Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wedding 10-10-10 Part II—Fires, Fireworks, Fancy Footwork & Food

(Because my own camera’s battery died shortly into the reception I have compiled the story below using photos generously shared by others. Please click on the photos to make them bigger.)

I just read that an estimated 40,000 other couples got married on 10/10/10, but none of them, I’m convinced, had as much fun as Eleni and Emilio, celebrating with 144 friends at the Corfu Sailing Club at the base of the Venetian Fortress on the island of Corfu, Greece.

After the two wedding ceremonies—first Catholic and then Greek Orthodox—and after a little Greek line dancing, the throwing of the decorated wedding bread, and posing for family photos with the fort in the background, everyone walked across the bridge over the moat and into the Fortress itself, treading carefully over cobblestoned paths and down uneven staircases to the waterside where luminarias lighted the way in the twilight to the Restaurant/Club bordered by small vessels tied up at anchor.

The newlyweds soon followed to a thundering rendition of “Today a Wedding is Happening “ (Semara Yamos Yeinete) as everyone rose to their feet, applauding.

The tables had been set by the restaurant staff and the florist, Rammos, with decorations featuring ripe pomegranates (collected by us from the trees in Nick’s northern Greek village of Lia) along with ivy, red berries and roses and tulips in the red-orangey colors of Eleni’s calla lily bouquet. On each plate was the menu that her sister Marina had designed and printed, incorporating the restaurant’s sailboat logo and the wedding’s double E logo (for Eleni and Emilio) also designed by Marina.

Despite her full-time job in California, Marina also managed to find people to embroider the logo in two colors of blue onto lace-edged handkerchiefs which were then filled with 11 Jordan Almonds each, tied with blue ribbons and decorated with a small silver sailboat to create the homemade boubounieres (favors) --a requisite part of a Greek wedding. (The “Big Eleni” put together nearly 400 of these favors—for the wedding and the engagement party-- with a little help from me. Now she’s thinking of going into the boubouniere business professionally.)

The florist had also put votive candles on each table, and before the evening was over, impromptu bonfires flared up at intervals as two handkerchiefs and one bread basket caught fire, adding another level of excitement to a generally riotous evening.

The newlyweds set things off with their first dance, carefully choreographed and much rehearsed, to Frankie Valli’s’s version of “You’re Just too Good to be True.” The more athletic lifts and spins, which some compared to the film “Dirty Dancing”, drew cheers from the crowd.

Then Emilio danced with his mother, Carmen, and Nick with Eleni, to the music Nick had chosen—the father-daughter duet by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, “Unforgettable”.

The mezedakia courses began to arrive—Greek-style appetizers that followed one after another until everyone groaned at the sight of the main course—sirloin and pork medallions-- but we all tried valiantly to do it justice. The wines—four cases –were sent as a gift by Soteris Ioannou from the Averoff Winery in Metsovo, in Nick’s native province of Epiros—but after those ran out, the crowd drank another 37 bottles of the restaurant’s stock—to the amazement of Niko, the manager.

Shortly after the eating began, the much-anticipated political star of Greece—Antonis Samaras, the head of the opposition New Democracy party—arrived to a standing ovation. He pronounced a gracious toast to the newlyweds and reminisced about getting to know Eleni and our other children when they were small and he was a frequent guest at our house in Massachusetts.

(Earlier in the day, his rival George Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, arrived to speak at our hotel and met Emilio. In a speech, the PM cited an upturn in Greek tourism, thanks to the film “Mama Mia”, and mentioned Eleni and Emilio’s wedding as an example.)

Nick spoke, Samaras spoke and the DJ ramped up the sound to a throbbing mixture of Greek popular music of the “Zorba” nature and such non-Greek hits as Taio Cruz’s “Dyn-o-mite” and “Daddy Cool.” Everyone (but me) discovered a previously unrealized gift for Greek dancing, and quite a few people over fifty and under five began to act like people in their twenties.

There was a pause for the cutting of the cake and then the staff brought out small individual cakes for everyone, each one topped—you guessed it—with the double E logo.

There were more toasts, most notably from Emilio, who praised the three important women in his life—his grandmother and his mother, Carmen, who brought him up, and now Eleni. At this point, many guests were using their embroidered handkerchiefs to dry their eyes.

Just before midnight, everyone was given a sparkler to light, filling the restaurant and the dock with fireworks as the newlyweds walked to a waiting boat— labeled “Eleni & Emilio’s Love Boat”—to sail away into the sea of matrimony.

As everyone waved good-bye, a rambunctious eleven-year-old named Andronikos jumped on board to sail away with the couple, waving regally to the crowd—after all, it was his father’s boat.

I learned the next day that most of the guests went on to an after- party at a Corfu bar, but the rest of us wended our way back through the fortress to sleep at the Corfu Palace Hotel, serene in the knowledge that the twice-wed-in-one-day Emilio and Eleni sailed into married life buoyed by the love of everyone around them and the luck of a wedding date they’ll never be able to forget—no matter how old they become.

They have even composed a mathematical formula to express it all:

“E squared plus ten cubed equals double happiness.”

Next: Wedding 10-10-10, the Prequel: Pomegranates, Preparing the Wedding Bed and the Island Populated by Rabbits, Pheasants and Menios.

1 comment:

lactmama said...

There are some people in this world that know how to do things the way they should be done. Seems as though the Gages babes and the Elenis Big and Small are in this tiny group. What fun to read about the wedding. thank you Mama Joan