One of the best parts of reaching a “certain age” is that you get invited to weddings all over again. This time around – it is to the weddings of our friends’ how-did-they-grow-up-so-fast adult kids.
After an in-depth analysis based on my recent attendance at a grand total of two weddings this spring, I can confidently state that some things about nuptials remain the same. But some have changed. And for the better.
Let me explain.
Last Saturday we drove from DC to Brooklyn to attend the wedding of the son of my best pal from law school. The ceremony was at 4 p.m. in a darkly beautiful, historic gothic church in Brooklyn Heights followed by a reception in Prospect Park.
One step inside the Park’s Picnic House and I knew this was a millennial-designed reception. No assigned seating, no name cards, no receiving line, no formality. Instead a group of very happy friends and family members clustered around a drinks’ table featuring a curated selection of local craft beer and personalized mixed drinks.
AND in a prominent place a boldly lettered sign providing the following social media instructions for guests:
For Instagram, please use #GroomLastNameBrideLastName
Social media instructions are very 2015. But some things about weddings – thankfully – REMAIN THE SAME since I was a May bride 37 years ago.
1. A wedding always involves a happy couple.
And as guests, we get to bask in the reflected glow of their happiness, watching as they recite their vows and pledge their troth. (whatever that is, they still pledge it.) And vows they still say, even if they leave out the part about “obey” (I did, too, to my husband’s lasting regret.)
2. After the ceremony comes the reception – and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
I am a huge fan of tiny appetizers. While you may be among those wedding guests whose first priority is to get your first drink, or to offer congratulations to the bride and groom, my first reception task is to determine from which door the waiters carrying the fresh trays of hors d’oeuvres will emerge.
On Saturday night, I lucked into an excellent reception location, about eight to ten feet from the swinging door so that all of the waiters had to pass right by me as they entered with trays of miniature potato pancakes topped with chives and sour cream, petite crab cakes and tiny goat cheese tarts.
(pro tip: please do not block me, if I get to the spot closest to the appetizer entry door. I can be fiercely hors d’oeuvres-protective.
3. There will be sentimental toasts.
The bride’s sister on Saturday night charmingly told a story about her younger sister in pigtails. The groom’s sister welcomed the bride into her family. And the best man embarrassed the groom with a reference to tray stealing from the college cafeteria. Guests applauded, champagne was served.
But some things about weddings – thankfully – HAVE evolved.
1.No one blinks an eye if the happy couple are from entirely different backgrounds.
33 members of my husband’s extended Macedonian-American family traveled from Michigan to Connecticut to see us get married by a rabbi under a chuppah; that was unusual in 1978, although my parents and relatives did a lovely job of welcoming my husband’s family.
Now in May, 2015, inter-everything marriages are the norm and differences in heritage are celebrated.
Early in the evening of Saturday night’s reception, the bride, the Korean-American daughter of immigrants, and the groom, whose forebears served as officers in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, both donned Korean wedding attire for a paebaek ceremony where they sought and received blessings from both sets of parents. After they bowed to their elders and drank ceremonial wine, their parents tossed chestnuts (symbolizing boys) and dates (symbolizing girls) in the air which the bride tried to catch in the apron of her dress to signify how many children she and her new spouse will have.
All of the wedding guests crowded around the paebaek ceremony, applauding and cheering – I did spot my friend, the mother of the groom, flinch slightly when as it was announced that the newlyweds should expect 6 male and 8 female children.
2. No bouquet was tossed nor garter was thrown.
Saturday night’s couple, both medical residents at a major hospital, did not partake in these antiquated traditions. No one seemed to miss them. It was clear to everyone that this was a marriage of equals, of two young adults who take joy in each other’s accomplishments, yet intend to support each other in times which are sure to come when disappointments will outnumber successes.
3. Love is even sweeter the older you get.
When I was making the rounds of the weddings of friends in the late ’70’s and ’80’s , a wedding was pretty much a party. A chance to dress up, to eat the aforementioned hors d’oeuvres, to dance the night away. Now – after years of seeing our friends through divorces, second marriages, more divorces, the deaths of spouses and of elderly parents, I leap at the chance to go to weddings. Purely happy events come less frequently as we get older, so any opportunity to share in the happiness of our friends in the glow of young love is particularly treasured.
To all of my friends whose adult kids are not yet in serious relationships, may I say with all due respect: HURRY UP.
I am not getting any younger and though I tweet with aplomb, if you want me to become an instagram expert too, I had better start learning now.