June 3-4 weekend was an example of a perfect family event for this Grandmother. Of course, I hope and believe that everyone had a lot of fun at my grandson’s wedding to his fiancé. But none of them could have enjoyed it any more than I did.
The weather was spectacular—cool evenings and not too hot or humid in the daytime. The sun was bright, the air fresh and fragrant, the grass green and shrubbery lush due to a great deal of rain last month. The sky was a vibrant blue, and clouds scudded overhead without darkening the days. We were so lucky.
Because we have a large family and enjoy being together, my daughter suggested I rent Welbourne Inn, a local Bed and Breakfast with a long Virginia history. Welbourne is a waking dream. A dream of a time long past when men were men and women were proud to be women. It was the perfect place for us. The house is an imposing plantation house that has been in the same family for nearly 200 years. It sits regally at the end of a driveway you enter through a stone gateway. It is a yellow stucco house with a two-story white-columned porch that runs across much of the front. The house has an air of majesty. It does not pretend to be modern or even “up to date.” But, oh my! It is comfortable and welcoming, and beautiful in a way that a more modern place cannot be. Welbourne has history in its’ walls, in the boxwood bushes, the stone walls, and the many outbuildings. It has stood through the difficult times and the good times, and I pray it will long outlast this era we are living in today.
We arrived there in small groups or singly. We chose our rooms in the spacious, lovely house which sleeps 20 people. My room was a large bedroom on the first floor. It has a canopy bed, a charming desk, a gaming table, a large armoire for my clothes, a door out to the front porch, and one to the back of the house. The room was cozy in spite of its size and was full of interesting memorabilia, with charming paintings or drawings on the walls. It has a private bath. There is a window air-conditioning unit which I did not need. All the rooms are charming. There are many of them. A couple have a shared bath, but most have private baths. 4 rooms have queen beds, and most were canopied. The other rooms have twin beds. The windows look out at the gorgeous grounds, the boxwood, the vistas, and the stone walls. The various dogs who live on the property give life to the view. There are multiple living spaces and porches so one could be private if desired.
We felt as if time had stopped, and it seemed that we were living it all in slow motion. The ladies all got their hair done and makeup applied by Marci and her friend/assistant Rae. The dining room at Welbourne is large and bright. We sat around the table, waiting our turn and enjoying watching each other. That was so much fun! We had our hair braided, swirled, twisted, looped, and teased. Ribbons and flowers were inserted, we looked like goddesses. We looked amazing. The makeup helped a lot too. It inspired me to do a better job on a daily basis. Marci’s company is “A More Beautiful You”. If you want a super smooth experienced person to help you and your wedding party look their very best, I recommend them. You won’t regret it.
The bride and groom had unique ideas about the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. We all threw ourselves into dressing the part for the medieval rehearsal dinner. And for the wedding, we got ourselves down the hill to the dell where the ceremony took place and back again.
Once we were all dressed in our medieval costumes, we arrived at the Hill School Science Center, which is a restored barn often used for events. It sits on pleasant grounds where we enjoyed the view, and a variety of drinks. We ate hors d’oeuvres which people in costume served. Did I mention the weather? It was such a magical evening. Clear and bright and cool (meaning not hot) made it perfect. The barn’s interior was hung with tapestries and festooned with flowers and strings of lights. The flower arrangements were spectacular. There were elaborate candelabra with thick cream-colored candles. Even the floor was strewn with pastel-colored flower petals. The attention to detail was extraordinary.
I won’t even try to describe the costumes here but will include photos so readers can judge how much we all took the costume theme to heart. The serving people in costumes made it seem unique. There was a young lady leading a pony meant to look like a unicorn. A golden horn attached to the pony’s head kept slipping around to the side. There was a giant pig which was part of the scenario. The serving people passed meatballs on large wooden toothpicks. Chicken-filled pastries, which were tasty and very filling, were scarfed up by hungry costumed ladies, knights, fools, and even a beggar. The bar served traditional wine and liquor, a drink with Meade, and another one I cannot recall, which was deceptively good but not without a “kick.” One must be careful with drinks that taste that good.
