I have not been in public crowds for a very long time and I was very apprehensive about our visit to Cleveland. But my cousin Jeff was marrying the lovely Lauren and I wouldn't miss that for the world. Well, yeah, I probably would have if Covid was as bad as one year ago. But with the vaccine and booster, an N95 and another to put over it, and the promise of sitting at a vaccinated table after the outdoor wedding ceremony, I was good to go!
Our first stop in Cleveland, though, was not a wedding activity but to the Strong Bindery, a bookbinding studio in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The mission? A new cover for the absolutely falling-apart recipe book my grandfather penned in 1876 when he was a confectioner in Buffalo, NY at the height of the burgeoning confection business. Back in the day, confectioners made more than caramel creams. They also made medicinal lozenges and the recipe book includes the recipe for "opium lozenges." (Take 4 ounces of opium...)
I found this book in my mom's things. It had no cover and was in several pieces. I wanted to get it preserved. Ellen Strong seemed just the person to do it. We enjoyed quite a lot of conversation as she explained the mechanics of this and after leaving the book and a deposit (knowing full well that it would not be till next summer I would see this again), we were off.
After a small partial-family dinner on Saturday night, we headed to our hotel and the next morning hung out till wedding time. The wedding was held at the Cleveland Zoo. We parked in a special lot and took a shuttle to the venue, which was on a lake near the carousel, the giraffes and the reception building. (I'll have a few animal pix in another post!). Jeff and Lauren were engaged at the zoo, so it was a fitting locale. Loads of chairs were outside, facing the lake with a fountain in the middle and it was lovely. (This is cousin-daughter Heather and Mike. Heather will be the first in David's family to have a grandchild -- coming in January!) Behind that fence was the pond.
The theme of the event was baseball -- these Cleveland folks are rabid sports fans!
We didn't take pix during the ceremony, which was very brief and led by Jeff's almost-since-forever friend. But as you can see, they were a cute couple!
People were quite good about masking, even outdoors -- which made the hugs more possible!There was even a "Dog of Honor" -- Briley, Lauren's service dog. Several of Briley's friends were in attendance!
I, of course, had to have a photo with the groom!
Rick looked extra cute, too!
Jeff's brother, Mark, gave a wonderful toast. After all, who better for the job than one who has known you your entire life?
And of course, there was the bride-and-groom dance!
After dinner, we headed onto the patio, which was large and we could lose the masks if we chose. After all, it's hard for the parents of the groom to eat cake with a mask! (They also had an ice cream sundae bar, which I thought was a great idea!)
Even the favors were fun. They set up an area like a concession stand with ballpark treats like candy bars, peanuts and chips for guests to take away, along with soaps and even a bag of treats for those who had dogs! We all got buttons with the caricatures of the bride and groom and little ones got a color book with lots of drawings of Jeff and Lauren doing fun things, like riding a balloon, with the dog, playing baseball or at the zoo.
The next day we met up at my cousin's for an informal patio lunch and time to actually talk!
The darling Baby Ben was there -- not so much of a baby anymore!
All in all, a wonderful time together.
And it even felt kind of normal!