I’m still not sure about ‘marriage’ not because I don’t want to be with Andy. He has nothing to do with it. It seems commercialized to me. If you know us, you know there is nothing commercial about us.
Recently, we got married. But on our own terms. As a girl, I dreamed about my wedding day and I had my whole life planned out; then life got in the way and thankfully it did. I’ve been engaged before. Twice. But I had the common sense to know it wasn’t right. I didn’t want to get married. I refused to succumb to societies’ standards of what they think I should do mixed with the fact that I was scared to death to give up any perceived control I think I had. Deep down, did I want to get married? Did I want a family? Yes. Yes I did. But I wanted what everyone told me was impossible. I wanted someone real. Someone with greater depth than me. Someone to challenge me. Someone who was stronger and smarter than me. Enter Andy. If you want to know the entire story of how we got together, read my earlier blog post here.
Cut to six years later. We fight. We laugh. We cry. We have pain. We have excitement. We have realness. Am I in love with rose-colored glasses thinking I’ve found my Prince Charming? No. Except I am in love with him. Andy. Prince Charming? Who the hell came up with that? I don’t think either of us are a perfect anything. If you’re human, you’re not perfect.
Andy is the person I’ve chosen to struggle through life with. We decided to get married because it was personal to us and we wanted to share that commitment to the people who we’re closest to. Trying to keep our wedding simple was an impossible task made by those around me. All out of love I might add. Did I tell you that my hairstylist (the best ever) made me do a practice run? WTF?!
April 5, 2014 6pm. It’s here. Our wedding day.
As people arrived, we had them sign our guest book. With their fingerprint. The fingerprints would act as leaves to complete a picture of an oak tree which is Andrew’s favorite tree and reminds us of the beauty of central California. At the time I thought this was a really cool idea, however, 20 years from now we won’t know who came to our wedding so we’ll have to refer to these pictures and not their fingerprints. At least we’ll have their DNA?
After people signed our guest book, they walked out to our backyard and were greeted with passed hors d’oeuvres, a cocktail and my punkin’, Andy. Because that’s how we roll.
I was in the back getting ready with my niece, Grace, who also has Manire patience; that of a gnat. We’re good pretenders only because we know there’s a camera present. Don’t we look mellow and patient? I know, Academy Award worthy.
As I was about to be helped into my dress by my girlfriends, they put a giant kibosh on my choice of undergarments. What do they have against black granny panties underneath a white gown anyhow? I mean, come on, they’re practical and comfortable. So I was forced to change into something more enticing for my new husband. I figured I can do it up for at least one night. Nice of me, I know. Our ceremony was officiated by our dear friend, Rev. Laurie Shiers, who recently completed her theological studies at the Universal Church. Online. Everyone gathered in a circle in our backyard underneath bistro lighting and lanterns each holding a candle.
I walked out with my father, talking the entire time, smiling, laughing, loudly saying hi to everyone and was handed off to Andy. Apparently this isn’t the bride protocol. And?
The ceremony began with welcome remarks from the great Rev. Shiers, “Welcome and thank you all so much for joining us as we celebrate Andrew and Michelle’s commitment to one another. As the writer Marcel Proust said, ‘Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.’ You are the people who have helped Michelle and Andrew bloom, both individually and as a couple. And your presence throughout their lives and especially today has made them so happy. They want to acknowledge and thank all of you for your support and participation today. A special shout out to everyone who travelled from Oklahoma, Seattle, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Atlanta as well as those who made it from behind the Orange Curtain.”
Cut to Andrew “We would especially like to thank our families who have patiently waited for this day. . . .” Yes, as you can already tell, our wedding wasn’t typical. It was actual.
I chimed in with. . . .”and have put up with our quirkiness. . . .as you should because, you know, we’re awesome.”
At that point we walked around and hugged every single person in attendance. Now I have to admit I was finished about an hour before Andrew. I’m a mover. Andrew took his time and sincerely hugged everyone tight and was more present. I may have mentioned something to that effect while I was waiting. Like “Come on honey, let’s go.” Hey, I’d like to think it made it all the more charming.
And deeper into the ceremony we dove. Rev. Shiers continued “A circle represents unity and wholeness. As an important part of Michelle and Andrew’s close circle of family and friends, we are all gathered together in this circle to witness and support Andrew and Michelle as they become husband and wife.”
“Please close your eyes and take a long slow, deep breath, now. . . .feel your breath connecting you with each other, with Michelle and Andrew, feel the earth under your feet, the breeze on your skin, take in the sounds of nature. Think of a wish you’d like to share with Andrew and Michelle and take a moment to silently send it their way.”
“Michelle and Andrew have known one another for over 20 years. First as friends in college. Then after reconnecting online 6+ years ago, Andrew surprised Michelle by showing up at her Christmas party and romance bloomed. Several of us here today were there for that great moment when Michelle saw Andrew walk through her front door. It was electric. Michelle had hired ‘little people’ to dress as elves, had them serve hors d’oeuvres to her guests and I swear those little elves worked their magic that night. Six years, a few Labrador retrievers and many cross-country trips later, Michelle and Andrew are ready and excited to proclaim their love, and voice their commitment to one another.”
So far so good. Rev. Shiers is great for a reason. She went on “When I sat down with Michelle and Andrew to talk about this ceremony and what marriage means to both of them, a couple of themes kept coming up. Companionship – finding that person you want to grow old with – was one of them, and I think that’s common. But Michelle and Andrew also mentioned vulnerability and trust – trust through the hard times when you want to run away and being all in no matter what. To me, that shows such depth and beautiful acceptance. Michelle and Andrew are truly seen by one another and nobody is running away.”
“Another important aspect of marriage for both Michelle and Andrew is family. For them, this union is so much about bringing families together. As Andrew put it, he wants to be Uncle Andrew ‘for real.’ Which reminds me of a great little passage from The Velveteen Rabbit:
“‘What is REAL?’” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. ‘Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’
‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because one you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’
‘I suppose you are Real?’ said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.’
‘The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,’ he said. ‘That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.’
“Andrew and Michelle have made each other REAL. You may have only been a couple for a handful of years, but thanks to your mutual love, respect and acceptance, you’ve truly grown up together. You give each other permission to be who you are and by doing that, you also make space for the people you are becoming.”
Because I pretend I’m a quarter Jewish on my mother’s side (her father was Jewish so it’s not supposed to count but I count it), we incorporated a tree planting into our ceremony where people wrote down their well wishes and added them to our tree. Plus it was Laurie’s idea. She’s totally Jewish. And now a reverend. Anyway. . . . .take it away Rev. Shiers. . . .
“As a living, giving representation of their growing love, Michelle and Andrew are going to plant an Acacia tree as a symbolic part of this ceremony, which will be placed in their front yard after their honeymoon. The Acacia tree is a symbolic and sacred tree in many cultures. It’s often called The Tree of Life. Just like that this beautiful tree now covered with your wishes and wisdom, marriage requires constant nurturing and nourishment. As Michelle and Andrew provide the sun, soil, and water for this tree, they will provide the encouragement, trust, and love needed on a daily basis to consciously nurture and nourish their connection to each other.”
At that point we added some dirt to the base of the tree and watered it.
Some of my favorite wishes from the tree were:
“Happy Wedding, Grace, 8, 2014, April 5.”
“May you always have cheesy eggs and lots of love. xo KP”
“To my favorite oldest daughter, I wish you the happiness you have given to other to be yours forever, love mom.”
“I wish for you to grow to 100 together and die together so one is not left alone.”
And so on. . . . .honestly they were all awesome.
Carrying on in her Rev. Shiers way, “Andrew and Michelle, you have proclaimed yourselves ready this spring evening to voice your commitment to each other. We, your circle of family and friends, are here for you, here to honor you, and to witness your hearts’ declaration. Michelle and Andrew, do you, with family and friends as your witnesses, present yourselves willingly and of your own accord to be joined in marriage?”
“We do.” (That was us saying that)
“Will you promise to care for each other in the joys and sorrows of life, come what may, and to share the responsibility for growth and enrichment of your life together?”
“We will.” (Again, us) OMG we’re really doing it. We’re getting married. Whoa.
Next, Rev. Shiers said, “Then please turn to each other and share the vows you have written.”
Of course we had to write our own vows. But who goes first? We weren’t sure so we did rock, paper, scissors. True story. I won.
Michelle’s vows (that’s me)
I love that you’re able to bring about my softness and vulnerability. As most can attest here, that’s quite a feat.
I love you for putting your hand into my guarded heart and not letting all my foolish ways stop you from loving me and for bringing into the light all the beautiful things that no one else had looked far enough to find.
I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good. And more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by simply being yourself.
You have taught me so much about the world around me, how to be a better-equipped intellect, a more thoughtful person and a deeper thinker. I’ll never forget the time I asked who Francis Scott Key was and the horrified look you had on your face. My latest news was that Michael Jackson had died. Funny as it may be, I was ashamed and took it upon myself to get more educated about American History and you are such an integral part of that; patiently answering all my questions and, honestly, in a way that no history teacher ever could. I can actually understand you and it resonates with me.
