Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wedding Reflections

My cousin Shane got married to a young woman named Emily yesterday.  The two of them have quite a story to tell so far.  I'm sure the two of them will have many years ahead to continue to live out their story, have it told and retold, and set an example of love for the rest of us to watch, the cherish, and to mimic.

I have missed numerous family weddings over the years.  My boys are 20, 17, and 11 and have many activities that we go to that limit our ability to get to family events 90 or more miles away.  But for this one we were able to arrange our schedules around it and were happy to have a chance to return to where I grew up to see family.

For me, it was my first wedding in a while (although I know my friends in their 20's seem to have weddings all the time) and the first Catholic wedding that I can recall attending in 4 years.

I won't give as much of a play-by-play as I did with the last Catholic wedding I attended.  That was a wedding involving one of my MPH advisees and fellow runner I had come to know incredibly well.  I also know her husband well, and the list of attendees included several people from the running organization we are both a part of.  But I do have a number of observations that are worth noting.

First, while I am at a much different point in life than I was when Shane's parents (my aunt by birth and my uncle by marriage) got married both were on days when I ran and when sports played a role in determining how I got there.  I ran just a 5K back in 1984.  It was the Delaware County cross country championships and I was running my first year and didn't want to miss it.  One of my parents was willing to come out to Rose Tree to pick me up.  This time around, my youngest had an ice hockey game on the day of and the day after.  So we sandwiched the drive up to Philly and back between a game that ended at 10:45 AM on Saturday and another game that started at 8:30 AM on Sunday.  And for running--I did just over 10 miles as part of marathon training some 32 years after the 5K in the county championship meet.

Second, walking into the actual worship area of St. Monica's couch, there was a great sign that said something like the following: "Choose a seat and not a side--we are all family once the knot is tied." At my own wedding more than 24 years ago, we went with traditional seating separating the guests of the bride and groom.  But my life has been all about bringing people or ideas together.  Mixing and matching.  So, the idea of having guests intermix struck me as a wonderful way to bring people together and reflect the lives Shane and Emily lead together.

Third, Before the mass there was a boy with a sign with what looked like thick Sharpie on wood saying "Here they come." (There were numerous decorations that looked like Sharpie on wood throughout the wedding and reception.)  That was very cute.  During the procession (with Canon in D being played in the background) the boy was walking down the aisle with the flower girl.  He was talking to her the whole way down.  I wonder what he was saying to her.  Not that it matters.  Just fun to ponder.

Fourth, hearing the homily was really fun.  The priest brought up a couple of things that stand out in my mind.  First, that the two had met in Latin class in their junior year in high school.  Second, that they had used the reading from 1 Corinthians about "Love is...".  It begins, however, with a statement about comprehending mysteries.  The priest linked this to the idea of revealing what is as yet unknown.  It was a cool description.  Then, the priest also talked about Shane and Emily having a purpose in life and that they were made for each other.  He said that coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.  That was a cool thought.

Fifth, I liked the way that family was involved in the ceremony and reception.  At the last Catholic wedding I attended the bride and groom helped as extraordinary Eucharistic ministers.  At this wedding, the groom's father (who is an EM anyway) distributed Eucharist.  He felt the need to point out that "it counted" at the reception when he led the grace.  The grace was concluded by the groom's father's mother who was the only one of eight grandparents of the two who was there.  It is amazing to think of how lucky Sherry and I were to have numerous grandparents still alive when we got married.  And everyone recited "Bless us O Lord in these thy gifts.." with the grandmother.  Shane and Emily also found ways to honor Emily's mother who had passed away.  That was a nice touch.

Sixth, at the close of mass the priest commented on how much the congregation had participated in the praying and singing during the mass.  The priest commented that this was a great sign that they had surrounded themselves with people who cared about their faith and that it also reflected where they came from.  I found it easy to sing along as the response was "This is the Day" and the Eucharistic song was "One Bread, One Body," and the song during the preparation of the gifts was "You are Mine."  All three were a "St Pius X Best of..." types of song.  They chose good songs to make it easy to sing along with.  It was very nice.

Seventh, the priest commented on the congregation praying and singing and how it reflected on those with whom they surround themselves and from where they came

Finally, I liked the nice mix of songs during the party and Sherry and I danced a good bit.  They also had some of the most creative toasts, including four adaptations of songs' lyrics to fit Shane and Emily.  That was a lot of fun to see what people did.

In my family, no one knows who will be the next one married.  Who knows whether or when my sons will get married.  The only thing that I did realize is that by having three sons, I will never be "father of the bride" but I look forward to welcoming partners for my sons into the family who will be as close as my own children some day.

And as a brief aside--the gift bags at the hotel included Tastycake Krimpets.  Having butterscotch Krimpets really made my day.

Thanks to all who helped to make this day such a good one for me.  


  1. It's always so special to get together with family, and especially blessed when we celebrate our faith. Thanks for sharing this with me.

  2. Hey, this is such an interesting post about the Wedding Reflections. It was just so nice reading through all this. I believe that planning a perfect wedding is the hardest thing for a couple because they are nervous too. I recently got hitched at one of the local NYC venues and the wedding planner helped us with all of the arrangements so everything was easy as well as relaxing for both of us.