Don’t fall over, I willed myself as I walked down the aisle to where they stood. Don’t you dare fucking fall over.
I balanced on Italian leather pincers purchased in a panic the day before the wedding. Tuscan sun set over hills that stretched further than my eye could see, and she looked as stunning up close, all hair and eyelashes and white, flowing chiffon, as she had done as she held onto her father’s arm and first turned the corner of the Italian estate. He looked… well. Like the cat that had gotten the cream, the lucky bastard.
Bridesmaids to the right, groomsmen on the left, and the officiator (their mate Dave) on my shoulder, I gripped onto a microphone heavier than lead and took a breath to say, voice shaking and eyes damp, because saying things you mean is scary, let alone saying things you mean to people you love, in front of seventy-five mostly strangers:
It’s a privilege to be asked to share some words with you this evening, just as it’s a privilege to watch two people I love dearly – all of us love dearly - commit to their lives together.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that I also had the privilege of watching Adriano and Sarah fall in love, too, in real time, day on day on day. Because of the lives we led, then, in Rome, expats thrown together by common language, away from our friends and family and familiar, we became one another’s family.
A dysfunctional, disjointed family, with several different accents, but a family nonetheless.
Since geography separated many of the couple’s dearest from the real-time unfolding of their love, I thought I’d start by sharing some memories of what I bore witness to, so that you can borrow them as yours, too. If you want them.
Theirs was a love that became around food. Not a single day went by at the school where we worked where one didn’t ask the other what the plan for dinner was. Were they going to make pasta at home or get pizza from their favourite place? If they’d woken up separately, each genuinely enquired from the other what they’d eaten for breakfast, and lunch. In many ways, one of my own relationships goals in to find a man as invested in my appetite as Adriano is in Sarah’s.
I remember the day Sarah’s grandfather died. I’d never seen her so quiet. Shaken. Sad. I remember Adriano silently taking her hand on the walk home. The gentle reassurance of how he was there for her has forever stayed with me.
Girls are wont to gossip, of course, but throughout it all Sarah never gossiped about Adriano. Over beers and pizza in her apartment, she never once wished he did this one thing differently, or altered this other thing about himself. It was as if they’d already decided, even before it was love, that they were on the same team. That’s not common.
He’d put her student books away for her at the end of the day. She’d save half her focaccia for him if his break was later than hers. It was the simpleness of it all that struck me, I think. Their every day kindnesses.
I thank you both, sincerely and genuinely, for that example.
Truth be told, I didn’t understand marriage – weddings – for a long time. Until I stood at the alter of my parents’ vow renewal, actually. Thirty years after they first said “I do”, they almost hadn’t made it.
And then they did.
With me as mama’s bridesmaid, and my brother as dad’s best man, we listened to the vows they, themselves, had written. That was when I first understood about pain and difficulty and the fight for love. How thirty years doesn’t always promise thirty more.
Their vows thanked family and friends present for supporting them through every up and down. For championing them. They requested, humbly asked, that that support never waiver, because a marriage isn’t, in fact, about two people. A marriage is about everyone present watching a couple say “I do.”
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an empire to guide each other in love.
That’s why we’re all here today, uniting from all corners of the globe to stand witness to Adriano and Sarah pledging so very much.
Because we’re part of this marriage.
When my own parents told their world they couldn’t do it without them, I understood. We make mistakes and hurt the ones we love, sometimes, no matter how gentle the beginnings, because none of us is infallible. We’re perfectly imperfect in humanness. But, with enough courage and love from everybody else when maybe we’ve misplaced our own, we can fix it. Pull through. Build something stronger.
It takes us all.
I just want to say, today, on this special, remarkable, emotional day, from me -
- and also, if I may, on behalf of everybody else here -
Our presence tells you that we’re rooting for you.
That you can count on us.
That we say “I do”, too.
Want to say something about this post? Talk to me!