The Best of Times is Now
The wedding wasn’t supposed to be that big a deal—just a smattering of family and out of town friends to join us for the Jewish wedding we never got to have. What could be so difficult?
The escalation began when the rabbi and her soon-to-be-wife sat sipping wine with us, asking a few questions.
“Are you going to have a Ketubah?”
Bonnie, a Jew for a couple of minutes now, knew exactly what that was. Me, a Jew from birth, not so much. A Ketubah is a marriage contract, kind of a pre-nup, without talk of finances, with beautiful artwork and prose, to be signed by the couple, witnesses and officiate.
“Great, where do I get one, Ketubah’s R Us?”
I wasn’t far off. Ketubahs.com had zillions of pretty pictures, with gooey wording at equally gooey prices. They offered overnight shipping. What? For shotgun weddings?
There actually were two choices of wording for same-sex couples, but neither prose recognized the 30 years Bonnie and I have already been together, which we wanted to note. So, going rogue, we wrote our own words, and had graphic genius Murray Archibald superimpose the copy on a pretty picture we’d taken. Voila! Ketubahs really are us.
Of course, we wanted to have the ceremony at CAMP, figuring a few hors d’oeurves, a little bubbly, and music by iPod. Brides plan, friends and wedding planners laugh.
Within a few weeks of the ceremony I had hired a piano player and gotten into a discussion with my step-mom Joan about the kind of flowers we were having.
Joan: “What kind of flowers are you having?”
So I called my pal Chris Beagle the wedding planner for advice. He discussed so many options my head started to explode.
Me: “Okay, Uncle! Will you be my wedding planner and do the flowers?”
Chris: “Sure. We’ll need two large arrangements and one at the table with the guest book.”
Me: “Guest Book????”
So I found myself at Michael’s Crafts in the Wedding aisle, alongside several size four teenage brides-to-be picking out guest books. They all assumed I was the mother of a bride, or omigod, grandmother of a bride. I haven’t felt so out of place since I accidentally wandered onto a softball field.
Chris: “I know Mixx is catering, but who’s handling the table cloths?”
Me: “Table cloths?”
That’s when I turned it all over to Chris—caterer liaison, flower arrangement, and even the construction of the wedding canopy or Chuppa—you can pronounce it properly by clearing your throat on the “Ch.”
By the day before the wedding the rabbi reminded me we needed a glass for Bonnie to stomp at the end of the ceremony. I wandered around Pier One, feeling up the glassware to find the most delicate glass to smash. We didn’t want Bonnie stomping the thing with her dress shoe and honeymooning at Beebe with shards in her instep. I found a perfect cheap champagne flute. The clerk must see this a lot, because he didn’t look at me like I had two heads for buying a single glass.
That afternoon I got a phone call from an old friend, about to address our wedding card.
Friend: “After the wedding will you two be hyphenates?”
Me: “No, I think we will still be homosexuals.”
By Monday evening, 24 hours and counting, Bonnie was calm but I was nervous. Not about the marriage. After thirty years, the only nerve-wracking part would be trying to remember our wedding anniversary. Which is why the event was on a Tuesday, on our 30th anniversary. We are too old to memorize a new date. I was just nervous about logistics. I wanted to get hitched without a hitch.
My sister Gwen: “Are one of you staying at a hotel tonight? You aren’t supposed to see the bride before the wedding.”
On Tuesday morning, my wedding planner called.
Chris: “Do you need anything?”
And so it went. Cool cucumber Bonnie even went to work for part of the day, while Bridezilla here anxiously entertained visiting family and friends.
Then, at 5 p.m., after Bonnie and I dressed, we made sure we had the rings in our pockets and the delicate wine glass wrapped in a cloth napkin so Steve and Murray wouldn’t spend months picking shattered glass from the CAMP carpet.
Zero hour. Bonnie calmly announced she’d get the car from the garage and meet us on the driveway. Exiting the garage she calmly backed right into Joan’s car. Not nervous?
She ran to the front door, horrified, wondering if she should be the runaway bride. Then we made our first vow of the day, agreeing to keep the incident secret until later. To that end, it was like a sitcom as we hustled Joan and Gwen into the car, shielding their view of Joan’s dinged bumper. Get me to the church on time!
The room at CAMP looked gorgeous. Chris got his inner gay boy on, having built the most amazing canopy and making the CAMP community room look country club elegant and not the least bit Vegas wedding chapel tacky.
The crowd was joyous, happy for us and happy that such a ceremony was legal in Delaware. Bonnie and I felt blessed to be in the company of family and longtime friends who traveled to Rehoboth from the likes of New York, Virginia, D.C., and even Nova Scotia, despite it being a Tuesday.
And Rabbi Beth did an incredible job. She invited friends to provide blessings and allowed us to sip Chateau Neuf du Pape wine instead of Manischewitz since to my mind, nobody should start their next 30 years with wine that tastes like Robitussin. The rabbit quoted from the Bible as well as songwriter Jerry Herman, with his lyrics “The Best of Times is Now.”
Yes it is. Mazel Tov to all the couples who have come before us and all those to follow.
And for the record, Joan’s car wasn’t badly damaged. We joked that ours was the first Jewish wedding where we smashed a glass and a Prius.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach; and For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries. Email Fay Jacobs at www.fayjacobs.com.