Trial Balloon

A Member of the Wedding

Posted at 5:30 AM on October 2, 2009 by Radio Heartlander (31 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - elinor

On Friday, September 18th, I found myself at a wedding for which I hadn't specifically been invited. This came about because I had purchased tickets to see one of my favorite artists in concert at First Avenue, unaware of the nuptials to take place during the concert. Lucinda Williams was to begin celebrating her 30th anniversary of her recording career right here in our town! While I was a little skeptical about a wedding situated between the main and encore sets of a concert, being able to see the concert to kick off what is essentially a retrospective of Lucinda Williams' work up to this point was exciting.

Williams began the concert with blues standards, which she sang while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, and worked her way chronologically through her albums. She talked about being rejected by rock labels for being too country while being rejected by country labels for being a rocker and about how it felt to be playing "Americana" before the genre had even been invented. Sometimes, however, there is an advantage to entering a market at its inception, and Lucinda Williams remarkable 30 years of recording music certainly exemplifies how this is true. By the time she got to the Essence album, it was pretty obvious that Lucinda Williams was most in her element when she was completely rocking out, and the concert remained at that pitch until Lucinda Williams in her unusually formal attire stood alone on the stage with her guitar.

Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams informed the audience, had been married on stage, and she and her beau Tom Overby reckoned that, if it had been good enough for Hank, it was good enough for them. Furthermore, she had recently had the opportunity to write a song with Hank Williams. Bob Dylan had in his possession, it turned out, some Hank Williams lyrics that had never been set to music and had invited Williams to compose music for them, and now she was standing on a stage getting married (as her idol had done), singing the Hank Williams' lyrics to the music she had written. Her poet father Miller Williams, who was very old south in his comportment, took the stage, lending a bit of sobriety to a situation where beer bottle toasts and hoots from the audience competed with the proceedings and reading his most anthologized poem The Caterpillar, a poem to which 7 year old Lucinda's contribution was the last line. The wedding was short, the vows were punctuated with laughter, and Tom Overby took up a guitar to join the band for the encore. The concert concluded perfectly with a fantastic cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)".

Without question, this was the most unusual and festive wedding I had ever attended. Barring "extreme" weddings you've seen featured on "reality" shows or perhaps Tiny Tim's marriage to Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, what was the most unusual wedding you've ever attended? Or perhaps your wedding, if you have been married, qualifies for the distinction.

* NPR All Songs Considered blog w/photos: Lucinda Williams Gets Married On Stage

Comments (31)

What a delightful telling of an unusual event. I hope JASPER sees fit to play "Here Comes the Bride" as a complement.

I went to the wedding of a college friend from a conservative family. She asked our 2 male gay friends not to dance with each other at the reception. They both said, "OK, we'll dance with Beth-Ann." I am not a very good dancer but never felt lighter on my feet than the wedding dance where I dance every dance with a broadway dancer who could lead well!

Wishing everyone a great day following good leaders like Elinor.

Posted by Beth-Ann | October 2, 2009 6:07 AM

wow, Elinor - beautiful description of Lucinda's concert and wedding! that would be a great wedding - one you did not have to prepare for, arrange dining hall, make food, order cake, or worry about what to get the couple. just applaud and enjoy.
maybe an unusual because it was so enjoyable wedding was one between good friends, about our age, in their new home, and we (her friends and co-workers) cooked the food. had a agreat crowd and wonderful service by my friend Janet. and carrot cake decorated with pansies. fun for all.
when i'm done streaming i'll check out the pictures - (thanks, Elinor!) and good morning. it''s been raining like mad all night.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 2, 2009 6:32 AM

I saw pictures of the Lucinda Williams wedding in the paper.Thanks, Elinore, for the interesting account of this event.

My wedding was a little unusual because my wife and I were married in an unplanned ceremony done by some friends in the woods behind their house. We only wanted one of our friends to sign our wedding certificate for us, but they decided to come up with a ceremony.

One of my daughters decided to not have a big wedding and went to San Francisco to get married in a court house. She and her husband had a party to celibrate thier wedding when they returned home.

