Life comes to us more unpredictably like the weather than we suspect – no matter how carefully we script it. And so, asked to prepare a toast for my son’s wedding for all and on behalf of all… though perhaps not in so many words, I scripted something for a wedding where the couple.. as my daughter put it (more or less): “If you could set all the specs into a wife machine… like they had such a thing… she is exactly the girl the machine would spit out. And since she’s here and real, you have to wonder that maybe there is such a thing… dunno. Anyway… all those things about my brother that bother me about him? They don’t bother her… fact is, she seems to love them.” More than that, I’d say she’s the princess who makes him feel like a king – even when she’s tells him “Enough!” (and she’s usually right… it is enough), but he obeys in ways that from the first simply made Mom’s and Dad’s jaws drop in wonder. “Wow!” Helped that they met at a sports bar cheering for different teams… better: dreaded and ‘hated’ opponents… and so had to learn to accept something in the other right off that just didn’t compute as the all too deadly ‘perfect’. And so we knew right away that this girl was something special. And more than that, having spent the better part of two years getting to know her and her family… it isn’t a one-off but something in the DNA.
Loved her line, “I’m still sticking to the bit about after two years, something happens…” ’cause that’s what got it done. I remember early on asking him about his plans with her, and his reply that they’d date for three or four years met with my, “Oh… that works freshman year, but maybe not so much after college. I hear it’s more like 12 months…” and often shorter. Mom and Dad had the blessing of meeting freshman year… and that can give a guy a mis-impression. But anyway, it all worked out, and we’re happy to cleave not just one to the other, but more like eight to eight (four in each family). Did I say her family travels in packs? Yeah… it’s beginning to look like the “new normal”.
And so what I share here is the text of my “toast”… which I wrote more as a blessing than a toast… what a Dad wants for a couple… for this couple, and for all of us. BTW, Naomi introduced the two of them that night long ago as ‘perfect for each other’…and she was right… but all their friends brought them together, brought us together… and we’re thankful will help keep all of us that way.
“Good evening. Welcome to New Orleans, and thank you for joining our two families as we kick off the nuptial celebration for Jimmy and Jenna!
We are truly blessed on this happy occasion as we prepare to unite these two folks forging a bond that will make what we say here of far less consequence than what we do. And as they come together to say their “I do’s”, our presence is about far more than merriment. For although it’s altogether fine and fitting to do just that especially here in New Orleans, let’s not miss the significance of what we’re about: We’ve been asked to come here where it all began to honor them by setting ourselves apart for a pace, from the goings-on of The Big Easy, to do one of those hard, awesome things life gives us, both this evening and the next as Jimmy becomes Jenna’s husband; and Jenna, Jimmy’s wife.
And if there’s a touch of trepidation, let it be overcome by our expectations for all the great good things that lie ahead; and let us bask in the glory of the vows we’ll witness tomorrow night of two who have such a great start in loving one another that we find it both a great honor and pleasure to do our share in joining them together in marriage.
For the truth is (that) each of us plays a role; and as much as it seems otherwise, there are neither bit parts, nor extras. And so to you the younger (especially Naomi), who brought them together, we thank you for your matchmaking; to you the older who formed their youth and set them on this course, we thank you for your labors; and most importantly to you that in the years ahead we’ll rely on to hold them close, buck ’em up, and lend a hand as the need arises, we ask a blessing for your remembrance — for truly you do God’s work
And so I know I speak for all of us in saying: Jimmy and Jenna, may God grant you to rejoice in each other all your days; may He grant you to seek and build up what is good in each other; and may He bless you with every good gift from above: wisdom, love, mercy, peace, and length of days, and above all, to see your children’s children; that through these heavenly gifts your lives might be a blessing to one and all.
May you also find all the more practical, earthly gifts in sufficient measure to keep your paths straight – neither weighed down by scarcity, nor freighted with over-abundance. May you frequent happy times, so that when the tougher fall your way, the patience and confidence to sort these through comes quickly and easily. May you learn to greet your challenges with a smile and pass them readily, forgetting their hardships, and remembering only the gift of a love now tempered stronger than before.
And finally, sweet as these days now seem, may you store up such treasures in happiness through the long years ahead that like the mystery of the wedding at Cana, when your days have run their course, you find yourselves turning to each other, marveling how the best has been kept for last.
And so with that let us raise our glasses to toast you both: You’ve got the helm now. Good luck! God bless! and God speed!