Here’s the thing: I dislike weddings pretty intensely.
My father is a pastor and I grew up attending weekend weddings of people I barely knew, dragging my one pair of dress-up shoes through a boring old church, wishing I were outdoors.
Every wedding felt the same; it was nearly impossible to decipher the differences between the stock promises, fluffy white outfits, and endlessly reworked rubber-chicken dishes. Even the people began to blend together; they were all there to pledge allegiance to tradition and rigid ceremony. There was love, too, but even that sometimes felt secondary to the institution of The Wedding.
I’ve sworn them off since then; I figured I’ve found better ways of expressing to Richard Betts, my family and my friends how much I love them (it mostly involves food, wine and hugs), and I left it at that.
But last week we attended a wedding that shook the very foundations of my pessimistic certainty. Two friends, Sarah Jane and Kerryann, had the most beautiful, cared-for, fun wedding I’ve seen in a long time. (However, come to think of it, Thomas and Jessica held a gang-busters party, too…)
These two women upended all those dusty ideas of mine; they made the entire ceremony about all of us in attendance. They called us to witness their happiness, and asked that we contribute. One bride’s brother sang a wonderfully shaky a capella version of Stevie Wonder’s If It’s Magic; a couple other family members broke out in some bad-ass Riverdance action (many Irish in attendance); and en masse we even got to yell “We Do!” when asked if we agreed to do our part in supporting their relationship when things got rough- the sound reverberated across the Hudson Valley, and we knew it meant something. You weren’t allowed to be bored; you were expected to be present, to join in on the overwhelming joy of the whole thing.
Add to all of this the fact that our very good friend Kevin Swan (who has ALS) was making a rare public appearance, and we all got the rich opportunity to give him all the love we have for him; to help him navigate the room in his wheelchair, help him have a sip of wine, and at the end of the night, to jump on the back of said wheelchair as he zipped around the dance floor, reminding everyone of his own confirmation of how friggin’ great it all felt.
Everyone was considered, and it just felt like the best damn dinner party ever, quite frankly.
Up until that day, Richard and I had been referring to a ‘ceremony’ or a ‘party’ that we may throw at some point for our loved ones, but driving away, we began dreaming about The Wedding we’re gonna throw. Trust me: the music’s gonna be amazing.