By Cheryl Kravitz
At a wedding like no other, the sounds of The FAME Jazz Ensemble (high school musicians from The Foundation for the Advancement of Music & Education) heralded the “jazzy” arrival of the Linda Mathes and Robert Mitchell wedding processional as they made their way down the aisle at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest.
“Westminster’s decision years ago to make our main gathering area into a non-traditional space that facilitates a wide range of community-building activities continues to be a great one. We are grateful that Linda and Bob found their way to us to celebrate their very elaborate wedding with family, friends, and a host of supporters,” said Reverend Brian Hamilton of Westminster.
The wedding definitely had a New Orleans vibe. Ring bearers Sadie Isquith, Lucas Slabach, flower girls Amara Isquith, Zaria Isquith, Lily Slabach, Kelsey Vaughn, and Amelia Whitney, and flower boys Milo Romano and Henry Stallings threw flower petals during the processional and gave guests multicolored beads after the ceremony. The ceremony was officiated by Linda’s longtime friend Karla Finger and the maid of honor was Linda’s cousin Nan Sprouse. Serving as best men were Bob’s sons Nick Mitchell and Jake Mitchell. Linda noted that Cantor Michael Kravitz gave a blessing that filled all hearts with inspiration and hope and sang his toast with an unforgettable version of “To Life” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.
A high point of the wedding was the number of musicians representing genres loved by the bride and groom. Most had performed over the years at Westminster’s Friday night jazz or Monday night blues sessions. Performers included Jon Ozment, jazz pianist, The Gary Montanaro Trio, the Vaughn Ambrose Quartet and The Nighthawks, who got the crowd on the dance floor. Two surprise performers were Frederic Yonnet, urban jazz harmonicist, who made his way around the tables playing “It’s A Wonderful World” and Chris Ulman, The Happy Whistler, who surprised Nan Sprouse with a whistled Happy Birthday song. Bob’s longtime friend Lee Cowen served as emcee during the reception. The event was catered by Southwest Catering and the flowers were provided by DC florist Stacie Banks at Lee’s Florist.
“We absolutely loved working with Debbie Jefferson and her Westminster Presbyterian Church team and Chef Mike DuBose and his Southwest Catering team,” said Mathes and Mitchell. “They pitched in every step of the way with their beautiful spirit to make our vision for a celebration come true. Truly, we can’t say enough positive things about the people we worked with at the Church. They helped create the atmosphere of spirit, joy, and love we wanted everyone to feel. We have amazing friends and family members and wanted them to feel our love and gratitude for each other and for them.”
Guests were given umbrellas, another nod to Mardi Gras, although they actually turned out to be needed during the various drizzles during the day as guests made their way to a large tent on the church grounds for the reception before and after the ceremony. At the end of the evening, each guest was given a seeded bookmark, that once planted would bloom into flowers. The gift was in memory of their parents and deceased brothers and included instructions to “Let love grow!”