What I Do When I Attend A Wedding
In honor of yet another niece taking her vows.
I went to another wedding yesterday. It seems like they’re coming along faster and faster now as I watch my nieces and nephews mature. It was an honor to be there for them, to celebrate the day that they make a commitment to share the rest of their lives together.
I tend to take a rather long view of marriage. I’ve come to believe that if you believe that you can always find someone better, you never really commit to the person that you’re with. So I’ve learned to love the one I’m with, even if I’m alone, and I let that be enough.
I’ve seen so many people get married, get divorced and get married again, like they’re changing socks. Choosing a mate is what you’re doing when you’re dating. You keep going through the dates until you find the one, that person you want to be the right one for. And then you make that commitment while the iron is still hot.
I don’t really believe in finding the right person for myself. To get married, I became the right person for myself to live with. Then I let the other person know, that if you show up, I show up. If you stop showing up, I move on. That is how I am, and I think I’m reasonable in my expectations. I have no expectations, so I just wait to see if the other person keeps showing up.
I don’t even want control of the other person for I don’t want that much responsibility. I don’t want to be responsible for mistakes or injuries, real or imagined, that the other person might sustain under my control. I exercise a light touch with other people, especially those I love the most, my wife and my kids. I don’t make demands, I make requests. I say, “please”.
So I saw this beautiful wedding at the golden hour. I love the golden hour, and especially so at the home where the wedding took place. I loved how the sunlight cast its rays through the tall trees. I loved the long shadows and the contrasts in light and dark that they cast. I loved how the sunlight, where it hit the ground, lit up the blades of grass, and how the blades of grass seemed to turn to face the sun.
I saw the couple take their vows at the improvised altar, under a metal trellis, in front of a giant old tree, before all of us. I saw the love in their eyes. I saw the smiles, the radiance, the glow, and the calm of their intentions. They were at last, ready to commit to a life together.
I saw the boxes of kleenex beneath the seats in the front row. Where there were tears, there were tissues under teary eyes and red noses. I saw the face of one of the sisters of the bride, a maid of honor, looking on with her eyes welling up. I saw a finger wipe a tear away while holding her steady smile.
I heard the people laugh at the jokes the officiator read in her speech. I didn’t hear what she was saying, she really needs to learn to project, but I could read the body language, and there was joy in what I read that evening.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the bride and groom kissed, and then they smiled at each other and us, too. We were there to honor their matrimony, their commitment made just moments ago. And I was ready to eat street tacos, chips, and guacamole, all in the golden sunshine and shade of a beautiful home.
Shortly after the ceremony, my kids wasted no time to play with the kids of my nieces who were displaced by a generation, for I am a late bloomer. They found new friendships in the kids of one of my nieces. They found new friendship in the kids of one of my other nieces. They were doing something that I model for them. I talk to everyone, so they very easily talked to the other kids.
When I’m at a gathering, I talk to as many people as possible. I have learned in the past how to work the room, how to break the ice, how to just start talking. I wasn’t always this way. I used to be terribly shy. I worried that I could not hear enough. So last night, I turned up my hearing aid, and I dove in. I talked with nieces, nephews, and other people I didn’t really know. I joked and inquired and responded as best I could.
I used to worry about saying “what?” because I thought other people might think that I’m distant, aloof, maybe a little slow, or that I’m just not suitable for mating. Well, I am married. I have two kids. And I have a sense of humor. That evening, I was enough.
Wherever and whenever I could, I shared my humor, my stories, and some of the lessons I’ve learned that gave me something resembling grace. I inquired as to the experience of others. I smiled, for smiles are still free. I didn’t worry about my problems, my travails.
Throughout the evening, I was agnostic as to outcomes. I honored the people there with my best presence, without expectations, and they reciprocated. Whatever I did there, I honored their peace at a wedding with one singular purpose, to honor the commitments made by one bride and one groom.
And as I took stock of a wonderful evening, with family and their friends, I saw that I had finally emerged, like a butterfly, a social butterfly. No longer was I jealous of others and their moments of joy together. No longer did I worry that love wasn’t for me. No longer did I wish that I could have what they have, for now, I could celebrate their abundance. I could do all this and more because long before I arrived at the wedding, I had made a decision to be happy.
And since I had already made that decision to be happy, I could take it all in, the sun, the trees, the grass, the frivolity, the good humor, and the peace of a gathering to be remembered, and I let that be enough.