fascinating venue of rhythm history with spontaneous rhythm performances and flashing lights, which jarred me out of any weariness I might have otherwise felt.  After drinking a Sprite, at least I think that’s what it was, I gathered my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and we walked to The Indianapolis Artsgarden [this is the correct spelling!] for the wedding reception.  It had been three hours since I had last seen the bridal party.  However, they emerged from their extensive photo shoot intact, hungry and thirsty.  After the speeches and toasts had been made, the 250+ guests settled into a delicious sit down dinner, followed by cake and coffee.

Several weeks prior to The Wedding, Lauren phoned and asked me if I would let her use my mother’s cameo on her bridal bouquet.  The florist assured her that if the cameo could not be fastened securely, it would not be used.  I thought about how much my mother had loved Lauren, how she would have embraced Lauren and her new husband, how touched she would have been that Lauren wanted to include this exquisite cameo in her bouquet on her Wedding Day. Of course, I said yes.  Actually, I was moved to tears by Lauren’s request, for my late father had purchased the cameo for my late mother on a momentous trip to Italy our family had taken when I was sixteen-years-old. We had visited a cameo fabbrica outside of Naples, on our way to Pompeii.  Mama had been enthralled by the craftsmanship. The cameo was a prized possession of Mama’s.

Then the dancing began en force.  The live band, Endless Summer Band never stopped for breaks, though they did rotate their musicians in and out throughout the night.  We all danced like possessed maniacs; the music was that good, that foot-stomping, that adrenaline throbbingly great!  I haven’t danced that much since my graduate school days in the early 1980’s.  While there was an open bar, I imbibed only the soft drinks before the reception, a glass of champagne, and half-a-glass of vino.  Throughout the night I kept hydrated by downing glasses of water.  I simply was having fun to the hilt on the dance floor with multiple dance partners to fuzzy it up with alcohol, though I would have loved a Cosmopolitan!

Finally, my daughter-the-bridesmaid and I retired for the night, past the time for the end of the reception, only because after four hours, my dancing feet were screaming for respite.  I forced myself to shower and wash my hair, thinking that would help me sleep.  Besides, we had to rise and shine on Sunday for the 10:00 a.m. family brunch at The Conrad.  I must confess, when my iPhone4 alarm sounded at 8:30 a.m., I wanted to pound it into silence since I was so comatose I couldn’t find the phone right away.  My contact lens held my eyes open for the brunch.  Last hugs, kisses, and smiles were offered among us, as we scattered our separate ways hither and yon with the memories of a fabulous Wedding Weekend.

Ciao for now.

The Wedding, Part 3: “Goin’ to the Chapel…”

Lauren's getting married - tangledpasta.net
Lauren’s getting married – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

The wake-up alarm sounded all too soon last Saturday morning.  Yet the day dawned with golden sunshine set in dazzling blue skies.  On the late night heels of the rehearsal dinner the night before, came this morning’s call for scheduled professional makeup and hair appointments in Broad Ripple.  It is a rare day indeed that I imbibe coffee but I felt I had better partake of potent caffeine.  I wanted to be cognizant when my niece exchanged wedding vows with her worthy groom.  Fortunately, friends of the bride’s mother had provided nutritious breakfast food to help us jump-start the long wedding day.

We all emerged from the salon airbrushed and glamorous.  After scrutinizing myself in the mirror, I contemplated how an airbrushing device might not be a bad investment since it could, like vintage wine, help me improve with age.  The bride was the belle of the salon, as she should have been, for my niece, a beautiful young woman by any standard, glowed with happiness in her enhanced airbrushed state.  The wedding planner hustled our entourage back to The Conrad in Indianapolis to change into our wedding finery.  My daughter donned her JCrew Newport Navy bridesmaid dress, nude patent leather shoes, jewelry, and stuffed salon lip-gloss, brush, compact, and tissues into her new ivory jeweled dress clutch.  Off she went to the suite where Lauren the Bride and the bridesmaids were gathering for photos.  Soon the bridal party would board the wedding trolley to Saint Mary’s Catholic Church for the 2:30 p.m. nuptials.  The professional photographer had been snapping photos at the salon, in the suite, in the classy foyer of The Conrad, and now of the bridal party on the wedding trolley.

Alone in our hotel room, I savored the silence as I carefully pulled the new black tea-length dress with side slits over my head.  I stepped into my stylish black leather shoes with the black patent trim.  The black and white lace jacket I put on added a dash of panache to my dress.  Lovingly, I placed my late mother’s double-strand of pearls around my neck.  How she and my father would have relished their eldest granddaughter’s special day. After placing my pearl earrings in my pierced ears, I put tissues, lip-gloss, and pressed powder into my black dress bag with the jeweled accoutrement [borrowed from Anjelica], t glanced in the mirror, said a prayer for this happiest of happy days, and descended in the elevator to catch the second wedding trolley bound for Saint Mary’s.

I took my place with family members near the front of the church.  Soon enough, the bridesmaids began their walk down the aisle.  When I saw my daughter, tears welled in my eyes, but a smile also took over, for it struck me forcibly that she was an elegant young woman, on the brink of graduate school, who could easily be making this same walk in the bridal gown within a few years.  And the enormity of it all took my breath away. Suddenly, the music change heralded the arrival of the bride and her father.  Lauren’s elegant gown, veil, flowers, joy, coupled with my brother’s dapper appearance in his tux and, gasp!, his well-polished black cowboy boots, made the tears appear again.  Had I not been so afraid of mascara running down my face, thereby ruining the airbrushing, and fearful that my makeup would not last the dinner and reception that night, made me take a series of deep breaths to regain my composure.  After all, I had to read the second Epistle!  As Aunt and Godmother to my dear Lauren, I had to pull myself together and rise to the occasion.  All of those years of musical performance provided a discipline that had taught me how to rise above emotions and focus completely on the task at hand.

