This weekend my dear friends Katie and Laura got married at a campground as a man played a classic Stephin Merritt love song on the acoustic guitar.
I had helped Laura edit their wedding vows, and sat in a kind of quiet awe when she told me that sometimes she and Katie can’t get to sleep at night because they’re making each other laugh so hard, laying together in bed. She said she has to beg Katie to quit making her laugh because she has to get up early for work.
I guess that’s the kind of problem to have with one’s partner in life. (Note to self: Shoot for that.)
1. Laura-bride’s father, when offered a pen to sign the couple’s wedding promise during the ceremony, shakes his head and will not take the pen I offer. Instead he moves to the side of where everyone is signing a promise to honor and support the marriage and takes a deep breath. Then he walks around behind me and stands in front of the table, silently reading the brides’ wedding promise.
I watch him nod his head. He picks up a pen and signs with one word:
2. Katie-bride’s father, who had said he was coming in for the ceremony only and leaving immediately afterward, stays on into the night, a beaming father of the bride seated like a tribal king on a Coleman camp chair, rising to cut a rug with his beautiful daughter on the bare earth under a tarp. It is at this moment as the bluegrass music plays that I realize that not only are things going to go better at this wedding than anyone ever expected, they are going to verge on the miraculous.
3. During the ceremony, Katie-bride is almost hysterical with joy, as if she cannot believe she actually gets to be the one that marries Laura. Her face is pink, her eyes are teary and shining with excitement, and she looks as if at any moment she will be propelled upwards from the earth by pink love-jets, do a few loop-de-loops in the air, and leave a pink vapor trail that smells like roses before drifting back to the ground. When asked to make her final wedding vow of loving Laura forever, she can’t speak, breaks down and has to have a hug from her maid of honor and her future wife before, with sudden calm, she can speak the words.
4. During the wedding toast, an old friend from college tells Laura-bride that Laura came out to her 11 years ago to the day. She still has the letter and reads from it, telling of Laura’s fear and uncertainty then. Then she tells Laura that today she has conquered her fear and with her wife by her side, together they are so strong. Laura-bride, who is not a weeper, breaks down in tears embracing her friend.
This was not a gay wedding.
This was a wedding.