I was asked by some good friends to officiate their wedding on a past Friday evening. Their mandate – make it different – tell a story. Stories and different – those I can do.
It was a nailbiter all week. The wedding was scheduled as an outdoor wedding at The Inn at Churon, a winery not far from San Diego in the Temecula Valley. Rain had deluged us the weekend before and was forecast to resume again at precisely 4:00 p.m. on Friday, the time the wedding was scheduled for. All eyes were on our weather apps and hopes rose and fell as the forecast changed, seemingly from hour to hour. The day of the wedding, things were looking good – light clouds in the sky, but otherwise sunny and blue.
Then, at 3:52, the rain started. At the bride’s urging, we waited a few minutes with last minute hopes that the rain would be a quick squall and we could move forward with the outdoor wedding. Quickly, though, the realization set in that even if the rain stopped, drying all of the chairs and dragging the bride and her gorgeous dress through the wetness was not practical.
I looked at the wedding planner and made the call to take it inside. “How long will it take?” I asked.
“15 minutes.” was the response. Luckily we had planned for this eventuality at the rehearsal the evening before.
4:15 arrived and we were lined up, ready to go. I had written, re-written, planned and rehearsed what I was going to say for weeks, but now…
…looking out the window, I saw that it was storming – typhoon like winds and rain transforming the glass into a viscous gray sheet. The bride partially wove her way to the front of the room and was partially dragged by her father through the narrow corridors allowed by the tables that had been set up in the lobby of the inn for the reception. All I could think was, “No way, no how am I letting this ruin my friends’ wedding.”
Then, “different” began. As for what I said, I barely remember. All preparation and rehearsal were gone, along with my speech – Here I was first time officiating a wedding that had just been delayed and restructured because of rain.
Fluffy Unicorn was paying close attention and told me later that I launched with an opening joke, more of a tale, weaving in the rain and my failed attempts at halting it. Then, I addressed my friends, Stephanie and David, and talked earnestly about the how they might look at their future lives together and understand that rain may fall.
“The rain will always stop”
But, I told them, the rain will always stop. And the day after the rain, even though it might not seem much different than the day before the rain, we always have a little more pep in our step, a little more optimism. The world looks a little brighter and the air smells a little fresher. I told my friends that the best thing they could do in life is to live every day like it is the day after the rain.
Did I have the crowd? I don’t know – I was working too hard to tie the threads together in my head and keep the words from launching themselves incoherently off my tongue. I was frantically clawing through the three shots of Jameson I had with the groom and best man before the ceremony in an effort to keep the jitters at bay. If ever there were a time to quit drinking…
Somewhere in the ceremony, Fluffy Unicorn told me, there were a few inside jokes. One liners that a select few family and friends were supposed to understand and laugh at. At one point, I remember a symphony of crickets. At another, I remember a loud guffaw…from the Bride.
Then came the vows. The bride and groom asked me to write them. They were still applicable. But, no, applicable was not enough…I worked the rain in there, too.
As we were eating a pretty darned good reception dinner afterward and she was recounting things to me, Fluffy Unicorn said it was amazing how I meandered my way through the whole ceremony and then somehow weaved everything together at the end and had everyone with tears in their eyes at the vows. Wow. That was pretty high praise from someone who is immune to all of my best features – charm, wit and humor.
Thinking this was one of my rare moments when I might be able to get two compliments out of her, I asked, “So were the vows as good as this pretty darned tasty and tender breaded chicken?”
“It’s fish,” she said.
I told you she had a good palate. Cheers, my friends!