We remained in Edmonton for a couple of weeks after all the excitement of Adia and Geoff’s wedding in Castlegar and the garden party reception for them in Edmonton. It had been a busy summer up to that point and we were only too happy to have some time to relax, visit some friends and family and to play a little golf. The two weeks flew by and it was time to head to Jasper to attend the wedding of Nikhil Kembhavi and Robyn Harrison.
Nikhil is the son of our close friends Alaka and Dilip Kembhavi. It seems such an odd coincidence that Nikhil’s wedding occurred shortly after our daughter Adia’s and that two years ago, Nikhil’s sister Gayatri’s wedding was less than a month after our son Raj’s. I guess that is bound to happen when you are friends with couples your own age and they have children of similar ages as well. In fact, our good friends Artur and Sarah Bohnet were unable to attend either of our children’s weddings because two of their own married on the exact same dates as Raj and Adia.
We had made our booking to stay in Becker Chalets in Jasper last fall before we set off on our long trip for Year Five. It’s next to impossible to get a reservation in the national parks during the summer months if you don’t book well in advance. Unfortunately, we were not aware that there was a function for everyone on the evening before the wedding and we had booked for only one night. We were sorry to miss the ‘Meet and Greet’ party as we learned that it was a big hit with all who attended.
Guests were invited to wear Indian dress if they were comfortable doing so, and many of the guests got into the spirit. Judging from the photos that I’ve seen posted on the internet, the stunning silks were as colourful as any you would see at a wedding in India.
We drove from Edmonton on the morning of the wedding, because the ceremony wasn’t scheduled until 5:00pm. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with the skies overcast, the temperatures somewhat chilly for a day in early July, and at times a slight drizzle damped the windshield of our car. We checked into our chalet and were surprised to find a lovely silk bag full of wedding ‘goodies’ waiting to welcome us.
We drove to the Jasper Park Lodge; a stunning resort nestled beside a small lake with the Rocky Mountains towering above it on all sides. There was a definite buzz in the air when we entered the lobby, many of the guests were on hand for the wedding and a large number of them were easy to spot because of their formal dress. I had half expected that the ceremony would have been moved indoors considering the weather, but we were told that umbrellas were on hand for anyone who needed them and that the wedding would be held on the expansive lawn between the lodge and the lake.
Anil was wearing his suit jacket of course and I was glad that I had brought along a woolen shawl because it was very chilly as we took our places. A light wind was blowing in across the lake and the skies were spitting slightly. While we sat waiting for the ceremony to begin, I admired the setting and the lovely hoops with suspended pomanders of flowers lining the centre aisle.
Just before the wedding started, an usher asked us to be sure to lower our umbrellas. Luckily, the light rain almost stopped completely and we turned to see the bridesmaids walk up the carpeted aisle. They looked stunning in their navy blue long dresses but I shuddered when I saw that they had almost entirely bare shoulders. I hoped that the wedding would be quick before the women became too chilled or before the rain began to fall once again.
We all stood as Robyn appeared on her father’s arm, looking radiant and fresh in her gorgeous gown. The wind whipped a wisp of her hair across her face but she didn’t seem to notice it, she seemed to be concentrating on Nikhil waiting for her near the edge of the lake. He stood with his three groomsmen, with his back to the breeze waiting for his bride to join him.
The ceremony was lovely but I did find it a little hard to concentrate as I watched the wind pick up and flutter the long gowns of the female attendants. All I could think about was how cold they must feel and how unfortunate that the weather had not cooperated for Robyn after all the planning she and her family had done. I’m sure Robyn and Nikhil had always envisioned a wedding in the mountains on a beautiful summer day, but it’s the risk anyone takes when planning a wedding in Alberta.
Looking back, I remembered our own wedding, held on the Victoria Day weekend in May, and how we were hit with a major spring blizzard that literally shut down the highways into Banff National Park, further south in the Rockies. Robyn and Nikhil were lucky that the rain held off until the ceremony was over, we were equally fortunate that the blizzard ended shortly before our wedding began.
Robyn and Nikhil smiled as they walked back down the aisle together and toasted each other with a waiting glass of champagne. We were among the many guests who made straight for the lobby of the lodge; we were somewhat chilled and looked forward to having our champagne indoors. The wedding guests more or less took over the main floor lobby and for the next hour or so we sought out many of our old friends and acquaintances whom we hadn’t seen for sometime. Weddings are great for bringing people together, especially when people live such very busy lives or are separated by long distances.
The balance of the evening was spent dining on a delicious meal while seated at a table with some people we knew well and others we were meeting for the first time. It was great that our meal was served to us at the table and we didn’t have to interrupt our hearty conversations in order to get in line for a buffet. There were a large number of tables and we couldn’t easily see the head table, but Nikhil and Robyn had opted to keep the speeches and other formalities to a minimum.
I would like to say that the real highlight of the evening was the live band that performed to a very enthusiastic crowd. I can’t remember when we enjoyed watching such a great group of talented musicians strut their ‘stuff’ with such energy. To put it mildly, had we been a little younger, we could have ‘danced all night’! It was great to see a large number of baby boomers like ourselves hit the dance floor, there was a great variety of music, something for every one young and old(er).
However, as they often say, every good thing must come to an end. We had a long drive the next day as we were heading to Victoria to move into the house that we had agreed to ‘sit’ for the coming three weeks. The drive from Jasper to Vancouver is long enough, but we also faced the wait for the ferry and the trip across to Vancouver Island as well and we wanted to be there well before dark.
We made our way around the reception room thanking Robyn’s parents, our good friends Dilip and Alaka and saying goodbye to the bride and the groom. Nikhil was a little disappointed that we were leaving before he had played his own saxophone with the brass section of the band. We expressed our regrets but it seemed like the young people were taking over the balance of the festivities and that we weren’t the only members of our generation to be calling it a night.
I searched for some time to find Alaka in order to say goodbye. At last I found her out in the hotel lobby, rocking her baby grandson Émile to sleep in his stroller. Alaka seemed only too happy to be away from the noise and the hubbub, freeing up her daughter Gayatri and son-in-law Clarence so that they could rock with the ‘in’ crowd. I said goodbye with sincere feelings because at that point, it wasn’t clear whether we would be back in Edmonton to see the Kembhavis again before we set off for our travels in September.
We slept well in our little chalet by the thundering river a short distance away. It had been unusually wet for most of the month of June and the inclement weather was obviously carrying on into July as well. Though we’ve been through Jasper many, many times in the past years, we had never see the river raging like this before.
When we woke early in the morning and set off before 7:00am, I stopped to snap a photo of the quiet scene that lay before us, the mountains were beginning to protrude from the cloud bank that had enveloped them the day before and the sun was glowing on their peaks. It looked like Alberta was in for some better weather, it was unfortunate that it was arriving a couple of days too late to give Robyn and Nikhil the dream wedding they had planned, but they were no less married, and for certain, no less happy to be together and starting the next phase of their lives together.