Thursday, November 24, 2011

Signorina to Signora

Exactly a year after Claudio "Finni" turned me upsidedown while babysitting and asked "do you want to married me?" we spontaneously decided where n' when: Italy (his folks don't fly), and soon -
3 Settembre, 6 months away.

From the moment I turned rightsideup, I knew where to find my dress: Vwidon in Chicago. Carla Hwang had designed my sister Liz's wedding dress 9 years earlier, and when it was my turn, the first one I stepped in was just it. The organza layers made me feel like a cloud. A Jewish cloud, with covered shoulders ready for the Catholic service with an ultra-hip priest who let me sing Free to Be You and Me on the altar.

The same art-deco livingroom floor that staged full-on choreography forced upon Liz to "When Doves Cry"... held piles and piles of family photos. Finni and I would choose and use them to bring our Chicago and Busa families a little closer - connecting grandparents to nonni, great-grandparents to bisnonni. 

My Grandpa Ned "All Dressed in Yellow":

and his love, Grandma Ruth "Here Comes the Bride":

We melted her wedding ring to make ours, thanks to Michael at Fitzgerald Jewelry in Brooklyn. 

Chicago brought the first sparks of the explosive-wedding-to-come, at a celebratory dinner my godparents threw for us in their stunning home. Opening his-and-her robes a little too enthusiastically, the pink tissue skimmed a candle and burst into a crazy flame. Squeals from my Mom: "ooo! ooo! ooo!", and before I even registered what was going on, Finni somehow grabbed the fire like a football, barreling into godparents on the path to the kitchen sink.

Here he is guarding my wedding dress at the airport

Liz asked me what my wedding colors were (!), so I quickly found some at Pearl Paint back in NY, and commissioned my students to use them to compose pieces for our wedding. 

My student Leo wrote:

Nature's Wedding Song

Apple trees bloom in a pretty way,
and it is Amy and Finni's wedding day!

Fish swim in a special way, 
especially when it is Amy and Finni's special day!

Grass is usually very green, 
like the most fun wedding you've ever seen!

The wind is very very strong
There's lots of love in this wedding song!

A visit to the Italian consulate for pre-wedding papers, and a "Parting Gift for the Tastebuds" on "clouds of chantilly" from our close friends...

...then Buon Viaggio! (first Finni with the dress, then me with my accordion a week after). 

Arrived in Italy to a bunny (in Italy they call dust-bunnies: "cats!"), 

two eggs, 

 and the same neighbor from last summer, our lovable "Gaudi of Dolo," Armando.

Now it was time to go through Finni's family photos:

(his Dad Mario being silly)

and start doing hardcore, I-can't-speak-Italian-but-I'm-going-to-attempt-to-plan-a-wedding-with-expressive-hand-motions wedding planning.  Actually, if you want to learn Italian, I highly suggest planning a wedding. There's nothing like an ugly chair cover being forced upon you to make the words start flowin'. 

The confetti lady (Italians traditionally hand out almond candies at the end of weddings) asked me if I was from Texas because of my wedding color palette. ?! What followed made the road from Signorina to Signora so much smoother: 

2 intense months of loving, home-centered, tactile wedding prep. Finni's Mom Maria Teresa offered to sew the confetti bags herself from fabric we picked out, 

while I tied the confetti in tulle.

Maria Teresa had once worked in a shoe factory, specializing in the tops of shoes and bows. She tied all of the bags with such care, taking nights and nights. 

                                                                          photo by Elisa Caldana

She also handmade me a silk shirt to wear at our big Feston' (party for all of Finni's friends the day after the wedding), to match the Miu Miu tutu of my dreams, 

and kept my veil, wrap and bow laying crease-free on Finni's childhood twin bed.

 Mario cut our chuppah from cloth made by hand on a loom by Claudio's Nonna Ina, and Bisnonna Angelica in the 1940's, and embroidered our names in Finni's favorite color.

Finni traced the outline first. 

Once I found a red wooden kaleidoscope for Finni at a great store in Padova called DaFrom (which I think means "From From"). For placecards, we picked up a ton of them.

They reminded me of a ladybug birthing center we found.

We made up melodies for each person's name and attached them to the kaleidoscopes. Most of the guests were Italians (Finni has a big family), and their names are molto musical to start, so it was easy. 

Right after we first met, I signed off an email with an xo. Finni said "what's an xo?" "A kiss and a hug!" We started making xo's for each other out of everything we could find, passing them across the ocean via photos and videos. So I relabeled some wine from the Cantina Sociale with xo's.

 Then designed menus,

     photo by Courtney Doyle

table numbers,

and programs
 (the octopus drawing is from one of my favorite childhood books, Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip),

drew goodie bags for the kids, 

                                                                     photo by Courtney Doyle

and for the adults, 

did the seating chart, 

finished a cookbook for the American guests,

 wrote some Eucharistic Music, eventually arranged for piano, guitar, flute and bassoon,

and arranged One Hand, One Heart from West Side Story for the processional.  Finni had to take the role of musical assistant - because my Italian was so so-so, he single-handedly had to put together the choir + ensemble, at a time when practically everyone was far-off in Puglia etc. on their August-vacation (Agosto, non ti conosco!), while organizing venues, hotels, buses, flowers, bands, Biennale tickets and beer taps. We spent mornings and mornings in bureaucratic circles, from Questura to Prefettura, Prefettura to Questura, to be sure all our wedding papers were in order, and got tips from girlfriends on wedding aestheticians.

Of the hundreds of xo's we have,

 I realized I never made one out of music. So whenever Finni stepped out of our little house, I'd switch on the keyboard and write a few measures of a secret "xo" song.

In the midst of all this, before the marriage, we got married. A small ceremony with the vice-mayor of Vigonza, who kept calling me not only by my middle name, Ruth, but by "Ruthie" which was her endearing nickname (I loved it, because the gold that would be uniting us was hers).

Isacco and Sanz were our witnesses.

After the small ceremony with my bursting "Si!"...

 ...a few bottles of Prosecco...

...a little shoe shopping...

...and some silly dancing at Sanz' place...

we jumped in the local pool! "Viva i sposi!"

All the while, my parents were packing for their trip to Italia for the big day, and making xo's via Skype:

This first Thanksgiving in Italy,

 I'm grateful for this years' homemade, heartfelt, hard-workin' love from my bigger, USA-BUSA family.

Stay on the Road-to-Signora in my next Papershade,
where 3 American wedding guests visit the ER and a refrigerator sings!

                                       photo by Elisa Caldana

p.s. My Plexi Lusso CD + International Music Video Project campaign in its final stage. Click here to see the cute video, and read about all the rewards. Be part of the miracle we need at this point to reach our goal in the next 19 days!!! 

*WIth a minimal economic effort, you'll be an impresario on an enormous artistic creation, sustaining the unbelievably creative, unusual work of these artists and musicians from around the world, and lifting their work, and my music, to the next level.* 

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