My husband and I attended a wedding recently. It was the wedding of my husband’s cousin’s daughter. We haven’t seen her since she was 13 years old. Very removed, I know, that was my thought as well, but honestly, I was looking forward to dressing up a little and having a night out with my husband so why not?
I had a wonderful time. I am a crier; I cry at weddings, funerals, Hallmark commercials, you get the idea, and this wedding was no exception. There is something so uplifting about a wedding, don’t you think? Promising to spend your life together, in front of your friends and relatives. The hopefulness, all the smiles, the moment the grooms sees the bride, flower girls; it really makes me get all mushy… swoon!
As we sat in the church waiting for the bride to arrive, my husband and I chatted about the last time we had been to this particular church. It had been years ago for another wedding for one of his cousins (he has a lot of cousins). So we took a little trip down memory lane, which of course made me think of our wedding, 24 years ago! I hardly feel 24 so I am not quite sure how we could be married that long, but those are the facts. While I marveled over that particular fact, the wedding party began processing.
We watched an older couple whom I admit I thought were the parents of the groom, which made me think several odd thoughts… was he a change of life baby? Was it his first marriage? Were they so glad he was finally tying the knot? Will I look that old when my girls get married? Not that I am rushing them, but I want to rock the mother of the bride dress, no support shoes please! It was his grandparents followed by his parents who looked like more what I expected to be completely honest. Not sure what any of that has to do with the wedding, but it sort of threw me, the whole age thing. Are we getting so old that this is even a possibility?
Twenty four years is a long time to be married and in those intervening years, weddings have changed. They certainly are more expensive though there was nothing that screamed over the top, but I do know every step of the process is more expensive than when I got married. Thinking about the difference, I noticed three things that really stood out to me.
First, weddings today are not canned. When I got married, you sort of picked package A, B or C. Sure, you chose the readings you liked, and my bridesmaids wore blue while my BFF’s were pink, a traditional wedding was just that. It seems to me that the wedding we attended, and much of what I see on Pinterest, is all about creating an event that reflects who you are as a couple. The bridesmaids each were wearing a dove grey gown, all slightly different but complementary. (Though, I highly doubt anyone will cut them down and re-wear them much like when I got married.) Rather than a lot of traditional Ave Maria, etc., one of the groomsmen play a wedding-ized version of Hallelujah on his acoustic guitar; it was quirky and sweet, and that blonde boy could blush! His pink cheeks were a nice complement to the dove grey the ladies were wearing. There were readings but not all were bible verses, there was a poem.
The second thing I noticed was that while a lot of everything was mixed up and different, unique, at its most basic there is the question – do you promise? You can mix it up however you like, but if you are going to go to all the effort of getting everyone there, then there has to be some words to the effect that you are committing to this person. All the rest is icing on the cake (which was delicious. It was not plain white cake but was in fact marble with some kind of raspberry sauce with a very strange textured icing but it was uh-MAZ-ing!!)
Finally, I noticed the missing people. Time passes. A young couple with so much ahead of them makes a promise. They grow, maybe they move around a bit, they have a child or two. The guests to all these events don’t live the details, but they watch, they participate, they lift that couple up and dust them off sometimes. They are a part of the story and then the page turns and they are gone… the story continues without them. Then a few years later you find yourself sitting at a table and they are missing. I found myself thinking Joanie would have loved to see Nancy’s daughter getting married and it was hard to not think of Herb when all his brothers were there. And while I didn’t know Irene well, I know Nancy would have loved to have her mom there as her oldest got married. It made me happy to think of them, like somehow I could summon them to see the hope and joy of the couple; to see their family smiling.
It was a great wedding, really fun to get out with my husband, who would not even slow dance with me! but we did waltz down memory lane and it was reassuring to be sitting beside him, confident that the vows still mean something to both of us, regardless of the details. And that cake, seriously, to die for!