“Family and friends, we are gathered here to celebrate the marriage of …”
It has been a year of weddings for me. Some years I’m not invited to a single wedding, this wasn’t one of those. I’m always honored to be included as a guest to such a momentous occasion.
The group of people in attendance at a wedding ceremony is always diverse. The emotions evoked during the nuptials are also diverse. The thought of white tulle makes some people gush the words “happily ever after.” Whereas, others shudder at the smell of white orchids. They are unable to imagine the idea of a “til death do us part” commitment.
Reactions are always about perspective, we each bring our own perspective to every occasion, including weddings.
Next time you are listening to a wedding prelude, look around you. You will see glowy-eyed honeymooners alongside the couple who will be the last ones standing during the anniversary dance at the reception.
You will see widows and widowers who expected to end up in rocking chairs beside their spouses as they turned gray and feeble.
There will be men and women of all different ages who wish their “plus one” could always be the same person. You will see folks who have recently survived, or are in the middle of, treatment for a dire medical condition.
You will see half of a couple because the other half is unable to attend such events due to a military deployment. Or it is half of a couple because the other half is at home being the caregiver for a beloved family member.
Two people sitting next to each other have divorce papers creating a canyon between them in the pew.
Struggling to keep small bottoms seated and quiet toys from falling will be a young family. The father’s panic-stricken expression is because when the music changed from the prelude to the processional his mind grasped the fact that the pink-lace-dressed little girl he is scooping onto his lap will one day be holding his arm as he escorts her down an aisle.
Next to them might be a woman watching the baby/toddler chaos longingly because just that morning she had yet another negative pregnancy test.
In the row behind might be a group of young women, perhaps college chums or childhood friends, who knew all of the bride’s ex-boyfriends and are champions of the groom, the one person chosen from everyone else in the world for their friend.
While in another row is a similar group of young men who are impressed that their friend is one lucky son of a gun to be marrying the remarkable woman walking down the aisle.
Dabbing her eyes with a pink rose hankie is a mom whose emotions can’t be captured by words.
You’ll see a boy whose feet can’t keep still in anticipation of hitting the dance floor at the reception and his little brother who has attended enough weddings this year to know that there will soon be cake.
During one of the weddings I attended this year my small granddaughter was drawing circles on the wedding program while we listened to a song which created a complete circle of love. The song was a recording of the bride’s (now deceased) grandfather singing at the wedding of the bride’s parents. Not an eye was dry as that moment of love circled the church.
Love. The center of a family circle. This is what brings people with varied histories together to witness the start of a new circle of love.
We bring our emotions with us to become encircled in a celebration of hope, of loyalty, of promise, of love.