On the last Sunday of June, I stood in the backyard of a Victorian house in Loveland, Colorado, surrounded by 85 smiling, tearing with joy, happy people all dressed up and gathered to celebrate the wedding of two kind, smart, funny, and generous humans incredibly dear to us—one of them being my oldest daughter.
I’d convinced myself, as the bride’s mother, that I’d cried all my tears several days before the ceremony when I wrote letters to my daughter and her betrothed. And, walking her down the aisle with my husband, the three of us were all smiles. My smile at moments looked more like a grimace, the eyes-screwed-shot-nearly-maniacal grin of the insanely happy, caught on camera.
Everyone laughed at the best man’s speech; and the maid-of-honor, who’s been my daughter’s best friend since the age of three, gave a delightfully funny and sweet toast. Everyone guffawed when my husband, who used to work in high tech, rose and joked about not being able to use PowerPoint—a platform our daughter and her friends employed in high school to bolster their request to make an unchaperoned road trip—and became weepy when he spoke of his mother, who met the groom once when he and my daughter had first started dating, and had predicted their wedding long before they made that decision—as she had with my husband and me.
The time came to read the poem I’d written, a blessing for two precious people, and emotion wracked my voice.
This moment, this leap of love
this saying yes spills from the lips
of our beloved bride and groom
words shimmering with joy.
Together we celebrate the wonder
of life in which these two
so precious to each of us
have found and chosen each other
and today have pledged their lives
to one another’s keeping.
What a gift it is to journey
alongside them in a world
made sweeter by the kindness
and generosity of their love.
Cherished ones, may your marriage
continue to bring out the best
in each of you and each person
blessed to know you now
and in the years to come.
After dinner, I’d learn that I’d made some of the bridesmaids “ugly cry.” Three of the “mom friends” in attendance, who’ve known my daughter almost as long as I have, were brought to tears as well. One couldn’t finish her meal.
I know it wasn’t that my words were so exceptional or powerful, it was because love was overflowing, spilling out of us on this “happy, happy day,” to quote one of my daughter’s childhood friends.
But on this happy, happy day there was still recognition of our human frailty: photos of the grandparents who’d died were on display next to the guestbook. And at 5,000 feet altitude some guests faced challenges: one with cancer suffered from the lack of oxygen, and even some who were healthy had headaches and trouble breathing, but they were all there; they’d come to celebrate love.
One of the young bridesmaids was widowed less than a year ago, and despite her grief she hasn’t lost her riotous sense of humor as her infectious laugh rang throughout the weekend. I’m sure there were quiet moments that brought back bittersweet memories and sadness. I also know, that surrounded by her closest friends, she could be herself exactly as she needed to be in that moment.
It wasn’t only the love of the bride and groom for each other that drew the wedding guests together and made the day so rich; it’s the love and care that this bride and groom have for their friends—the way they keep strong relationships over the years, the way they make new friends wherever they go, the generosity and kindness shown to others.
We celebrated in a spirit of joy and abundance, and in those days of travel and celebration, I took a break from “the news of this world,” returning to it heartsick over all the ways we separate ourselves from love as a society. Outside of our circle of family and friends, we’re often fearful of others. We treat them in ways we’d never treat those we love, or those we just met at a wedding reception, or sadly even our unruly pets.
I want to hope that the gifts gleaned from my daughter’s wedding overflow into my behavior in the world: that I might see each person as a bride or bridesmaid, groom or groomsman, or the family, friends, parents, and children who love them and extend hospitality. And I want to hope that my small bit of generosity and kindness combined with your small bit of generosity and kindness can make a difference in the life of others—strangers and friends alike.
I began blogging about "This or Something Better" in 2011 when my husband and I were discerning what came next in our lives, which turned out to be relocating to Puget Sound from our Native California. My older posts can be found here.