Last Saturday, on a cool summer mountain in central coastal California, M and I attended our first wedding (other than our own) together. Raina and Paul hosted nearly 100 people for an entire weekend event that was kicked off with an Indian feast and bonfire on Friday night. The next morning people helped string paper lanterns above the outdoor dance floor and concoct mason jar photo-and-lavender displays. Guests slept in cabins or tents (we chose the latter) at this beautiful Buddhist retreat center where we were asked not to swat or kill the mosquitoes :)
M, who knows me well enough to know that this is my tendency, cautioned early on: Now don't you go comparing every little thing to our wedding and making yourself feel bad. Who, me?
What's life without making myself feel bad? I joked, to which he responded by hugging me close. The beauty of getting older, though, is the realization that the world is not one giant competition unless you make it one. Maybe it was the very genuine and friendly guests, maybe it was all those fireside S'mores, but not only did I feel totally serene in my enjoyment, I had no desire to chastise myself for not thinking of stacks of classic books as table centerpieces (seriously, how cute is that?)
For our own ceremony, I'd asked my friend Judith to choose a reading. I decided to wait until the wedding to hear it (we share a love of words; I trusted her judgment). When she read "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer I couldn't help but cry; serious choked-up snort-like sobs came out of me, not polite, elegant tears. So it was with total delight that I listened to the groom's mother recite the same poem for their ceremony, held in a hushed grove of towering redwoods. (The newlyweds told us later that our own ceremony, and especially our vows, had inspired theirs. We were beyond honored.)
The rest of the evening was dreamy: the bride in her retro veil and boots, the groom in his rock-n-roll jacket, dancing to The Pixies' Here Comes Your Man; sparkling cider toasts that were by turns hilarious and weepy, with a perfect joke made by the (single) best man's mother (I'm so glad you two have found each other, she deadpanned. I wish someone else would find somebody); and enough booty-shaking, foot-stomping glory to keep everyone warm as the ocean air rolled in.
Later that night, exhausted and cozy in our tent, M and I listened to the sounds of the die-hard wedding party. We remembered our own wedding celebration, that feeling of being on top of the world. The best part is, we still are.