The question today is why do some of us cry at weddings? As a weeper, I will count the many reasons:
1) The couple is young and hopeful and perfect together;
2) The couple is young and hopeful and a disaster together; won’t somebody stop this train wreck?;
3) You are allergic to the flowers or to the dog that’s serving as the ring bearer;
4) You needed a good cry, anyway, so here’s your excuse. Why hold back the waterworks now?;
5) You just spied your ex and he’s overweight and slovenly. So is his new wife, the former bombshell he left you for. Those are tears of joy!;
6) The music is whiny and tasteless.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Wedding weepers have myriad reasons. We’re profligate, we’re basket cases, we are moved to primal excess by Wagner, even if nobody is playing Wagner any more, which is really a shame.
Well! Last weekend, my husband and I attended a real weeper of a wedding celebration in Missouri for two longtime friends. These are friends who shared my obsession with the British TV series Absolutely Fabulous in the mid-90s. When I went through chemo in 1995, they brought me Ab-Fab paraphernalia like hats and T-shirts so I could get infused in style. They’re warm, they’re funny, they’re loving, they’re two of the most doting parents I’ve ever seen.
At the rehearsal dinner, I looked around at their gathered group of family and close friends and thought about how the typical American family had stretched in recent years to include same-sex partners like Laura and Lisa. Once, it had been earth-shattering; now, it was simply another fact of life.
The next day, we celebrated the wedding, which had taken place a few weeks earlier in Chicago. Laura, the designated extrovert of the two (well, let’s be honest: Laura is the designated extrovert of any group she’s in), spoke about how she and Lisa had first fallen in love in 1986. They were young and scared of the choice they were making, she said. It was another, harsher time then. They never dreamed they would one day be able to own a house, raise a child, marry.
“I want to dedicate this ceremony to those two scared girls who were in love,” Laura said.
They exchanged rings and danced the first dance together and we all drank champagne and some of us cried. I cried because:
7) Maybe we now live in a world where boys and girls can be happy, not scared, no matter who they fall in love with — and maybe, just maybe, the world is moving in a better, more tolerant direction;
and 8) There is something wonderful about seeing two people (men, women, a combination of each, who cares?) look at each other with such openhearted love and appreciation and delight after almost 30 years together.
Mazel tov, Laura and Lisa. You are and you always have been absolutely fabulous.
(Copyright 2014 by Ruth Pennebaker)