It too was held outdoors, albeit with a view of well-trimmed golf fairways and greens, on a beautiful day with a bit of wind. It too was smallish and simple, although there were more attendants. The dinner was delicious and healthy, even, and the reception also included a photo booth, but this one provided the ubiquitous strip of four pictures in duplicate: one to immediately include in the couple's guest book along with a personalized message, the other to take home. The wedding cake was cut and served; garters and bouquets tossed and trophied; family dances, and even a married couples dance where participants were slowly eliminated based on the number of years they'd been wed. We weren't off in the first couple of rounds, but we're nowhere near the couple who'd been married 41 years.
Family was at the core of this wedding too: lots of cousins and uncles and aunts and siblings toasted and talked and celebrated the very obviously happy couple, both of whom have maybe 10 years on the couple from the previous week's celebration.
It was a joy to watch them glow. Their happiness and utter delight in the occasion began even as they were processing to the ceremony site with the bride raising her bouquet high in a triumphant pump, to much laughter from the guests. (The flower girl had to go potty RIGHT before she was to come down the aisle, and unapologetically scurried off with one of the bridesmaids, and the matron of honor lost her balance and fell (unhurt, thank goodness) as the ceremony was about to begin. The couple had set kissing bells at each place setting, and took full advantage as guests continually rang the little tinklers, laughing through their oft-pursed lips throughout the entire reception.
At the heart, though, was family. I admit to puddling a bit as I watched the bride dance with her father and wished fervently, not for the first time, that my own daddy had been at my wedding to Tony, although my fragile mother was not there either, although we called her as soon as it was over and over-nighted a videotape of the event to her the following day.
Whatever the usual dynamics are in the families involved in both weddings, they both were fully engaged and present for the respective couples during these huge rites of passage. Nothing but hope and love surrounded them. For the brief hours each ceremony took place, family and friends had one unified focus, and that was to love the brides and grooms and send them into their married future with joy and the love and support of all the family members and friends. That singular focus was almost palpable, really, during both events. If there were past issues, they were not evident. Nobody expressed doubt about the abilities of brides or grooms to love and cherish their new spouses. It was simply pure joy for them, for their finding their mate, and for their happiness.
In our day-to-day life, we would do better if we remembered the joy in familial bonds, even little joys.
"Every family has a story that it tells itself, that it passes on to the children and grandchildren. The story grows over the years, mutates, some parts are sharpened, others dropped, and there is often debate about what really happened. But even with these different sides of the same story, there is still agreement that this is the family story. And in the absence of other narratives, it becomes the flagpole that the family hangs its identity from.'
A.M. HOMES, O Magazine, Apr. 2007
"In truth a family is what you make it. It is made strong, not by number of heads counted at the dinner table, but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring, and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have as individuals and as a unit."
MARGE KENNEDY, The Single Parent Family
To be continued...