The wedding crowd gasped as my heel caught the tablecloth.
Audra and Anthony had placed two glasses of sand and an hourglass on the table, intending to combine the sand as they would combine their lives. Now, for a heart-stopping second, it looked as though the sands would combine a little earlier and more violently than planned.
The cloth pulled a glass two inches to the edge, one … and then stopped. Whew.
My first wedding ceremony would not have to be followed by my own funeral service.
It had all started in November. Two of my Emporia “theater kids” – children I had directed and cheered on through five years of youth theater and summer Shakespeare in Kansas – were getting married in the New Year. I had made semi-solid plans to go if vacation time would allow, when Anthony contacted me with an unusual request.
“Audra and I were wondering if you would like to be our officiant.”
Understand, I’ve never been the type to keep a bucket list. If I had, “perform a wedding” would have been one of the less likely items. Usually, people associate reporters less with holy matrimony and more with unholy chaos.
But these were my kids. And I didn’t expect to ever get a second offer. Heck, I hadn’t expected the first.
I said yes.
And so, with a set of Internet credentials and a lot of goodwill, the show was on.
We should have all known. A good show and a good wedding have one big thing in common – there’s a lot of crises and almost-crises that happen on the way to the first ovation.
Just from my own corner, we had:
* A car that refused to start the day before, nearly stranding the “minister” in Colorado.
* The “tablecloth moment” above that almost made the wedding a smashing success.
* The famous Rochat sense of direction – or lack thereof – that lay quiet on the way to Emporia but switched into full force on the way back, giving me a chance to inadvertently explore every back road between Bennett and Brighton.
There were others – largely in the thousand last-minute things that had to be attended to on the day itself. I truly believe that Audra should have been a candidate for human cloning that day – or else a Tony nominee for stage manager of the year.
But none of the small panics, real or averted, mattered. When the night came, it was simple. It was sweet. And it did what it was created to do.
“No ceremony is ever perfect,” I had told Anthony beforehand. “And you know something? At the end of the wedding, however much did or didn’t happen, you’re still just as married.”
Now that I think back on it, that’s not a bad preparation for the marriage ahead.
We all know it: many people put far more attention into their weddings than their marriages. But it’s the marriage that has to last. There are going to be just as many crises – heck, probably more of them and more serious ones.
But there are going to be moments of love and beauty, too. And if that love can last through it all – not the momentary thrill, but the quiet, lasting dedication – then that’s going to be what gets remembered.
I think Anthony’s and Audra’s is going to be one that lasts.
Congratulations, both of you. Thanks for letting me be part of this. And please, remember one thing.
Don’t put that hourglass anywhere that your kids can reach it.