Here he is: Stuart Ross happily remembers his wedding day and the moment when things became “ours” .
Betsy and I were married on Sunday, September 25, 2011 in the gentrifying neighborhood of West Town, Chicago, Illinois. It was the second happiest day of my life, with the first being the day of my college graduation.
I’ve mentioned this to Betsy, and she hasn’t left me yet.
The wedding venue, Loft on Lake, is not a loft, and it’s not on a lake. Still, we recommend it, and I think we probably also recommend it on Facebook and Yelp and three other sites.
All day it was going to rain. It didn’t rain. The clouds were good lighting for the early afternoon pictures at various locations around postcard Chicago and on the steps of federal buildings.
Marriage is a political act, after all, and we’re happy the G-Men let us do it.
Minutes before the ceremony I wanted some Campari—this was the first liquor I had stolen as a boy from my grandfather.
I tapped my best man’s shoulder.
“What,” he said, “you want a Campari, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I think I do. How’d you know?”
“How could I not know,” he said.
We escaped to the bar across the street and had a quick one.
Not quick enough, apparently. When we got back, a dozen people yelped, “Where were you?!? It’s time!”
I wasn’t too worried. “Where were you?!?” is the first question a husband must get used to answering.
“Here I am,” is probably the best answer.
Our processional aisle was too narrow, and some people kicked the candles illuminating the flowers. Luckily, nothing caught on fire. These kicks are captured on several videos. They’re the best parts.
Eventually, everyone made it down the aisle. I picked a Franz Schubert Violin and Piano Sonata for the groom’s people, including myself, to walk down to. The Andante of D. 384, for anyone keeping track at home. I had edited the exposition down, looped it and gave it to the DJ on a CD-R. It sounded like wedding music. I could tell because I was watching the crowd after I made it down the aisle. They were dreamily bopping their heads along as if to say, “Ah yes, this is very placid wedding music.”
The only thing that made me more happy than this during the ceremony? When Betsy appeared.
The cantor from Betsy’s childhood temple led the ceremony. Getting the temple involved in our wedding landed us on their mailing list. Other than the pleas I get from Catholic charities all across America, the snail mail from this temple makes up the bulk of what our postal carrier delivers.
Weeks before the ceremony, the cantor asked us to write down why we wanted to marry each other. The first thing that came to my mind: “Betsy makes me happy.”
Another one: “Betsy is a teacher, which is the most noble profession.”
When the cantor read it at the ceremony, she edited it to read: “Betsy is a teacher, which Stuart believes is the most noble profession.”
This really stuck in my craw during the ceremony, and it bothers me to this day. In fact, I didn’t even know I had a craw till this edit was made to my copy. Sometimes I’ll recite the correct sentence, as it was originally written, to myself on the train. I don’t see this ending any time soon.
(One of Betsy’s: “Stuart is a perfectionist.”)
People will say you want your wedding to be “one big party,” and sure that’s true. And it usually is just that. It’s what you wanted to happen during your 7th grade birthday party, only now it finally goes right. And also, I guess, the main course isn’t White Castle. Unless you’re going with that kind of wedding theme.
I’ve heard of worse themes, like “the Steelers”.
People will tell you to enjoy your wedding because it “goes so fast.” That’s true. But it’s more poetic than that. I think of the Mark Sandman poem about Jack Kerouac’s prose style: “Fast, through a slow-motion landscape.” Yeah, that’s kinda what the feeling is.
The best moment came when it was all over, the morning after, and we got on the train to go back to our apartment. The same junior one bedroom rental that had always been ours, only now it was somehow more ours.
We were so tired, we fell asleep. And we slept a long time. As long as it takes to pronounce the word “vows.”
Go ahead. Say the word out loud and you’ll see what I mean.
Image Credit: Katsunojiri/Flickr