O Long Their Coupled Joys Remain

I’m in a dear friend’s wedding today, and yesterday during the rehearsal, as everybody was telling wedding stories, I passed along the best piece of advice I ever got.

My wedding was a giant Catholic to-do, trumpeters, dress the size of Manhattan, etc. I’d wanted to elope, but Mr. A, with unerring instinct, said instead, let’s throw a big party for all our friends and family. We’ve all been through some rough stuff together, so, in thanks, let’s get a great band and some food and let everybody get to know everybody else.

As weddings do, it got a little out of control the day of. One usher had forgotten it was on Friday instead of Saturday and wasn’t planning on showing up. The music director at the church had played the wrong track on the Pete Townsend CD we’d given him (yes, The Who in church, my mother was just as horrified as you are) and so instead of “Let My Love Open the Door,” 100 guests heard “Rough Boys.” We’d had to sew one of my bridesmaids into her dress before we left the house and then, on the way to the church, it started to rain.

So by the time we got to church, even though the friends with whom we’d surrounded ourselves were doing their level best to keep us loose and chilled, my back was starting to get stiff and my voice was starting to do its schoolmarm thing with my poor father, who was so nervous he looked like he was about to throw up.

That’s when Pam, the best florist on earth, for whom I’d worked in high school, stepped in. She fluffed my veil, handed me a bunch of red roses the size of a hedge and said listen, listen. At some point today, take your husband’s hand, and just step aside for a moment, and look.

Because the whole point of a big wedding is to have everybody you love in one room. Everybody. Blood family, friends, every person who means something to you in some way. And you’re so busy, you’re trying so hard to talk to everybody and make everybody happy and make sure everybody has a good time and get all the pictures taken and etc etc, that you could literally miss it.

So stop. Step out, together, and recognize that this is your life, the life you’ve built together. Weddings are public for a reason, they’re a community event for a reason. You pull the love you have around you in times of vulnerability and let it protect you. You need to take a minute, take five if you want, to recognize that strength and feel it a little, let it lift you up.

Throughout our eight years of marriage there have been times I’ve wished we had back the money we spent on that wedding (and I’m sure our parents have wished the same) but I’ve never regretted the moment in the doorway of the Astor Hotel, when we paused on the threshhold, hand in hand, looked out over the crowd of happy faces, and thought, “Here we are.”