This past weekend was, by far, the best time I have had and the best I have felt in 2020, especially since COVID-19 hit.
Two of my dearest friends got married in a small, intimate ceremony in Northern Wisconsin. They had to scale back their original plans due to COVID but still decided to have the ceremony with a small group of family and friends. Everyone got tested for COVID before we went up, so it was a fairly controlled situation. We were on an island in Lake Superior that has a strict mask policy, so that helped as well.
And, my god, did it feel GOOD to let loose a little bit with this small group. I still tried to keep my distance from the parents in the group, some of whom have some high-risk factors, but my friend the bride hugged me when I got there, and I felt high as a kite. It was the best feeling in the world.
In addition to the aforementioned reasons, there were a couple other factors that made this event a big deal for me on a personal level. I was asked to officiate, something I’ve never done before. I got ordained online and practiced the ceremony once in front of the bride this summer and then several times over the past week, so I felt fairly prepared.
As you know if you read my blog, I am divorced. I got married Sept. 5, 2009, and we filed for divorce on Sept. 6, 2013. When my friend told me they were going to get married on Sept. 5, I was ecstatic. To have that date take on a new meaning outside from “my old wedding date” was a huge thing for me, mentally. And to actually perform a marriage ceremony on that day, too?! It didn’t really hit me until last week what that would mean for me. It was hugely symbolic and instrumental in my long-term healing process. I can’t even put into words how much it meant to me.
Now, I’ve been with Luke for almost seven years, so I’ve obviously moved on, but again — now that date is “Emily and Simon’s anniversary.” I hope to never again think of it as anything else.
It was a perfect weather day, much like that day back in 2009. Even though I was prepared and got a good night’s sleep, I was fighting A LOT of anxiety that morning. Anxious energy was just streaming through my veins, and Luke had to bear the brunt of it with my rambling and loud sighing and whining about dumb things like starting my period (sorry, TMI, but COME ON, it was NOT the ideal time) and making sure I didn’t sweat all my makeup off as I am wont to do lately (I run hot!). I was also in charge of the music for the ceremony and reception, and he stepped up to help me control it during the ceremony so it was one less thing I had to facilitate. He also carried a TON of shit back and forth, drove me around and just generally was THE BEST wingman.
To help quell my anxiety in the morning, I went over to help set up for the outdoor reception, even though I technically didn’t have to. I was so glad I did, because in addition to giving me something to do, it was nice to see things coming together and know exactly how things would be positioned that evening since I was “DJing” as well. Emily, the bride, was as cool as a cucumber, though she admitted she had taken a beta blocker (why didn’t I think of that?!).
After setting some stuff up at the park where the ceremony would be held, we buzzed back to our Air BnB to get ready. I was having her sister-in-law do my hair after she did Emily’s, so I took all my stuff over there to get ready. It was a little chaotic at the end as we were all clamoring to finish makeup and get dressed, and technically I was the last one ready, joking, “Well, you LITERALLY cannot start without me!”
When we got back to the park, the parking lot was CHAOS. Luke and I parked in a spot that was not technically a spot and thankfully didn’t get ticketed. I managed to keep my sweating to a minimum.
Crying was another story. There had been a lot of chatter about holding it together. To mitigate this, I practiced. Emily gave me her vows in advance so I could cry it out. I cried more or less the ENTIRE drive up north on Friday morning, listening to the playlists I’d made. Also, I used to be in plays when I was in grade school, so I thought, I can do this! It’s like acting!
But nothing prepared me for the emotional overload that is watching two of your best friends emotionally exchange vows in the year of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. Props to you if you can do it (or maybe your heart has stopped beating?!), but I could not. Especially being next to them and making eye contact with other people crying in the group. Thankfully, I ONLY cried during the vows, not when I was actually speaking. So it could have been worse.
The only other almost-gaffe was signing the marriage license. We incorporated it as part of the ceremony and a song played while we did it (as in, you’re kind of on a timer). But as I took the document out with semi-shaking hands and looked down at it, I saw… nothing. Yes, there was stuff on the page, but my eyes could not SEE where we all needed to sign for some reason and I just froze. Thankfully, Mike, the best man, had officiated a wedding and knew what to do and eventually my eyes found the spots they needed to. I guess it was just nerves but I am telling you I looked down and saw THIS:
Then they kissed and I announced them, and that was that! Time for a cocktail!
After we did some photos and had a few cocktails, it was time to head back for the reception. Enter phase 2 of my duties: DJing.
I have a newfound respect for wedding DJs after this weekend. I fancy myself somewhat of a “jukebox hero.” I think I have a pretty good knack for picking out songs that people will enjoy, and of course, with it being a wedding, I put a lot of classic stuff on the playlist that you hear at a lot of weddings. I mean Emily asked me to do it, so I figured I must not be terrible at it. My original thinking was that I’d just put the playlist on shuffle and that would be that.
It’s a lot more complicated than that if you want it to be a really good party. For one thing, DJs are paying attention the entire time and controlling every moment of sound, like fading out and throwing on a new song right away without awkward pauses. Thankfully, I had thought ahead to get Spotify premium so there would be NO commercials. That would have been extremely tacky! But I hadn’t thought about the whole fade in/fade out aspect. I figured there would be times we’d want to skip something if the mood wasn’t right, but it was more than that. In any given moment, you need to pay attention to how people are vibing.
Then there are the requests. There were only 2 children at this wedding — the maid of honor, Britt’s, son and daughter, and they were AWESOME — but kids have requests. Lord knows I did! And still do. I would get jacked up on shirley temples at weddings growing up and massacre the dance floor.
These two really are a trip. They are really cool kids and they murdered that dance floor. And the requests were generally fine, but they just kept coming! At one point, Griffin requested AC/DC Thunderstruck, which as hilarious as it was that he even KNEW that, Emily immediately vetoed. I had to try to placate them and also just temper their expectations a little bit in terms of timing. But they had a blast, I know. It always made me happy when they made a request and I could say “It’s already on there!”
But even aside from that, I found that “shuffle” wasn’t going to cut it. If people were lovingly swaying to a slow song, I felt compelled to do one more. If they seemed to really be enjoying a classic, I wanted to make sure another classic played next. That sort of thing. Because of this, I think unfortunately a lot of photos of me are going to look like this:
And no, I won’t blame it all on the music — you know I’m on my phone a lot! But there is at least one picture I’ve seen where I’m slow dancing with Luke and my phone is resting on his shoulder as I’m waiting to hit the next song. That is not normal! Hahaha.
If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not! I swear! It was a blast and I was sad when we had to quiet things down. I’m just saying DJing is more work than I thought! Props to DJs.
It was a really special time that I am so grateful I could be a part of. I will cherish it forever.
Emily and Simon, you deserve all the happiness in the world.