We’re on the home stretch with Wedding #1, and the advice I hear most often is: Breathe. It will be okay. Things will go wrong, but it’s going to be great.
I am sure it’s going to be great for two reasons. First, we serve an awesome God, one who is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Annesley and Geoff’s nuptials might not all go according to my plan, but that’s okay. As a wedding planner, God has got “immeasurably more” up his sleeve.
Second, I know it’s gonna be great because, well, this isn’t my first rodeo. Nine years ago today, Robbie and I hosted a wedding reception for my mom, Claire, and her beloved John, a widow and a widower who saw their foxhole friendship blossom into so much more.
Last time these two showed up in this blog, they were making snow angels and sledding down hills on boogie boards. But Mom’s not your garden variety snow bunny. She literally has her doctorate in Instructional Technology, which means that she is way hipper with digital stuff than I am. So much so that she made her own wedding invitations on the computer. That was pretty cool, except that unlike most brides, it meant she could always print more. (And she did. If Mom saw you in the grocery store and remembered how much she used to like seeing you at Jazzercise, she’d pull an invitation out of her purse and – bam! – I was calling the caterer again.)
And here’s a little bonus material about John. Most people know him as the visionary president of Dayspring International, a terrific ministry that’s working to bring education, jobs, and an unprecedented awareness of God’s love to some of the poorest and most culturally rejected people in India. But John is also a graduate of clown school – the prestigious Bozo University in Florida, to be exact – and it shows.
To make their wedding day extra special, John hired an actor to don a gorilla suit and “kidnap” my mom off the dance floor. Not your typical champagne toast, sure, but their first date was an accidental screening of King Kong (they’d meant to see Munich, but it was sold out), and it seemed only fitting to carry on with the monkey theme.
I mean, who wouldn’t?
The first hint of trouble came when the actor didn’t show up. (A better gig? Hard to fathom.)
Undeterred, John tapped his son, John, who was about the same height as the professional actor, and urged him – during the reception, mind you – to swap his tux for the gorilla suit. All was back on schedule…except that John Jr. couldn’t see out the eyeholes. This being a second marriage for both of our parents, he and I didn’t know one another very well, but that didn’t stop him from stumbling into me on the dance floor and hissing through his plastic nostrils: “I can’t find your mother! Help me!”
I launched him in Mom’s direction, whereupon John Jr. successfully abducted her – in her full length wedding gown – and hauled her down the dock to a waiting boat. Ever the gallant, Groom John cried out, “I’ll save you!” and hopped aboard a jet ski to give chase.
At that point, most people figured the party was over. There’d been no alcohol, but everyone was definitely a little loopy. Knowing that John intended to bring Mom back (he’d already alerted the DJ to break into Pretty Woman when he did), Robbie and I plied the guests with more cheese and crackers and did our best to convince them to stay.
Which is when things got worse.
John had chased down the boat and, out of sight of the party-goers, managed to transfer mom (did I mention the wedding dress?) onto the back of his jet ski. All that remained was for him to come roaring back in to a hero’s welcome.
Except that he got lost. When you’re out on the water, I guess every cove sort of looks the same. Eventually, though, they found us, and Pretty Woman and her groom began to live happily ever after.
Except we forgot the cake plates. Undeterred again (he’s a dogged fellow), John improvised by putting great wads of wedding cake right into people’s hands. The kids loved it. (And if my wedding planner is reading this, all I can say is…I have no excuse. Consider your job secure.)
Oh. And we forgot the cameras. Nobody had iPhones back then, so Mom got a bunch of disposable Kodaks from the grocery store. (I found them right about the time the tent guys showed up to break ‘er down.)
As the wags keep telling me: Things will go wrong, but it will be great. And in Mom and John’s case, it definitely was. I will admit that I am a little bummed about the lack of photographic evidence, but maybe even that is for the best. I mean, the stories get “immeasurably more” with time, and it hasn’t even been ten years yet.
So…Happy 9th Anniversary to one of the most fun and resilient couples I know! You deserve each other.
And to anyone who is feeling the pain of loss or bereavement right now, can I just say this one thing? Your story isn’t finished. Go ahead and grieve – I still cry sometimes, and especially lately as these weddings approach and I miss my sweet daddy oh so much – but don’t ever fear that this, today, is all there is. God has a wonderful plan for your life.
You might not wind up on the back of a jet ski with a clown, but I can promise you this: It’s gonna be immeasurably more than anything you could ever ask for or imagine.