I’m a big wedding crier. Like, it’s embarrassing and sometimes happens simply during a commercial featuring a wedding. However, two weeks ago during my friends Miguel and Nicole’s wedding, I really couldn’t afford to shed a single tear. Because as officiator of their union, it just wouldn’t look too professional.
It all came to be in April 2010 when the two got engaged. A few days after the ring exchange, the three of us sat among friends in a favorite downtown bar. High off whiskey and consuming enthusiasm, I giggled with Nicole over the idea of me acting as officiator come the big day. She agreed to my idea’s brilliance but I shrugged the conversation off to the night’s outside factors and went home clueless.
Too early the next morning, I got a text from Nicole asking for me to call when I woke. Apparently after some discussion, she and Miguel decided I should definitely be the official knot-tie…er? Since I was a close mutual friend of both the bride and groom — not to mention, duh, I’m an awesome public speaker (ha) — they asked me to get certified to legally bind them. I giddily accepted.
I turned to the Internet to prep me for the huge honor of uniting two of my closest friends — a shockingly simple process — and went to work learning my lines. Since Nicole and Miguel wrote their vows themselves, each word dripped with such emotion and vitality, I felt terrified to think I had to memorize each of them. And the whole not crying pressure weighed on me. For two weeks in October, I spent my morning commute successfully alienating most of the L line while silently sobbing over the beauty in the lines, trying to practice. And then I practiced aloud (not on the train) more and more and more — mostly to my boyfriend and our roommate who likely tired of my frequent stumbling and sniffly pauses. Eventually I accepted the inevitability that I couldn’t possibly get it all entirely perfect and that would be OK, because those getting hitched were my friends and they always understand. They had bestowed upon me a special honor that they wouldn’t have if they didn’t believe I could handle it.
It all felt even more special given how I came to know Miguel and Nicole as a couple. I’d known Miguel for years from our time spent clerking it up and goofing off at the record store in Jacksonville Beach, Fl. We hit it off over a mutual adoration for Built To Spill and soon became tight — he’s now like a big brother. We’d talk all the time while alphabetizing the used CDs about music, philosophy, life. When Miguel started talking about a fellow bartender at his other job, I was intrigued. She sounded smart and unique. It was like I came to know her through Miguel’s accounts. When I finally did meet Nicole, I felt an instant bond with her, too. Over the next two years, we got riled up at live shows, cooked spicy dinners, laughed together and generally grew closer. And I watched them grow closer as an unbeatable team of two.
I moved only a month after the engagement, hopping from Florida to Atlanta to DC finally to New York over the next year and a half before the wedding. I shook with excitement as I unloaded from a friend’s car at Miguel and Nicole’s house back in sunny Jacksonville just two weeks ago. And from there, the prep went like most weddings: Non-stop action. I felt worried I wouldn’t find the time to properly congratulate and thank either of the kids one-on-one.
However, my time to speak with Miguel came during his co-ed bachelor party. And then amidst the hairspray of the actual day, half-dressed and getting ready with Nicole, a moment presented itself, too. I thanked her for the honor and gushed about my fondness for our friendship and my appreciation for her and Miguel’s exemplar relationship. That’s when she turned to me with her big blue eyes and echoed a sentiment similar to Miguel’s response. “Well, it was only you,” she said. “It could have only been you.” That’s when I felt thankful for my waterproof mascara and allowed minimal tears to fall.
After, I powdered my nose and headed to the rooftop where the ceremony was to go down. I had practiced the vows nearly to death. I wanted to be certain my voice wouldn’t shake but I didn’t want to be so emotionless I’d be unable to absorb the moment itself. My cue, their wedding processional song, came on and I started down the aisle. There was no turning back — and how could I anyway? This wasn’t about me even a little bit. This was about Miguel and Nicole and their powerful love for one another.
As I went through each page of their literate promises to one another, I felt the tangible tangle of adoration and respect between my two friends. It was amazing. And when I got to the actual exchange of vows, I was probably grinning like an idiot. Few times in my life have I felt so happy to witness something.
When Miguel and Nicole shared their first kiss as husband and wife, “All You Need Is Love” blared across the sky and I was finally allowed to cry. Except I couldn’t. All I could don was a dopey grin.
Although I absolutely cite this experience as one of the most shaping and important of my life, I’m not sure if I’ll do it again. I did it not just to marry someone, but as a way to help further solidify an incredible bond between two people I love that share one soul.
… Unless, of course, you live in Florida where I’m certified, need an officiator and wanna pay big bucks. In that case, call me.
Would you consider asking a friend to officiate your marriage? Would you ever want to do the same for someone you love?