To describe the event as “shabby chic” would be an understatement. Resourceful was more like it.
My sister’s wedding was intended to be as unique as she is. And it was, according to everyone in our small town who attended the legendary ceremony in the recently occupied cow pasture and reception in the newly-built equipment shop.
With the exception of the rented tent, tables and chairs and bridal bouquets that my mother insisted she purchase from the local florist, everything else was unmistakably something old, borrowed, and blue.
Rachel and her husband exchanged vows beneath an arch he crafted of welded horseshoes, a piece of hay ring, and a baler chain formed in the shape of her cattle brand supported by re-painted white columns that formerly held the ranch house porch upright.
My grandmother’s old quilts created the perfect accent for everything from our blue family chest that held the neighbor’s borrowed china to the reclaimed power company line spindle atop which the wedding cake was displayed.
While the bridesmaids’ dresses might have started out as new, it didn’t take long for them to conform to the theme. We were laughing too hard to be concerned with ripping them to shreds on old wire and blackberry bushes as my sister insisted on photos involving my Uncle Truett’s 1960-something Chevy Impala that has been parked in the pasture next to the ranch house for more than 50 years.
Thankfully the photographer didn’t complain about having to strategically place her subjects in front of a dirty white feed trough as she attempted to photograph us under an upturned hay ring with the barn and bottle calves in the background. Nor did she think twice about carefully balancing on the front end of our disabled Vermeer baler to get a good shot of the bridal party with pasture and cows in the background. And she showed no fear when my sister requested a “bride and her favorite bull” photo. Of course, Stoney was nowhere in sight, and Jake refused to cooperate given the strange circus of color and cars that entered his bachelor pad. Thankfully, Bear was ready for the big day and was subsequently captured on film greeting the strangely-dressed woman who usually brings him feed.
In addition to the bulls, the blue heelers played a pivotal role in the matrimonial mayhem. While all three were celebrities during the rehearsal dinner, it was Branson who stole the show during the ceremony as he proudly walked by sister down the aisle in his shiny tuxedo.
The highlight of the reception came later in the evening. Not to be excluded from the celebration, the cows my sister had “penned off” the ceremony site decided to make their way to the party.
“The cows are out,” announced the acoustic guitar player over his portable PA system. “Everyone parked in the pasture, please move your car and shut the gate.”
I suppose the bovines wanted to reaffirm any doubts from the rumor mill workers who had asked with raised brows, “Are the cow going to be there?”
My sister had assured everyone that it was her wedding, dang it, and her cows were welcome too.
Here’s to all of the ranch women who defy expectations…and refuse to throw anything away.