Last weekend I went to my niece Amanda’s wedding. It was beautiful. Simply beautiful. I loved everything about it. From the elegant room at The Stony Hill Inn where she had her ceremony and reception and the fun vows she and Carmen exchanged, to the dress she wore and the decorations my sister Tina made. Everything about it screamed Amanda and Carmen.
There were no uncomfortable formalities. No awkward bridal party moments. (Well except for the part where Laura butted in on the cake cutting.) And there was more delicious food than the 75 of us could have ever eaten. Carmen’s dad sang the song for their first dance and later in the day, my dad got up and sang an old Neapolitan classic.
At one point there was a slide show with tons of pictures of Amanda, Carmen, their friends, dogs and families. We all watched and laughed and awwwwed at the photos they chose to highlight their lives up to this point. The couple spent time with the guests – all of us. And not in a “hiya thanks for coming outta my way so I can get on to the next table” way. We really celebrated. Together.
My sister made a box that held a bottle of 2006 wine (the year they met) along with letters from both their parents and letters from the couple to eachother that they’ll open in ten years so they can remember just how they were feeling on that day. Even thinking about it now I get teary-eyed.
OK now cut to my wedding. About 300 people packed into a room at the Andover Country Club where they were served their choice of Chicken Oscar or a raw slab of beef. Raw. My brother, my niece and nephews, Enzo’s best man and his sisters all got up to say a few words of tribute to us. But because the room was so huge and crowded, I didn’t really get to hear what they said until a few weeks ago when we got the video back. We couldn’t find my mother when it was time to introduce the bridal party. We couldn’t find Enzo when it was time to cut the cake. And several people couldn’t find their meals when they came back from filling up at the bar. We spent most of the night going from table to table to thank people for coming. But by 11:00 we still hadn’t gotten to everyone and we decided instead to just enjoy the phenomenal band (Freestyle) we’d payed oh so much money to have there. When I sat down to write thank you cards I found there were some people I didn’t even catch a glimpse of who had clearly been there (as evidenced by their big fat bustas – gotta love Italian families for that!). Some people were down right pissed. We had some older relatives who really went out of their way to be there who we didn’t get to spend even 30 seconds with. It seemed more like a football banquet than a celebration of our marriage. Oh, and our wedding cost about 5 times as much as Amanda and Carmen’s. Ain’t that a kick in the pants.
So if I had to do it all again I’d take it down a few hundred notches. I’d keep it to just our closest family and friends. I’d make it more about me and Enzo and less about reciprocating invites and not offending people. I’d make sure it was a celebration WITH our guests and not us on parade while a crowd of hundreds watches.