ain’t no angel gonna greet me; it’s just you and I my friend

We moved hotels on Saturday, from one closer to the city (for the rehearsal dinner) to one closer to Swarthmore (for Matt and Lydia’s wedding). I rode with Kevin, tailing behind my parents’ SUV down a rain-slicked 95 South while Chuck Barry played “School Days.” “AC/DC does a decent cover of this song,” I remarked.

I borrowed some cufflinks from my dad and slipped into my dark pinstripe suit, with a patterned cornflower tie. Gluing my hair down onto my skull, I paced the room until Matt’s rented motor coach came to fetch us. The groom’s party and the bridesmaids would all ride to the wedding together, taking preliminary photos before the ceremony. The superstition about the bride and groom seeing each other before the ceremony didn’t bother these two, but the one about handling wedding rings during the rehearsal did. No judgment implied; every couple’s different.

We stopped at Lydia’s parents’ house to pick her and the bridal party up, where we proceeded to wait for half an hour. “Still not ready,” reported the groom’s father. “The important thing is: we got here on time,” Matt’s brother Griff, the best man, observed. “No one can pin this one on us.” We then pinned boutonnieres on each other, which proved trickier.

Lydia showed up, glowing like a June bride, and the coach rolled to Swarthmore. We snapped pictures on the front porch of the Quaker Meeting House while guests filed in the sides. The downpour slowed to a drizzle but did not let up. With a scant ten minutes to go the groom’s party slipped into the back for our entrance, while the bridesmaids waited to enter from the front. I caught up with Matt, his lips tight, and clapped him on the shoulder. “You know what rain on your wedding day means?” I asked him.

He shook his head.

“Not a god-damned thing.”

The remaining details are too personal to entertain a larger audience. If you’ve been to one wedding for close friends, you get the gist: touching ceremony, drinking with family, dancing with friends, arms on shoulders and heads in hands. I will say: Matt and Griff and their parents have been as close as family to me and mine for about twenty-five years. Having the honor of officiating Matt and Lydia’s wedding – bringing their two families together – felt touchingly appropriate. I did the best I could and had the most fun I think I could have.

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