This weekend in our lush and verdant backyard (yes! I watered and it grew!) we held a bridal shower for our beautiful daughter Hope. (See the picture if you don’t believe how beautiful she is.)
Hope’s loyal and loving friends, cousin Annie Petsonk and best-friend-since-kindergarten Danielle Winter created and conducted an amazing International Wedding Blitz, with wedding customs from around the world (how old I don’t know, since one custom involved crumbling sugar waffle cones over the bride’s head). There were spices with wishes of protection (from illness, loss, and bad hair days). There were crafts: making origami paper cranes and Japanese-style lanterns for the back deck of her apartment. There was a newly-wed game, in which Hope’s answers to questions were so near identical to the previously videotaped answers of her fiancé Dan that some guests swore this was a match made in heaven and others swore the game must have been fixed. It was fun both for the 20-somethings, Hope’s friends, and the 50-somethings and 60-somethings, my friends.
For the last week, I’ve felt drowned in logistics: Do we have enough tables? Chairs? How will I keep hot food hot and cold food cold, and do we have enough or way too much?
Now I have a chance to think, and to wonder: what is this all about? Why is it important to have a gathering of women before the wedding? Cousin Annie’s research indicated the custom of women gathering to give small household gifts originated from the wish to help brides who lacked a dowry get the household equipment they would need. Maybe, but I find myself remembering the day before my wedding when I burst into tears, worried that this wedding was a terrible idea, much much worse than a bad hair day. I’d spent the night before the wedding at a friend’s house, following a Jewish custom of bride and groom not seeing each other for 24 hours before the wedding. My friend was a psychologist, and after she left for work, I began reading all her marriage-counseling books, concerning all the things that could go rotten in a marriage.
A wedding celebrates the most momentous life change, other than having a child, a person is likely to experience. Even if you’ve been living together for a year or more, and whether your partner is the same sex or the opposite sex, a wedding CHANGES things. It helps to have a funny little ceremony, to bring the perspective back down to melon scoops and garlic presses. It helps to have friends cheer you on and tell you that they hope they find a partner as terrific as yours. It helps to have women who’ve gone through it give you advice and tell you it will probably turn out OK. Now that I think of it, I wish I’d had a shower. I didn’t, but my wedding (after I dried my tears) was lovely. Thirty years later, I still think marrying Steve was the best, most life-enriching thing I EVER did. Dan seems like a very good guy. My hope for Hope is that every year gets better, and that her partner turns out to be as supportive, loving, dependable, interesting, and all-around wonderful as her Dad.