Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 14 - Attending a Bio Dome Wedding


I have never been to a wedding in a bio dome. This was not an event originally on my "I have never..." list, but I was happy to take up the opportunity when Rachael let me know one of her cousins was getting married at the Mitchell Domes in Milwaukee. Although I had never met Rachael’s cousin or his bride to be (Rachael has a total of 20 uncles and aunts… who each have a minimum of two kids), I figured attending a wedding at such a memorable place was an event I shouldn’t miss. My intuition proved correct.

Dan and Audra
Although I had visited the bio domes in Milwaukee when I was much younger, visiting them today felt much like the first time. Over the years I had forgotten about the minor details of the domes, which meant much of the experience felt very new to me. Upon arriving we spent some time wandering through the rain forest dome. The dome itself was much smaller than I remembered, but it was full of life. The dense foliage, the variety of colors present in the flower blooms, and the sounds of exotic birds demanded attention at every turn. I was happy to oblige as the environment offered ample opportunity to experience new things; a cornerstone of my ongoing “I have never…” challenge. 

After taking some photos of rare plants and foreign birds in the rain forest dome, Rachael and I headed toward the desert dome. We met her brother, Dan, and her sister in law, Audra, as we exited the rain forest dome. After a brief conversation, the four walked through the desert dome pointing out the stranger sites, commenting on the interesting choice of design in some areas, and having a few laughs.  Eventually we met the exit of the desert dome and crossed a tile hallway into a location called the “show dome.”

The “show dome” was lined with rows of flowers on either side of walking paths and around a pool of water. On the right side of the dome chairs were set up in rows facing a white gazebo.  We were clearly in the right location for the wedding. So, we worked our way toward the seating area and found good vantage for the ceremony, which was scheduled to start within minutes of our arrival.

The ceremony

We spent a few minutes talking with Rachael’s father, his fianc√©, and other family members before the wedding started. After a few minutes of chitchat the ceremony began and the wedding party, which included the bride and groom’s dog, filed in from opposite sides of the dome. The ceremony was unique in that in contained elements of the groom’s Wisconsin background and elements of his bride’s Indian heritage.  The groomsmen all wore traditional suits and ties found in most American weddings and the women each wore the traditional Sari dresses found in Indian weddings.  Although different from most weddings I have attended in my life, the two seemed to balance each other well, which was a trait obviously shared by the bride and groom.

The happy couple
The wedding ceremony was brief but heartfelt, with the bride and groom exchanging vows they had written for one another. Their words were filled with humor and an apparent love for one another, which made it easy for a stranger like me to support them in their big leap and wish them well on their forthcoming journey together. After the ceremony the guests moved the bio dome lobby for a few drinks as the wedding party took photos.  We were treated to Indian appetizers that were all new to me.  I was racking up new experiences with each bite I took, which added depth to the day’s event and gave me plenty of new reasons to love Indian food. The blend of flavors and spices was magnificent in each food that came before me, and we had yet to eat dinner.

When the wedding party was done taking photos we quickly transitioned to dinner, which was an Indian themed buffet full of foods I had never tasted. Although I have eaten Indian food in the past, the available choices for dinner blended familiar spices and ingredients in new ways.  There wasn’t a single menu choice that was bad, as I learned after trying them all. We were treated to a chocolate and red velvet cake after dinner had ended, which was followed by a few brief speeches and some dancing…

Dinner... So good.

Rachael, Dan, Audra, and I took another walk around the domes prior to engaging in the post-dinner festivities.  By this time night had fallen and the domes began lighting up with a variety of colored lights.  T  Each of them was beautiful enough to be worthy of their own entry in my ongoing adventure, but I was lucky enough to experience them all at once.
he “show dome” was ringed with multi-colored lights that altered the very appearance of the flowers scattered across the ground. The desert dome was lit with a pale blue light that rained down on the cacti, and the rain forest dome glowed blue and green from the lights penetrating the humid air.

The illuminated dome

Once we worked our way through the domes for a second time the four of us grabbed a round of drinks and worked our way toward the dance floor. While Rachael opted out of the madness that was about to ensue, Dan, Audra, and I started a tornado of goodness in a space occupied by about five other people.  For the next hour we danced until coats were removed, buttons came undone, and ties began headbands. We were in the zone, and nothing could stop our intense grooving. As the day drew to a close, so did the majority of the festivities. A sweaty mess, I told Rachael I was ready to call it a night, and we started our journey home.

Groovin' 

The night’s events are still fresh in my mind as I write this entry on the ride home. Being able to attend a wedding in such a unique place like the Mitchell Domes is something I never expected to do, but I know I was lucky to be a part of such an event.  Much of the experience was surreal in many ways, yet its beauty was worthy of a couple of John and Ferah. This event was one for the books.  I just hope there are plenty more like it to come over the next 351 days.

Heading home...

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