Monday, August 25, 2008

Idiosyncratic Bride, Part 5: "Love, and a bit with a dog"

After pictures, Joel and I lined up to greet our guests as they arrived for the ceremony (shout-out to h and k). Some people were really thrown by this ("Are we supposed to see you? I feel like I'm 'behind the scenes!'") so we still had a small receiving line during cocktail hour. Joel's oldest friend Mike spent time with us right before the ceremony, which was emotional, because the two of them were always a trio with Joel's brother Brian when they were kids.

Joel and I took the long way around the pond as we walked over to the place where we were supposed to line up for the procession, and I was never been more grateful that we decided to see each other before the ceremony than I was right then. We needed each other, just then. We got started a little late as some very important guests were still arriving. (Um, thank you, Ceremony Musicians Who Just Kept Right On Playing. Whew.)

Both my mom and dad walked me down the aisle right behind Joel and his parents. We had a very nontraditional ceremony, by which I mean Joel and I basically took bits and pieces of Jewish and Catholic wedding traditions and then slapped it all together with inspiration from some of the best weddings I've ever witnessed (Shout out to Michelle, we did a coin toss!) and then made the rest up.

It was kind of... informal, actually. The ceremony was very relaxed and very us. I mean, we were proceeded down the aisle by a dog, how formal could it be? Annie's boyfriend Aaron quoted Tom Stoppard to me afterwards from the movie Shakespeare in Love: "You see, comedy- that's what they want. Love, and a bit with a dog." That pretty much sums it up. :)

One of my high school sisterfriends and her husband sang "In My Life" by the Beatles while Joel and his parents and I took a moment to lay the rosemary arrangement for Brian. I noticed that Joel's extended family were all very teary, and it hit me- HARD- for the first time just how keenly they felt Brian's loss- of a nephew, a cousin, a friend- ten years ago, and and his absence at family functions ever since. (For new and newish readers, Brian is Joel's younger brother. He died very unexpectedly due to complications after a short illness when he was 15. Joel was 18 at the time. It's been ten years.)

The officiant asked our guests to offer one another a sign of peace in the Catholic tradition through the rest of the song. Joel and I went through the rows of guests to offer everyone a sign of peace as well. The song ended before Joel got back to the front, so my sister and I hummed a few bars as he hurried back, which got a few chuckles.

At this point, we called our friends' children forward for special blessings with holy water from Matrimony Springs in Moab. Baelin, bless him, was in the process of cutting two new teeth but held it together remarkably well for a 10-month-old. I can't believe how fast he's growing up. Aiden was about 7 kinds of adorable. We thanked them for reminding us of the beauty of a fresh start and to be gentle with each other's vulnerabilities.

Our flower girls came forward for their blessing, and we thanked them for reminding us to take time to play every day and to always play fair. Shannon said it best; they both wanted to be shining stars, and it's tough at age 5 to know that you can share being the Most Important. They each had a few moments that I wish weren't as stressful for them as they turned out to be, but I was so proud of them both. Having children in the wedding party always means adding an element of unpredictability, and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. They were great.

Zak, our youngest and tallest groomsmen is 6'2" at age 13. We thanked him for reminding us how quickly time flies. He had to bend down for his holy water blessing from our short little Italian lady officiant. All of the kids in the wedding go to Catholic school, so they took the holy water in stride.

Gwen came forward to say Hebrew blessing over kosher wine, which we drank out of a Navajo wedding vase made by an artisan Joel knows from his nature photography trips out west. She spoke briefly about the seven blessings of marriage in the Jewish tradition, as well as the Navajo belief in seven directions (North, South, East, West, above, below and within) which was sheer genius. Thanks, G (and Mollie ;)

Jo came forward to sing "Fly" while Joel and I gave our moms and my grandmothers long-stemmed roses. Then we swapped. My mom glowed. His mom hugged me tight. Nanny was thrilled. My mom's mother, who's struggling with memory loss, was delighted to realize- for the fourth time in one hour- that surprise! She was at my wedding!

I love the lyrics of this song, and Jo's voice is so beautiful that this was the only time in the ceremony that I got teary-eyed. (Joel, sweet man, was pretty much teary-eyed from start to finish.) My sister really got emotional, which made Jo's voice started to wobble with tears of her own, which made us all start to lose it. She said "Stop" to my sister between verses, which got a chuckle. Amanda and I took deep breaths together and laughed through our tears.

At this point, the officiant said a blessing over our rings, calling upon the four directions with the corresponding elements and their attributes (i.e. the direction "South" is associated with fire and the attribute of passion and creativity, etc) and performed the handfasting, where our hands were wrapped nine times with a braided cord. We exchanged rings, saying, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine!"

This right here is the one thing I keep turning over in my mind. I meant to say, "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is MINE!" with the MINE! coming out as enthusiastic and happy. Instead, it came out sounding kind of.... possessive, I guess? Erg. Oops. Not how I meant it. Oh well.

Joel stomped on a glass to symbolize a clean break into a new life together, we kissed, and everyone shouted "Mazel Tov!" My dad invited everyone to follow us immediately to the nearby gazebo for champagne and hors d oeuvres. We recessed and headed straight to cocktail hour, where a tablecloth accidentally brushed up against a Sterno buffet warmer under the hot crab dip and caught on fire.

Time Till We Went Down the Aisle: Negative 45 minutes.... We're married!


michelle said...

Yeah coin toss! Who won?!?!?!?

cindy w said...

This is so cool, and I love that you incorporated all of these different elements into your ceremony. That's really neat. Our ceremony was about 10 or 15 minutes long. "I do? I do? Hey, we're married, let's party!" No regrets about it, though, it's still one of the top two best days of my life. (Cate's birth being the other one.)

Chunky Photojournalist Barbie said...

Michelle, Joel won the coin toss. My brother-in-law came forward to toss it and my sister called it in the air. He also escorted my Nanny at the beginning. We didn't really have readings or anything, since the other stuff took up time so the coin toss was the perfect way to involve him. Did you guys come up with that yourself?

Cindy, thanks! We actually wrote the basic first draft of the ceremony together the first week we were engaged. I'm not sure why, we were just talking about what kind of wedding we wanted, and it flowed from there. I didn't know what I was going to say to him in the "post- coin toss/pre-vow/message of love" though until the night before. :)

Joel was worried it would last too long, but I know ceremonies tend to fly by. We started right before 4:15 and my dad said we actually said the vows at precisely 4:45. (He looked at his watch 35 years ago when my mom said "I do" and they try to kiss every year at 12:24 p.m.) I looked at the time when we arrived at the gazebo for cocktail hour, and it was 4:55. With everything we did, it was still only about 45 minutes long.

michelle said...

We did come up with it ourselves. Travis is a coin collector (to my chagrin) and he wanted coins to be involved in the ceremony. So we came up with that, and he went online and bought a 2002 (the year we met) silver dollar to use, and now we display it next to some of your beautiful photos of our wedding day :)