Mother of the Groom

The Mountain Farmgirl recently got all gussied up in her Farmgirl Finest  for a red-letter milestone day in her life! The reason? Her oldest son’s wedding! You are invited to join her as she shares this very special event and all its exciting details, in “Mother of the Groom” …

See that picture of the woman holding the baby?  That’s me … about 10 minutes ago (or so it seems). That ‘blink of an eye’  between ‘then’ and ‘now’ was actually almost 25 years in real time; but honestly, where DID the time go? Farmgirls, if you have grown children of your own, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If yours are still young, however, let me warn you that you that one morning soon you’ll be waking up to discover – as I did -- that they are suddenly  grown up, getting married and leaving the nest.  Believe me, it feels like it all happens THAT quickly! (Not to worry, though  …  fortunately, even grown up  little chicks have a way of coming home to roost once in awhile!)

Our son Christopher (now almost 25) was born almost exactly 10 years after we lost our first child, a baby named  Andrew.  Needless to say, I savored every moment with Chris from the first time I laid eyes on his perfect little form.  Like most mothers, I prayed for him over the years, for his future, and for the woman he would someday fall in love with and marry.  I devoted all those mothering years to him and his siblings, giving about  1000% -- and loving every minute of it -- because that’s what mother hens do! Of course I made some mistakes along the way – everyone does – but my husband and I must have done a whole lot right as well, because when I looked at him on June 18th – his wedding day – I was button-poppin’ proud of the man he has become, and of Elizabeth, the woman he has chosen to be his life partner.

This young couple has an interesting story, which I won’t go into here, but if anyone is interested, our son Noah made them a wedding website that has lots of photos and personal stories on it at  

One of the unusual  things that you WON’T find on their website, (at least it’s kind of unusual for this day and age) -- is the fact that each of them had asked their parents for  Purity Rings when they were much younger, pledging themselves to stay pure for their future spouses.  They were both virgins when they married, and they never slept together until their wedding night. In fact, all four of our children have personally made this choice on their own, a decision that makes me very happy and proud of each of them.
So my Farmgirl Friends, allow me introduce you to my oldest son Chris. He’s had an interesting childhood! He was homeschooled all his life, and lived with us in a tipi for 9 months when he was 3 (until we finished building our temporary lodging). Chris later helped us build our permanent post and beam house; ‘helped’ birth 2 of his siblings at home, and played competitive chess that took him around the country and to many international championships in Europe and South America. In high school he was an officer in the Civil Air Patrol, was awarded Cadet of the Year, and also named  Young American Ambassador to China, where he spent the summer of 2007 in Taiwan and on the mainland. At the end of his senior year he was the recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded to him by our Congressman in Washington, DC  … (a great program, by the way,  for kids up to 21 years of age, homeschooled or otherwise. Check it out!).  Chris was a good student, but had an entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age, that turned his sights to interesting enterprises and projects rather than to college. Starting with raising mice for pet stores when he was about 7; helping to run the family Farm Stand for more than a decade during his middle years, and to being our assistant Manager here at The Lodge until about a year ago, Chris does everything he does with gusto … and this includes his amazing engagement to Elizabeth, which I should probably start with, as it sets the scene for the beautiful wedding from which I just returned.

Chris  doesn’t do anything by halves; never has and I’m sure he never will! That’s just his nature. When he decided to ask Elizabeth to be his wife, he planned everything down to the minutest detail.  He and his sister picked out the beautiful engagement  ring which he presented to Elizabeth one unforgettable evening at Glen Ellis Falls, about 10 minutes from where we live in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Glen Ellis is a 65’ waterfall that you get to by walking down a series of stone steps that wind through  fern-gladed woods, ending at the bottom where the waterfall empties into a large pool of pristine water. Chris had fresh flowers placed strategically along the steps, in addition to about 100 candles. He had also music playing as a backdrop to the splashing water and whispering trees. About half way down this idyllic path, he had a table set up with hors d’ouevres, the stopping point where he finally popped the question. Fortunately, Elizabeth said YES, or she would have missed the beautiful candlelit table set up at the bottom, on which was a dinner for two, specially prepared by our daughter and youngest son.  Yes, Chris is a romantic as you can see … and Elizabeth is everything we ever prayed for in a wife for him. She grew up in a wonderful family from Buffalo, New York, the only girl in a family of 3 brothers.  At the end of May this year she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was on the Deans List each semester on  a full pre-med scholarship. She received many awards and honors for her research in her major field of study,  Neurology. She is pretty as a picture, smart as a whip, funny, happy, thoughtful, kind  … and …. Well, I guess I’d better stop because I could think of about 100 other descriptions and I want to invite you now  to the wedding! Anyway,  you get the idea …  I am in love with her as much as Christopher is, and with very good reason. We had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth’s family when they came to meet us last summer, and we loved them instantly.  They stayed with us the better part of a week at our cabin in the woods, and we got to know one another and plan for the Big Event!