The sheer beauty of Saint Mary’s was a magnificent setting for this splendid wedding.  Yet this was all secondary to what transpired there that day.  I had rehearsed reading Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, 12:3 -13:8a, the one where most people remember only the line, “Love is patient; Love is kind…” A dear friend, Sister Marie Morgan, of the Order of The Sisters of St. Francis, had sent me not only the text of the passage, but our Bishop’s commentary on its significance.  As I read and re-read Saint Paul’s words, I wanted to stress the significance of how Love transcends romantic emotion, how Love affects all relationships, “For without Love, we are nothing…without Love, we gain nothing…It [Love] bears al things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”  So too is this my wish for my darling newlyweds, for my beloved daughter and nephew.

Ciao for now.

Wedding Weekend, Part 2: The Rehearsal


Wedding preparations - tangledpasta.net
Wedding preparations – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

We awakened last Friday morning, checked our lightly bronzed selves, showered carefully, preened, and drove northwest from Indianapolis to Zionsville for the bridal luncheon.  Partaking of a delectable salad accompanied by intriguing and tasty appetizers, we dashed off to a salon for a manicure.  We had our pedicure at our salon back home.  I am still uncertain why I bothered with a pedicure since I was wearing close-toed shoes for The Nuptials.

Beating a hasty retreat to Indianapolis, we donned our new Talbots dresses [my daughter’s a black lace confection, and mine, a vivid white and turquoise floral] and new pumps [nude] for the rehearsal at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church downtown.  The church is a large Roman Gothic structure replete with elegant stained glass windows, inlaid terrazza marble floor, vaulted ceilings, and a breathtaking Sacristy.  In short, Saint Mary’s was the perfect place for the Big Event.  Anxiety was evident among the bridal party as they practiced walking up the aisle.  Some moved at a breakneck pace, while others strolled regally.  As one of two readers, I practiced the long walk from a carved wooden pew, and up the highly polished steps to the lectern.  After familiarizing myself with the mocha satin ribbon marking my reading passage, I realized I would have to adjust the microphone on The Day since the first reader was quite a bit taller than I.

We then piled into cars and sped off to Lorenzo’s Ristorante, where the groom’s parents were hosting the rehearsal dinner for the bridal party.  It was a memorable repast with family and friends, not to mention mouth-watering Calamari Fritti, Bruschetta, Chicken Marsala, and bottomless glasses of vino.  Justin the Groom-to-Be made touching speeches about each of his groomsmen, giving each of them gifts [tasteful barware and coffee table books].  Lauren followed with heartfelt sketches of what each of her bridesmaids meant to her.  She then distributed gifts of elegant Kate Spade jewelry to each.  The groom’s father created a poignant slideshow of Lauren and Justin’s babyhood to adulthood.  Seeing my late parents smiling and laughing with Lauren, and later with her brother and my daughter, brought a tear to my eye.

It was a night of joy and laughter that boded well for tomorrow’s Main Event.

Ciao for now.


The Wedding Anniversary

The wedding cake with white roses - tangledpasta.net
The wedding cake with white roses – tangledpasta.net

Today, February 9, 2013 would have been my parents’ 74th wedding anniversary.  At least we got to celebrate their 63rd.  My parents were married over a decade before they had children, and they were not practicing birth control.

February 9th capped the triad of milestones for Mama and Daddy.  Mama’s birthday was on February 7th, Daddy became a U. S. citizen on February 8th, and they were married on February 9th.  When I inquired why these events occurred in the Heartland’s snowy month of February, they would smile and gaze into one another’s eyes.  After all, Daddy was an Italian immigrant and Mama was a second-generation Italian; in the end, they were romantics at heart.  They simply wanted to be married, frigid winter weather be damned.

Married they were in St. Monica Catholic Church in Mama’s hometown and Daddy’s adopted one.  Nimble seamstress Great-Aunt Agnes fashioned the bridal gown and those of Mama’s two attendants, her sister Adelaide and her cousin Mary.  The bride’s dress was made of candlelight slipper satin with rows of small satin-covered buttons down the back and at the wrist.  The flirty front slit beguiled the groom, who was dressed in a navy blue suit, crisp white shirt, and navy and white striped tie.  A boutonnière of white roses adorned the suit’s lapel. One bridesmaid wore pale blue; the other attired in soft pink slipper satin.  Mama’s bouquet, called a shower bouquet, held a bounty of white roses and delicate greenery.  Satin ribbons with petite white roses fastened to the ribbons with small greenery cascaded from the bouquet. A wide lace- trimmed veil trailed after Mama, as did the train of the gown.

After the Mass, all celebrated with a wedding banquet at the bride’s family home.  Mama related how they dined on chicken, pasta, asparagus [from the freezer], and salad.  Another relative made the tiered white wedding cake.  Amid good wishes and adieux, my parents left for their Niagara Falls honeymoon.  They drove in the snow and ice of February for an even colder climate to begin their married life.  They had their Italian love to sustain them, as it did throughout their 63 years of married life.

Ciao for now.

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi