My father, concerned about Saturday evening wedding crashers on a popular beach, had hired a Barnstable police officer, and checked in with him halfway through the evening. The officer told him that the fog had almost created an invisible wall. The only people on the beach were those on the invite list.
After the sun set, in the darkness of the beach, Christo and I climbed one of CBA’s lifeguard towers, like I had many times as a kid—this time with our wedding, the lights of the pavilion that we had strung the day before, the sailcloth tent, and the sounds of music and laugher behind us.
Days after the wedding, I found a photo taken on an iPhone by Fran Lahey—a longtime CBA member who is on the board of directors. Fran watched our wedding from a beach chair in the sand (alongside many other beachgoers) that day. My best guess is that the photo was taken around 3 p.m., when setup was near complete. The benches are arranged in the sand, the chuppah is waiting for flowers, a soft line of clouds spreads across the top of the frame, and one lone sailboat drifts by in the distance. I like to think that onboard that boat are all of the people who weren’t at our wedding—our many grandparents stopping by to survey the scene, an uncle who loved to fish.
People have described the setting of our wedding as “intoxicating.” It’s an intangible descriptor that’s hard to argue with.
I never met Grandpa Joe. But I imagine that when he pulled up at CBA’s entrance in 1938, he felt the way I do, and the way I’ll feel every time I arrive there in years to come: a sense of calm that comes only from being near the ocean, paired with the comfort of that soft southwest breeze and the sand at your toes.
Weddings often seem like they are all about one day. But this wedding, our wedding, wasn’t. It was about close to 100 years of family history and about the power of place, this place, and love.
Cassie Shortsleeve is a freelance health and travel writer whose work has been published in Shape, Men’s Health and Condé Nast Traveler, among other publications. She lives in Boston with her husband.
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