Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Wedding

The morning of Kacey and Becker's wedding dawned bright and clear, even if I wasn't awake to see it. I slept for as long as I could until Puck arrived from Staten Island around 11 am to wake me and start the getting-ready process, which included trips to the nail salon, the dancewear store for tights, lunch at our usual Chinese restaurant and a hair appointment for me.

We hopped a quick subway down to Union Square and got to the B'ahai Center very early so Kristina could tie on my wrist a corsage made of painted paper cut out of a book (well, Miriam had to tie it for me again so it wouldn't slip). I went upstairs to say a quick hello to Kacey before she started getting into her dress, and she was absolutely beaming with excitement. I'm sure I've never seen her so joyful in all the time we've spent together.

I sorted out a few last-minute details with Amanda and the ushers, Derek and Rob, and Puck got Kacey's phone ready to FaceTime the entire event for Kacey's friend Chels back in Colorado. It was actually very touching to see Chels' face, reacting to the ceremony we were showing her.

Upon entering the room, Storm played solo violin pieces as people got settled. The ceremony started with some brief statements and readings from both the Baha'i and Catholic faiths. Then Daniel and Hannah joined Storm to form a trio for the Pachelbel "Canon" as the flower girl and bridesmaids entered. Chris and Jonathan came from backstage to await the arrival of the bride. Kacey's father walked her down the aisle and shook Chris' hand as Jonathan took his place off-stage. Kacey's father read a prayer and stepped down, leaving Kacey and Becker alone on the stage.

The bride and groom exchanged their rings and then stood facing each other on stage as the trio played Massanet's "Meditation" all the way through, with no words spoken. They simply considered each other, preparing for the moment when they would choose to join their lives in a union. As I watched, I could only see Kacey's face because we were on the left side of the aisle, so Becker was turned away. To me, Kacey is and always will be beautiful because she's my dear friend and I love everything we share with each other. But seeing her that day, in that moment, filled with happiness and radiant with love - it really did take my breath away. As someone who devotes a good amount of energy seeking beauty in all its forms, I will remember that moment for a long time to come.

What happened next was as much a Kacey moment as when she slipped down the stage steps during the rehearsal - she started reciting her vows and went blank after two words! Kirsten quickly handed her the words on paper as we all laughed and applauded.

Once she said her vows, Becker had the easy job of repeating them and they embraced and kissed each other passionately. Seriously, that kiss would challenge Wesley's and Buttercup's kiss for supremacy in the annals of lip-locks.

As the wedding party exited, I ascended the stage and announced that they would have a receiving line for the next 10 minutes and that we would exit the room starting with the front rows and working our way back. We left with a big group of friends that was headed for a bar, but Puck, Miriam, Chelsea and I decided to break off and stop at the quieter Le Pain Quotidian instead.

We had a little trouble figuring out how to navigate the dozen or so blocks to the Housing Works Bookstore, but we managed with a slight detour. I checked in with the waitstaff and started making announcements on food service and getting people to their seats. I got a plate of food, but didn't really have time to eat much of it, which didn't matter because I was too nervous about my toast to feel hungry.

At 7:45 the music went down and I introduced each member of the wedding party and finally Kacey and Becker as husband and wife (I might have said "man and wife" but that wasn't my intention - it's so ingrained). They took about 10 minutes to all get settled before I called up Jonathan for the traditional first toast. I followed with my toast ("The wedding speech" - Jan. 20, 2014) and then the five bridesmaids took their turns as a group - Lourdes, Kristina, Deborah, Azizi and Kirsten. Finally, I asked Kacey's dad to come up and give the final toast.

Many people, young and old, came up to me afterward and told me they liked my speech, which really made me feel good about how much work I put into it. Even Kacey's mom, who has very high standards, said she loved it. I've told some people, but my first draft of that speech was pretty awful. What do I know about weddings, anyway? The person who was able to guide me with that was actually my co-worker and former boss Lori, who sits across from me at Nearing. We've been working together for four years and she's used to giving me tough criticism and seeing me use it to turn crap into cream. So, she deserves so much credit for helping me express the thoughts I wanted to say.

After the toasts, I turned it over to the band, led by singer Alexandra (who I think I met at Papacookie once before) and they played for the traditional first dance, followed by the father-daughter dance. The band played all the old romantic standards from the great American songbook, a genre I love and am currently exploring with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone. I watched the dances from the balcony under the glow of strings of old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

Right by the dance floor, there was a photo booth set up in a nook with crowded bookshelves filled with wedding memorabilia. Puck and I took a photo together in the booth, and Kacey and I also took one together. Kacey and Becker cut into their cupcakes on the dance floor, and did the bouquet and garter toss from the balcony. The rest of the evening we danced and socialized and felt that sense of community that only love can create.

On the way home, I talked with Puck about how much we both enjoy being a part of such an incredibly diverse, talented, friendly, intelligent, interesting, artistic and free-spirited community of people. Because I can't imagine anything else being more significant for me this year, I told Kristina, who made my paper corsage I wore all evening on my wrist, that I was going to keep it as this year's Christmas ornament for my tree.