My husband and I are innkeepers in one of the most beautiful spots on earth … a place that has become known for its Destination Weddings, among other things, and we have been involved in putting on more than a few weddings for our guests. Although we had fantasized that Chris and Elizabeth would get married right here,  the deciding factor against it was Elizabeth’s very large family, all of whom lived in Buffalo … and our very small one (for whom travelling the 11 hours was not so difficult for the 25 of us as it would have been for the 125 of them).  The drive wasn’t as daunting for me  as the months and months  of planning the responsibilities that would take place at such a distance, and in a location to which I had never been. As “Parents of the Groom”,  we were responsible for putting on the Rehearsal dinner, which the kids wanted to have at a beautiful park. As a former restaurant owner and caterer, planning the menu and making the food was the easy part; but getting it there, heating it up and successfully carrying off a party for 65 kept me up  nights in the beginning. Good planning and organization are always key elements to success, however, and as in most things, most of what we worry about never comes to pass. As I wrote the addresses of the guests on the Save-the-Date cards and on the  wedding invitation envelopes in calligraphy, and also again while I lettered the framed Marriage Certificate that I gave them as a wedding gift, I had lots of time to plan in my head the details of  the rehearsal dinner party for family and friends.  I ended up shipping about 15 large boxes of party supplies and decorations  on ahead to Buffalo, and brought the food and the frozen cake layers (yes, I was also making the wedding cake!) with us in the car.

On the Wednesday before the wedding, our daughter, youngest son, my husband and I ‘shuffled off to Buffalo’ as they say, in our little Prius --- packed to the gills for the 11 hour drive.  We arrived safely, though twisted like pretzels from the cramped quarters and the lengthy trip, but happy to be there, and SO excited! After what had seemed like months on end of rainy weather here in the northeast, both the Rehearsal and Wedding days dawned picture perfect in every respect ... a clear, sunny 80 degrees.  The young people in our families – siblings, cousins and their friends – about 15 teenagers and twenty-somethings in all, were a blessing to me on the day of the Rehearsal dinner. They were the most lovely group of young people you could imagine… and they helped decorate the gazebo-style pavilion where we would hold the dinner and festivities that evening.  The entire day was taken up with preparations and it was one of the most fun and precious times that family and friends have ever had!  The food turned out great if I do say so myself, but truly, the food was unimportant … it was all about the coming together of two special young people who were very much in love. And it was about their respective families and friends sharing in that joy, and forming a larger family that will always be there to offer our love and support over the years. What a blessing it was! Our college friends – three couples in all --- had made the long trip and were there, which touched us deeply. It was a lovely event. That evening after the  rehearsal dinner, I took a big sigh of relief --- well, almost! Although that weighty responsibility was now lifted from my shoulders, I still had to decorate my wedding cake layers and get them to the Reception the next morning before  I could truly relax!  I used to make wedding cakes professionally, and my sister currently does, so between the two of us, we had the cake thing  covered!  However, if you’ve ever watched the cooking channel and seen the cake competitions, you know that the job isn’t done until the cake has been successfully delivered and set up in its final location ... sometimes easier said than done! 

I made the layers back home and froze them for the long trip.  The bottom tier was a ginger-apricot pound cake, the next was an awesome carrot cake recipe, then a German chocolate cake, and the top tier was Chris’ and Elizabeth’s favorite, a tiny carrot cake to be saved for their first anniversary.  My sister Sue put each double layered tier together with filling and frosting, while I set to work doing the decorations on the outside of each layer.  On the wedding morning, after we had our hair done along with the other girls in the wedding party, my sister and I drove the layers and set up the cake at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, a restored and very ornate opera house-style building in downtown Buffalo. At this point, the reality was setting in that MY SON WAS GETTING MARRIED!! This was made doubly -- and visibly -- clear when I saw the marquis on the front of the theater all lit up with their name in lights: “One Love, One Lifetime” starring Christopher Belcher and Elizabeth Anger”. 

With the cake successfully delivered, all that remained was to go back to our hotel, get changed and get to the church on time!  While I’m most likely to be seen in farmgirl overalls and work boots this time of year as I get our gardens planted and our inn all landscaped for the season, I can tell you that this Cinderella farmgirl  was transformed into a fairy princess once I donned the ‘fluff and feathers’ of my Mother of the Groom attire! My dress was of  plum colored satin, adorned with a hand beaded shawl. It was accented by a purple feathered Fascinator in my hair. Wow, ladies, I felt like a Queen!  Once we got to the church I was overcome with emotion, as I knew I would be.  (Good thing I switched to waterproof mascara!). I was proud as a peacock as our sons Noah and Joshua greeted us as Best Man and Groomsman, and our daughter Zia Alida was a beautiful bridesmaid.   The chapel was an architectural gem, the effect of which was made even more beautiful by the musicians who were playing the cello and violin. But truly nothing was more radiant than my beautiful soon-to-be daughter-in-law as she walked up the aisle to join our son, who was beaming from ear to ear! It was a very proud moment in our lives, I can tell you. Pastor Brown, with whom they have counseled for the past year with other soon-to-be-married couples, flew from his native Pittsburgh to marry them. Making it even more special, Chris and Elizabeth’s wedding was his last, as he is now officially retired. It was a beautiful ceremony.
The reception was so gorgeous! The venue was out of this world … truly a glimpse into a past world that no longer exists. The food was delicious, and there was lots of dancing, good times and memories made. And then, in the blink of an eye, Chris and Elizabeth were off to Savannah on their honeymoon, and we were headed back to New Hampshire! Our hearts were full, our first born was officially a married man.  As I write this, Chris and Elizabeth have just returned from two glorious weeks in sunny Savannah, Georgia, and are busily setting up housekeeping in their new apartment in Pittsburgh, PA where Chris is the Assistant Manager of the historic George Washington Hotel. Built in 1923, it has 30 hotel rooms, 60 Assisted Living units and 40 apartments.  Elizabeth will be continuing her research before starting grad school next year. Through the coming years, the  good times and not so good, may they always see the world through eyes filled with the love they  share today.

Here’s the latest video clip of their special day:

Thanks, gals for being part of this very special event in my life and for letting me share it with you.  Remember, love makes the world go ‘round!  Please sign my wedding friends  “Guest Book” in the comments section below!



Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings,
The Mountain Farmgirl







By: Karin
On: 07/04/2011 07:03:44
What a beautiful, wonderful day! May they have a blessed life together. Thanks for sharing.
Farmgirl #2708
By: MaryJane
On: 07/04/2011 07:31:09
This is the wedding of the century!!!!!! I'm crying with you. You must be so very, very proud. Hats off Momma Cathi! And thanks for sharing this inspiring story of love. It makes me want to go out and hug the world.
By: Jennifer
On: 07/04/2011 08:24:52
Oh my. The tears are starting in my the very title. At the end of August, I get to be a Mother-of-the-Groom for the last time, our second son is marrying in Iowa. Our elder son married in June 2007 and there is something powerful about watching a son marry. And my goodness, you are one amazing MOG. My duties seem to be mostly, "Keep my mouth shut and not wear white!" *heehee*

Take care,
By: Adrienne
On: 07/04/2011 08:34:33
Best wishes and congratulations to everyone!
By: Terry McLemore
On: 07/04/2011 09:09:48
Thank you so much for sharing this delightful love story with all of us. My own daughter is engaged and I just went with her to select her wedding gown. Blessings to your son and his wife for a lifetime of love. They are fortunate to have an amazingly talented and supportive family.
By: Pamela Joy
On: 07/04/2011 09:53:30
MAZEL TOV to you and your family, Cathi!
How very lovely.
Wishing the newlyweds all the best for an amazing life together.
By: Malinda @ Vintage Homestead Emporium
On: 07/04/2011 12:46:24
Your post was beautiful, inspiring and truly breath-taking. Thank you so much for sharing memories of your son's new adventure, being a husband and also gaining a new daughter-in-love.
It is evident in the fruit of such a fine young man, the many years of seed-planting and nurturing by his parents and the Lord.
For those of us not as far down the road in parenting, you have given hope and determination to continue the beautiful journey of parenthood.

His Blessings!
By: Lynn
On: 07/04/2011 13:16:29
Sounds so beautiful and I know the momentous moment of their announcement of "Now I pronounce you Husband and Wife" will ring long in your heart.

Times like these bring such joy to a mother's heart.

Thanks for sharing and... Congratulations!
By: Brenda
On: 07/04/2011 17:32:44
beautiful couple.
By: Sharon
On: 07/04/2011 18:08:14
What a very beautiful tribute to your son and daughter in law! Thank you for sharing this momentous occassion with your farmgirl sisters, I too had tears in my eyes as I read of the ceremony and day's leading up to it. Thank You Cathi, and brightest blessings to the new husband and wife!
By: Linda
On: 07/04/2011 21:56:30
MazelTov Cathi! What a beautiful wedding. I wish the newly weds a lifetime of happiness together.
By: Debbi
On: 07/05/2011 05:52:37
Cathi, what a beautiful wedding. It is always a milestone in a Mother's (and Father's) life when the first child gets married. I always tell my grandchildren that I want to put bricks on their heads to keep them small - my youngest tells me he can't help growing, it just happens. Thank you for sharing. My husband and I were just talking about our wonderful trip to you Inn last August and the great time we had in the White Mountains.
By: Karna Sperlin
On: 07/05/2011 08:32:47
Thank you so much for sharing your son's wedding. I have 3 boys who I also have prayed for since their births. Everything from their future wives, walk with the Lord, and their future careers. All 3 of them have been through purity classes, and we prayed and hoped that they would follow through that commitment...sadly, those commitments are now history. Our middle son Tyler (27) is expecting his first child next winter, with a wonderful girl that we are hoping to develop a relationship with. We are all moving forward and will love Daisy, Tyler and their baby unconditionally and forever. And will pray for this new life that he or she will walk with the Lord all the days of their lives. Thank you for sharing Cathi and God bless you and your family.
By: Shery
On: 07/05/2011 09:10:54
WOWOWOWOW!! Absotively beautiful, all of it. The photography is AWEsome. What a wonderful new chapter for your family.
By: Mindy
On: 07/06/2011 08:45:27
Tears are welling up in my eyes! So beautiful!
By: Debbie
On: 07/09/2011 07:00:12
Oh my goodness Cathi! Where to start? Congratulations! A beautiful tribute to motherhood and marriage. Truly two of the best blessings in a woman's life. You are so darned talented girl! All of it was just should be PROUD AS A PEACOCK!

Love and blessings,from your blogging sister from the BEACH!
By: KimberlyD
On: 07/11/2011 18:31:12
Congratulations on gaining a daughter!
My best friend since we was 9 years old was Tammy, we spent every weekend together and our summers. She got married an had 4 children 2 boys, 2 girls. Saddly Tammy passed away in 2000 from cancer, the children was 15-10 years old. I stayed in their lives, tryig to be there for them whenever they needed me. I have never married and can not have children. Alli, her 2nd oldest child got married in June of this year and she asked me to light the candle, because she didn't have her mother there to do it. I was touched, for this isn't something I ever figured I would do.
By: nameSue
On: 07/12/2011 07:43:43
You handled this like a true mother would! What really amazes me is the way you write. Your description of the wedding was so realistic, that I felt as if I had been there myself. Keep up the great work and congratulations, Cathi!
By: Darlene
On: 08/08/2011 21:56:34
What a beautiful love story! Every bride should be so lucky to have such an exceptionally romantic husband. May they be richly Blessed and more in love as the years continue. They are beautiful! Thank you for sharing their day.

Farmsister 1922
Darlene/Healing Touch

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir

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