A Wedding in Bensalem, Pennsylvania

by Sarah Birdsong
A Wedding Under the Stars: Bensalem, Pennsylvania. 1858 Street Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020

We find ourselves in the final installment of my time in the northeastern part of the country. As previously mentioned, I found myself in the northeast visiting friends for a wedding I was to be part of and wasn’t going to waste the opportunity to take advantage of my time there. This entry will continue where I’d left off in my previous piece, A Weekend in Philadelphia. I’ve broken this trip into three separate installments: my brief stay in New York, my weekend in Philadelphia, and the wedding in Bensalem.

I divided my time in Pennsylvania between Bensalem and Philadelphia, as the wedding was on a Sunday and its rehearsal that Saturday. My Philadelphia adventures are detailed in that entry.  This entry will focus on visiting Bensalem for my longtime friend’s wedding.

Bensalem, Pennsylvania: a Brief History

Home to five regions, the Allegheny Plateau, Ridge and Valley, the Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and the Erie Plain, Pennsylvania’s diverse topography produces a variety of climates. Home to humid summers and bitter winters, Pennsylvania is the 33rd largest state in the United States. The Mason Dixon line borders its southern edge, serving as the boundary between Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland’s border dispute between 1763 and 1767.

The state gets its name from a charter given to William Penn by Charles II in 1680, with the Latin word meaning “woodlands”, Sylvania, added to it. We are thus left with “Penn’s woods.” Colloquially known as the Quaker State, it is known as such due to the religion of its settlers and colonial history.

Bensalem is located in Buck’s County, bordering the northeastern Philadelphia.

Reconnecting in Bensalem

A Wedding Under the Stars: Bensalem, Pennsylvania. 1858 Street Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020

A Wedding Under the Stars: the bride singing with her family.

I’ve known Stephanie for sixteen years. She may yet be one of my oldest friends. While we’ve periodically lost contact over the years, we’ve always managed to reconnect as if no time had passed at all. Thus, when she asked me to be a part of her bridal party, I couldn’t say no. The wedding was scheduled for August 27th, and by that time, I’d breezed through New York and Philadelphia both.

The rehearsal was Friday, however, and I was excited to meet the rest of her family. Years ago I had gone on a trip with her and her mother, Penny, to Virginia Beach and loved every moment of it. I was anxious to reconnect. We met in a hibachi house, with the wedding party already in full swing. Excited chatter trickled through the halls as guests were introduced and old friends embraced.

Christine, Stephanie’s fiancée, greeted me warmly. Magnetic and boisterous, I could instantly see why Stephanie had chosen her. We spent dinner getting to know each other and reconnecting with those I’d not seen in years.

The remainder of the evening at the venue, ostensibly to practice our parts for the ceremony. To be fair, we did—all the while filling the hall with peels of laughter and tomfoolery. But Stephanie and Christine planned a geek wedding. They didn’t intend on an overly sacred affair. The hours passed and before long, the venue turned us out.

The Mad Dash to the Altar

A Wedding Under the Stars: Bensalem, Pennsylvania. 1858 Street Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020

A Wedding Under the Stars: the brides and their new mothers.

Morning came early August 27th. Piling my accouterment into the rental, we navigated Philadelphia’s excessive roadwork and construction getting onto I-95 to Bensalem. We arrived at the brides’ home in short order, its walls buzzing with nervous excitement. The rest of the bridal party rose with the sun to prepare at a salon. But I had hung back after a weekend of rising early and hoofing it across three states. I sat on the couch to get myself ready and before I knew it, I was assisting both bridal parties with their makeup. Because I perform as an artistic side venture, I always come overprepared. I’d brought nearly my entire collection of makeup with me.

I spent the next hour dusting powders and pigments on the faces of the bridal party, in tones of silver and gold offset by marine blue. Meanwhile, the limo arrived and we were due at the venue. The house erupted into a flurry of activity as everyone packed the last of their essentials and dashed for the door. Crowding into our seats, the bridal parties began its journey in delivering the brides to the altar.

Bustles, Lightsabers, and Sonic Screwdrivers

The bridal suite exploded in a flurry of silver, gold, and blue. In its wake, the bridal parties left bobby pins, dresses, and hosiery strewn across myriad flat surfaces. Concurrently, while the brides assembled their gowns, they also began to set up their accessories. Christine’s bridal party adorned itself in marine blue dresses accented by silver. Stephanie’s bridal party gold with marine blue, completing the brides’ Under the Stars theme.

