Last night, I looked through our wedding album with my brother and was immediately brought back to the holiness of these moments. In honor of love-weekend, I lit the same candle we lit for the wedding welcome dinner, and sat down to reflect on our October ceremony.
The air, on this perfect October Saturday, was a warm hug. Our guest list was short but, on this warmest autumn day, we felt a love song in the wind; the blessings from the universe. Before the ceremony began, we signed the ketubah; an ancient ritual of commandment and commitment. Surrounded by witnesses and signed as a constant reminder of our promises to each other (four goats, three candlesticks, a roof for a fiddler). We were lucky enough to share this honor with two of our closest friends, whose ketubah we had signed two months prior. Love on love on love. Our four signatures now, hanging on our wall—preserved as a weddingscape: watercolor flowers, a bride and groom under a canopy, everything that has already been (and everything that was to come).
Our ceremony consisted of a Havdalah service. The lighting of the candles, the smelling of the spice, the tasting of the wine. A sense memory. I put together little besamim bundles for the ceremony: cinnamon, orange, clove. A dried rose. A sprig of lavender. A little charm with the word LOVE etched across its silver body. This ritual marks the transition from the end of the seventh day—the Sabbath—to the start of the new week. A time for transitions; a new week, new day, new chapter.
The havdalah candle—two of two wicks intertwined—like our lives, our families, our dreams, forever intertwined as man and wife. We had our mothers come up to the chuppah to light them and walk them through the aisle. To bring the light shining through for all.
And in these pictures, we saw that the wind turned the chuppah heart-shaped; that we are all held up by the people who love us- my mother who walked me down the aisles to my awaiting husband, my brother, who learned Hebrew to officiate his sister’s wedding, my sisters who danced in the grass (in heels).
This did not feel like the kind of year where happiness happens. And, in truth, our moments of joy were permeated by deep moments of sadness. In some ways, we may be forever recovering from many of the actions of 2020. The bad changed us but the good made us whole again. And, maybe, that's the point of all this. How lucky we are to have moments of joy, in spite of. And to focus on those moments, even when it would be easier to sit in the bad. It's why I may open our wedding album
A sniff of the candle, a new set of flowers to dry (an early Valentine's Day gift from my husband) and the joy of that word, that partnership, dancing on the tip of my tongue.
I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.
אני לדודי ודודי לי
Inscribed in our yalmukes, printed on our programs, written on the glitter of our shoes. Etched in our souls, deep and permanent like a commandment.
Oh, my beloved. I love you more than I can fit in my whole heart.
We have been legally married for eight months and it has been 108 days since our perfect little wedding in upstate New York.
We received our photo book today and, flipping through the heavy pages of the greatest fairytale, we were reminded of wooden swings, the etch of mountain peaks against a dark skyline, all of the tiniest details--I am so grateful for the wedding that was, that did, that could. So grateful for the little life we are creating for ourselves. So grateful to be yours--and that you are mine.
The day after Thanksgiving, we decorated our apartment for Hanukkah--a new married tradition, with a playlist of merriment. Next year, we'll add Hanukkah stockings, to be filled with chocolate gelt and little love letters.
Two months after the wedding and, just like that, we're in the midst of our craziest season! Hanukkah, back-to-back birthdays, snow days, and full-on merriment! It's beginning to look a lot like Winter Break, of the strangest school year yet.
And this December, a first, a family together: a brother who lives in Manhattan, a sister driving down from Baltimore and a mom and sister dwelling in an Airbnb. And the most handsome husband.
For Hanukkah, Jordan bought us matching Hanukkah pajamas and I had a glimmer into all that is to come. So close to then end of this absolute rollercoaster of the year and I am grateful for what has been---but, mostly, for all that is to come.
Oh, how I love being merried to you.
For family. The ones you would choose and the ones that were chosen. Sometimes, when you're lucky, they are one-&-the-same.
They say every girl dreams about her wedding day. For me, the wedding dreams came with finding the perfect person. Once fate had done her handiwork, I could see nothing else when I closed my eyes; just him, suited and grinning broadly and me, white and flowing. The trinkets saved from years of a premature wedding Pinterest board suddenly given breath.
When we really started planning this wedding, back in 2019 (which seems like a lifetime ago, now), the invitations were our first purchase: something of a fairytale. The perfect keepsake of the day I would officially link myself to him, forever.
But life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans and as I blindly pasted pictures into my Kate Spade wedding binder, the world shifted on its axis. The wedding was planned and replanned...and replanned and replanned. Until we were left with a wedding binder, worse for the wear, a smattering of Etsy purchases I’d nabbed along the way, a lacy white dress, another cancelled plan, and a date we wished to keep. Long story short, these details are a huge deal. I wanted to plan a wedding weekend where my favorite human would feel loved at every turn, with every tag and dotted-‘I.’ The “I do” shoes, the tags (on everything), the tie notes, the apple cider and donuts, the hangers, the hand calligraphy on the tambourines, the havdalah ceremony, the programs, the vow books, the glass for breaking (the bag and the glass we’ll turn into a mezuzah for our first home). All of these moments, mementos, monumental. The tiny pieces we carried with us, from plan to plan, from wish to wish, that—like this love—stood the test of time.
