People think because I’m a writer, I’m also capable of giving speeches. And I am, when it’s all said and done, quite capable, but until the moment passes me by, I chant, "I can’t do this; I suck at public speaking." Then I keep asking for more wine. I was abroad this past week, at a "destination wedding," and while there, I was given the honor of making a speech. And I’m not going to lie to you; the pressure to perform gets me each time. "But no one ever remembers the speeches. They just want them to be over so they can dance and continue their conversations about potty training, shopping for dresses, or camp." But that’s the point. You want to say something memorable. Maybe you’ll begin by being clever about all those automatic speech writing web sites, an adult mad-libs for weddings. You’ll start reading something generic and silly, just to say the couple is anything but ordinary. Then you’ll crumple it in your hands and mention something to do with breaking a mold, now that they’re together. But isn’t that trying too hard? Isn’t it corny? The answer is yes.
So keep it short, you advise yourself. So no one remembers short. This isn’t about you anyway. People want to focus on the bride and bridegroom. They want to hear funny stories about how the couple met, and most importantly, they want to know how each of them has changed since meeting. We all want to know how we’ve become better because of our partners. So here’s how it came out… I simply asked my childhood friend how she’s changed since meeting her man. "I’m more me, now." And it’s true. Then she began to cry. She meant it. She has come more into her own with him beside her. She is more her now, which is what we all want–someone to love us just as we are, even when we unleash our inner control freak. And the bridegroom? "I now buy Turkey Jerky and Diet Peach Snapple." When he shops, her items are on the top of his list, because he’s happy making her happy. He sometimes forgets to shop for himself and arrives home with grocery bags filled with foods he won’t eat. She is his priority.
What I didn’t mention in the speech is, in shopping for her, I reminded him of the time when they were first dating, and he went to Versace and bought her, what I like to call, The Vegas Dress. They have a dog named, Vegas, but the dress has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." When she tried it on, she responded, "this was really sweet of you, honey, but you can’t expect me to wear this in public." I then remind him that the dress hardly covered her crotch, to which he replied, "Well, it’s a nice crotch; why cover it up?" I omitted this bit from the speech because I don’t think the families would have liked to hear the word "crotch" in a wedding speech.
He told me one night that they were going to make it because, "my girl likes to run." I thought he meant NYC Marathons (which she does run), but then he explained, no, she likes to be out all night partying, just as he does. They run. Around town. Through lines of night clubs. And maybe one day in a marathon together, or after their toddlers, but most importantly toward each other.
See, we choose our family sometimes. We create one, especially in crowded cities, where many are transplants. We invite friends into our homes and lives, and they become family as we confide and rely on them. She has become a sister to me. My family. She is my middle of the night phone call. And seeing her groom so in awe of my girl, makes it impossible for me not to love him. "So Mr. Bridegroom, welcome to our dysfunctional family of friends." They choose each other to be their family, which is certainly worth raising a glass for one helluva toast.