A Wedding (in 5 parts)

Part 1

I’m writing this post in San Diego, where I came to watch my nephew get married. Love, in all its forms, is in the air here – jumbled, chaotic, romantic, familial, platonic, big and delicate. You get this many people together and it’s both magical and scary to watch the stories intersect. There is a sense of fragility that is peculiar to weddings, a pause  into which beginnings and endings get all jammed together; old wounds are as likely to be opened as they are to be healed.


Part 2

My nephew’s wedding is full of the things that weddings should be full of – love, flowers, promises, music, dreams, memories, champagne, cupcakes. (And bubbles! They have bubbles!) I love how the groom looks at his bride, I love how she looks back at him. I don’t love the part of me that thinks of the statistics and worries it might not last. I banish that part of me as I get up to dance. I want to fill the world with silly love songs.


Part 3

There are toasts, a flying bouquet, a garter shot through the air like a rubber band. There are pictures and hugs, tears and silliness. And through it all, they shine. They grin at us and we grin back, and our  smiles encompass the world.


Part 4

Romantic love gets all the attention. Maybe that’s because we choose it, foolishly, against all odds. We risk our hearts for the chance to share them… even if, in the end, it doesn’t feel like a choice at all. I love that about love. The way it makes us all heroes and victims at the same time.

I think of that when they cut the cake. When the groom smears icing on the bride’s cheek, so she smashes her cake all over his face and into his hair. Sometimes you eat the cake, and sometimes you wear it. That’s what I think. And the 12-year-old boy in front of me turns and says, “That. Was. Awesome.”


Part 5

I think vulnerability could become a practice for me, the way yoga is a practice, or meditation… or even religion; I believe in the power of vulnerability with the same sort of fervency. Brene Brown says that in order to be really loved, you have to be really seen. Deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. I think that’s true. And profound. And terrifying.

It seems counterintuitive, the idea that vulnerability is the key to fearless love, but I think it is. We are most vulnerable when we let down our defenses, when we’re honest and open and generous, when we love without guarantees. We are also, I think, at our most stunningly beautiful then.

I want to write something like that to the bride and groom, but I can’t think of how to say it. Neatly. In a card. To 28 year olds. So I quote Tom Robbins instead. I tell the happy couple not to honor and obey, but to aid and abet the outlaw that is love.

“Love is messy,” I write. “Embrace the messy.”


  1. lunaJune on April 25, 2011 at 6:22 am

    so glad you are having a great time !
    weddings… so full of love…

    did you wear your good shoes ? :~)

    enjoy the mess
    embracing it daily

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      Love, and a million minor plot lines! I did wear my good shoes. I had help from a friend picking them out. 😉

  2. Lisa Kilian on April 25, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I LOVE this. I just went to a close friend’s wedding this weekend and … ::sigh:: you’ve captured everything perfectly. 🙂

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you, Lisa. Weddings are, I think, uniquely beautiful and complicated, full of promise… and subtext. 😉

  3. Lisa Kilian on April 25, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Ps. I just added this to The LIST. 🙂

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      YAY! :: happy dance ::

  4. Ralph on April 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Glad you had fun. I bet you were wearing high heeled Cons. 🙂

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      I bet they actually make those. I was wearing shiny flats. 😉

  5. C. Fassett on April 25, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I love how you wrote this, and I feel I was right there with you at the wedding :). Bubbles are the best! Far better than rice, in my humble opinion. I agree with the 12 year old.

    Through my own journey of practicing vulnerability I have discovered that what we initially viewed as weakness, or laying ourselves bare, changes as we walk through it. Well, our view of what constitutes vulnerability changes. The places I viewed within me years ago as vulnerable are now considered nothing of the kind. Yet, at first step, trust and faith are a necessity in putting myself and my heart out there to be seen. Trust is a decision, faith the enactment, the verb, of that decision in what initially feels like a huge leap off a cliff into mid-air.

    I agree with Brene Brown, however, it works both ways. Yes, in order to be really loved, to feel it, know it, vulnerability is necessary, but also in order TO LOVE, another verb, we must be open. The greatest resistance to loving I have found is this area right here you are discussing. The move to protect ourselves, and our hearts, creates the wall between us. When we protect what we consider our vulnerability, we in essence are believing in an enemy. When we take the risk, when we let the walls down and step out there, bare ourselves and our hearts, get naked, we discover more and more there are no enemies. And in the end, what we find we were protecting ourselves from were imaginary monsters under the bed.

    We will not know that, however, until after we leap.

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm

      Wow, Cindy. This is such a beautiful comment. I have found that too… that the more I open myself up, the more people I find to fill my soul. The opposite of what I feared.

  6. Pam on April 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    “Our smiles encompass the world.” I love the my-face-is-sore feeling from nonstop smiles. <3

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      I had some of that, for sure. It’s hard not to be swept up in that sense of beginning and possibility and “this is how love should look, all beaming and ecstatic.”

  7. Tana on April 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    There is nothng, NOTHING, in me that likes newlyweds wiping cakes on the others’ face. Who invented that?! Who thinks it’s cool?

    I think it’s a horrible tradition of embarrassment.

    Am I wrong? xox

    • j on April 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      I know of at least one twelve-year-old boy who thought it was totally cool. (Chad and I didn’t do it, and we were boo’d.) xoxo

    • Miguel on April 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Playing in wedding bands for years, I saw the cake in the face thing so often that I would feel bitterness towards bridal couples and their fake spontaneity. I later discovered the bitterness came more from playing god-awful music with god-awful musicians (and I don’t care if they happen to run across this comment).
      When it finally came to be my turn at bat, my unfortunate wife got a big ole, Broward county-styled cake-in-the-face smearing. Of course, this is not a tradition in Poland, so I took advantage and went for the cheap laugh.

    • j on April 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Ha! I seriously didn’t know if Chad would go for it or not. But he was sweet. So I was sweet. And the crowd was oh so disappointed. Savages. 😉 (And I don’t care if they read this comment either!)

  8. Estrella Azul on April 26, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Love how you structured this post in five parts, capturing the most essential things in each (far better than any in comment I could leave right now) 🙂
    I’m so happy you had such a wonderful time!

  9. j on April 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you, Estrella. xo

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