I sat with Stephanie in the dressing room, as the brides desired to dress separately and surprise each other after. As we assembled her gown and bustle, we discussed the years spanning our friendship. As painfully shy children, we both had difficulties making friends.

We shared a love of writing, which became the basis of our friendship. The succeeding years saw us writing stories and developing characters in the various worlds we’d created.  The years had done nothing to dull these interests, even if they did diverge.

Finally, following the finishing touch of Tardis blue Converse, Stephanie was ready to reveal herself to her bride-to-be. Opening the door, the brides unveiled the final result of all their preparations. The photographer’s camera flashed, laughter and tears flowed freely to the sound of applause.

Unquestionably, their personalities came through in their ceremony. Their floral arrangements featured a lightsaber for Stephanie and a Sonic Screwdriver for Christine amidst flowers matching the brides’ colors. The ceremony was inundated with references to D&D, Star Wars, Star Trek, and various video games. It made for a ceremony both memorable and charming.

Stormtroopers and Flower Tosses

A Wedding Under the Stars: Bensalem, Pennsylvania. 1858 Street Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020

A Wedding Under the Stars: the flower toss.

Following the ceremony, the bridal parties took their seats at the head of the reception room. Pale blue recessed lighting bathed the room in a quiet glow as the brides were announced, prompting wild cheers and cheers of delight. We spent the evening, sharing stories, toasting, and dancing… badly. Indeed, the DJ took full advantage of the wedding’s theme by donning a Stormtrooper mask and performing the electric slide unprompted.

Eventually, when it came time for the bouquet toss, I scarcely lifted my hands in surprise before the flowers landed directly into my unexpecting hands. All eyes were on Sean and I as we exchanged a look and finger wagged each other.

However, what was by far the most memorable in my mind was the performance by Stephanie, her brother, and her father. She recounted a childhood where she was bullied by her classmates, where her only refuge was the musical inclinations of her family. Together they sat, playing instruments and singing folk music together, until the day’s torments were washed from young Stephanie’s mind.

Stephanie and her father both work for the airline industry, making the sky a family affair. As such, The Biplane, by Evermore, holds a sentimental and symbolic value to her now as it did then—the belief that tomorrow will be better.

Way out in London airport in hangar number four
A lonely little biplane lived whose name was Evermore
His working days were over no more would he sail
Upon his wings above the clouds flying the royal mail

 

Bye bye biplane once upon a sky plane
Bye bye hushabye lullabye plane

 

All the mighty jet planes would look down their nose
They’d laugh and say oh I’m so glad that I’m not one of those
And Evermore would shake away the teardrops from his wings
And dream of days when he again could do heroic things

 

Bye bye biplane once upon a sky plane
Bye bye hushabye lullabye plane

 

Then one day the fog and rain had closed the airport down
And all the mighty jet planes were helpless on the ground
When a call came to the airport for a mercy flight
‘Twould be too late, they could not wait, someone must fly tonight

 

Ah they rolled the little biplane out to runway number five
And though he looked so small and weak he knew he could survive
And as he rose into the storm the big jets hung their wings
And they hoped someday like Evermore to do heroic things

 

Bye bye biplane once upon a sky plane
Bye bye hushabye lullabye plane

 

And so my baby bundle I have spun a tale for you
You must learn there’s nothing in this world that you can’t do
Do not be discouraged by circumstance and size
Remember Evermore and set your sights upon the skies

 

Bye bye biplane once upon a sky plane
Bye bye hushabye lullabye plane

The night rolled on, flush in high spirits and elation. By the end of both the ceremony and reception, the venue was again turning us out, so long did our libations carry over. It was truly an event fitting Timelords, Jedis, and Muggles alike.

My extended weekend drew to a close. The next morning I boarded the plane bound for the southeast, heart full, feet heavy.

The brisk visit to New York City was beautiful and full of character, my reprieve from its bustle in Philadelphia refreshing. However, the true reason for my journey northeast—Stephanie’s wedding—issued a solid reminder as we ushered her into the next chapter of her life:

Old friends, the open road, and happily-ever-afters are the joys that make life worth living.

ADDITIONAL READING

I have compiled a list of additional resources regarding this entry and its contents for researching the topics therein:

Visiting Bensalem: a comprehensive list of activities and travel guides for Bensalem.

Fisher’s Tudor House: the brides’ wedding venue.

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1 comment

David Rossetter December 29, 2017 - 12:36 PM

This is beautiful, Sarah. Thank you for sharing your memories of an amazing experience.

Reply

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