Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Toasted The Happy Couple

I don't like going to weddings. Having seen my own marriage fall apart like a house of cards against an industrial fan, I had long since decided that my mere presence might jinx any would-be couple should I decide to stride into their ceremony. When my former step-daughter rang early Saturday morning begging me to come see her serve as a bridesmaid in the wedding of a family friend that evening, the best I could come up with was "I don't wanna". It wasn't an excuse that she was inclined to accept. So, the next thing I know, I'm slinging on my favorite blue tie.

It was a small affair, one organized without a best man or a maid-of-honor. Knowing both the bride and groom, the honor fell to me to give the big toast to the new couple. I had only a few moments to organize my thoughts, but I think what I came up with hit the right chords. Here's the paraphrase.

"I've been given the honor of being the first to say a few words to toast this new couple. I'm sure I speak for all of us in attendance tonight when I say that we all feel so blessed to share this special day with them and be in the company of friends and family. And, while it was a beautiful wedding, we must remember that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. A wedding is a sacred ceremony. A marriage is the eternal bond between two people. The wedding takes place at the planned time and place, while the marriage happens somewhere between 'will you marry me' and 'I do'. Yes, somewhere amid all the stress of planning the wedding, the couple decides that they really do want to be together forever. That's a marriage."

I then turned to the bride and said "I love you like family. You're a good person, a great mom and a beautiful woman and I'm so happy for you". I turned to the groom and said "You're a good dad, a great man and a good friend. And it's because you're a good friend that I'm going to give you this option: I've got a full tank of gas and a case of beer. Say the word and we can be in Vegas by tomorrow morning. But, I know you're not going to do that because the two of you are so in love. And that truly is a pleasure to see."

With that, I asked everyone to stand up and raise their glasses to the happy couple. Perhaps a wedding toast from me doesn't mean too much considering my thoughts on the institution itself and my own failures within it. But, my heart was in the right place and the words rang true. I don't think that anyone of a more firm belief could have done much better.

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