*perfectly sunny and crisp Friday NYC evening
*important guests arrive from Russia and London (!!)
*hi's and hugs and "so good to see you!"s echo in St. Xavier
*the rehearsal begins church, eyes stare in awe of the beauty of the murals
*the energy is high
*the anticipation higher
*the last Markle brother ready to be a husband
*the gorgeous Irina ready to be Mrs. Markle #4 ;)
And it was underway! The wedding weekend of such an important couple in our lives: Lee's brother Andrew and his (now wife!) Irina. A blending of cultures in the most fabulous of ways. After the rehearsal we headed to Blue Water Grill for dinner in the vault! BWG was once a bank and the nooks and crannies of this restaurant give it such an old world (almost Titanic-like) feel as you venture down the marble staircase where the private dining experience awaited us. My in-laws have the rehearsal dinner agenda and flow down to a science. Personal stories and anecdotes of the bride and groom filled the vault with laughter and heartfelt tears.
My sweet sis-in-law Neha's welcoming of Irina into our family left me welling up with tears, unable to look up. Neha, Irina and I share such a unique connection as the wives of those Markle brothers, a special club of 3 that can only understand what it's like to be married to one of the "boys" ;)
Elena, Irina's mother's toast also struck a chord within me, as she spoke to her only child, her daughter Irina, with her best friend since childhood by her side. Nicholai traveled from Moscow to celebrate Andrew & Irina's marriage and their friendship, standing not just the test of time but different continents was a powerful example of a lifelong frinedship. She spoke to the love of one's friends, the community of support that augments any marriage and family circle. She talked honestly (as Russians do;) and charged the room to hold on to those dear friends that have been with us through our lives, that even through the distance, disagreements, careers and choices, those that you have known since childhood and still have now....those friendships...THOSE are ones to nuture. And to hold on to tightly. To respect the changes that inevitably occur as we age. But in those differences grows understanding and a bond that is ever so deep. My mind immediately wandered to my own friendships since childhood: Jax, my first friend when we moved to Wexford. Who share the same 7year old memories that I do. I'm not sure there is a word powerful enough to convey the importance of that person's role in giving perspective to life. Elena, thank you for your words and the reflection is granted me...
Wedding Saturday rolled around the following day, Dad got to town, we rehearsed our song, and caught up over another batch of my (now famous;) chicken noodle soup. The song? "The Wedding Song" by Paul Stookey which was sung at our wedding last December and at so many of the guests in attendance weddings' as well. Having not sung in public in YEARS, my nerves were high, but as soon as we got up to the alter and it began, they melted away. To sing for Irina & Andrew on the most important day of their lives was a powerful moment for me to share with my Dad.
Irina was breathtakingly beautiful as she walked down the aisle in a dress so perfect for her in detail and style. The ceremony, presided by the childhood priest & family friend of the Markles, Fr. Ed, was full of love and sentiment. Jaina was not too sure about walking down the aisle this time around as flower girl, but as soon as the ceremony ended that personality emerged and she was a total riot from start to finish. And hands down the most adorably cute toddler in that white tafetta dress, matching fur cape and silver glitter shoes ;) Other highlights of my darling niece include her hilariuos commentary all night long:
"Uncle Lee, you're so SILLY!" -Jaina, hardly able to contain herself laughing with the crowd during Lee's speech.
"This is PopPop's car!" -Jaina, as we drove to photos in Washington Square Park in the hummer limo.
"I'll take the cheese sandwich!" -Jaina, upon sitting down at the dinner table, noticing the menu cards and placing her order ;)
Andrew & Irina, your love makes my heart swell. To many more shared memories as the years and decades pass and I wish you nothing but a lifetime of happiness! CHEERS (!!!)
ps: we're off to Barbados this week for our own anniversary celebration....what a YEAR. Back next weekend for and update that hopefully simply says: rest & relaxation x 5 days = heaven.