I won’t bore you with a lengthy description of joy, pride, emotion and happiness. It was indeed all that. But we don’t often talk about what rides just above those emotions and just below them. I’ll dwell on those instead.
What rides just below is the intense preparation. There are two kinds of preparation, one for the wedding, and the other for the marriage. Fifteen months of details, objectives, bickering and bargaining prepared us for the wedding. It is party throwing at its highest level, with details not included in parties at home, like place cards and chair sashes.
I have come to appreciate that the love and attention you put into the party planning helps set the mood for the experience. Personal touches like the bride and groom’s favorite cookies, welcome letters and goodie bags, schedules of events and a “help station” with hair dryers and Advil communicated how much we care.
We gathered for a weekend in the Adirondacks at a lake, taking over a camp and partaking in meals and activities together. This kind of sharing is part of the other preparation riding just below a weekend like this — the preparation for the marriage. That took over fifty years of family nurturing and friend development. It ran the gamut from setting boundaries and providing financial support in the early years, to learning how to separate our lives as parents and kids, while keeping the right amount of involvement and distance in the young adult years.
My son-in-law’s parents, family and friends invested half that time; my husband and I, our family and friends put in the other half. This preparation came from the daily routines of living together, putting up with pouts and spats, figuring out how to not tread on each other’s space or self-respect, and remembering what we were in this for.
Then we called on our community to celebrate the rewards of our efforts together. And they responded. Their response spilled over into the launch of new friendships, as my cousin talked gourmet cooking with my daughter’s godmother, and as two friends found out they grew up ten miles from one another, and wedding party members became fast friends. We validated that investing in each other pays off.
And this is what rides above the immediate emotion of the weekend. We floated past initial bumps and hiccups about party planning, right through to a sense of calm and being right where we were — in the middle of a great celebration of two young people making a commitment to one another. It felt big and important, and it was.
The weekend rekindled our sense of community commitment, helped us see that my daughter and son-in-law were now part of our life’s projects — to support a couple in their vision of the future. The public commitment of a wedding feels solid — it’s a conscious choice to announce to the world how you will move forward. And that reassurance makes us feel stronger. Momentous indeed.