I have performed three weddings this summer, all of them have been beautiful. As with asking a proud father which he loved the most, I will say they were all my favorite. Each possessed its own detailed specificity. I cherish all three couples and I can't get over how perfect it felt to be able to stand with them on their most special of special days.
Michigan was hot and full of people who treated me with kindness and affection. I presided over the wedding of two dear friends Meg and Kermit, I will post the words I said soon. I gave one copy to a very nice lady at a table who asked for them after the ceremony. I told her I would have them online and she looked like the kind of dame who doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on the internet and instead lives her life wide open, later she danced with her husband of fifty years and brought the tent down.
We square danced and ate taffy and generally made a ruckus until deep into that perfect summer night. We drove off the mountain and down to the hotel full in our hearts, we were completely full of that bride and grooms happiness. They were spending their first night in that secret private space of the wedding night reserved for brides and grooms. No-one can imagine before that moment what it must feel like. I will not squander time trying to get there with out getting there. That wont stop me from making it into poetry in my mind. A bride and a groom must feel the change, must know that everything is different and no amount of me telling them that will really do it. But I try anyway, hoping that I can help them frame their day, provide some language to begin laying out the story of their marriage. I am there as their servant, trying like mad to get them crying, to get them reflecting on the choice, to get them missing for a moment where they just were and anticipating the place they are about to step into.
Standing with them in that in-between time before they are married but after they have walked down the aisle, that’s the most magic time of all. For that brief time they are up in the air, they have leapt high into the air and gravity has yet to catch them, the gravity of their choice is coming, but it has yet to round the bend in that brief moment between “who gives this…?” and “You may now…” That’s where I go to work. I work on their nostalgia, I work on the complex feelings they have for each other and for their families. I push forward their pasts and wipe away their regrets, I build them a new vehicle to travel in, I give the chance of shinny and brand new, they get to choose if they want it.
I love that moment when they turn and face me, right in front of me, they change, right there they catch fire and burn up, dissolving, exploding, all of it. Right there they get new and in a real big way. I see it in their eyes, I love looking in their eyes and seeing the focus, seeing the memory being written right there in their minds eye. I can feel every bit of relief they have for landing in the safety of their lover’s arms, and they are not thinking about being watched they are only thinking, “I do.”
I know it’s selfish to be the one who gets to see this, I know my privilege, I know the gift these people give me by standing honest and stripped bare in front of me, which is why I take it so damn seriously. Afterwards someone will always say, “That was very nice up there… you did a very nice job for them.” And I will say, “It was easy, because I love them and I could brag about them for hours.” I say, “…all I did was collect their passion, which they openly show to everyone and organize it into a speech, shoot anyone could do it.”
But that is not the whole truth. It is not easy. It takes every thing I have to stand there, it takes my whole entire self. I use all of me to do what I do, if I had anything else I would give that too, I don’t just give away my sorta good version, I give them the thing I think they need most. I give them the best version of me I have to give and I hold my guts tight hoping it’s enough hoping I can live up to their magnificence, at their most magnificent. Afterwards I am always a little shell shocked, a lot shell shocked really, because no-one could look into a bride and groom's eyes and see them change like that and just wander off to the buffet. It changes me too.
I hope it always does.