17 July 2013

Wedding Fever

This past Saturday I attended a friend's wedding, the second of three such weddings this summer.  While everyone knows that summer is prime wedding season, rarely do I find myself with multiple invitations in a single year.  I have to give my friends credit, though, because they've considerately spaced them out to one per month each for June, July, and August. They're so thoughtful that way.

The first wedding was in Florida in June and was between two dear friends who are pretty much the epitome of everyone's fantasy relationship. In fact, if they were anyone else, I'd probably want to hate them in much the same way that a woman often calls someone younger and prettier rude names just because she's secretly jealous. But you just can't be angry with a couple who is just so freakishly adorable together (and not in a saccharine, diabetic-coma-inducing sort of way) and so stunningly good at loving and supporting each other because they give the rest of us hope.  No doubt that is in part the result of all they had to overcome to be together; she is a native Floridian and he is from London.  As you might imagine, dating someone overseas is more than a little challenging in the best of circumstances, yet somehow these two amazing people made it work.  You couldn't help but root for them while watching their romance blossom and unfold.  Frankly, it was more than a little like "must-see TV" -- the very best kind of reality show.

Happily ever after.

After two long years or so of struggle, waiting, immeasurable heartache at saying goodbyes, waiting, joy, waiting, endless Skyping, and more waiting, these two finally saw their dreams come to fruition in front of a diminutive Catholic priest on a hot summer's day in the heart of Florida.  It was awesome.  And I was privileged not only to be a witness, but to become a participant when the couple asked me to sing during the service...I was deeply touched and honored by the request.

However, things did not quite go according to plan for me.  I met the accompanist at the rehearsal and ran through my hymn (to be sung during the lighting of the unity candle).  It went perfectly.  I went to the church early to warm up with him again on the morning of the wedding.  Again, the run-thru went smoothly.  I wish the same could be said of the actual service.  As I've gotten older, I've become more prone to allergies and react more frequently to certain smells, perfumes, plants, etc.  Every day that I was in Florida, I felt myself clog up just a little bit more, so clearly I was having a reaction to something in my environment, though I'm still not sure precisely what.  At any rate, in spite of sucking down water by the gallon for the several days I was there, when it came time for me to sing during the ceremony my throat decided that approximately 20 seconds before opening my mouth would be an excellent time to close up.  I was furious. I'm still not sure how I managed to get through the song but somehow I did, albeit with about 1/3 of my natural power and more than a little hoarseness and croakiness.  At one point I even signaled to the accompanist to pause briefly between verses, but was still unable to shift whatever the obstruction was.  When it was over, I was despondent because I so felt that I had let the couple down and more than a little livid with myself.  While I realize I'll never be a musical star, singing is one of the 3-4 things I am actually reasonably good at--so it was immensely frustrating to fall short of my capabilities, never mind on a day when I wanted to sing even better than usual for such lovely friends as opposed to having my voice crap out on me at the most inopportune time. Still, things happen, and technical difficulties are technical difficulties and beyond one's control.  Most of the attendees likely thought I was choked up with emotion (rather than with allergies) or perhaps they just thought I was that friend who thinks they can sing but really can't.  Either way, it doesn't really matter.  The bride gamely lied to me about how good it was, but I still spent the better part of the next two hours beating myself up over it.  I suppose I had it coming after bragging about what an "easy" song it was and how I didn't have to "work" to sing it since it was placed in my mid-range.  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson my now, but nooooo.  God always finds a way to smack down my hubris.

"Felines...whoa-o-o, felines..."

At the end of the day, though, this wedding was never about me, nor should it have been.  This beautiful wedding was about two amazing people who sacrificed so very much to be with each other and who stood together, glowing with love and joy, to celebrate the culmination of that accomplishment while surrounded by loved ones from two continents.  In fact, I heard it remarked upon many times that week about how extraordinary the extent of the love and happiness surrounding this couple was, which speaks to how much they are loved and to how many people have been rooting for their union.  No, this day wasn't about my drama or any other kind of drama, it was about celebrating the much-awaited union of two very special people and, in that respect, mission accomplished.  Besides, in my experience there is rarely a wedding that doesn't have either some sort of drama (usually relative-related) or something that goes wrong at the last minute, if not both.

