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Blog No. 14: A Simple, Elegant Ritual

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA -- - High up in the Sierra Mountains, beside a great, deep, quiet Lake Tahoe, we traveled this week to celebrate my sister-in-law Katy’s wedding to her long-time friend and companion,

Bill Stevens. They were married on a Monday with the snow and sleet swirling in the winter air. Members of the immediate family from both sides of the aisle were there to witness the nuptials. Bill’s younger brother Brian was best man. Kate’s sister Elizabeth was her maiden of honor. Afterwards, reviewing the events of the weekend, one can’t help but think about the small but important rituals of our society that help to make our lives worth living. Rituals like weddings. Now, I have been to weddings great and small, across this land, from Massachusetts to California. And every time, I am amazed at the fundamental, basic rituals that various religions and ethnic cultures universally embrace:

  1. Her eldest brother walking her down the aisle.

  2. The vows -- - always promising to honor and cherish forever and always.

  3. The exchanging of the rings.

  4. The blessing from the officiate, be they priest, rabbi, justice of the peace, minister, whomever -- - asking a higher power to grant the couple happiness and a long life

  5. The flowers. The music. The wedding dress. The tuxedos. The photographer, and a thousand other details all carefully assembled and organized in exact order.

  6. Seeing the couple together. Kissing their first kiss as husband and wife.

  7. Watching them smile as they embrace.

Seemingly there is always nervous tension just before the event. And equally, when

it’s over, there is the immense sense of relief and joy of a ceremony well done. Kate and Bill’s wedding, of course, was no exception. It went off with nary a mishap. All of the rituals listed above were observed. All of the small but important details remembered -- at that small, simple wedding chapel near the shores of the lovely lake. The small, quite intimate wedding luncheon afterwards at a restaurant overlooking the lake was simple and elegant. The toasts were loving and funny and hit just the right notes. It was, in retrospect, just right. The bride was beautiful. She wore a lovely white dress, with a Jackie-O style hat that was stunning. The groom, dressed in somber gray, was handsome. And everyone had a good time. And isn’t that the point of this time-tested ritual? Weddings were created to help us renew our faith in love. To make sure that the fires of desire never quite die. To remind us to still promise to love and cherish all the days of our lives -- and to never forget that, no matter how many times one actually gets married! For Katy and Bill, it was a special day. A day they’ll never forget as long as they both shall live. For the rest of us, who were most honored to attend and observe the day, it was, simply, a pleasure. A simple, elegant wedding ritual. Call me a hapless romantic, but I like weddings. Don’t you?

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