I can count the weddings in which I’ve participated on one hand. Actually, on like two fingers of one hand. Which is weird. I feel like lots of women of my age and station have been in tons of weddings. But I haven’t.
So, it was a huge honor for me when a friend recently invited me to do a reading in her wedding ceremony. Two readings actually– poems by May Sarton.
My dear friend is in her mid 70’s and she was finally marrying her partner of over 25 years. Neither of them had been married before and it was a huge step for them.
I’m obviously a very progressive woman of the world. Nothing much phases me. Except Burning Man. And people who eat their placentas. No judgement, it is just where I draw the line. But I digress.
Anyhoo, I’d always assumed my friend lived with another woman. But she never brought it up, and I respected her privacy. When she spoke of her partner, she would say “my family,” or “the family.” As in, “The family and I went to the Cape last weekend.” Despite our long association with one another of ten years working together, I could tell this was a delicate subject and I let it be.
About a year ago, my friend, I’ll call her Estelle, finally started referring to her mate by name. And for the purposes of this post, I will call her Fran.
It made me smile.
I felt so honored that Estelle trusted me enough to let me into this part of her world. I also imagined Estelle came of age in a time when one did not proclaim they were in a same-sex relationship. It was actually something deemed perverse, something for which they could have been imprisoned, ostracized, ridiculed, or physically harmed.
For my friend, letting me into this part of her world was a huge leap of faith.
And then she leapt even further and disclosed she was finally going to marry Fran. I was deeply moved to be not only invited to the wedding, but to be asked to read two of their favorite poems in the ceremony. For months, I shared in Estelle’s joy, (and consternation at times), as she planned her wedding. It grew into a three day event which gathered friends from near and far. I volunteered my spousal unit to do the photography and thankfully, he agreed.
At a casual dinner on a beautiful summer night, I finally got to meet Fran so we could sit down with my husband and talk about what they had in mind for photographs. Fran was just lovely. She was sweet and humble. We talked late into the night about our love for animals, their travels, and how they dreamed their wedding would be.
I arranged for my children to sleep out at my parents’ house on the night of the wedding. I arranged this months in advance so that I could enjoy a lively night out with my husband. Estelle asked me if Jack would be her ring bearer, having never even met him, but having a fondness for him from all the stories I’ve shared with her. I told her I had not been planning on bringing the kids.
“Oh,” she said, somewhat crestfallen. “Well, I guess I didn’t know how you would feel about having your kids come to a same-sex wedding at their young ages.”
This shocked me.
As well as Estelle knew me, there was still a part of her that worried her love would somehow cause awkwardness or offend us.
“Estelle! Have you met me?” I practically shouted. “I don’t believe in same-sex marriage. I believe in marriage. Plain and simple, and of course I am raising my children to believe in the same.” I went on to explain that I would have been honored to bring the kids, but I didn’t know children had been welcomed and also I really just wanted a night out with the spouse. She seemed relieved by this. At least I hope she was.
It worked out that I had Jack with me when I went to buy a card for Estelle and Fran. As I pawed through the stereotypical cards in the aisle at Target, I mentioned that I needed one for two brides. “Huh?” Jack shrugged.
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s two ladies who are getting married.”
“Oh,” said my eight-year-old son.
And that was that.
Jack did come with me to the rehearsal, and then to the rehearsal dinner. He sat in the pew of the Episcopal church and played mine craft on my phone while we all went through the service and what would happen, etc. He had grown bored of mine craft when it came time for the brides to do the kissing part. While we all clapped and cheered as Fran and Estelle practiced a somewhat embarrassed smooch, I looked over at Jack who really had no expression of anything on his face.
This delighted me.
My son is growing up in a world that is learning kindness and acceptance from the get go. Nothing about two women kissing in a church, as they prepared for their wedding was at all weird, gross, or unseemly to him. This is so important to me.
I know there are many parts of the world that have not quite caught up with the notion that people who love, honor, and cherish each other should be together. But I’m glad we are normalizing it in my little corner of the world.
The wedding was joyous and festive and went off without a hitch. My friends were beautiful, blushing brides who danced cheek to cheek at the reception and kissed with huge smiles on their faces when people clinked their glasses with their knives.
Love makes the world a better place.
That is all.