A few weeks ago, one of my dearest friends got married on top of a mountain in Oregon. The wedding was an intimate affair at the family home of her husband-to-be, the ever-spunky and kind Zack. It’s a surreal thing to see one of your best gals get married. I feel like I now understand better why all my bridesmaids were so smiley and weepy at my own wedding because that’s exactly how I felt all weekend. Smiley, weepy, a little bit manic. It was fantastic. I firmly believe that weddings are one of the best things culture has come up with, an opportunity to genuinely celebrate something very, very good. Getting married is no small thing for a person to decide to do, and I’m glad that it is part of the human experience to let it be a big deal, to be sacred and special, no matter who or where you are.
My Avery got married as the wind whipped around and storm clouds threatened, bursting out their rain only as she and Zack were declared husband and wife. It all echoed the song they walked down the aisle to, John Denver’s, “Annie’s Song.”
You fill up my senses / like a night in a forest, / like the mountains in springtime, / like a walk in the rain, / like a storm in the desert, / like a sleepy blue ocean. / You fill up my senses, / come fill me again.
I read a poem at the beginning of the service with a wavery voice, and it all felt heavy and light, monumental and momentary. So strange to be at the age where huge life events are happening, really happening. Marriages and mortgages, big, big things, no longer hypothetical but real and actual. This is the sort of thing I inserted into games with dolls as a child, having my Barbies marry one another, buy houses, have babies. But now I’m married, Avery is married, and it’s no longer something for parents or movies or dolls, it’s for us. We are now dealing in earnest with the things that sort of lay at the center of life as we know it, the things we wondered about as a child. The things that felt far-off and impossible are now our normal. All it took was one day, some things said in the back yard, some cakes cut, some dances danced, and a good God within it all, and just like that Avery was married to Zack. Just like how I was married to Isaiah last August. It means everything and nothing, it’s symbolic, it’s sacramental, it’s special, it’s wonderful, AND there’s cake!
Sometimes when I’m people-watching, I’ll spy a middle-aged married couple and remember that those two random people had a wedding once. A whole wedding with a dress and groomsmen and champagne and presents and a bouquet. Maybe they didn’t, maybe they did some sort of alternative thing that they were proud of at the time, but chances are that they did the wedding thing and they did it hard. And it was a day they remember, a day that is special to them, a day that felt like the right thing to do no matter what state their marriage is in today. All the married people you know, they had a wedding once. And it mattered a lot to them. It was monumental, life-changing, heavy, light, silly, sacred, all the things it is to me, to you. What a fantastic rite of passage! How marvelous that it includes cake and flowers! How joyful to witness promises between people!
Avery and Zack, I’m so glad that you are married now, this long-awaited joy, and I’m so grateful to have been there to see it happen on a mountain in springtime. Blessings on your marriage, your home, your love, your family that is only just beginning. Cheers, cheers, cheers to you!
Here are the photos I managed to take between hurrying about getting things ready and standing bewildered staring at the mountains. This wedding was very intimate and sprawled across the whole weekend. I think something about the fact that we were sort of in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain in the pacific northwest with rain threatening all the while made the whole thing feel sort of otherworldly and special. This wedding was my favorite sort, an all-hands-on-deck sort of affair. We arranged the flowers in the basement, made cookies to fuel the work, moved furniture to and fro to make room for tables, and partied very hard when the time came. I left feeling like a participant rather than a spectator. A stakeholder, a supporter. That’s how a wedding should feel, and that’s how a marriage should feel too, not like an island but rather like a neighborhood, a network. The wedding was wonderful, and I’m happy to feel like these photos capture a little of what it meant to be a part of it, the preparations, the excitement, the moments of rest, the pure joy. All there on the top of the mountain, the beginning of a marriage.