Posted by Jim | October 2, 2009 6:37 AM

Very nice account Elinor. Must have been surreal. Great pictures of Lucinda and Tom. I'm wearing brown for my next wedding.

For unusual weddings - my younger sister was married in the A frame log cabin that her husband built near his family's farm in NW Iowa. They lived there for a full year without electricity or running water. My older sister was married in Duluth on one of those cruise liners on Lake Superior.
Most fun wedding was Lora's. Music and dancing were outstanding. At the end when it was time to clean up the reception hall because we had to be out at midnight, I said, "Can't we wait just a little longer?" The look she gave me is forever burned in my memory. What can I say? I was tipsy.

Posted by Donna | October 2, 2009 6:55 AM

Happy Birthday, Donna! i don't know your age, but Jim, that wedding sounds pretty 70s to me, right? ours was also - in a park over the Mississippi near Minnehaha on the hottest day of the year. we couldn't afford to feed people so we made it potluck and provided Roget' champagne (2 bottles for $5). took the Greyhound to Duluth for honeymoon (no car) - ha, ha!
ok, let's hear some stories

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 2, 2009 6:58 AM

After writing about the wedding of one of my two daughters, I realized that the wedding of my other daughter was also a little unusual. She was married in the conservatory in Como Park in the section with the big reflecting pool. She had a friend sing Kate Wolf's song, Give Yourself to Love, at the ceremony.

Posted by Jim | October 2, 2009 7:00 AM

You are almost right about the date of my wedding, Barb. It was earlier, 1969.

Posted by Jim | October 2, 2009 7:05 AM

nice account of the wedding. i heard it was going to be happening and like the idea of making it a public event.
it is odd having dale telling us what time it is when we know he is not there but mike can handle this i think. i bet those of us on the blog are the only ones who notice that there is no reference to the daily stiff as usual. thanks to elinor for keeping the blog rolling. this will be interesting to see how the experiment goes. thanks to dale and mike for figuring out how to do it. this whole radio heartland deal is a joy to watch the birthing of. great ability to roll with the punches and figure out a new way to do it. cudos to all

Posted by tim | October 2, 2009 7:09 AM

Greetings! One of the most memorable weddings I attended wasn't technically a wedding, but it had all the elements. Many years ago, I saw the stage production of "Tony & Tina's Wedding" in downtown Mpls. A total hoot, I had so much fun!

Another memorable, real wedding was when my youngest sister finally married. She married a wonderful man who shares her birthday and they were both 40 with their first marriage.

At the reception, the belly dancing troupe (old fashioned w/long sequined dresses) that she was a part of, came and surprised her. Of course, she had to perform with them to the delight of all. Thanks for stepping in Elinor, and good morning to all!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | October 2, 2009 7:17 AM

oh yeah the wedding...
we got married in disneyworld on the board walk with the epcot ball in the background on 01/01/01 at 1:01 so that i would not forget hte anniversary . we were trying to figure out how have a wedding that would include the kids. they were 14 12 8 and 2 with the last one on the way. we had a couple of family members and the kids and the ceremony was one the kids will remember for the rest of their lives. they are getting big now in college and high school and the scars of childhood are in place but the memories of the wedding will go on into the rest of their lives. it was fun too. not tasken too seriously life can be a kick.

Posted by tim | October 2, 2009 7:38 AM

A wedding that I did not attend (but without it I would not be here) with a fun story was my grandparents' marriage. They had been engaged for awhile as I understand and my grandfather carried a marriage certificate around for when the time was right (this was the 1920s). As family lore has it, they decided on a Thursday that the coming weekend was a swell time to get married - they were going to visit my grandfather's family the following week, so maybe they should be married before the trip (and what fun news to bring to the family!). My grandfather was teaching in the small southern MN town where my grandmother had grown up - so why not just walk down main street and invite everyone? Which is precisely what they did. My grandmother and a friend drove into Mankato and found off-the-rack dresses (which were lovely - my cousin almost wore grandma's dress for her wedding - except it was a little too fragile after 60+ years) and family friends hosted a picnic reception on their farm. The few photos from the day show how happy my grandparents were, and clearly a good time was had by all. I bet it was a swell day!

Posted by Anna | October 2, 2009 7:42 AM

Thanks Elinor

I thoroughly enjoyed the account of the wedding...beautiful! No really unusual weddings for me, although our wedding just a little over 30 years ago (could that be?) took place in Saint Paul, in JANUARY. Our relatives and friends from Illinois (not much warmer if you ask me) commented/whined throughout the weekend that it was cold everywhere including inside the hotel rooms etc. The temp did dip quite low, but it did make our wedding special and a real Minnesota wedding

Enjoy Radio Heartland, the blog, really loved Shenandoah by Peter Y.or U...well you know

Posted by michelle in Winona | October 2, 2009 7:55 AM

Thanks for all the comments and stories. Sounds as though there is a correlation between low stress, easy going ceremonies and fond memories!

I took plenty of photos of the Williams Overby wedding, but the 2 exposed rolls of Neopan film are still in my purse beside me, waiting to be dropped off the lab. Dale couldn't post them here anyway, since it is technically not permitted to take photos of concerts. I really need press credentials. ;-)

Posted by elinor | October 2, 2009 8:05 AM

Ten or so years ago we attended a dekightful wedding in the Collegveille, MN area. The wedding reception, though, is what remains impressed on my mind. The wedding couple announced that they would be glad to kiss at the traditional 'clinking' of glasses BUT those initiating the clinking had to be willing to stand up and sing a song ... in any language but English... before the bride and groom would kiss each other. What ensued was a delightful evdning of songs sung in Japanese, Korean, Finnish, Spanish, French, Russian, and few other languages. Marvelous memory, marvelous evening!
Dale - have any wedding songs in 'any language other than English"?

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | October 2, 2009 8:47 AM

I hope the set list included something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Posted by Linda in St. Paul (West Side) | October 2, 2009 8:49 AM

well, many of you were "here" when Dream and Majority "hooked up" as they say, without benefit of marriage, on that cold day in January. as the planner of the event, i gave them my unofficial blessing and we celebrated the union when the triplets were born in June. but Dream has lost interest in T - she is aspiring to be a career milker and the greatest in the world. yesterday, close to TWO GALLONS. how about a goats'-milk-bath honeymoon gift?

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 2, 2009 8:53 AM

The most interesting wedding I attended was one in Milwaukee in the early 1980's. The bride was a student from Poland, and the groom was a student from Libya. Most of the guests were connected with the Foreign Students Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The food was North African and was wonderful and the multicultural conversation was amazing. I didn't know it then, but the traditional Libyan village dancing was what we would recognize as belly dancing, but it was done by the men. I remember seeing all these young men who looked like Omar Sharif when he was in his 20's, belly dancing in tuxedos and waving white handkerchiefs over their heads.

Posted by Renee | October 2, 2009 9:04 AM

Well, that's what I get for not keeping up with the blog! I just assumed it was Dale who had authored the blog entry, and I kept looking for the 'comment' that elinor had made that everyone was responding to! Forgive me, elinor, for not paying attention that you are the guest blogger for the day. Loved your wedding story!

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | October 2, 2009 9:31 AM

Ann-Marie and I got married at the Minnesota renaissance festival. It was only our second time at the festival, the first being the year prior when I proposed to her. We wanted to get married outside and the back of the festival brochure said they hosted weddings, so we said why not!

It was a hot day (95), and we were in full ren-fest costumes. When one of our friends arrived on the grounds, the staff was carrying out a heat stroke victim on a stretcher. With the layers of dresses Ann-Marie was wearing we are lucky the bride didn't collapse. We told everyone to dress casual, but people over dressed.

Just prior to the ceremony we got to ride in the parade on the elephant, it was much more exciting than a limo! They had a nice blanket for Ann-Marie, but I wound up riding ON the elephant. I learned that elephants have short bristly hairs that go right through tights!

The ceremony was outside in the garden of the Blue Lion (now gone). It was actually quiet and relatively peaceful for the ren-fest. There was a Scottish minister who married us while wearing a kilt. We also hired a lutenist for a musical interlude during the ceremony. It was a great day!

