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Wedding Day Minus 1 - Garden Tea Parties and Rehearsal Festivities

The bride and groom - one day to go!

With everything going on this week in preparation for the wedding, I’ve basically been running a day behind in writing my blogs.

So today, I’m going to cheat and combine two into one. Mainly because: 1) I’m lazy and 2) I quite honestly don’t remember much about Friday. I do remember that my wife Grainne got a pedicure at the ladies’ mani-pedi morning and Ghazal had her final dress fitting in the afternoon. The fitting – not surprisingly – elicited a lot of smiles and tears among the ladies who were present.

I also remember driving a lot between our Airbnb and the various West Yorkshire towns.

We did have a fine meal in the evening, prepared by our friends David and Gail, who drove up from Somerset, England for the wedding. That was no mean feat, since there are 10 of us staying in the Airbnb. At least I think there are 10, because I always seem to be forgetting somebody as we’re coming and going.

And that’s not all that I’m forgetting. In the last two days, we realized that neither our photographer (and friend) Zelda and our friend Sterling had no place to stay the night of the wedding.

Zela doing her thing

We’re figuring it out, OK? There’s a lot going on here!

Saturday came quickly which meant it was crunch time. The day before the wedding.

After running some errands in the morning, the wedding party gathered at a local church for the rehearsal. Pretty bridesmaids and handsome groomsmen walked through the order of service. People stood in the wrong places and lines were flubbed. But that’s why you have a rehearsal!

Afterwards, our friends Angela and Perley McBride from Atlanta came over to our Airbnb for afternoon tea in the back garden. We indulged in scones with jam and clotted cream with cups and cups of hot tea. The sun was out, creating a glorious and relaxing August afternoon in which to catch up with close friends.

Clay, Grainne, Angela and Perley

Then quick as a wink, it was time to head out to Leeds for the rehearsal dinner. Rehearsal dinners – although a staple of U.S. weddings – are not really a thing in England. But we decided to make it our thing.

The wedding party met at Fazenda, a Brazilian steak house in Leeds. As you can imagine, there was no shortage of food as the servers brought various cuts of chicken, pork, beef and lamb to our table. Just as we were about to explode, we saved the day by flipping our little serving card over from green to red, signaling to the servers to stop.

So much food!

Grainne and I got to spend much of the evening catching up with her brother Donal and sister-in-law Siobhan from Dublin, which only added to the enjoyment of the evening.

Donal and Siobhan came over from Dublin

As the night drew to a close, I rose up to say a few words that I prepared earlier in the day:

Good evening and Thanks for being here. I’m Clay Owen - Pierce’s dad. My wife - Grainne - and I want to welcome you as we kick off the wedding festivities.

We are so excited to have family and friends from so many parts of the world. Pierce and Ghazal helped me pull together this list of countries that are represented here by you, our guests.

Germany , the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, the United States, France, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Italy, New Zealand, Denmark, Australia, Portugal, Poland, Brazil, and of course the UK.

This is quite the international gathering.

I should also note that our new Persian family is scattered in most of these places. Daryoush, Suni, thank you for making us feel so welcome as new members of your family.

Of course, what brings us here is the wedding of Pierce and Ghazal.

But what brings them - and us - all together is love. Love for this couple, who are starting their life together.

Grainne and I have been married now for 31 years. And sometimes people ask what’s the secret. To which I reply: “Memorize these words. I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right.”

All kidding aside, the apostle Paul said it best in 1st Corinthians 13: Love never fails.

As we go through this exciting, crazy couple of days, remember that without love, none of this happens. Without love, their relationship doesn’t grow.

But with love, your relationship will grow deeper. Your lives will have meaning. And we will all be richer as a result.

So I ask you ladies and gentlemen to be upstanding. Charge your glasses and raise them in a toast - to the love of Pierce and Ghazal.

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