I recently attended the wedding of two friends of mine from college. It was the most original ceremony I had ever attended. Mount Olympus was their wedding theme.
I received a simple, but elegant invitation in the mail. The text was written on parchment in a Greek-style font. The only odd thing was it was addressed to Athena, Goddess of Wisdom with my address. Inside it invited Athena to celebrate the union of Zeus and Hera (Jack and Hannah) at the top of Mount Olympus (The Griffith Park Observatory). Below I was instructed to dress in proper attire and to prepare a brief and inspirational speech. Lastly I was instructed the time to arrive at the trail head and would be conveyed from there to the ceremony. I have to tell you I was very intrigued.
I looked at several pictures of sculptures of the Goddess Athena. I could have used an old sheet for the major part of the costume, but I decided since I was I renting the sandals with calf-high straps, the arm plates and the head dress I would rent a ancient Grecian-style gown. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I couldn't believe it. When I had first read the invitaion, I wasn't sure why they had chosen me to be Athena, but at that moment, I was surprised how much I looked like the statues come to life.
I arrived at the trailhead early. A few minutes later a very handsome man in an ancient Greek toga, came down the trail riding bareback on a horse. He stopped beside me, held out his hand and said, "Welcome, Athena." I offered him my hand and helped me onto the back of the horse like I weighed nothing. We passed another man and a woman on horses, dressed in ancient Greek clothing who were heading down to get more guests as we climbed the trail.
At the top of the hill, the handsome man helped me down. I'd been up there before. The hilltop is clear of trees an has a panoramic view of the city. Near the center of the hill ten sky chairs suspended by black metal frames, faced a raised platform covered with a plush burgundy, rug. Two tall, Greek columns stood at either side of the platform. They looked heavy, but I touched them and found they were hollow. There was also a gauzy canopy over the platform. It billowed in the breeze giving it an ethereal look.
More people arrived on horseback and one of the horsemen announced that the ceremony would begin in about fifteen minutes. When all the guests had been brought up, the riders dismounted and let their horses graze on the grass while they held the reins. All ten guests were dressed as Greek gods and goddesses. I knew most of them, but I didn't recognize all of the deities they were dressed as. There was a table set up behind the sky chairs with sliced vegetables, fruits, pita bread and hummus so everyone snacked and chatted about which Greek god or goddess they portrayed and how we came up with our costumes while a harpist played soft music in the background.
One of riders announced the arrival of King and Queen of the deities, Jack and Hannah. The harpist played a beautiful tune as we took our seats. First the Justice of the Peace rode up to the platform. Jack and Hannah rode up on two white horses with fake wings made out of real feathers sown onto the bareback pads on the horse's backs. They looked truly divine in their flowing, white robes, crowns of silver and gold, arm bands and sandals. A wedding photographer took pictures as they approached the platform. One of the riders came to take their horses as they dismounted and walked hand in hand to the altar. The scene was so beautiful I felt as if I was in another world.
The Justice of the Peace said a few words and the couple exchanged
wedding rings. The Justice of the Peace then called on each of us to speak our inspiring words we had written for the couple. I chose to tell a story, how I, as Athena, overcame obstacles by facing them head on. Every deity chose to tell personal stories. Actually, rather than being predictable, it was like we had become our characters and were offering advice from our own lives. Jack and Hannah loved it.
The ceremony and stories took a little over forty-five minutes. A couple of the escorts took the horses over to a line tied between two trees and kept watch over them while the others accompanied the harpist with flutes, lyres and small drums. Two waiters dressed as Greek servants brought out more substantial appetizers like, cubed cheeses, ambrosia salad, stuffed grape leaves, chocolates and wine or white grape juice to drink. They also carried out a magnificent, wedding cake, designed in the shape of the temple on Mount Olympus.
Though there was only appetizers, we were all stuffed and a bit tipsy. Everyone danced, joked and became more friendly. There was no bouquet to toss, or garter toss, but each goddess was given head wreath of roses and each god a head wreath of flowering rosemary which came with with drying instructions. Everyone also was given a white dove floating candle. The wreathes and doves together were symbols of happiness, love and wisdom. Everyone was blessed with good fortune and given a small bag full of grapeseeds for sending off the bride and groom.
As the sun was getting low in the sky, the riders mounted their horses and everyone was taken back down the trail. We all waited for the bride and groom to ride down the trail on their horses. They thanked us all for coming and we tossed grape seeds at them then rode off down the trail, into the sunset.
Since this wedding was very non-traditional, Jack and Hannah were planning a "normal" wedding for family members in the fall in Colorado (where most of them lived), but their official marrige was this ceremony. I was delighted to have been a part of the private ceremony as one of the gods.