On the sun drenched evening of Saturday, May 28th, it was my distinct pleasure and honor to officiate the marriage between Goth scene friends, Rebecca and Mauricio (names have not been changed to protect the guilty). But before I delve into the main event, allow me to give you a bit of back-story about…well…about me!
I was first approached by Rebecca, two weeks prior, with the intimate request of officiating at their all-too-soon-to-be wedding ceremony and reception. Initially, to be honest, I declined the offer as soon as I received it. For, you see and must understand, public speaking is not my strong point and even boarders on the line of a phobia (I’m much more eloquent with the written word). And while it is true that you will see me interacting and socializing with many people (as long as I want to converse with them) it is usually done on an individual basis or in a small group setting…I generally avoid a large audience like a vampire avoids sunlight! However, as of late, I have been striving to push myself past those boundaries and forcing myself into more public displays in the effort to continuously better myself (prep work toward my “best feature length documentary” Academy Award acceptance speech, you understand). For example, just around the time of Rebecca’s request, I attended a second showing of my actress friend’s (and friendly neighborhood dispenser of yummy Pinot Grigio and cup full of ice at the W hotel in Times Square – my favorite Day-Crawler watering hole) amazing off-off Broadway production of “The Greenwich Village Follies” (go see it! You will laugh your ass off and learn a thing or two about the Greenwich Village’s history. Moreover, there’s a great number about Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell Tale Heart in it!) in which I volunteered to play a small role as Peter Stuyvesant in an “audience participation” sort of matter. It was a lot of fun, but then again, I knew what was to be expected…full improvisation is a ways away from now for me.
So, after giving it some thought, and advising my family that I will not be working the very busy pre-theater seating on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend at my Family’s (ungrateful) restaurant, I hurriedly returned Rebecca’s email to inform her that I do, indeed, accept! I mean, shaky hands and sweaty brow aside, how many times does one person (other than a priest, rabbi, and/or any other religious or spiritual figurehead, judge, sea captain, etc.) get the chance to officiate a wedding in their lifetime, right? This was something I wanted to do; something I had to do; something I needed to do! And so, with a click of a “send” button my fate, and promise, was sealed!
Within the two weeks that followed, Rebecca and Mauricio finalized and wrote out my speech, their vows, and all the other intricate details of their minimalistic, yet highly stylized and well thought-out wedding. And so, exactly one week past the much anticipated judgment day came and went, we gathered in a loft space on the 14th floor of the building located at 320 West 37th Street, in Manhattan, in the late afternoon. To tell you the truth, from the outside, on 37th Street, the building resembles nothing more than the other hundred pre-war textile factory buildings that litter the fashion district. However, as the 1960’s styled elevator grinds to the 14th floor after a tedious fight against gravity, one is greeted by a sublime, stark white room with windows exposed to the North, South, and especially toward the West, offering a grand view of the Hudson River and a stunning sunset, if weather permitted…like this day! Let me just add…there was A LOT OF SUNLIGHT!!!
The décor was sparse, yet fantastically quaint. Mauricio and Rebecca had hunted all over to find these sprawling tree branches and hung several intertwined bunches from the ceiling fixtures, to which they had jewel cut colored glass and other objects either hung or perched from the limbs (more on those later). On the dining tables, and peppered throughout the room, the wedding couple displayed various chachkies that held a sweet summer Victorian flare with maybe a hint of Steampunk aesthetic…think: the “By the Sea”/beach number from Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd film film (check out this “remake” of the scene on Youtube – it’s very clever!)…but with more daintiness. Of course Rebecca and Mauricio both looked stunning and aglow with love...but we'll let the photos (coming soon) demonstrate that! The room was still bathed in the light of the setting sun, filtered through delicate white curtains that surrounded the room, by the time we got started, and the beams of solar daggers stung at my nape as I positioned myself on the spot where I was to deliver my “sermon.” My preference for pitch black curtains drawn close and candlelight (Hey…after all this wasn’t my wedding) was soon refreshed by an onslaught and counter attack of pure air conditioning power! Let me just say that out of all of mankind’s inventions, refrigeration and air conditioning is, by far, the best! I don’t give a bat’s ass if we got to the moon...it only demystified the moon! Just keep me cool in my black clothes on a hot summer day and I’m as content as maggot in a fresh corpse!!!
