Nick and Emily got married this summer. My husband Barry and I are close friends of Nick’s parents, and John Carr picked us up in Burlington, Vermont, beaming with fatherly pride. We took a ferry across the choppy waters of Lake Champlain to the bride’s hometown of Plattsburgh, New York, where the wedding was to take place the following day. Pulling up near the grass of a beautiful old boat house set on the lakeside, we soon found ourselves immersed in the preparations. Families and friends were already there, the women clipping flowers for centerpieces, the guys stringing brightly colored Japanese lanterns across the old wooden beams. There was that sense of anticipation in the air: the bride and groom’s jitters, the subtle fear of unforeseen events that could interfere with their special day.
There was no wedding planner. Nick and Emily, with a little help from their families, had done everything themselves. They wrote their own vows and engaged a friend to officiate. When the work was done, we watched the rehearsal from Adirondack chairs spaced out on the lawn and enjoyed the subtle breeze that blew in off the lake. The air was buzzing with moms and dads, sisters and brothers piping up with suggestions and more than a few strong words on how the ceremony should go. So many opinions, so little time. Underneath all of the noise I sensed a mountain of family love. Everyone wanted everything to be just right.
The day of the wedding, as the music played, and the resplendent bride walked shyly on the arm of her father, I thought about the huge step Nick and Emily were taking. I thought about how hard it is to find a true partner - someone to drink from the same cup with, so to speak, for the rest of our lives. It felt good to be there. I understood why I love to go to weddings: the ceremony, the toasting, the dancing, the communing and celebrating all feed us spiritually. Like other rituals, it connects us and gives our lives meaning. It is the glue that binds us.