The Wedding

Now I could easily write about how a destination wedding on the coast of California was like a vacation from responsibility and all things remotely adult-like. I could write the ridiculous specifics about how nobody went to bed until after 1 am for four nights in a row, or how we as a group probably set records for alcohol sales in the state of California.

That would be fine and good, and I could probably make you laugh in the process. And before I left for this wedding, I was pretty sure that would be the story I would be writing now.

But I started noticing things over the course of the weekend. And those things were hard to ignore. Sure the wedding was a raging romp full of laughter and hilarity, but sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home I was noticing some thoughts I hadn’t really processed before.

Upon closer inspection of my particular experience in California, I realized that weddings are more than just alcohol fueled dance parties. Weddings are more like lenses. They are mirrors that reflect the aspects of our lives that might be harder to see had we not gathered all of our loved ones in the same place at the same time.
You see the childhood best friend, the parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents who were there for the formative years of the happy couple, and the people they choose to surround themselves with currently. All of it is a reflection of where they’ve been, and where they are going.

It need not be said that you don’t get to choose your families, but you do get to choose your friends. And just as children say a lot about the kind of people their parents are, the friends you choose aren’t just the people you enjoy, but also representations of the characteristics and traits that you yourself value.

I quickly realized that these people from Washington, Arizona, Indiana, and beyond were more than just guests. They were the actual fabric of the wedding. They were what I was most interested in. All those details that get so much attention before the wedding happens, well they are fine and dandy but they are just the icing on the wedding cake.

I’ll admit that having a wedding in one of the most magnificent parts of the country sets you up for an incredible affair. However, location can only add so much to your wedding. People are always looking at what they think are the important things at weddings. How is the food? Is the bar stocked with choice booze? Is this ceremony going to last longer than an episode of Seinfeld?

Those details that the bride and groom spend hours agonizing over end up being more about how the wedding looks, but they can’t change how the wedding feels. No, the feeling and the emotions of the wedding, those come from the people. And no prime rib, open bar, or seaside view can compensate for that.

Weddings help us view the parts of our lives that we love the most and those that we don’t understand. And destination weddings, those rare events where people come from all across the country, or around the world, are truly unique occurrences. It may sound corny to say, but rarely, if ever, will the bride and groom see all of those people at the same time again.

So every moment you spend with your guests takes on so much more significance. You try to squeeze every possible second out of your time with everyone. You realize that those stereotypical weddings with the electric slide and the drunken toast given by the best man are more theater than celebration.

It is far more moving to watch the brother of the groom struggle through his speech because he’s never had the opportunity to verbalize what his brother means to him. It’s far more emotional to hear a little sister discuss how she can finally pass on her title of “protector” because her big sister is in the hands of a man who will do the job for her.
Watching that emotion push its way out of us is so strangely cathartic.
Regardless of whether or not you cry at weddings, there is something so significant about hearing people crystallize their feelings for each other. Our lives are filled with nods of approval and half-assed hugs. And these feelings of affection live deep beneath the depths of our souls, often growing and swelling without ever having the opportunity to surface.

So when it comes time to look your loved ones in the eye and tell them there is no one like them, that the love you feel for them is something unequaled for any person on the planet, well, it’s no wonder people cry at weddings.

You can fake a lot of things in this life. You can talk all you want about who you think you are and things you are going to be. We can fake strangers into thinking we are doctors, lawyers, or the next American Idol. But it is wonderfully refreshing to see people just being themselves because they know they couldn’t hide it if they tried.

And that’s what weddings should be, a chance for you and the love of your life to invite those that mean most to you on the planet to come together if for only once, to share in an event that is both reunion and rebirth.
Throughout my time in college whenever I would talk to my grandfather he would tell me to study hard and make good marks. Then on the day I graduated college when there was no more studying to be done, and every time I’ve seen him since, he has said “Choose your friends wisely.”

As I barrel through my 20s, it is this advice that I hold closest to my heart. As more of my friends continue theirs paths into adulthood, getting engaged and then married, I’m sure there will be more weddings I will have the opportunity to attend. I’m sure all of them will be beautifully different in one way or another.

So in some regards, this wedding was epic. We laughed so hard we fell out of chairs, and we talked so much we were hoarse for days. But even more than that, seeing up close what it is like when a wedding trades in its spectacle and drama for laughter and love makes me hopeful that one day my friends and family will feel the way I did at Marissa and Josh’s wedding. Indeed, I believe it is all any of us can hope for.