Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Buffalo plaid and barn swallows at an elegant wedding reception August 16, 2011

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Lindsey and Brent were married at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Wyoming. See my educational note at the end of this photo regarding seating during a wedding ceremony.

LONG GONE ARE THE DAYS of crepe paper streamers, tissue paper wedding bells and bud vases of carnations decorating tables at wedding receptions. That would have been my reception in the Vesta Community Hall 29 years ago.

Now when I consider that décor, I practically slink onto the floor in embarrassment. But it was what it was and no one expected more in 1982. We had a good time celebrating and that’s what counted.

Today it’s all about elegance and this and that and even hiring a wedding planner to coordinate the big event, because, truly, weddings have become events as much as celebrations.

On Friday my niece Lindsey married Brent in Wyoming, Minnesota, with the reception following at the Majestic Oaks Golf Club in Ham Lake. Now if you want to picture the polar opposite of my small-town community hall reception with the meal catered by an area grocery store and served on, gasp, Styrofoam plates with plastic ware, then Lindsey and Brent’s reception would be it.

Lindsey and Brent's reception was held in an elegant banquet room at Majestic Oaks.

The name Majestic Oaks suits the elegant banquet room décor. I felt rather like royalty dining at a round table swathed in a white tablecloth and set with hefty silverware—including three forks—under airy chandeliers and mini-white lights wrapped in gauzy fabric.

I didn’t need to fret about where to sit as tables were assigned. My husband and I were seated at table 13, which didn’t prove at all unlucky.

At this reception, guests didn’t form a buffet line; we were served at our tables. When I saw my nephew eating a flower—which I initially thought was a radish—from his dinner plate, I gasped.

My meal of chicken, green beans, potatoes and, yes, that edible orchid.

“You can eat orchids,” my sister-in-law informed me (she should know; she works in food service) and I replied with something like “I’ll wait 20 minutes to see if Jeremy’s OK before eating mine.” I didn’t and I did—eat that orchid. Tasteless. I prefer my orchid in a vase, although eating one certainly presented a moment of Fear Factor entertainment.

The bridal party’s entry into the banquet hall also proved entertaining as the attendants tried to outdo each other with dance moves. I had to ask my 25-year-old daughter why the maid of honor, my niece Katie, was wearing a buffalo paid shirt upon her entrance.

“Because she walked into the reception to the song ‘Minnesota Gurls’,” Amber told me.

The maid of honor and best man entered the reception hall wearing plaid shirts in the spirit of true Minnesotans.

Oh, yeah, sure, ya betcha, I thought, like I’ve ever heard of that spoof on Katy Perry’s “California Girls.” But I appreciated the nod to Paul Bunyan and Bemidji, where the bride’s parents attended college and where you’ll find Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues.

The bride skipped the plaid when she walked into the banquet room.

All in all, I’d rate the reception venue as fancy schmancy based on my experiences as a wedding guest. Yet, one moment stood out as downplaying the elegance aspect just a bit. That would be the barn swallows nesting in their mud nests right above the balcony doorway. One wedding guest suffered the misfortune of being pooped upon.

A discussion ensued between my husband and me as to how the bird crap problem (both upon the guest and on the balcony carpet) could best be addressed. He suggested blasting the pests with a high pressure water hose, but then noted that swallows are a protected bird. I didn’t believe him, but he is right.

IN SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION, my niece’s wedding proved educational as follows:

  • Barn swallows are a protected species and will poop on you whether they are in a Redwood County barn or outside a fancy Ham Lake banquet room.
  • Orchids are edible.
  • California girls are not the only ones with a song devoted to them.
  • Do not sit behind the tallest member of your extended family during a wedding ceremony.
  • Always do a last-minute check on directions to your hotel because road construction may have occurred between the time the invitations were mailed and the wedding date. Do not assume that, when you spot your brother’s law office across the street from the gas station (where you are asking for directions to the hotel) at midnight that you can break into the law office and spend the night there because you can’t figure out where the heck the hotel is located and neither can the convenience store clerk because the hotel name constantly changes.
  • Brides should not crash other bride’s parties. Show up twice and security, aka the bartender, will be alerted. My question to the party-crashing bride: Was Lindsey and Brent’s party more fun than yours or were you too inebriated to realize that you were in the wrong banquet hall?
  • Finally, young men who enter the women’s bathroom looking for a woman named Rosa will be stopped. By me.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER favorite wedding shots:

Maid of honor Katie tucked her iPod into the sash of her bridesmaid's dress.

My sister-in-law Rosie, the bride's mom, gave out last-minute instructions before the ceremony. She appeared calm to me. Now whether she really was that calm, I don't know.

I love this sweet shot that shows my niece Jocelyn with her daughter Meghan before the wedding service. Meghan, who will be two in October, was the flower girl. She walked down the aisle, oh, yes, she did.

The more I look at this photo, the more I like it. The image of Lindsey and Brent entering the limo reminds me of two celebrities swarmed by fans and the paparazzi.

One of the groomsmen opened his window and I snapped this image.

Photographing guests photographing the bridal party.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling