Thoughts from an American wedding
Eight days ago I got married. I hope that the two weeks of blogs I programmed the James-robot to deliver - so I could focus on enjoying said marriage and ensuing time commitments - were to your pleasure, and not lacking in any freshness.
Our wedding was a smashing success. I cleaned up okay in a suit, which happens sometimes. My bride was a vision, which is a much more common occurrence.
(We'll be sticking with LP, rather than the more accurate "LR" as her blog nom de plume, as it is a handle that she recently admitted to having some sentimental attachment too.)
There was a small weather issue. I'd never experienced rain at LP's family home between the months of May and September... until my own wedding day. If I were a betting man, I'd say I would never experience it again.
It was a weeklong environmental rollercoaster: the forecast darkened, and then improved markedly, before plummeting again. The wedding ceremony was outdoors, and as guests arrived the conditions toggled between sunshine, spits of rain and chilling winds. As the ceremony started, it began to rain softly. The sky was a menacing grey and the air was still. It was as if the heavens were preparing to open any second, but for 30 minutes (thankfully) the heavy rain held off, unleashed instead at a steady rate through the (under-cover) cocktail and dinner hours. There was a sketchy half-hour about dusk where the collected rainwater pouring out of the gutters kept tripping the breakers of the lighting and intermittently sending the marquee into darkness.
The rain raised pulses, but had no impact on the fun had; people imbibed, mingled, laughed and danced into the next day. I remembered my vows, and didn't embarrass myself making a speech. The food was a hit (though it was surreal to eat something that I'd spent six months discussing and planning). The band was good.
Ninety people had, or at least claimed to have, an extremely good time.
I have few things to add to the canon of wedding advice. It went by quickly. Invariably, all of my worries turned out to be unwarranted. The weather, and how unaffected people were by it, was further evidence that no one goes to a wedding to have a bad time. Immediately following the wedding, I was more exhausted than I can ever remember being. In the time since, I've slept long and lived lazier than I have in a while. I hadn't taken on board just how preoccupied by the wedding planning I'd been for so long.
It was great in all the ways that people told me it would be, but somehow indefinably and indescribably... better. Among the blur of it all, there were a few thoughts over the day about this wedding and my situation, which I thought relate to some things we've been talking about here.
Thought 1: It's surreal and amazing to see all of the people from all of the places in your life come together.
A wedding is the one time where people from all eras and geographies of your life will drop everything and travel any particular distance to celebrate you. This is a factor in any wedding, but when you're joining two distinct and separate geographic backgrounds, and combining groups of people from New Zealand, Norway, London, Sydney, Boston and California, it takes on an added poignancy. I have many wedding memories and I'm not ready to pronounce any to be the defining one. But I forced myself at several occasions in the evening to take a few quiet moments to survey the scene, and was struck every time by how unlikely and amazing it was that all these different people were all together at the same time.
Thought 2: It is, however, rare and fleeting.
The wedding was a little over a week ago, and it already seems like a dream that my sisters were cutting loose with LP's brothers on a dance floor somewhere in Chicago Park, California. Our families had never met, and will probably meet many times again. But having all of our immediate family together would be difficult to replicate.
Thought 3: Foreign-ness is in the eye of the perceiver.
It was a constant joy of the wedding week to see both American and New Zealand arms of the family find the other slightly exotic. From catching LP's aunt slyly enquiring about the proper "English" way to set the cutlery on the dining table (as we New Zealanders are so devout about traditional British customs), to the way my parents pulled out their worldliest and most cultured stories to impress new company (apparently my Dad's grandfather was an Irish sea captain), it was fun to see the attempts made to impress on each side.
Thought 4: I am immeasurably invested in America now.
Standing in front of all those people and getting married ties me not just into a marriage and an American wife, but a living, breathing American family, an American life and a future, and the entire country in general. I'll always be part American outsider, but it's time to acknowledge that I'm now a bit of an insider too.
So, a few messy thoughts today, but I felt the event should be marked, and maybe a photo or two put up here for the few people who asked so nicely.
Were you married abroad? How did it make you feel? Did it rain on your wedding day?
How do you like my suit?
I'm sure we can now find something to talk about, right?