Let's face it, for all the excitement and joy they bring, weddings tend to be fraught with stress, worry that everything will come off right, and unwilling compromises as we impossibly try to please everyone.  That's just the way it works.  In my own wedding, for example, I'm pretty sure I pissed off my future in-laws and extended family by refusing to have children involved.  There was only one likely candidate anyway, a 4-year-old cousin who would have been flower girl.  In retrospect, had I actually known the child, I would have been more than happy to acquiesce; at the time, she was quite a self-possessed little girl.  But I didn't know her, and I'd heard far too many horror stories about kids in weddings to want to risk it.  Nor were all my plans met with complete enthusiasm, though my mother-in-law was mostly supportive, at least when she wasn't gently trying to steer me to a more "appropriate" way of thinking.  Years later I discovered that several of them just tried to write it off as me being a "Yankee" and therefore "not knowing any better."  How dare I try to buck the Southern machine, after all--there was a system in place, by God, and my callow Yankee sensibilities had little place in it. In fairness, the relatives were all perfectly nice to me at the time (bless my heart), but there was no denying that my opinions and theirs didn't always match up.  But then that's pretty par for the course, isn't it?  Most families, particularly the mothers of the future bride and groom, seem to feel that their children have no clue about the planning of a wedding regardless of their ages, organizational abilities or educational achievements.  The moms know that the nuptials are really about the family, not about the participants in question...they get to have the marriage, dammit, but the wedding itself is the moms' reward for putting up with all our crap while we were growing up.  Or so they would have us believe.

So there's usually drama.  And there's usually some sort of crisis.  I saw a lot of these back when I used to alter wedding dresses.  Once I had to alter a dress overnight because the overly-helpful stepmom had taken the bride's dress to be cleaned by the cheapest dry cleaner she could find.  In the process, the dress was turned a lovely vanilla color (like the flavoring before being mixed into batter) and all the beads and sequins were melted.  Needless to say, the bride was so hysterical and panicked her mother took her out to buy a new wedding dress less than 24 hours before the wedding and brought it over to my house.  No pressure.  But I got it done, and she got married, which is all that mattered.

Looks about right.

For another wedding, I altered the bride's dress for free as a wedding present because she was the daughter of a friend. When I arrived at the church to attend the ceremony, I was immediately accosted by her father.  Turned out she'd accidentally dropped a mascara brush on the front of her dress and everyone was freaking out about how to remove or disguise the black streak.  I was pressed into service because of my intimate familiarity with her dress, in spite of the fact that I was not a dry cleaner and had absolutely no clue what to do.  We carefully blotted off the worst of the mascara with some water and a cloth, then I suggested that they use some of the bride's face powder to absorb the rest and to tone down the color.  After all, the entire point of make up is to cover blemishes and smooth surfaces, right?  It was an imperfect fix, but between the powder and a strategically-held bouquet, it got the job done and no one was the wiser.

At my own wedding things went relatively smoothly, at least until we tried to set my veil on fire.  After lighting the unity candle the minister had us kneel for a prayer.  The candle was on a stand very near my head, however, and under a heater vent blowing warm air.  Fortunately we made it through the prayer without having to hose me down with water from the baptismal font, but it was a near thing since the flame was blowing less than an inch from my veil.  To this day I'm convinced that not a single person heard the minister's prayer because on the video you can see everyone (notably my mother) staring intently at the candle and my head, poised to wrestle me to the floor and roll me around in the carpet to extinguish the flames if necessary.  So there's always something.  Someone tears the dress, someone pops a cummerbund, someone trips, someone forgets the programs, someone's flight gets delayed...something.  But you roll with it and carry on, because really, that's what a marriage is all about--supporting each other through whatever crises life brings.

That can't be good.

The wedding this past weekend was completely different than my friend's in Florida, but just as lovely and the happy couple ended up just as married.  The music was performed beautifully by a string quartet (as opposed to a squawky soloist), the dresses were lovely, and the service short and sweet.  The wedding party had to contend with rain (See? There's always something...), but the weather mostly held out for them.  No doubt there was some kind of drama somewhere behind the scenes, but since I was merely a guest and not involved in any way I didn't see it if there was. Sadly, I'll have to miss the third wedding because I'll be in New York helping my girlie move into her dorm, but I'm sure that bride will be just as beautiful as the other two and that her wedding will be just as uniquely her as theirs were (but I'll still keep my fingers crossed for a drama- and crisis-free day).


  1. We're so happy we could have our Mary as part of our wedding. I heard nothing but my beautiful friend singing with her heart, and it was wonderful. <3

    1. Good to know your friend's heart was cooperating even if her vocal cords weren't, which is just as well because her heart was overflowing with love for you both. No doubt she will (properly) serenade you again someday. :)

  2. I am sure you signing made for a very special moment for the couple and many happy memories. My husband's friend Pat sang and played his lap guitar for us at our service, we were both so happy he did it. He played 3 songs, and I remember enjoying those moments with my new hubby. We also had a friend who is a minister perform the ceremony. Those things make a wedding unique and special. I am sorry about your veil! But somethings always go wrong. For me, I fell face first when we lined up. I slid across the room...Yep, I am graceful. Luckily it was only the wedding party and restaurant people who saw me..ha.

    1. "Grace" is my middle name, at least on Planet Are You Freaking Kidding Me?? My father used to say I could trip over lint--he wasn't wrong. So I sympathize! Faceplanting is definitely in my wheelhouse as well. Glad you were able to have friends play such a special part in your wedding; that always makes it more special. And don't worry about the veil; I didn't actually set it alight, after all. At least the threat of imminent conflagration made the day even more memorable!

  3. That could very well be...it does seem to happen more frequently these days!