in their own way (or, how to throw a wedding)

On Saturday, I watched my very oldest friend, Sarah, marry a poet. He is, of course, many other things too (including deeply beloved by my children), and the happiness of the match as well as the details of the day made for an especially good wedding. Although I have to admit– I look back at so many weddings in this last time of being an adult over the last ten years or so, and I think I say that every time.

This one was especially good.

This weekend, a small group of us packed into Sarah and Jefferson’s living room on rented folding chairs. Friends sang songs, we told stories, and we celebrated them for all they do both together and apart, and for all the ways that they, together, make their world better and inspire us to love. Joey had spent the morning with the girls making flower garlands out of tissue paper; I had spent it in an attic apartment creating trays of meats and cheeses and olives with a few other friends, all of us standing back while Sarah’s mother, Lyra, made the cake.

(She made my wedding cake too, and many others that I’ve gotten to eat over the years. I don’t know her secrets, but no one makes wedding cakes like Lyra.)

We threw star confetti that will be lodged in the living room rug for months, then ate stinky cheese, salty meats, big, green olives.  We drank champagne and waited just long enough to have a little bit of space in our bellies, then a small crew left our kids with a babysitter and an Otto’s Pizza so we could all go out for dinner. I loved that part,  especially.

We are coming into our mid-thirties now, and most of our friends have coupled up and had weddings of their own. And over the course of this weekend–maybe it was because this wedding was such a clear expression of the love of two people I love?–but this one wedding seemed to bring so many others to me, and memories I had folded away were all the sudden there, all together:

Eilen and Jay in another living room high on a mountain in winter, in a wedding so small that half the guests were flower girls. We ate braised pork and coconut layer cake (the first and only wedding cake I’ve made, so far.) Molly and Aurel, in our backyard as it threatened to rain, and when it finally did, we all put napkins on our heads until the sky cleared and we could relight the candles. Naya and Oliver and their weekend of enchanted summer camp. Meagan and Ben in the center of our small circle of chairs at the goat farm, shushing the guinea fowl. Sarah and Tony, as we walked through the New Mexico wilderness. Chris and Anna, kissing at the only farm in Queens. Jordan and Quimby and their endless paella, dancing with Luke and Caroline, looking out at the big lake in Canada with Chris and Cait, India and Luke’s pie and little Odette in her yellow dress, the golden walls of the tiny Orthodox temple with Dave and Suzi. And more. Lots more. Quiet weddings at town hall, revealed later with sheepish smiles. Pregnant bellies, or children held instead of bouquets so they can be right in the center of the action as their parents get married. Brides in white, orange, red, sequins, suits. Weddings we missed because we were too broke or too pregnant, but somehow we integrated into our memories anyway.

I feel so lucky to be able to witness these moments. To zip up dresses and pin flowers into hair, and to feel proud of my friends as they do this–just in the way that makes sense for them. In the woods or a church or a living room. And I’ve given my fair share of advice over the years on weddings (as I am, for better or worse, someone who loves to give advice). But I’ve seen it done so well in so many ways–I don’t really think there is one way to have a wedding. Only perhaps, to give yourself permission to do it in the way that makes sense for you. (And, of course, to wear something in which you can breathe/ dance/ eat/ canoe/ do whatever it is you’d love to do on the day)

I’ve learned this from watching my friends do it so well, each in their own way. And when Joey and I left the restaurant on Saturday night, late, late, it felt like we’d just spent the day cheering on love–all kinds of love. Just being part of something such goodness for that bit out of the rest of the day-to-day of our lives, well… hooray for that, and hooray for Sarah and Jefferson. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(And speaking of the day-to-day, I haven’t forgotten about the Mighty Nest straw giveaway. Congrats to Karey- let me know where you are and the straws are on their way. And thanks so much to everyone for such a great discussion–I think more than one future post will come out of that one! )







  1. JoAnn C. says

    Wow. You’re a beautiful friend. If I find that special man for me, I will invite you to my wedding. You’ll come won’t you? All the way to the “D”? Then we can eat stinky cheese and olives. : )

  2. narf7 says

    A lovely post and a perfect footnote on the wonderful personal weddings of your friends :) Thank you for sharing it with us. I especially loved the line… “but this one wedding seemed to bring so many others to me, and memories I had folded away were all the sudden there, all together:” beautifully succinct and completely “there” :)

  3. says

    Your posts always seem so timely! I’m caught up in wedding planning as we speak and this has been a particularly stressful week. Thank you for reminding me that our guests are coming because they love us, not because they expect to be impressed with spectacle. No off to decide on a caterer!

    • alana says

      Oh I’m so glad! It can be hard to remember when all the stressful details are swarming around you, but in the end, just remember that you’re throwing a party for the people who you love, and who love you. And good luck with that caterer…

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