Just another Saturday afternoon wedding with the usual suspects.
The young couple-to-be, with expressions alternating between too-wide grins and dawning apprehension. White lace and promises.
Young women in colorful gowns destined to be worn once, with sculpted hair and graceful flowers. Guys in stiff suits and bow ties and shiny rented shoes.
Little kids in ruffles or white tuxes, slicked down or up-do'ed hair, baskets of petals, pillows with rings, looking alternately terrified and blissfully unaware.
Parents looking both relieved and heartbroken.
An elderly minister who's the groom's grandpa. Full of humor and wisdom, he ad libs his way through the ceremony with audible admonitions to his grandson to smile.
Rows of guests who might rather be out in the August sunshine, but are enticed to the wedding by assurances of cake.
Here are the promises made at a million million and more weddings, promises made again and again, promises that will be bent and broken, remade, reworked, maybe, sometimes, sadly, removed.
Today in this auditorium church the promises are made in voices young and strong, and for a moment everybody believes, everybody knows, this set of promises will keep.
Applause as the new family is presented, as the guests are dismissed from church with a hug and a handshake, and a "thank you for coming."
An evening reception with all the trimmings, the cash bar and the buffet; the wedding cake and the chocolate fountain. A stack of presents in white and silver. A wedding planning to announce the grace-before-the-meal (again offered by Grandpa), the toasts, the garter, the bouquet. The smashing-of-cake in each other's faces. The bride-and-father dance, the groom-and-mom dance. The bridal party dance (to, really!? Kung Fu Fighting?).
And finally, the last disintegration to carnival. All the tribal rites completed, the DJ assumes command, the table ranks are broken, the veil comes off as well as the shoes, bow ties, and cummerbunds. And every romantic "You Look Wonderful Tonight" is followed by two or three '80s anthems that gets the whole assemblage on the dance floor, Bon Jovi being a favorite of the bride.
And who considers themselves totally married without a rousing rendition of "YMCA," with a "Chicken Dance" shooter?
The bride and groom have a 6 a.m. flight on Sunday morning, but they're still dancing as we say goodbye at 10.
O kids, I want to say (though they're not, and I don't)--be happy, though I know you will have sadness; stay lighthearted, though I know your hearts will be broken; hold tight to each other, though I know how easy it can be to drift away; remember to make the most important promise of all--when one of you screws up (and you will), love and be kind.
Keep doing the chicken dance, for it will make you laugh.