This has been quite a year for our family! Just nine months ago, we were celebrating our son Anthony’s wedding to Chelsea in Manhattan. I wrote about the toast we gave at that wedding then. Yesterday, I posted the blessings Stuart and I offered to Kate and Nik in their Pittsburgh wedding. Today, the wedding feast concludes with another blessing from Nik’s parents, Neal and Ila Stoltzfus, and toasts from the two siblings, Anthony Showalter, and Reese Stoltzfus. If you really love weddings, you might enjoy watching this slideshow also. It tells the story of the wedding from invitation to final brunch.

A Blessing from the Groom’s Parents

Nik and Kate:  We celebrate this day.  We are so happy that you are taking this step together and support your journey as a couple. 

Nik, we have enjoyed seeing you grow into a wonderful young man, and we note that there are some elements that have appeared in all of different stages of your life.    You have always been in motion, and soccer and running have been your activities of choice.  Almost from the beginning there was music, first beating on pots and pans with a wooden spoon and singing, and then piano, cello and bass guitar.  Always a tune in your head, always a beat in the hands. 

When Larisa was born, you were 22 months old and couldn’t say her name.  You called her Reese, and that has been her name ever since.  Often when you returned to the house, your first question was ‘where’s Reese.’  Nik, you were a very considerate big brother and really looked out for your sister.  This quality will serve you well in your journey with Kate. 

Kate, when we first met you at the Brickhouse in Goshen, nine Stoltzfuses had gathered for dinner to celebrate Nik’s graduation from Goshen.  You were not fazed at all by these 9 noisy family members.  Your poise and genuine interest in meeting and talking with us was delightful. 

Nik, when you brought Kate to Baton Rouge the first time, we all had planned many possible activities.  We did not need our activity agenda.   You both seemed to take over our ‘great room’ quite easily and comfortably.  In fact, when you did venture out, you included Neal and me in most of your outings.

Kate, we saw another side of your personality when the five of us traveled in England/Scotland in 2008.  You were ready to take on the challenges of hiking and climbing hills as well as eating some of the unusual local foods.   That was a very special holiday for all of us, and we realized that you are a very seasoned traveler. 

In reflecting and preparing for today, I remembered an event/a moment that I had tucked away in the back of my brain.  I call it “Interstate Epiphany”

 Interstate Epiphany

Spring, 2002:  Nik and I drove from Goshen to Baton Rouge.

We stopped for food and gas in Meridian MS and began the final 250 miles.

Nik stretched out in the passenger seat with “I think I will sleep awhile.”

One of us asked a question.

(Today neither of us can remember the question or the context.)

The question began a conversation:

thoughtful, equal participation, depth, values, goals.

Weighty stuff for an almost 21 year old.

The time flew

The miles flew

Somewhere on I 59 and I 12 I had an epiphany.

My role as a mom suddenly shifted

The person sitting next to me was no longer my boy. 

He was a young man ready for the rest of his life. 

And now 8 years later, I stand here looking at you and your bride Kate, and I know that you both are going into this adventure we call marriage with love and with understanding that will serve you well.  Our love, happiness and support go with both of you.

A Toast from the Groom’s Sister

Hi I’m Reese, Nik’s sister. I know it probably sounds  to many of you like we were separated at birth, but I can assure you we did in fact grow up together. In fact I’d like to clarify a bit on what my parents described earlier as Nik’s being a “very considerate brother.” And by clarify, I mean take the opportunity to publicly tell embarrassing stories from his childhood.

Once when I was 2 and Nik 4, he decided he was going to make me some soup. So he found some tasty ingredients to put in – sticks, mud, rocks, leaves, grass and…some mysterious berries from down the road. Of course, I ate it and then proceeded to throw up and fall asleep for 20 hours. I’m sure his culinary tactics have improved since then, but I haven’t dared try.

Anyone who knows Nik knows there is hardly ever a dull (and by dull I mean quiet) moment with him around and if there was you can bet it will be remedied by his rampant imagination. During one of his more fervent dinosaur phases, Nik went so far as to create his own dinosaur alter-ego named NECRODON. Becoming Necrodon basically involved diving headfirst into a sleeping bag and terrorizing me around the house in it. I realize it’s hard to imagine Nik ever being small enough to get away with this, but it’s true.

And it wasn’t just me that Nik was considerate of, when my mother told us as children that if you planted a bird’s feather in the ground, the bird would come back to get it, she started to find feathers sticking out of the ground on a regular basis. None of which I planted mind you.

So, Kate, in conclusion, my advice to you as you embark on this adventure together with my brother is: always get someone else to taste the soup first, double check the contents of any rogue sleeping bags you come across and when all else fails, a little white lie here and there might get you what you want. Not the most orthodox of marriage advice I suppose, but then you are about to spend the rest of your life with a very special man. I wish with all my heart all the strength and love you need to do this as you start your new life together and I look forward to having a sister I always wanted in our family.

Nik, I know you have a strong heart and a sound mind and I know when you set your mind to something, you will give it your all and stand by it. I am happy you have found someone you want to share your life with, who can respect your sense of independence but also push you to grow, who can appreciate your quirks but also help you think critically about your life, someone warm and kind and brave and will be by your side through the natural ebb and flow of life. 

Congratulations to you both.

A Toast from the Bride’s Brother

It’s wonderful to be here with family and friends for this celebration.  I’m Kate’s older brother Anthony & just want to take a moment to say thank you to the Showalters and Stoltzfus’s for this beautiful evening.  
What do you think about all of these great decorations?  (pause)  Yeah, I think they’re pretty awesome too.  And I think it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about Kate’s love of creativity and beautiful design.  As long as I’ve known Kate, she’s had strong opinions about what looks good.  She was visually precocious as a young girl… and  I dare say, her strong point of view developed faster than her sense of good taste.  Her early elementary school photos reveal a unique sense of style that was truly her own (and not to be reigned in by her parents or older brother).  Bright colors in crazy combinations and all manner of contraptions stuck into her crimped hair was just the beginning.  This gift for seeing beauty in unusual places has developed into a wonderful trait that she uses in artwork, her line of recycled handbags, her work, her home and throughout her life.  While I would have been terrified as a child to let her pick out MY outfit, I have to say that it’s now a great honor to get a hand-picked sweater at Christmas.
Not only is Kate creative and artistic, but she’s also the most kind person I know.  It’s clear from this celebration how much her friends and family mean to her… and also how much she means to so many people.  Kate’s gentle spirit, positive/affirming attitude, and love of life are just some of the traits that I admire… and also why Kate and Nik are a terrific match.  I believe she’s found a kindred spirit in Nik and hopefully you two will will continue to live kind, caring, and creative lives together.    Kate: you are a hugely important person in my life and I’m so happy for you today.  You two have chosen well and I can’t wait to see the future holds.  To Kate and Nik!

Shirley Showalter


  1. Jennifer Jo on May 12, 2010 at 10:22 am

    The part about the epiphany on the car ride—I read it and suddenly my eyes sprouted tears. I look forward to that time of life so intensely. I see signs of it now. And yet, it makes me so sad. I'm still sniveling.

  2. Marie Flowers on May 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    To Kate and Nik. From the Flowers Family (Baton Rouge) ;)Marie, Aida, Seynabou, and Rui-James

  3. shirleyhs on May 13, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Ah, the bittersweet joys of motherhood. I had my most poignant pangs when each child rode of on his or her two-wheeler for the first time. I could see the whole movie to the last reel.

  4. shirleyhs on May 13, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Thanks for the greetings, Flowers family. I'm sure the bride and groom will check in here to see them.

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