It’s Latin for “rockin’ great start to the party, y’all”. That’s paraphrased, of course, but just barely. Whatever the root and origin, the ceremony was big and festive and bright.
I am waiting on a landing of a cement staircase. Hide The Bride, I think this game is called. I strain to hear the music I’m told has started. I think I hear a banjo, but then again my ears are ringing. I am so ready to skip to the altar that my body’s started to malfunction. And then, as the guests settled calmly into chairs overlooking Broadway, I climb the last steps of singledom. With help of several Aerial staff members and that cardiovascular endurance I’d been training, we manage a MacGyver-esque clever-and-covert mission to hide all twelve feet of my puffy dress and all three feet of my puffy hair.
This round of Hide The Bride is so successful that I can’t see or hear much of anything outside the glass-lined loft. I am irritated at first, that I can’t grab a lighter and sway to the sweet beats of live music on the deck, but then I grab my dad’s arm, and suddenly I am thankful for all this quiet. I am just a few feet from the hustle and bustle of city buzz outdoors. I am a few feet from Garry Wood, a musician I’ve never actually met who filled in and saved the live music dreams for the ceremony a mere week before the day. I am just a few feet away from family, from a blogging friend I’ve yet to meet in person, from my former youth pastor set to officiate the I-Do’s, from a photographer’s all-seeing lens, from my future husband. I am holding my dad’s elbow, and everything is quiet.
The men, I learned, already filed onto the rooftop, moseyed to a beautifully calm version of M.Ward’s “Here Comes The Sun Again”. Then, it is our turn. I hear Garry and accompanying banjo-playing friend begin with our slightly quirky entrance song, Brandi Carlile’s “If There Was No You”: “Then my jokes aren’t funny. The truth isn’t true, if there was no you“. A bridesmaid turns and looks at me before she rounds the corner to face the faces. It’s time to get married.
One word to describe the bridesmaids’ look would be fancy. A second word might be smokinghot. The gorgeous Stella & Dot necklaces (courtesy of the fabulous Coretta) you guys selected were the perfect way to bring some formal flair to their otherwise casual sundresses. The shabby chic fabric & brooch bouquets were the perfect pop of color against the all-white attire. Crafted by Etsy artist Autumn Art, you voted on those pretty keepsake pieces, too!
Our pastor, Matt, spoke for a bit about marriage amounting to choosing one another especially on the very worst days. It was a pretty surreal moment having him oversee this union. He was the Bible camp chaperone. I was a teenage dufus. Now he is the legally binding ceremony of matrimony chaperone. I’m a fully grown dufus. Afterwards, Tom and I (as planned just one night before the wedding) decided to speak to each other in a totally personal and intimate way. Yes, personal and intimate and over a loud wireless mic for all the wedding guests in front and tourists snapping pictures on the street below to hear.
He cried. Wept might be the right word, and it was actually my favorite part. His vows were sweet and simple and drowned in tears of a dude just so happy to be there. He spoke about our friendship, the bad days still being so much better by my side, and lots of other things I could barely hear beyond the sniffling. I took away from his vows gratitude, and- as I kicked off my towering red heels to look him in the eye- all I could think was thank you.
Most folks recommend for the happy couple to write from the heart when penning one’s own vows. With a down-to-the-bones honesty and simplicity, Tom’s vows absolutely were a reflection of himself and the way he loves. So my vows? Well, I consider them a success in that they certainly were true to my being: ridiculous and rambling on and on and on.
My So-Dumb-But-I-Really-Mean-It Vows
There are a lot of things I don’t understand. Like how the weatherman call for rain on sunny days or how Thomas picked up breakdancing without any proper training or why Pop Tarts come packaged in pairs, but the box tells you to seriously just eat one. More than all of these great mysteries, I am the most confused by you. I don’t, even on our wedding day, understand why you love me. Why are you here on my ugliest days? Why do you take on my storms? What is in it for you?
It wasn’t until I read this quote that I started to get it. Anne Lamott wrote …
[At this point a truck or motorcycle or some heavily throttled something revved and honked on the busy city street below. Suddenly I forgot all things. All. Things. I couldn't remember what I was saying and had the strange panic that I'd worn the wrong underpants, the ones without my name and Return To Home Address If Lost scrawled across the waist band. The monster engine rumbled again...]
Um. Anne Lamott. Anne Lamott said, um, she said “Hemi?”. Uhhhhhh. Oh God. Um. Uh. Errr. She also said “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace- only that it meets us where we are but never leaves us where it found us.”. I knew then that God took mercy on me the day He handed you my hand. In my life you are grace, the shelter from bad, the shining example of what is good. You met me where I was and I am forever changed.
You show me the very best way to celebrate. You take the worst days and teach me that the messiest times are worthy, too. There is joy even in playing in the dirt with you. You made me a mother, gave this little life of mine purpose, and gave me peace in knowing that this child will watch us through the years and know certainly and exactly what real love looks and lives like. You came and turned this world upside down only to show me that it’s now finally right side up. So today and everyday I take this love of yours I so don’t understand. I take this gift and I say thank you, thank you, thank you.
And then we all melted into a pool of tears and vaporized into city fog. The end. Okay, so maybe we didn’t miraculously morph into the emotional atmosphere, but the whole place got to ugly crying the likes have not been boo-hooed since Titanic became cliché. I could almost hear the internal dismay of every woman in the joint, all lamenting the fresh eyeliner streaming down their cheeks. With all the sap and sobbing out-of-the-way, I put a ring on it.
Feeling twenty pounds lighter with such an abundance of teary water weight shed, we exited the ceremony a little less serious and a lot more funky to an acoustic guitar & banjo rendition of Matt Kearney’s “Hey Mama”. Barefoot and clapping to the cocktail reception, the thought struck me that this day was already so good, and it was only just the beginning.
* click one of these million-and-a-half photos to enlarge!