“Wait, we’re IN the wedding?” my eight-year-old son Evan asked, as he realized with horror why he’d been invited to the rehearsal.
“Dude, don’t worry. All you have to do is walk down the aisle with your brother and your cousin, and listen to everyone whisper about how cute you guys are. That’s all there is to it,” I said.
“It’s scary,” he replied, demonstrating, for his age, a remarkably advanced fear of walking down the aisle, and a wisdom beyond his years. (Of course, that joke was directed at people who didn’t have the good fortune to walk down the aisle with my wife, Kara, because she sometimes reads this column.)
For my sister-in-law, Sarah, and her fiancé, Sam, though, taking that stroll was not something to fear. They knew exactly what they were getting into, mostly because they’ve been together longer than the Rolling Stones. That is, of course, somewhat of an exaggeration, but Sarah and Sam have been together for nearly a decade, so, they’ve been around for at least as long as the Rolling Stones’ arthritis.
“Uncle Sam is legally going to be your uncle now,” we told Evan and his five-year-old brother, Zack, as we put them into their suspenders and bowties on the afternoon of the wedding.
“But he was already our uncle,” Evan replied.
“Good point, buddy,” Kara said.
“Fancy clothes are itchy,” Zack said, pulling at his collar. Our kids usually dress like a gym class could break out at any moment. To them, jeans are formalwear, so actual formalwear was a bit of a shock.
“Looking good is supposed to be a little painful sometimes. It’s to make you appreciate how comfortable you are during the rest of your life,” I said.
Sarah and Sam had chosen to get married on Block Island, a beautiful island off the coast of Rhode Island, which, despite its aspirational nomenclature, is not an island.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Evan and Zack walked down the aisle on either side of their nineteen-month-old cousin, Conrad, the three of them together creating a volatile mix of unpredictability that added a hint of danger to the proceedings, like the rusty chain on the Ferris wheel at a local carnival – it’ll probably be fine, but man, if something goes wrong, it’s going to go wrong big time.
But from the weather to the vows to the kiss to the kids not ruining everything, the wedding went off without a hitch, except for the hitching that was supposed to happen. And we all got to witness the next step in a relationship that makes this entire extended family bigger, better, and more fun, even if Uncle Sam was already Uncle Sam to begin with.
“You guys did great!” Sarah said as she and Sam hugged the three boys. Evan and Zack have been walking for many years, but their cousin was still pretty new to whole thing, so a successful outcome was not a foregone conclusion.
After experiencing their first wedding ceremony, the kids were understandably emotional.
“When’s the cake?” Zack asked.
“After dinner,” Kara replied.
“When’s dinner?” Evan asked.
“After the pictures. You should really try to enjoy the non-cake aspects of the wedding, too. It’s not just about the cake,” I said.
“Okay. But how long until dinner starts, and then ends?” Evan replied.
Somehow, the kids managed to survive through all of the courses of dinner (“What? There’s more stuff after the salad? I thought everyone was just eating salad for dinner!”), and got to celebrate what this day was truly about: unlimited dessert.
They still had icing on their faces when we put them into bed that night, hours after their bedtimes, permanent smiles on their faces because they’d helped make our extended family that much more complete. Or because they’d overdosed on sugar.
You can get to the cake already with Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.