Posted by DanT | October 2, 2009 9:34 AM

So fun to check back to see more of the stories!

Barb in Blackhoof, do you have an Etsy Shop?

Posted by elinor | October 2, 2009 9:57 AM

I actually attended this concert. My wife, a big Lucinda fan, almost dragged me to this event. When I found out the wedding was taking place I groaned, 'can we leave after the last song'? but she was right I was wrong (ouch!) the concert was amazing and the wedding was just a lot of fun.I mean it was a wedding and you could not help but get drawn in. As far as weddings I've attended stranger than this...well I played in a wedding band on Long Island as a youth so I have been to more than a few and I could tell you stories!

Posted by Buckner | October 2, 2009 10:14 AM

Interesting how many people (or their children) had really low key weddings. We eloped, married in the Winona County Courthouse in 1980 after a weekend honeymoon in Mineral Point Wisconsin, where a friend participated in a storytelling conference. Had a picnic reception later, but that day the "reception" was at McVey's ice cream parlor. :)

The prettiest wedding I remember was last August on a riverboat in St. Paul... To be traveling down the Mississippi -- or looking over it as in Barb in Blackhoof's -- what a lovely way to do vows.

Way to go, Elinor, thanks for this story.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 2, 2009 10:34 AM

oh, McVey's - now there are some tasty memories!
Elinor - what's an Etsy Shop?? i'm an ignorant boondocker :-)
you've done a great job of getting folks to comment today - such fun reading! thanks!

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 2, 2009 11:12 AM

I can't think of any really unusual weddings we've attended - some outdoor, a Christian/Jewish wedding, things like that.

But it made me think about what people found unusual about our wedding, which was a traditional church ceremony. One thing was that those attending thought my best man looked like Christopher Reeve. The other unusual event took place at the reception. At the time, my wife was known for collecting cow-themed things for her kitchen. So, some of her friends brought Holstein cow black spots to pin on her dress. It was also a tradition amongst some of her friends to do a table dance at some point. So we have picture of my wife dancing on a table with her friend, Holstein spots on her dress.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | October 2, 2009 12:27 PM

Barb - Etsy is an online store where you can buy and sell handmade stuff (if you make things you can set up an Etsy shop to sell through the site). It's everything from hand dyed yarn to jewelry to the totally indescribable. Here's the link:

Elinor - thanks for being our blog host today! Fun discussion.

Posted by Anna | October 2, 2009 1:35 PM

It was nice to see we could keep the comments going in Dale's absence!

Barb, I wondered about Etsy because you mentioned goats milk soap. I have bought a lot of soaps and shea butters from Etsy Shops. I sell photography in my Etsy Shop, though I don't keep list much there anymore.

Posted by elinor | October 2, 2009 2:26 PM

I think my sister might like it mentioned that she and her husband CHOSE to live like Caroline Ingalls and Michael Landon. They did have a generator to keep them from freezing to death when the wood stove didn't keep up.

Thanks, radio guys and Jasper, for playing Dream Cafe this morning. Lora, too, for your part. Made me feel very special. ;)

Posted by Donna | October 2, 2009 3:34 PM

Barb in Blackhoof -- did you live in Winona at some time? (we did in early 80s)

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | October 2, 2009 4:11 PM

Barbara in Robbinsdale - no didn't live in Winona but visited there many times because my husband's Grandmother lived there - and only a few blocks from McVey's. but all of our visits were before 1978 when she died. i remember how lovely the city was and the power of the summer storms.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | October 3, 2009 1:27 PM

Late to the party, but my best wedding story occurred when I was a kid. One of my cousins was getting married in the small town of Turton, SD (population 100 at that time). During the middle of the ceremony the town fire alarm went off. Half of the men in the church, including all of the groomsmen, had to leave to attend the fire in their wedding gear, since they were the volunteer fire force. The groom would normally have gone, too, but he was otherwise occupied.

Posted by Kris in Minneapolis | October 3, 2009 5:41 PM

I forgot to add my thanks to elinor for getting us off to such a great start over Dale’s vacation!

Posted by Kris in Minneapolis | October 3, 2009 5:42 PM

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