I went to the most wonderful wedding last week. It was on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of this eleventh year at the eleventh hour when the music began. Each member of the wedding party came into the room dancing, including the bride's eighty-something-year-old grandfather who had been given the honor of accompanying his granddaughter down the aisle at the eleventh minute. There she was, her hand on his arm moving to the beat. And the groom, who had just finished his own dance down the aisle, turned just in time to see his bride in the gown that had been kept hidden from him. His smile said it all. She was dressed in a lovely shade of watermelon pink.
I've been to lots of weddings. It's one of those things that comes with being married to a pastor. I suppose being a pianist has something to do with it as well, I've played the Bridal March more times than I can count. Most of them I've pretty much forgotten, especially the ones that went off without a hitch or the ten-minute ceremonies followed by a reception in the basement of a church where one gets to eat cake, mixed nuts and mints.
But there have been some unforgettables as well. For example, the time the bridesmaid fainted is pretty memorable, and the fact that she was close to six-feet tall made the fall all the more dramatic. Nor will I forget singing "Endless Love" while one particular bride shook uncontrollably and then couldn't stop giggling during her vows. But I've seen men and boys shake from nerves too, grooms with their knees knocking together and a ring bearer who threw up just as the service was about to begin. I was playing for a wedding in Montgomery, Alabama when the bride could not get down the aisle because of her hoop skirt, inspired no doubt by the lovely Scarlet O'Hara herself. She finally had to tilt it upwards with one hand while clutching her father's arm with the other, obviously not having taken the width of her dress into consideration when she booked the church. I've also seen a veil catch on fire and a new bride grab and kiss her groom so long and hard that even the guests began to squirm a bit uncomfortably. So when it comes to weddings, I've learned to expect anything.
Well maybe not everything. There is a Hallmark commercial that features the brother of the bride who continually puts his foot in his mouth. When he stands to toast his sister, everyone suddenly becomes quite nervous, concerned at what he might say. But he wisely pulls a greeting card from his lapel, reads the beautiful prose that Hallmark has already penned and everyone breathes a great sigh of relief and applauds. Sigh. I so wish a particular relative of ours had pulled a greeting card out of his lapel while toasting his brother at a wedding we attended this past summer. But unlike the commercial, it was obvious from the first sentence that the best man was going to wing it. Thus when he said, "I probably shouldn't say this," he shouldn't have. In retrospect, someone should have politely pulled him to the side and encouraged him to rethink what he was about to say, perhaps even better yet, tackled him to the ground. For as the video rolled, he proceeded to tell all assembled there in that lovely setting that when his brother, the groom, was especially nervous, he would go into the bathroom and....are you ready?....take a really big dump. Oh my. I was sitting across from my sister-in-law whose big brown eyes grew considerably larger. The laughter he was anticipating never came, not even a ripple. No one spoke or even cleared their throat. Just silence. Thud.
So back to the wedding with the bride in the watermelon dress. Her name is Amie, and the decision to get married hadn't come easily for her. Her parents had a troubled marriage, and she and her brother ended up being raised by their grandparents. She had thought long and hard before agreeing to marry Jeremy, the man who would have waited forever if necessary. She had told him she would marry when she was eighty. "Then I will wait for you until you're eighty," he had said. Now who wouldn't want to marry a man like that?
Amie planned her wedding for two years, and it was clear from the moment the first of her wedding party danced down the center aisle, she was going to do it her way no matter what anyone else might think. From the candy-filled centerpieces to the carnival-style photo booth complete with props, it was clear how much she wanted everyone to enjoy this day with her. Food was plentiful with a breakfast bar in one corner and a dinner buffet in the other, and I finished off my meal with a smoothie served in a fine china goblet. She had simply thought of everything.
There was more of course. The day had started with music and dance and it would end with it as well. And though I've no doubt Amie enjoyed every part of her wedding on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of this eleventh year, I suspect her favorite part of all was the moment she stepped onto the dance floor. You see, she had come prepared. For poking out from under that lovely watermelon gown, she had worn the most comfortable of dancing shoes complete with laces, a pair of plaid sneakers.