As much as I resist the urge, both wedding & funeral programs end up scribbled with notes that I write to myself around the edges of bridemaids names or bible verses. Mostly I’m compelled to record bits of language or favorite lines, or personal insights (or insults.) Often I resort to using the tiny pencil provided in the pew.
Thunderstorms were in the forecast, but the sun shone strong and bright until the Minister, her uncle, said: “Conal, you may kiss your Bride,” and then the first gust of wind swept across the mountain and through the birch altar.
Why is it the Groom who is always invited to kiss his Bride?
Why not say, Emily, kiss your Man!
Prior to the kiss, I thought I heard the minister say: with these wings and wedding vows.
And I pondered how wings (in lieu of rings) might lend themselves to marriage.
But my favorite line came from the father of the bride’s toast and may just be the best line ever: Emily was a willful child.
He continued: Her idea of love came from Disney movies and Victorian novels.
And then: Conal fell out of the sky.
The sister and the bride both agreed that he was a keeper, and the overdue sister concluded with: Let the Happily Ever After Begin.
I liked that line too. It got me to thinking about marriage and how it was more like an experiment. Like democracy. Messy. Imperfect. Hopeful.
For some of us, 3 years can be forever, the Minister said.
For others, 25, 35, 60 years can be a moment.
I looked around this hilltop to see who else was in that moment. It brought to mind the fragility of loving. Of how one of us must die first. Of how utterly impossible that seems. Of how I can’t bear to imagine it.
Emily and Conal both promised commitment until death.
I didn’t promise that. I don’t think you can. But it’s a nice thought.
And although I speak Christian, I bristled, as I always do, at the Patriarchal elements of the ceremony which masquerade as Truth; but also I found myself moved by the some of the verse:
…Confess to each other the Great Mystery of becoming Love.
I’d like to try that confession though I’m not sure what it would sound like or if I could stomach the intensity, given the above mentioned fragility of loving another for so long.
At 51 years old, and 25 years married, I am finally beginning to appreciate weddings, particularly second marriages for whom the romance is tempered with reality. Like a second term President.
Later, under the tent, at the band stand, I was alarmed to see that one of the musicians was my dear friend’s (recent) ex. The one who after decades of building a life together invested his love elsewhere, without mentioning it. Typically, I have equanimity around such matters, with little need to hold a grudge. But I haven’t made it through menopause yet, and seeing this man, who hurt my friend so deeply, riled me; and so, although I love to dance, I took a stand, and boycotted it. For love.
Instead I claimed a comfy spot on top of Merrymount and watched the storm roll in and talked to Joe from Manhattan who was not put off when I said that I sucked at small talk, and took it upon himself to teach me how, but since I didn’t subscribe to magazines or have a hobby, I was a difficult pupil.
Of all the wedding snippets I have to share, I’ve saved the best for last–something I overheard about the Bride and Groom just as we took our seats for the ceremony–which set me searching for a pen–because there were no tiny pencils among the folding chairs–which was something of a fuss in and of itself–because ceremonies such as this–belonged inside a chapel–not on a hill–which apparently resulted in a Faustian bargain–the traditional Patriarchal elements remained–in exchange for the natural setting.
The snippet was a simple thing really, but it struck me as funny and revealing and perfect, like this wedding day on a mountaintop:
It IS long, one woman said to another. They debated and debated about it.