We were all drinking whiskey whilst sitting on the floor. It was a common occurrence; too many friends and too little seating so we sprawled in the space we had making the best of it, sipping our respective cocktails, and talking about the impending nuptials of our friends Sam and Emily. At this point in time it was a mere blip in the timeline of our futures, nearly seven months away, and the topic of discussion centered around Emily’s struggle to find someone to officiate her ceremony. “I have a family friend,” she said, “But he’s a Protestant minister and it was brought to my attention that it might be in bad taste to ask a person with any religious affiliation to maybe not focus on God during the service.”
“Don’t worry,” I retorted, “I’ll just marry you guys.” I was full-on kidding; not even half-kidding, full on kidding. “You’ve seen my material before,” I went on, “I’ll lay it down like a bed of nails.” Everyone laughed, the moment passed, and without a second thought of the conversation I eventually retreated to my abode and settled in for what I thought would be the short reminder of my night. It was almost midnight when I received a text from Emily that she wanted to talk. I immediately racked my brain trying to think if I had said anything offensive; as when someone says you need to talk – it comes across as foreboding and typically ends with me getting dumped. Since I was pretty sure Emily wasn’t about to dump me, I was curious and inquired what it was she wanted to talk about.
“What you said before about marrying us,” she paused, “I told Sam and we discussed it and want to know if that’s something you would actually consider doing.” I stared at my phone and wondered if she had meant to send the text to some other respectable adult friend who had also flippantly offered to marry her and her fiancé. Marry someone? I can barely manage to do laundry enough to have clean underwear when I need it. It felt daunting, the pressure insurmountable. It wasn’t like they were asking me to get their mail while they were out of town; they were asking me to marry them.
“Of course,” I texted back almost immediately; not even knowing how to properly respond to such a request. “We would be so honored,” Emily simply replied. They would be honored? They!? I was just entrusted to officiate and facilitate the biggest day of their life and somehow, the bestowment of honor fell in their court? At this point I was nearly falling off of my couch and trying to play it cool, but I was figuratively floored and it didn’t have anything to do with the libations I’d ingested. The next day I started to look into what officiating a wedding actually entailed and learned that it was pretty much as easy as having a pulse and an e-mail account. Within ten minutes I was an ordained minister and considering whether I wanted to go by ‘Reverend’ or ‘Archbishop.’
I’d like to say that was the simple part, but literally – the entire experience was as easy as a drunk girl at a frat party. I met Emily in the fall of 2010. I arrived at my first Goddard residency, in the middle-of-nowhere Vermont, completely unsure of what I was getting myself into. I think I was hungover when I first decided that maybe I should go to Grad school. I was working as a Marketing Director for a Custom Software Development company and I was bored. I was pursuing different colleges as a part of a project I was working on and had to find five colleges in Vermont to essentially Spam. I stumbled upon Goddard and after five minutes I had started filling out the application – enticed by not only the fact that GRE scores were not required, but also by the fact it looked like a school for really weird people who might also have hippie tendencies.
I didn’t even know what low-residency programs meant or rather – that they existed. But what it came down to is I got to go to Vermont and hang out in the woods with smart people in eight day increments, twice a year and also get a degree. “There’s another girl from Salt Lake,” someone told me, “You need to meet her.” Part of a low-residency program was that we came from our corners of the country, so I found it intriguing to know that even though there were only about forty of us; there was another individual from the very same place as I. Shortly thereafter, I met Emily – and the rest was history. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Emily Riehle, you don’t even need the next sentence to know exactly what I am talking about. Her light is so bright it’s blinding, she loves truly and deeply, and she can totally make you laugh until you pee. After two milliseconds with this girl you want to get out your gimp and make her a friendship bracelet.
Needless to say we became fast friends but the last year of our program I moved from Salt Lake back to my homestead of Connecticut, and while Emily and I tried our best to stay in touch – with lives on separate sides of the country; we certainly had gaps in our life stories. So when we reconnected at graduation and I heard her on the phone telling her boyfriend, who was news to me, that he should certainly pick up an extra shift at work to “make the money to buy her a ring” I think my jaw dropped to the floor – which is long ways considering I’m, 5’8.
