By Author Nan McKenzie
The many weddings I’ve attended in my life range from beautiful and fun, to silly, to stultifying. But they are all satisfying, too, with the knowledge that love is ever hopeful.
One very hot June day some years ago, I sat with my former husband and our two teenage kids in the incredible re-creation of a European chapel while the Catholic priest droned on and on for ninety minutes, nailing the couple down with words. I could feel sweat running down my face, staining my blouse, the pantyhose a tourniquet for my poor legs. The whole congregation became giddy when we were finally released. The wedding almost lasted longer than the marriage, which ended a few short weeks later. What a waste of time and money. There was no reception, no wedding cake, no dancing. It was a beautiful pageant, though.
Another wedding many years ago united two very tall handsome people who walked down the flower-strewn aisle with their son. The wedding was held outside and my spiky heels kept sinking into the lawn, arresting my strides. We laughed and joked and danced on a noisy wooden floor, and ate too much and had a good time.
Her dad cried at her wedding, an almost silent affair in front of a preacher of some kind. It was 1960, and he’d driven her to Coeur d’Alene in Idaho where he gave his middle daughter away to a young man he intensely disliked. Not in June, February, cold and overcast. He said she didn’t have to do it if she wanted to change her mind, they’d figure something out, and he cried at the finality of her education, the lost promise of the best and brightest. He was right, she should have listened. But then, she wouldn’t have had two children, a son and daughter, the finest work of her life. She sure was glad when The Pill became available a couple years later, though.
There were tall trees, the sound of rushing water in a nearby swollen river, mosquitoes, way-too-loud music, and lots of alcohol, way too much. But the bride was beautiful in her pretty dress, the groom and his buds handsome in dark shirts and bright ties, the bridesmaids happy and silly in black dresses with pink sashes. The weather, wet and messy just a couple days before, decided to grace the couple with blue skies and tiny white clouds, the ice cream cake was on a tippy table and sliding sideways by the time it was cut, there was lots of shared food and good visits and wild kids tearing around. A typical Montana wedding in June, the summer solstice a gift.
All wedding have a heart, a hope, a fond foolishness to them. I love going to weddings, like to cry silently at the beauty, the pageantry, the right-now happiness.
Nan McKenzie, June 23, 2014