I’ve watched you take great care about vacuuming the floors and furniture, mopping and making sure everything looks perfect before anyone comes over to ensure they feel comfortable in our home. Even if it’s someone I’ve known for over 30 years and they’ve have seen me at my worst. You’re very mindful about how other people feel and your thoughtfulness reaches to the core of me and connects me to you more than you will ever know.
More than all of this, when hard times happen, you get closer. You’re the man who never leaves my side. You’re the man hugging me and helping me move forward. You’re the man who takes action when I’m stuck. You’re the man I want with me in every foxhole ahead. You’re the man.
In our marriage, I vow to be devoted to only you. I will cherish and adore you, I will lift you up when you are down and to be yours forever.
Michelle, I love you for your honesty. Every kind. Sometimes gullible, sometimes scrupulous and even a bit horrifying, which might secretly be my favorite. But mostly it’s that distinct Manire kind of truth. The kind that hasn’t changed since we were kids and I’ve often tried to emulate since then. It’s the kind where you just don’t care what people think and love them anyway. It’s fearless and yet so very sweet. Family, friends and even strangers respond to it like some kind of magic and love you even more. It’s always there and yet it always surprises me. I don’t always have that fearlessness, or sweetness, it takes more for me, but I do with you.
I love you for your loyalty. Some decisions about us, the family and friends are little and come easy, others are harder and take time, but when you make them, you have a drive that is unstoppable. It is a fierceness of love that shows me what devotion should be.
I love you for your nurturing. When we have family or friends overnight, you’ll cook 100 pancakes and waffles, two kinds of sausage and bacon, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, soft-boiled eggs, poached eggs and fruit shakes for five and forget to eat something yourself. You’ll call doctors and make appointments to perform completely unnecessary tests. You’ll spend an entire day taking the dogs and cat to the vet. What you do for our home is endless. It is an abundant love. But I draw the line at calling the cops if I don’t pick up on the fourth try. I might just be napping.
I love you for your tremendous strength. To be honest, loyal and caring such as you takes a tremendous amount of courage. You only waver in exhaustion, but that doesn’t last long. Too long, though, and I have to admit, I’m kind of lost. You are my rock.
Your tenacity for life and love bodes well for us and every day it reminds me to be a better man. It speaks to me about what is to be a family. It took a long time for me to see it. A lot of Manire truth. But I do see it. To be a real uncle, brother, son and now husband is all the reality I need. I can promise you this, if I get even close to doing for you what you do for me, then I might finally believe a marriage can be happy and forever. Till death do us apart and all that.
But, I still wonder, in the end, that all we ever know here is I’ll owe you me and you’ll owe me you.
Yeah, we both sobbed like babies. We’re mushy underneath it all but if you know us, you already know that.
Next, the bling. Who doesn’t love bling? Rev. Shiers finishes out the ceremony. “Brandon (our 14-year-old nephew), can you please bring the rings?”
“For thousands of years, lovers have exchanged rings as a token of their vows. Let these rings be a sign that love has a past, a present and a future. Through you and within you. Andrew, take Michelle’s ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me:
‘I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you to be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.’
“Michelle, take Andrew’s ring and place it on his finger and repeat after me:
‘I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you to be my over, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.’
It’s all becoming very real, I thought to myself. Will it be different? I think so. And then the pronouncement. “Michelle and Andrew, we have heard your promise to share your lives in marriage. We recognize and respect the vows you have made here this day before each one of us as a witness. In honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done here today, and in accordance with the laws of the state of California and the ONLINE Universal Life Church Ministry, it is my honor and delight to declare you as husband and wife. Please feel free to make out.” “As Michelle and Andrew take their first moments as husband and wife, let’s take one more opportunity to make a wish for them as we blow out these candles.” The end. Of the ceremony. Oh, yeah, there’s more. Of course there’s more.
First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes a song written for and dedicated entirely to me. I’d say that’s about right. So my poodle, punkin’ pie also known as Andrew, Andy, honey, love cakes and petunia wrote a song, recorded it with the renowned Kirsten Proffit of Calico and tenth grade geometry and sang it at our wedding. You’re dying to hear the song, aren’t you? Ok, here you go. You’ll need an access code so email me for one. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. ;)
So yeah, that’ pretty much how it went down. Then we ate dinner, did a dance to our song, drank a little and walked inside and passed out. Did we consummate our marriage? All I’ll say is that my forced fancy panties aren’t saying a word but they were definitely worth the effort. #fowlepartyof2
For all the pictures, click here. Over and out.
Disclaimer: Andy is sometimes referred to as Andrew, flower, punkin’ pie, lover, honey, lover cakes, petunia and whatever the mood strikes in me in the moment. I’m talking about the same person. Photo credit: Sheri Geoffreys Photography