“This is your day,” people would tell us when we got married (last week) “forget about everybody else.” This is a common piece of wisdom that friends and family members will tell the bride and groom, who often find themselves spending more time and energy worrying about their guests’ enjoyment than they do enjoying their special day themselves.
There were certainly times when we felt this way the week of our wedding, a destination wedding in Sayulita, Mexico, a small surf town an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, with 70 of our closest friends and family in attendance. Logistically, we asked a lot of our guests: they had to travel great distances, find their own individual accommodations (there are no hotels in the small town of Sayulita large enough to accommodate a group of our size, so most people were in hard-to-find and hard-to-get-to villas along the beach,) they were dragged on buses and boats all over the Banderas Bay region and were exposed to rough seas, a strong sun, cold nights, and a lot of Mexican food, beer and tequila.
We had a lot to worry about: there were guests who got sunburned during the day and others who were too cold at night. There were some guests that missed the boat, and others that made it, but got seasick along the way. There were guests who drank too much, and in some cases, guests who didn’t drink enough ;-). Like most brides and grooms, we wanted to cherish every moment of our time together this week . . . but we also wanted to make sure our guests were having as good a time as we were.
For us, the wedding really wasn’t just “our” day, it was a chance for our families to come together, for our friends to get to know each other, and for us to reconnect with people who came from all over the world (from the Seychelles, Sydney, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and the Bahamas just to name a few.)
The fact that Catherine and I faced each other and promised to love and support one another for the rest of our lives was important, but equally important were the faces beaming up at us showing us their acknowledgement and encouragement. Catherine and I share meaningful moments together on a regular basis, and hopefully we will continue to do so for years to come. But what made this week (and day) particularly meaningful, was sharing it with others.
Each one of our guests contributed something valuable to the week’s festivities. Some brought their energy and personality, adding to the life of the party, some brought helping hands, chipping in when things needed to be done, or making personal sacrifices so that others in the group would have more fun, and some came with a warm and open heart, adding their love to ours and magnifying it, so that it permeated everything our group together.
When I remember my wedding, I will remember the moment I saw my bride in her dress for the first time, and I will remember looking into her eyes as we slid rings onto each others’ fingers and said “I do.” I will remember our kiss, and I will remember our first dance. I will remember our wedding night together, and I will remember waking up and saying “good morning Mrs. McCarthy” for the first time. But that is not all I will remember.
I will also remember feeling welcomed by Catherine’s family and getting to know them on a deeper level. I will remember my family connecting with hers and seeing them grow new bonds of love and friendship. I will remember good times with friends that I rarely get to see, and meeting new friends that I hope to stay close to now and into the future. I will remember kind words, warm hugs, and eyes filled with tearful joy. Forget about everyone else? Not a chance. In a wedding, other people matter.