It's almost a year since I did my last wedding, but wedding officiating seems to be one of those skills (like riding a bike) that, once acquired, never leaves. My only nervousness today was about whether I'd be able to find the wedding site in a timely manner! Old Quarry Road in Otis turns out to be just under an hour from my house, and someone had thoughtfully marked the last couple of turns with white balloons tied to street signs. Once I approached, Peter and Shane's house was easy to spot; on their tiny dirt road it was the only one with an enormous white tent beside it, with caterers lighting luminarias along the tented walkway.
As we queued up the wedding party in the reception tent and readied ourselves to head in to the ceremony tent, I assured everyone that the wedding would be beautiful even if something didn't quite go according to plan, because we were gathered together for such a joyful reason. That was apparently the right thing to say; it defused the nervous tension that always seems to swirl before a wedding, replacing it with laughter.
Peter and Shane had enclosed cloth squares with their 'save the date' cards, and invited their guests to decorate them and send them back to be stitched into the couple's chuppah. A chuppah represents the home the couple will build together; like the tent of Abraham it is open on all sides, signifying hospitality to all. Traditionally it contains no furniture (well, aside from the wee table we put the havdalah materials and the kiddush cup on), reminding us that what's important in a home is the people, not the possessions. Tonight's chuppah was framed of branches, twined with leaves and flowers, and topped with a stunning quilt made from the squares that people sent back. That Shane and Peter's symbolic home was adorned with the work of beloved hands made it all the more meaningful.
The ceremony went marvelously. As always, the best part was basking in the joy I saw in the bride and groom's eyes. Planning a wedding takes work, but when we reach the final moment -- when two people are standing with me beneath a chuppah, placing rings on each others' fingers and repeating the words of their vows after me -- all of the stress melts away. The catering decisions don't matter any more; the program folding doesn't matter any more; the guest list doesn't matter any more. All that matters is the two of them, and their dazzling and brave decision to make a life together. It is a tremendous honor to be able to sanctify this kind of turning point in peoples' lives.
Their ceremony is online here [pdf for download]. I expect some family members were disappointed that I didn't perform half of the service with a British accent as the wedding website promised, but despite that flaw people said truly lovely things afterwards, and I came away feeling glowy and warm. As I drove away under the glorious harvest moon, the party was still going strong, a candlelit fairytale of music and conversation. It makes me happy that I was able to play a role, however small, in celebrating these two wonderful people and kicking off this new chapter in the story of their lives.