A hundred or so people turned up for an engagement party in Sonoma Valley last rainy Sunday and got a fine wedding instead. Ross Cannard married Kate Cherry at a surprise ceremony in their Fowler Creek farmyard.
Uncles, aunts, parents, cousins and lots of friends were milling and mixing, enjoying fine wine and a mountain of splendid cheeses, olives and pate, waiting for the two rosemary stuffed spit-roast sheep to roast. Judging the moment to be about right, best man Nick Rupiper stood on a chair and announced the change from engagement to wedding.
Before the happy crowd could catch their breath, uncle Jack Cannard took over on the chair, took off his hat and announced that what was needed around here was a tractor! From the rear of the audience a voice shouted “and a vacuum”.
Jack stuffed a bunch of bills in his hat and passed it to another uncle. “Let’s get a tractor and a vacuum for Kate and Ross”.
The people cheered, and with this singular move, the momentum soon swung to the wedding nearby, under a kind of multicolored parachute rigged like a circus tent and tensioned between the barn and the fenders of a ’57 Chevy truck.
The ceremony took place in front of the band, assorted livestock, and an audience led by parents who remained in a state of mild shock; Connie and Art Cherry, Ditty Vella and Bob Cannard.
The words and vows chosen by Kate and Ross were beautiful and satisfying to all gathered.
Soon after, everyone was enjoying the barbecue, either under the parachute or in the milking parlor where tables replaced cows, and afterwards, the newlyweds served us all with a selection of six wedding cakes – all baked by the bride, with ice cream sandwiches as an alternative or addition.
It wasn’t the kind of obvious wine country wedding you may have seen in glossy magazines - against a backdrop of a Tuscan tasting room - instead it had the simple yet rich texture of a different but just as real Sonoma. A Sonoma of people who grow and enjoy good food, who tend vines and make wine that has a true ense of place. People who sit at a table for dinner every day. and plan for a life of plenty rather than wealth, of depth rather than height.
What a happy day. Here’s to Ross and Kate, and here are some words from their ceremony.
“At the end of this ceremony, legally you will be husband and wife, but you still must decide each and every day that stretches before you, that you want to be married. Make this decision and keep on making it, for the most important thing in life is to love and be loved.”