By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama
Well, my little (33-year-old) brother just tied the knot. I drove down a few days early to help with the preparations, which were extensive since A) the wedding was outdoors in a non-wedding setting; and B) My precious decorate-it-to-the-hilt younger sister was involved. It took us three days, but it was beautiful.
The day before the wedding, we hustled past the groom with roses and tulle and bows. My brother, looking genuinely bewildered, said, “I just thought we’d mow the lawn and put up an arch or something.”
“You’re such a … man,” I sputtered, turning on my heel to finish the guest favors.
We finally pulled everything together Saturday in enough time to get dressed before guests arrived.
Ladybug and my two nieces served as flower girls. They carried out their duty with small, ladylike steps. They were so solemn it was funny.
My new sister-in-law, Jen, was gorgeous and my brother quite handsome.
I cried, of course. This was my little brother, after all.
The crying reminded me of a passage in a book I just read by author Anne Roiphe. She wrote this very well-put few paragraphs in Married: A Fine Predicament:
“A wedding is the one place where joy is guaranteed and many people can’t help crying. This tincture of sadness in the midst of a happy occasion is an interesting matter. Of all the people who might be wiping tears from their eyes, no two are probably shedding them for exactly the same reasons. A different phrase of the liturgy, when the bride enters or the groom fumbles to find the ring, or the flower girl stumbles on her way down the central aisle, can begin a sniffling in the audience, a clogging of the nose of the mother of the bride, a mist on the eyeglasses of the father of the groom and a choking sobbing sound coming from the new acquaintance of the family who was just invited at the last minute.
“These mysterious but common tears seem to flow from the intensity of emotion but more likely they spring from some fountain of self-pity. ‘I once had a moment as pure as this and look where I have come.’ These are tears for lost youth, lost love, lost grace, for the time in one’s life when everything lay before one and the real endurance tests were waiting silently in the wings.”
(OK, so it’s a little bit of a downer, but I like the poetry of it.) In my mind, I offered
“Here’s to running those endurance tests and coming out stronger, together. Here’s to love, grace and the ability to forgive. And many layers of happiness.”
I just talked to him today. He called on his way home from work just to chat with his big sister and catch up since the honeymoon. He admitted to enjoying the phrase, “My wife.”
Suddenly, in mid-sentence, he broke off and said with a smile in his voice: “Well, there’s my wife now. I better go see what she’s up to!”
He was mentally off the phone with me and in her arms.
“I love you!” I called out. But he had already hung up.
To baby brothers and the women who love them. Cheers.
Well, that is beautifully written, but I disagree with the author, Ms. Roiphe (sorry).
While that might be true for a small minority of wedding guests (sadly), I believe the majority of tears result from two sentiments:
Remembering the bride or groom as a child and finding it hard to believe they have now reached this momentous point in life…
Remembering one’s own wedding day and reliving it, vicariously, through the ceremony that is now being viewed.
I once heard someone speak on this subject and he said that the reason it’s so important to keep weddings somewhat traditional is not for the benefit of the bride & groom (who are in a complete daze anyway), but for those attending the wedding who have already been down that aisle.
I think that is a lovely thought.
Very good points. I have to say that both of the things you mentioned were true for me on my brother’s wedding day. Then again, not everyone is as happy in their marriage as I am (so their wedding day might not be a happy memory) or the marriage might have ended badly.
It’s always interesting to me at events like weddings, funerals and other occasions how people bring so many different emotions/opinions to the table. Thanks for offering yours!