May 22, 2020

Kelley and Graham. Cameo by Wally

Rain was scheduled this past weekend in Austin. In fact, at one point the forecasters were preparing us for monsoons and Wizard of Oz tornadic events. For my couple, the weather was one more thing on a long list of challenges leading up to May 16, 2020, their wedding date.

Now, small teaching moment: What I am saying you have already heard and read one hundred million times. I am going to make it the one hundred millionth time plus one. And for the record, it is as true this time as it was the previous one hundred million times. Each couple should find their own path forward through this pandemic. That is to say, it is fine for one couple to micro-wedding and another to postpone for a big event in a year or so. Yes, it’s ok. It’s perfectly acceptable. All will be well. Marriage and weddings are not ever about keeping up with the Joneses nor one-upping them, but particularly in these trying times. You do you. Live your love, and live it your way.

Now, back to my May 16th couple.  After conversations with me over Zoom and email, as well as input from many other sources, they came to the conclusion that Saturday was a go, no matter what. Forget Plan A, and even Plan B. At this point honestly, we were somewhere around Plan M (M for marriage – get it?! I’m so clever.) Kelley had even dubbed the event their “scrappy wedding.” But the goal remained the same: to marry each other on May 16th.

That’s a good story, but how we got there was one of those moments in my career that both reminds me why I do what I do for a living, as well as reinforces the power of what happens when we marry. And it’s why I am blogging about it. Really, it was an almost uneventful moment, a very straightforward statement, made over Zoom, among the three of us. After once again listing off the many ways we could proceed with a wedding – some of them involving moving the date a few (or more) (hours or) days forward or backwards – we hit a pause in the conversation. At that moment, Graham, who was sitting on the ground in front of their couch looked at his fiancée, Kelley. He said quite simply, “I have always thought we would marry on May 16th. And I want to marry you on May 16th.”

Full stop.  Dramatic pause.

Consider the beauty of that statement, the gravity of it. Graham’s words cut straight to the point, and to the heart of the matter. A great officiant who can articulate your love story, and launch you on your marriage path is fantastic. Flowers are beautiful, and cake is delicious. The music can rock, and it is always fun to get dressed up. Even the weather can help create what we think of as a perfect wedding. But as this pandemic has laid bare, all of that is superfluous. In the end, it’s about the couple. It’s about choosing to be for each other through thick and thin, for better or worse, sickness and health, for as long as your story lasts. Kelley and Graham certainly know this reality as more than just words. They’ve lived it. They are living it. And you know what? On May 16th, they formalized what they were already living: their own love story.

Truth: Nothing stops Love

Listen, these past months of  work have been some of the most profound and rewarding in my career. They’ve given me so much to think about – good and bad. But what is becoming increasingly clear to me in the midst of a global pandemic is that I have had the great privilege of witnessing (and then sharing with you) love alive and at work. It has given me hope in a time of despair. It has made me consider and reconsider the profound act of the marriage covenant in a time where mutual agreements seem pretty disposable. And it continues to reveal what we thought hidden or lost: nothing stops love. Nothing.