The wedding of Miss Constanzia Corleone [was] celebrated on the last Saturday in August 1945. The father of the bride, Don Vito Corleone, never forgot his old friends and neighbours though he himself now lived in a huge house on Long Island. The reception would be held in that house and the festivities would go on all day. There was no doubt it would be a momentous occasion. The war with the Japanese had just ended… A wedding was just what people needed to show their joy. And so on that Saturday morning the friends of Don Corleone streamed out of New York City to do him honour…
There were, now, hundreds of guests in the huge garden, some dancing on the wooden platform bedecked with flowers, others sitting at long tables piled high with spicy food and gallon jugs of black, homemade wine. The bride, Connie Corleone, sat in splendour at a special raised table with her groom, the maid of honour, bridesmaids and ushers. It was a rustic setting in the old Italian style…
Connie Corleone was a not quite pretty girl, thin and nervous… But today, transformed by her white bridal gown and eager virginity, she was so radiant as to be almost beautiful. Beneath the wooden table her hand rested on the muscular thigh of her groom. Her Cupid-bow mouth pouted to give him an airy kiss.
observations: Last year Mario Puzo’s essay The Making of the Godfather featured on the blog, and the entry should be consulted for my important views on how the book works. One of the things I said was: It is a great American story, with a superb moral framework, and what is says about American history, immigration, and attitudes is well-worth reading, and will remain so for a long time.
The long opening chapter about the Sicilian wedding in Long Island is an object lesson in how to set up a story, how to introduce your characters, and how to get all your plot strands moving. Puzo’s writing is not literary, but it has a tremendous onward force, and his structure is superb.
For EW and TH, on their own wedding day
The photos above are from Perry Photography and used with her kind permission: you can see more of her pictures at Flickr, or at her website weddingsinitalytuscany. Her wonderful photos have featured on the blog many times before.