In my handy/dandy-trusty/wusty leather-bound notebook I had printed out and glued the passages that I was meant to read. I read and re-read them over and over...not in the attempt to memorize them (that's also a long ways off for me), but rather to familiarize myself with the text well enough as to not piddle all over myself in my skinny pants (Ha! Remember that flashback scene in All That Jazz in the strip club? Something like that, but not quite...) as I read off the lines! At one point my strategy is to read off the lines slowly and poignantly...taking inspiration from any and every speech president Barack Obama ever gave...or Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager...slow and stoic like!
Here are some of the passages:
"Family, friends, loved ones of the bride and groom, we convene this evening to witness, support, and participate in an ancient social custom that predates our written histories, wherein two lovers step forward to declare their commitments and to be ever-after known as belonging to each other.
"Ready to declare themselves partners in life, sharers of responsibility, co-bearers of burden, and benefactors of each joy, success, and every subsequent happiness the pains of hard work, tedium, and sometimes agonizing near-failure will bring, our loved ones Rebecca and Mauricio have stepped forward to make their promises and to bind themselves to one another... and then we will eat, drink and dance!
"We will begin with two readings that speak of the passions of bride and groom."
At this point, two of the bride and groom's friends read out lovely passages, which I don't rightly recall since I was in a "zone." After the passages were said, I instructed Mauricio and Rebecca to read their vows to eactother. Both of them were full of emotion and love. So much so that Rebecca starting tearing up and choking a bit on her word in the middle of her vows, but she pulled through like a pro! Wait!...that didn't come out right...she's not a professional bride or anything...well, you get the idea! We were all quite "virginal" when it came to all of this!
To conclude the vows, I added:
"Like the star, may your love burn brightly...like the stone, may your love be firm...and like the Oceans, may your love run deep! Fear not and trust in one another, lest the ways or words of the unenlightened give you unease."
I then asked for the rings and read off these wonderful words:
"Legend speaks of the vena amoris, the bloodline running directly from the fourth finger to the heart where the soul and the will are housed, and the continuous circle of a ring, its open center representing a door to the unknown.
"The ancient Egyptians believed that placing a ring on the fourth finger of one’s beloved would hold in her affections, preventing desire from escaping her body. Romantic… in a creepy, possessive sort of way.
"It is now an accepted custom that a ring worn on the fourth finger is a symbol of commitment to the vows of matrimony.
"Mauricio and Rebecca will exchange matching rings, representative of shared purpose, bound together by love and promises, and solidified with a single kiss."
At this point they both took the rings from my hand and nervously slipped it onto the other's fourth finger. It was so cute...they were so nervous, so caught up in the moment, that they forgot about the kiss part, and I had to remind them on the spot...classic wedding moment!
I then ended the ceremony with:
"Now, please join me in congratulating Rebecca & Mauricio and wishing them the best in the next chapter of their lifes’ adventures. Let us celebrate!!!"
And with jubilant appluase all was over! The next thing I knew I was at the bar having an ice filled glass of white wine and drank it as fast as any other self-respecting naughty priest would!
Soon, a small, yet very tasty and light buffet was offered to the guests, and I stayed to enjoy a nibble or two with some mutual friends. During this time we were given these brown paper cut-outs in the shape of a long leaf with a string at one end, along with some pens, and were instructed to write some wishes or words to the bride and groom, and to then hang the leaves on the ends of the branches found about the room. What a fantastic idea, I thought to myself! I soon had my creative juices flowing! While everyone was pondering over their words like they were suddenly handed over a pop S.A.T. exam, I was feverishly scribbling away these following lines:
"May the winds of love push that sails of your marriage to reach the distant and magical shores of your lives together." ~ Sir William Welles
As I left the reception early to return to my family's restaurant in time for the 2nd seating, I thought in immediate hindsight and I discovered that it really wasn't all that bad, and was over with rather quickly...and this was due to a wee bit of enlightenment that washed over me mere moments before the ceremony was to begin and actually settled my anxiety.
My enlightening moment was this: Everyday of my life I choose to look how I look, to wear what I wear, and to behave as I behave...and sure enough I get judged and labeled hundreds, if not thousands, of times by complete strangers as I make my way through my day & night in this world...and, other than if I made a complete fool of myself, I really don't care what these unimportant people think of me, I'm never going to see them again! So why should this be any different? Suddenly I didn't care what the entire room thought of me or my delivery...the only two people who were important in that room, and to whom I had to do right by, were Rebecca and Mauricio!
And to those two very important people in that room, on a sunny May Saturday afternoon, I wish them a liftime of love and happiness, and to once again thank them from the bottom of my cold, dark heart for this wonderful opportunity and honor!!!
See you in the Dark!
Sir William Welles
P.S.: Photos to come soon!!!