My wife and I attended two very different weddings last weekend. The wedding where I worked as a minister and a DJ took place in Simsbury. The ceremony was held at a farm, complete with hogs, tractors, hay bales and dirt roads. The couple was married in a picturesque field surrounded by similarly picturesque fields as far as the eye could see. A single guitar player strummed the songs that accompanied the service. Amidst the guests were several farmhands, dressed as you might expect farmhands to appear. The bride and groom were brought to the field by horse-drawn wagon. The ceremony was short. Fifteen minutes at most, entirely designed by the couple. It included a Robert Louis Stevenson poem and an Apache prayer.
While I was standing in a field amidst 150 people who more-or-less looked like me, my wife was attending the ceremony of the parent of a former student. This ceremony was held in the same room where the couple’s reception would later take place. Instead of white chairs on grass, guests sat in the same place that they would for dinner.
Elysha was one of three white people in the room. The other two were the minister and someone’s date.
Short skirts, bright colors and lots of cleavage dominated the scene. The bridal party was chewing gum during the ceremony. As the bridesmaids and groomsmen exited the ceremony, the DJ played the song Tootsie Roll.
And here’s the thing I love about my wife:
In describing every aspect of the wedding, she did so without a single negative connotation. In expressing the difference between this wedding and the one she typically attends, all she said was “It was culturally different.”
Not better. Not worse.
She has always managed to find joy and appreciation in someone willing to be different.
As a wedding DJ, I have lots of stories about non-traditional wedding decisions, differing familial traditions, and unusual requests, and when I tell these stories, people often assume that there is something wrong with the couple involved.
Tootsie Roll at the ceremony?
Who are these people?
They are normal people, looking to have a little fun with their wedding day. And what strikes me as most tragic is the people who complain about these non-traditional elements and unusual decisions are the same people whose weddings are utterly unmemorable. Nothing special or different or unique marks these people’s day, because in their minds, to step outside the bounds of expectation and tradition risks the judgment and condemnation of people like themselves.
I will never forget the pigpens along the dirt road, the horse-drawn carriages, the hayseeds standing in the back, and the way the couple who I married bounced around the dance floor during their first dance to a high tempo New Radicals song that few couple would dare use for their first dance.
My wife will never forget the wedding where the bridal party chewed gum and danced down the aisle to Tootsie Roll.
These were special weddings. Unique. And while there are some who will presume that there is something wrong with these couples, there are people like my wife who will think that there is something very right about them.