*Chris, Teacher & Marianne, Retired*
Our wedding was supposed to be a surprise. We billed it as a house cooling—she was moving in with me and renting out her house—and invited our friends over for a party. The hardest part of the planning process was deciding who to invite. Early on we decided we had to tell some of the guests—our own kids and a few others who had to come from out of town. Since we did the deed on a Thursday evening—the eleventh anniversary of our first date—it was likely that some would have had perfectly valid excuses not to come. We didn’t tell people in town and one good friend in particular missed the party. Feelings were hurt. Other people weren’t invited because they weren’t immediate family or long-term friends. More feelings were hurt. If we had it to do over again we might have made the invitations more explicit and more inclusive.
We had both been married before; she with a big formal affair and I with a private court ceremony. This wedding split the difference, so to speak. The most important things to us were simplicity, informality and the absolute absence of stress. The event itself was entirely informal; we both were barefoot, our guests sat in camping chairs during the ceremony, and our dogs were maid of honor, best man, and “father of the bride.” My best friend performed the ceremony using a one-time license (and was well-dressed for the occasion, yet was the only person who stepped in dog doo). Our grown daughters, both possessed of quirky sensibilities, were in charge of decorations and dessert, and Marianne’s mother brought flowers from her garden. We barbecued tri-tips and everyone else brought something to share. A couple of impromptu toasts were made, and my younger daughter’s boyfriend treated us to an impromptu fire spinning show. In every respect, save the invitations, everything went off perfectly and a good time was had by all.
The only surprises of the evening were positive. My friend Bruce, the officiant (a generally quiet and serious person), made a short speech with only a day to prepare, and came up with a hugely humorous homily; among other things, noting that we were barefoot (which he did not know beforehand) and saying that it should be called a weddin’ rather than a wedding. After Marianne’s uncle made a toast for her side of the family, my friend Alan volunteered to make one for my side, but he said it in Chinese and wouldn’t tell us what it means. They couldn’t have been funnier if they’d had weeks to think about it.
Thinking back on it, there is not a single bad memory. The food was excellent, everyone had a good time, everybody got to talk to everybody else, and we all ended up around the fire pit at the end of the night. There is nothing I would have changed.
Photos by: Emily Takes Photos