Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The room was drenched in red. So red I gasped when I walked through the door. Deep red carpet. Red sofas. And walls and walls of mirrors. It was warm, mysterious, the entry way drawing me in as I caught glimpses of rooms tucked here and there. Every room excited me like discovering another secret pocket in a cool old jacket and being eager to find out what's in there.
When it was time, we all gathered in the lobby with our glasses of wine and stood watching as she descended a grand spiral red staircase wearing a strapless dress that fit so perfectly it seemed every stitch was sewn with her in mind. The dress was stunning, simple. Stark white, strapless with a bedazzled diamond shaped piece of silver just below her breast bone holding all the sheer soft fabric in place.
I don't know why but it made me feel good that she walked in alone. Her sense of pride and confidence was palpable. I appreciate tradition, but in 2011 I admire a woman who doesn't feel obligated to be given away like a piece of property. When she reached the platform landing at the bottom of the stairs, she turned toward Andrew, her right shoulder facing us, her new red poppy tattoo prominent and in perfect compliment to the red soaked room.
They wrote their own vows, part of which included each of them selecting a passage from a book for the other to read. Michelle handed Andrew the book Love is a Mix Tape opened to the part he was to read. "I am riding in the car with the windows down and the music blasting...." These may not be the exact words but this is how I remember them. He was reading about himself. A passage from a book Michelle read that reminded her of him. I could tell from the sound of his voice that he felt a deep connection to the words. That he was touched that she knew him so well. And then Michelle's turn. A story in first person of a girl discovering her confidence and beauty and ending in beautiful dresses and red shoes, both of which Michelle was wearing.
After the readings, they said their vows. Michelle started with a warm genuine smile, her head tilted ever so slightly to the left "Andrew, you are my favorite person." There is no better compliment. Her vows were conversational and sweet and powerful. And then Andrew..."I, Andrew, take you Michelle, to be my lawfully wedded wife." Their vows were so different yet they perfectly complimented each other. Their beautiful wedding bands were cut and sculptured from the same piece of reclaimed wood. They were married by our friend Nick who'd been ordained just for the occasion. I have scoffed when I've heard of people doing this but standing there watching two good friends be married by another good friend, a person who knew them better than some random judge or minister would have, I totally got it.
The rest of the night people talked about her red shoes. Michelle insisted that she had no idea about the reading Andrew selected or that it contained a reference to red shoes. And I believe her. But Andrew knows her that well. He knew she would walk into that all red room wearing beautiful red lipstick to compliment that striking red poppy tattoo. And he knew her well enough to know she'd never wear anything but red shoes to her own wedding. Those readings, the red shoes, they were so much more than coincidental stuff at a wedding. They were powerful expressions of their bond, their friendship, how well they know each other.
We were asked to bring something for a time capsule. It seemed like a cool concept but coming up with something for that time capsule was harder than I thought and ultimately I left nothing on the table. But I'm hoping the capsule isn't closed, yet. That when they open it years from now they'll read about my experience at their wedding. About how I stabbed myself in the finger with a butter knife that morning and bled all over my kitchen while waiting for my girlfriends to come over for coffee. That Monica took me shopping that day for something to wear to the wedding and that I walked into a dress shop with a deep sadness over my body but I walked out confident with a dress I thought I looked pretty in. That my husband said he didn't think he'd ever seen me in a dress and that he liked it. That I felt pretty that day like the girl in the story that Michelle read at her wedding. That I was mesmerized by all 9 of those beautiful wedding cakes and admired them both for having the balls to have wasabi cakes and plenty of vegan fare. That we danced the night away despite Michelle's recent knee surgery. That I will remember fondly Michelle's first dance with Andrew and watching the hug between Michelle and her brother later that night. No words were exchanged but I know that feeling. It was the same hug I shared with my brother after his wedding years ago. A relationship so close that no words need be spoken yet deep emotion and appreciation are communicated.
I was so moved. It's been two months but these thoughts and feelings still linger.