The evening was spectacular. The light slanting as it does at that “golden hour” gave an other worldly look to the entire scene. I took many photos, and you can see that special light showing up in the pictures. All of the guests had a good time. They played games, took turns trying out being in the stocks, and there was even a Maypole. Their enjoyment was contagious.
After a while, we all went up to the lean-to next to the barn and foraged for our dinner. The choices were many. Everything looked as if it might have been a typical medieval dish and at the end of the buffet table was a large roast beef station. A server carved off pieces of rare beef with a sharp knife, placing the food on our outstretched plates. Everything was delicious and plentiful. Many of us ate outside under the fruit trees and admired the bucolic surroundings. Others went up to the barn’s interior where the bride and groom were sitting at a long head table. The enormous and lovely flower arrangements nearly obscured them from view, along with the large candelabra holding thick candles.
We all moved up to the barn for toasts and a rousing song of “A Wee Deoch An’ Doris” led by Uncle Malcolm and joined in by all the Mathesons, including in-laws.
The next morning was as gorgeous as the day before. Cool in the early morning, the crystal clear air positively sparkled as we came onto the porch to drink our coffee. There was plenty of time to do whatever we wished. The wedding was not until 5 pm, giving us the entire day. We used that time to our advantage. In anticipation of this midday free time, I had arranged for a catering company to bring us food for a brunch. The caterer herself delivered the food, with a baby strapped to her belly. Holly of Bluewater Kitchen in Upperville, Va brought us wonderful breakfast fare.
That Saturday, we hung out on the front porch drinking coffee for a time, and then almost the entire group decided to find the swimming hole. A map showed them about a 15-minute walk from the house to Goose Creek. They did it with a bit of difficulty. The photos show the fun they had while splashing around in the deep part of the creek.
We all arrived reasonably early for the wedding. It took place down in the dell, where my granddaughter was married several years ago. This time it was arranged differently, and the “pews” faced the opposite direction. The “alter” was a circular wreath of twisted limbs and grapevine. My architect grandson designed and built it for the bride and groom at their direction. It was charming. After all, centuries before all the churches and cathedrals were built religious services were generally held outdoors. Of course, I suppose the bride and groom did not consider this a religious ceremony, but I did. It was lovely and very emotional for both bride and groom. Those vows were genuinely moving. I would love to have a copy because they were universally valid and well thought out. They both cried. In fact, they were both given handkerchiefs by the groom’s mother and father to wipe their eyes. The little dachshund came over and sat on the hem of the bride’s wedding dress during the ceremony. Such a dear little dog wanted to be near her mother in such a strange surroundings. I scooped my phone out of my décolletage and snapped a photo of that.
The wedding was a great party, as contemporary weddings tend to be. It was mostly a young group, friends of the bride and groom. Their two dogs wandered freely around the party and did not want to leave their owner’s sides. My table was near the wedding cake. It was next to the side of the main table of the newly married and their wedding party. I sat between my ex-husband and a man married to the brides’ Grandmother. He was British, fascinating, and funny. My ex and I were both feeling very nostalgic and extremely proud of our children and our grandchildren. We were both gratified to see our grandson grow up and get married to such a strong and gregarious woman. We did not need words to express our feelings at that moment.
I must confess that I left before the bride and groom. I was heading out to look for my driver, and a grandson asked me to dance. Perhaps it is a sign of my age (or maturity, maybe), but I said, “I love to dance more than anything, but I need to go home now.” And I thanked him for asking me. At that moment, I saw the driver and my youngest grandson, 11, who was ready to leave. I told his parents I would take him home with me, and off we went to the car. We got back to Welbourne, where I went to bed, not waiting for others to come back before getting into my lovely canopy bed and falling sound asleep. What a day we had!
The others came back shortly, chatting and telling stories about what they had seen and how happy they all were for their newly married cousin. Again the evening was perfect. Cool and still, with a quarter-size moon; Welbourne grounds are tranquil at night. Everyone slept well after such an enjoyable and eventful day. Everyone was grateful and happy.
Copyright©. 2022 Bonnie B. Matheson