HAINES -- They say rain at a wedding is good luck, and there is something about rain that makes a wedding more memorable.
Everyone knows that the sunny skies that follow June storms are that much more appreciated because of the weeping clouds that preceded them. Thank goodness for the groom's Haines Packing Company cannery crew, which completed the pavilion on the beach in time, and, thankfully, so big.
Having the ceremony in the Presbyterian Church downtown was fortunate, too. That way we could all dress up for the vows and change into rain gear and fleece for the party, and the darling flower girls (my granddaughters) could still wear their lace dresses and silver sandals without fear of being chased by a blast of wet wind back to their mother or father's sheltering arms. I couldn't actually see the little girls, what with all the people standing between us -- a wedding of two old Haines families' popular adult children fills a hall -- but I heard the "awww" when the bridal party appeared in the aisle, and that was enough.
J.R., a fisherman originally from the Bronx, officiated. "I have never married anyone before, and I've never been married," he said. "But I figure I've got the loudest voice of anyone they know." He was the perfect choice. He's kind, and good, and both families are fisher folks. (The wedding was on Friday evening, so that J.R. and the rest of the fleet could have a night to recover before Sunday's first gillnet opening of the season.) J.R. loves dogs and flowers and fresh snow and even does yoga, so, of course, he was the guy.
The party was packed, and we all danced to the Fishpickers band and ate fresh grilled king salmon from groom Harry's cannery crew, salads, and those plates of sliders for kids big and small (whose idea were they?) and had cake baked at the Fireweed Restaurant, where Genny the bride works as a waitress. She's a yoga girl and a crafty designer and a former champion swimmer for Northwestern University.
Both dads gave sweet, tearful toasts. Hugh, Harry's dad, used notes, and joked he was like the president and needed a teleprompter, and who knew Harry's best man Darren could be so poetic. (I told him so, but I called him Scott, his father's name, by accident. He looks just like his dad did 20 years ago.)
Earlier in the week, when we walked our dogs on the beach, J.R. said he had practiced his wedding ceremony lines enough to almost be able to get through them without choking up. He said the problem was an image that he couldn't shake, and one that he believed he needed to. It was of the smiling faces of two dear friends, colleagues of his out on the fishing grounds, who were not as lucky as Genny's dad Jim and who -- thanks to fate or bad luck, or timing -- died fishing and will never give their daughter a kiss on her wedding day and place her hand in the groom's.
I told J.R. it was good to remember those fine fathers and fine men, but instead of being sad, try being grateful that Jim and Genny and Hugh and Harry and all of us are here right now, because we are all so happy and in love with this place and these people and the times we are living in.
So what's a little rain at a wedding when you have so much? It's more than good luck -- more than very, very good luck. Rain at a wedding is a blessing.
Haines writer Heather Lende just finished her third book of essays, "Finding the Good." This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.