At 5PM on Saturday, October 10, 2020, we exchanged vows in front of the fifteen most important people in our lives. When we arrived at Oz Farm, the wooden signs covered in exclamations; arrows pointing in the direction of a stand was filled to the brim with warm cider and donuts. A bushel of sweet apples and programs wrapped in besamim (sweet cinnamon sticks, dried orange, and flowers) for our havdallah ceremony. Polaroid cameras and a book with our names scrolled across it; navy blue yalmukes with our names and the date. Each element a tiny prayer--a sweet whisper of forever.
The string trio played by the chuppah: a great arch covered in sunflowers and romantic creams and blues and, at cocktail hour, moved towards the bar. Sweet melodies filled the air like a promise. J and I read our vows below the canopy, Gil's tallis above us, like the covering of home and, right before Jordan's vows began, a gust of wind danced through the tallis, through to the breaking of the glass and the first kiss.
A secret note, from four winters ago. A promise of every day, forever.
We are getting married on the tenth day of the tenth month, in front of about ten people. And, even when it fells like making sense of a Covid wedding is untenable, I choose to focus on the marriage because a marriage is forever.
In theme with ten I started thinking about a marriage ten commandments. Now, turns out everyone and their mother has also had this idea. I found a lot of online-suggestions for marriage commandments, read articles by seasoned-pros and marriage veterans. I don't know much about what marriage will be, a simple neophyte, but I know who we are. And I know how far we will go to love each other. And so, I am writing the Ten Commandments, for our marriage. Fully understanding that, someday, I may look back at this and feel embarrassingly naive. But this is how it feels today (and I'm going with it).
I will love you.
I will assume the best and speak well of you.
I will always make time for the two of us.
I will always root for you and move mountains to support you.
I will be gentle and listen.
I will let you win and be a person of integrity.
I will always make time for dancing in the kitchen.
I will be honest and be willing to laugh at myself.
I will always help you and let you help me.
And, this one I've stolen from my vows, I will not only return these feelings of safety and comfort and love but also accept and acknowledge every effort that you make to create comfort and safety for me.
When they ask about the month before our wedding, I will tell them of hiking until our shoes turn brown (and soles flap off), of turning into a Masters Widow before our wedding, of sparkly, silver, I do shoes and wooden cake toppers who look like us. Of a lacy white dress and a navy vest that fits just so. Of wedding bands and writing vows; of calligraphy and sparklers and printed versions of programs and menus that we have been tinkering with for the better part of a year. Of cinnamon and pouring love stories onto postcards. Of Father of the Bride and My Best Friend's Wedding. Of baking cakes and counting down. Of surprise wedding gifts and sunflowers. When everything else has faded away, I'll still remember the way you scrunch your nose when I talk too much, how infectious your laugh is, and how, when the countdown added up to less than our four hands, your eyes looked like the North Star.
Before you remind us of the obvious; you’re right. Our October wedding is still two months away (exactly 60 days, if you were wondering). But, in the lost year of Covid, we have leaned into the romance. Three months ago, we got dressed up and legally married, in a perfect ceremony, just us two. This month, on August 1, we celebrated three months of secret wedded bliss by renewing our vows on the top of Deer Mountain Inn, just as we had imagined it when we planned our perfect wedding. Tears and improvised vows; the flower crown we just happened to have on hand. Polka dots and stripes. Wild and sweet. His and hers. Have and hold.
In two months, we will, again, renew our vows. A renewal on loop. Keeping our hearts full and our promises fresh. Forever has already started and it will never end.
We were together, I forget the rest.
A paraphrase. In Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman writes Day by day and night by night we were together--all else had long been forgotten by me.
Like most things, I prefer the original. The paraphrase might be pithier, and look sweeter on a tapestry, but it over-simplifies time.
This time in quarantine--day by day and night by night--has been the sweetest gift of togetherness. I don't say this to minimize the traumas of time, either. Much has been lost, or mis-timed, weddings, unveilings, birthdays, holidays--and tragic of all, deaths of loved ones. But it has given me a new awareness of time. How hours disappear before our very eyes; what I could do with, what feels like, bountiful time. How time can make a fool out of the most foolish. All the things that can go said, and unsaid, over time.
This time has given me space to be more introspective than I have probably wanted to be. To focus on gratitudes, decide which battles to fight and how to let go. It has given us the most eye-opening midnight talks. There's something about witching hour and how it brings out an honesty that daylight hides. I have been most grateful for these talks. This togetherness.
For me, the world has felt like it is splitting in a big, gaping, way. Microcosmically, I think my world has gotten used to factions. The last year has been a splitting. My childhood prompted a splitting...but, together. Him and I. When the world gets dark and the day washes over me--I forget the rest.