However, it was only a month later that Emily convinced me to move back to Utah and I finally met the man who stole her heart that it all came together. I remember Sam showing me the ring, and coming up with a plan – which including hijacking a piano bar in New York City. This romantic man changed all the words to ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles and karaoked his way into marital bliss. It didn’t take Emily long to fall in love with Sam, and it certainly didn’t take me much longer.
I wasn’t nervous until the day of the nuptials. I arrived early to the ceremony, clutching my folder with all of the words inside, unsure of what to do. When you’re officiating a wedding, it’s slightly unclear about where you fit in. You’re really neither here nor there; but you are an intrical part. It’s like politics and you have to decide what party you belong to but you registered as an independent. My first thought was to see Emily, which I did, but I realized quickly that my job was not of Bridesmaid status – she had plenty of people to get her in her dress, and make sure she looked like a million bucks before walking down the aisle. My palms were sweating and my heart was racing so I decided to find the groomsmen because I knew they were hanging out in the bar and had sandwiches and booze which was right on par with all the things that pull my heartstrings.
I shakily read my speech to Emily’s best guy friend who told me it was perfect and not to change a thing. I almost hyperventilated and took a swig of whiskey; it had all started with a whiskey shot, so it was only appropriate I was sitting in Emily’s house, hands trembling, chasing my nerves with the very vice that had gotten me there.
I was the first one to walk down the aisle, as the groomsmen and bridesmaids were to fan around me but let’s go back to the term “insurmountable pressure.” I was the first person to walk down the aisle. I tried to soak in the moment, because who knows what aisle I will ever walk down, and then I stood and waited as the bridal party proceeded through a bridge of hydrangeas.
I was feeling pretty copacetic until Emily started to make her way down to me, and I felt the inevitable tears well up in my eyes. I can’t even imagine how her fiancé felt, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone look more beautiful in my entire life. By the time I asked her Father who gave her away to be married, I was wiping the salty drops from my face. Emily, being true to herself, looked at me and said loud enough (and in jest) for all the guests in attendance to hear: “You can’t do this right now.” I dried my eyes and started with my opener:
“When Emily and Sam first sat me down and asked me to marry them, I said ‘Hey Guys, I know we all live together in Utah, but I’m not into polygamy.’” It took the crowd a painstaking millisecond to get the punchline and then everyone erupted into laughter. I was fine. I then proceeded to marry my best friends, and it was the most beautiful and important thing I ever did. The imperfections was what made the ceremony perfect – Emily’s niece skinning her knee enroute to her flower girl status and being carried by her Father; bawling, as he tossed flowers from her basket and she sidled against his hip. Sammy Junior (Emily’s Stepson) yanking at her dress and mine asking when he was getting his wedding ring during the vows and Emily finally hushing him by saying “Mommy and Daddy are talking right now!” I did also lose the last page of my speech which one attendee said made it “human” but I felt super embarrassed.
Regardless, I used the latter part of the nuptials to direct the guests to cocktail hour and proceeded to then collect the most compliments I’ve received ever in my life. Thank God the cocktail hour was outside because if it was indoors, I never would have been able to fit my head through any doorframe that existed ever. The reception was incredible, the aftermath questionable, and the group honeymoon? Flawless. Sam and Emily’s wedding was one of the most poignant experiences of my life, and I am forever grateful. To stand with them on their biggest day, to be allowed to be a part of their life together – I am the luckiest. Here’s to many years of light and love, and thank you both for the amazing experience. Emily and Sam kept hugging me in the aftermath of the ceremony and saying: “Thank you for marrying us.” And all I have to say is rebuttal is that I definitely didn’t marry them per say, but verbatim – I married someone. So all my questioning family members can lay off. This entry ends with cheers to Emily and Sam. Thank you for entrusting me with your marriage because we all know that was pretty dicey, you took a risk on your weird lesbian friend to marry you and it worked out. Namaste, I love you guys; and how lucky I am to be any part of your love story.