An Irish Wedding (Danny Carpenter)

My Aunt Sonya’s cousin Emer was getting married here in Galway and I was invited along since my uncle was not able go with my aunt.  So early Saturday afternoon I got dressed in my new dress clothes from Penny’s and my aunt, her brother Michael and his new bride Colette collected me from my flat and we drove to Sonya’s mom’s house.  By the time that everybody else was dressed and ready to go, it was about 12:45; fifteen minutes before the start of the ceremony.  As is typical in Galway, traffic was horrible with streets full of cars going through the multiple traffic lights, multiple lane roundabouts, and even the roundabouts with traffic lights.  When we finally arrived at the church in Knocknacarra it was almost ten past one; however, this was an Irish wedding so the guests were still standing outside the church chatting amongst themselves.  My aunt told me that the wedding does not begin until the bride arrives at the church, which in retrospect is probably a good reason to hold off on starting the mass.  I walked up to the church doors with my aunt, her brother and her new sister-in-law and was introduced to their relations.  When people found out I was from the states, they immediately asked if I had ever been to an Irish wedding before.  When I replied that I had not, they would smile and say that I am going to have a lot of fun.  All of the guests were dressed so elegantly; and I could not help but feel surprised at how many of the women were wearing small intricate hats that I have never seen anything comparable to at any function that I have attended back stateside.

We were finally told that we should begin to find a seat, and at about twenty to two the bride arrived at the church and the ceremony commenced.  The mass was conducted very similar to how a catholic matrimonial mass would be back home with a few exceptions.  First, the whole mass was said with the incredible Irish accent that enhances any event that I have thus far attended.  Second, like almost everything here in Ireland, the mass was bilingual-which I often times did not think much about until I would begin to start saying the Our Father, or other responses, in union with the congregation and very soon realize that what I was saying followed the same rhythm as the rest of the congregation, but did not in any way match what they were saying.  My aunt’s brother would nudge my arm after an occurrence and whisper to me that it was in Irish. Thanks Michael. Third, as is the case back home, the bride, groom, wedding party, and the couple’s parents were the first to receive Holy Communion.  However, like all other masses here in Ireland, the communion process for the rest of the churchgoers was every man for himself.  The process is very archaic and unsystematic where you stand as you please and just nudge your way into the queue as it processed towards the priest standing at the front of the alter.

After the mass was complete and the photographer had their way with the wedding party and priest, we all filled out of the church to congratulate the happy couple.  I felt a little awkward going up to shake Emer and Dermot’s hands and to wish them well since I have never really been introduced to either of them in any sense at all. This hesitation increased even more so when I became separated from my aunt. However, Emer took one look at me and said “You must be Robert’s son.  We are so glad that you came.” Alas, my curse of being immediately recognized as a Carpenter has spread from the streets of Horicon Wisconsin to this church in Galway.  I met Aunt Sonya and she smiled said “See, it pays to look like your father some times.”

Danny Carpenter is studying abroad at the National University of Ireland – Galway in Galway, Ireland.

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