The details of the first wedding I ever attended are a blur at best. A distant cousin; walking in late to a 2-hour ceremonial mass; and the whole thing in Spanish. You might say that my first sneak peek at the wedding ritual was less than impressive.
It's bizarre, the little things we recall from a singular event on any given Saturday. My sister's wedding -- I remember my brother and I lighting the candles that lined the pews; the white Rolls Royce that carried them out of the church parking lot; the caesar salad with anchovies; seeing both my dad and my grandfather dance for the first time; and the Miami Heat players who were shacking up in the same hotel.
Years later, my brother's wedding -- running errands with him that morning; the impending rain that never came; me fudging up the "breaking of the glass" tradition when I set the glass rim-down; the vintage Coca-Cola bottle escort cards; and the handmade chuppa quilt draped behind the couple, pieced together from cotton squares designed by select family and relatives.
And between then and now -- with all the weddings I've attended and photographed over the years -- there have been thousands of visual remembrances, both familiar and unfamiliar, both those I admired (sirloin sliders made very possibly by god himself) and those I wish I could forget (a fifty-year-old keyboardist singing skewed Billy Joel tunes). It makes you wonder what kind of impression you'll leave, almost legitimizing all of the hair-pulling, the dotting of i's and crossing of t's. It's enough to make a decision like white or ivory pillar candles actually seem significant.
(The choice is ivory, by the way.)
But to paraphrase my man Donny, after working 10 or 20 hours per week for 60-something weeks to craft an evening that is anything but forgettable, you can't forget to appreciate it yourself. "Stop for a minute," he says, "and just look around and take it all in," even if "it" is a room filled with ivory pillar candles and a middle-aged man's melancholic massacre of New York State of Mind.