My husband can attest to the fact that I often spend weddings making snarky comments under my breath, horrified at sexist traditions and outdated rituals. He was off at a conference last weekend, so he missed a wedding where instead I kept saying, “This is so perfect! This makes me so happy!”
The wedding of Philadelphia Guy and Medieval Woman was perfectly wonderful. They chose wedding traditions carefully, dropping anything sexist and swapping outdated customs with new obervances. Instead of readings from the Bible, for example, they picked passages from their favorite authors. (Choosing the texts took some negotiation. The bride said to me in an email, “This is what happens when two English professors of vastly different periods try to write a wedding ceremony!” They gave me passages from Rilke to read, and I took the precaution of printing it out in a huge font ahead of time.)
The rehearsal dinner was in a French restaurant that we had all to ourselves. How fun it was to meet Philadelphia Guy’s sister for the first time, and his Dad. I’d heard stories about his friend Broadcast Journalist for years: finally, I could talk to her in person and trade stories. Medieval Woman’s parents were lovely and gracious, local friends were super helpful at explaining where to go and what to do, and old friends didn’t hesitate to give me the dirt on Philadelphia Guy’s childhood. His sister had even brought an album of baby pictures.
The venue for the wedding ceremony and reception was a beautiful old building with arched windows, high ceilings, fireplaces, a long open staircase, and so many grand pianos that I lost count. It’s a music hall built in the 1890s by a group of women, for the “study, appreciation, and performance of music.” It seems like people who are passionate about music also care about elegance, soft colour, and natural light.
The bride looked gorgeous in a vintage dress, and I knew she’d been up the night before hemming the skirt that the adorable flower girl wore. During the solemn parts of the ceremony, I could see people around me wiping away tears, although we all laughed during the vows when Medieval Woman looked lovingly at Philadelphia Guy and said, “I promise to read everything you write.”
The reception took place in a ballroom filled with early evening sunlight. Chicago Friend had brought his family, including a six-year-old daughter who insisted on sitting right next to Artist Friend. After dinner, Philadelphia Guy picked up his guitar and sang a song for his new wife. Then a rockbilly band took the stage, and everyone danced: old people, little kids, and everyone in between. Artist Friend was at least four feet taller than his dancing partner, but they twirled and spun to the music. The wedding favors were CDs of songs chosen by the groom.
When we gathered for brunch the next day, after a late night of dancing and talking, we were all dressed more informally, mostly in jeans and t-shirts. We ate bagels, fruit, homemade cinnamon rolls and scones. By then, the family members I’d met 48 hours earlier felt like old friends, and we all kept exchanging hugs as each group took their leave.
The best part of the weekend, though, wasn’t the great food or the gorgeous light or the cute ringbearer who turned out to be a fantastic dancer. It was the way we all kept saying, in pairs or little groups, in confidential tones at the table or standing outside the bathroom, “Philadelphia Guy and Medieval Woman are so perfect for each other.” And it’s true. Absolutely true.