Five years ago, as I dressed for my wedding, I slipped a vintage 1960s Mexican wedding gown over my head, and placed my rose-gold engagement ring, circa 1880, on my right-hand ring finger. On my feet were brand-new espadrille sandals and my new wedding band was tucked into in the suit pocket of our best man, Tom. With great care, I pinned a delicate broach to the back of my dress, borrowed from my dear friend Dee, who was too ill to attend our wedding. Something old, something new, something borrowed.
Yet something blue eluded me, even though it would be a fair to say my mood was blue in the moments before I said “I do,” certainly not what you would expect from a bride on her wedding day, but understandable given our officiate had called to tell us she would be unable to make our ceremony, a mere three hours before we were supposed to say “I do.” In those hours, the sky was filled with dark gray clouds, rain threatened, and gray crept into our spirits as we faced the potential of a wedding without someone to marry us.
With less than an hour to spare before our ceremony, we received a response to the “Urgent: officiate needed” message Sarah, owner of Eleven Winery, had posted on IslandMoms, a Yahoo chat group (the winery’s tasting room is where I had been when I received the bad news about our original officiate).
Soon after, the clouds lifted and sunshine warmed the shoulders of 48 guests seated facing the little pond that backed up to ancient the cedar tree, under which we were to become husband and wife.
The sound of Louis Armstrong’s What a wonderful world filled the air as I took my first steps out the door and down the stairs of Morgan Hill, walking slowly toward the cedar tree, where Big Papa stood waiting for me. Our newly-found officiate was smiling by his side. My eyes brimmed with tears as I walked, catching glimpses of smiles from family and friends.
At that moment, a juvenile great blue heron flew in and perched atop a rustic log bench, clearly a guest and visible to all who attended, save the bride and groom themselves. We faced each other, sheltered by the giant branches of the big old cedar, unaware.
The heron sat and watched as we promised to love and care for each other for the rest of our days. He sat and watched as we exchanged rings, tokens of our commitment to each other. He sat and watched until we kissed, husband and wife at last. And then he flew off.
As we celebrated the first hours of our marriage, guest after guest shared stories of the heron who visited our wedding. Maybe he was there in spirit, a winged representative for those who were unable to join us on this day, because they were no longer in this world or too sick to travel. Or maybe his appearance foretold of one who might become part of our lives a few years down the road.
Our heron is one of my most cherished memories from our wedding day. Something blue.