The procession began at the side door of the country club, went down a long concrete walk (actually the golf cart path), along the aisle between all of our guests' seats, and ended next to the Reverend, looking out over the hills. The day had suddenly warmed up, and the sun was shining in a brilliant clear blue sky. Our friend Ian and his girlfriend Anna had volunteered to play the violin and piano; we walked in to Bach's "Air", and it was exactly as I'd imagined. Dave's father Fred, who was also the best man, led the procession with Dave's grandmother. Next were Dave and his Mom, followed by my Mom with my brother Pete. Brian, my man of honor, walked in alone. Dad and I waited for a few extra seconds, then made our entrance, and I didn't miss a beat in my 6-1/2" heels, haha.
It was weird feeling walking between all of those people. I knew that they were only our family and friends, but somehow it felt like a group of strangers watching me. I caught the eyes of a couple of friends, my boss, my cousin, and realized it was because I was different that they seemed different. They were all smiling at me, but there was a look in their eyes that was unfamiliar, as if they were trying to recognize me, and reconcile this event in their own minds. I was finally able to focus in on Dave, and he was there at the front smiling at me, looking a bit nervous to be in front of all of these people, just like I felt.
Dad and I made our way to the front, and the Reverend came out in front of us to begin the ceremony. Dad stood between Dave and I, where the Reverend would normally stand, and waited for instructions. We had told the Reverend that we wanted to have a spiritual service, not specifically geared toward any religion, that included prayer, but we had not gotten any more specific. We really had no idea what he was planning!
The Reverend welcomed everyone in a rambling sort of way, including talking about his experiences with other weddings and couples. He was definitely an odd little man, and at first, people looked uncertain as to whether they were allowed to laugh or not. Dave and I were worried that people wouldn't be as amused by his strange ways as we were, but eventually everyone relaxed and went with the flow. The Reverend finally told my father he could give me away, and Dad shook Dave's hand and said, "Good luck!", which got a great laugh from the crowd. He gave me a kiss, and then sat down with my mother in the front row.
Again, the Reverend began capering about, telling stories about how when he met Dave and I, we had talked about how much fun we had together, and how important that was. From the distant hills, we could suddenly hear the sound of shotgun blasts. Everyone looked shocked, but Dave and I started laughing. A Catskills wedding wouldn't be complete without gunfire! As the Reverend continued, my father was red-faced and hysterical in the front row, proclaiming, "This is the best wedding I've ever been to!"
Finally, we reached the point where Dave and I would declare our own vows. Knowing that I was worried about it, Dave agreed to go first. I hadn't actually written anything down, figuring I would just take my cue from what he said, and speak naturally. Dave talked about making me happy, having fun together, and commented that he hoped to make others happy by eventually having children, to which my mother loudly responded, "Thank God!" I spoke in much the same way, talking about how I was excited to share every experience with each other, and even when we were apart, I couldn't wait to tell him about whatever had happened. It was all very simple, and personal, and unrehearsed. Many guests came up to us later and told us that they had been touched by our vows, which we were amused by, given that we had made them up on the spot.
Next, we exchanged rings, which went smoothly except for Dave trying to put my ring on the wrong finger! I guess that is something we should have rehearsed. The Reverend began to wrap up the ceremony by discussing our family and friends' roles in our marriage, and then closed with an Apache Blessing:
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
Aunt Linda, my mother's sister, had recently completed our family tree, and discovered that we had a decent amount of Native American heritage. She was completely blown away by this unprompted inclusion, and many people could not stop talking about how perfect it was. It is actually a rather commonly used blessing at non-denominational weddings nowadays, but that didn't make it any less beautiful to us.