It was a gloriously stunning day in November when I traveled with these two beautiful women from Virginia to Maryland to stand alongside their friends to be with them on their wedding day.
Maryland, not Virginia because Virginia doesn't perform same-sex weddings. But you know what? That's a story for another day.
We climbed in the car for our two-hour trip with one nervous bride driving and another (calmer) bride singing out the names of the churches as we passed them by. I couldn't get Beyonce's Single Ladies out of my head, and every so often someone would call out, "La la la la la, put a ring on it!"
When we got to the courthouse, we met with two friends of Terri's (the driving bride) who had come from New York to be with the ladies as witnesses. Jackie's (the calmer bride) best friend Holly, rode up with us in the car, scrolling through her iPad for more wedding-y songs for us to sing.
Snow Hill, Maryland (and how flipping cute a name is that for a town?) is the most quaint, just the sleepiest little town you've ever seen. It felt as if there was not a single other person left in the world when we got there and parked our car amid the brick building and antique shops. We got to the courthouse in plenty of time and we ushered ourselves inside with much fanfare and high spirits. Only to be stopped by a sign that said, "No Cameras Allowed."
The security guards, pictured above, must have gotten the biggest kick out of these six laughing women, blowing through the door, only to abruptly stop and look around in consternation. "Now ladies," one of them said, "Do you believe everything you read?"
They were great. And really, everyone was. We didn't, or at least I didn't, face this experience with trepidation exactly. These two women, all of us, had every right to be there and every right to get married. Their love counts as much as anyone else's, and more perhaps than those who don't fight as hard for it. But there is a hesitation nonetheless, I think. A sense of, "How will these people receive us?" It's damned unfair.
Everyone was lovely. The officiant was the least warm of everyone we met, but it was clear that she wasn't un-warm about Jackie and Terri. She just wasn't very warm!
After much corsage pinning and hugging in the hallway, we gathered in separate room for the service itself. I was so touched to see tulle-wrapped arch for the ladies to stand beneath; I'd pictured a soulless closet. Terri's son is living in Australia right now, and they'd planned to Facetime him during the ceremony so he could be a part of it. We started early (that grumpy officiant!), and finished fast (I even had to step in and say, "Don't you two have your own vows you want to say?" so they could recite the vows they'd brought with them.), and as soon as they sealed their marriage with a kiss and everything was over, Josh called.
Oh, he just missed it! But such happiness in the room as they all talked together. He was clearly so happy for his mom.
After some pictures, we all trooped to a restaurant for a celebratory lunch. All the pre-wedding tension had dissipated (those of us who have gotten married well know that feeling, I imagine) and we laughed and chatted our way through the afternoon. When we got up to part and head back home, it struck me how funny all weddings are. Bringing strangers together for a moment and people together for a lifetime.
Our drive back home, all of our worries behind us, was considerably more jolly. More singing too.
When we got back to Jackie and Terri's house, Jackie's mom had a champagne toast set up, and I think I got teary-eyed for the eleventy-billionth time that day. Seeing how happy Jackie's mom was for these two women in her life, well that was moving. Families can be funny about this, and Jackie and Terri deserve only the loving welcome any other newly wedded couple would get.
I'm not going to get soap boxy here (tempted though I may be), because this post is about a wedding and not the state of marriage in our county. But this I will say: I'm a strong believer in marriage. And love is love, no matter who it is that you fall in love with. Being included when two people formalize that love? Going to the chapel, when they went to get married? I have no words for what it meant to me to be there.
What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life - to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?