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My husband’s sister got married this weekend. Like many women of our generation, she took her time. There were a couple of close calls prior to this engagement, but there is something to be said for a certain waiting-period on major life decisions. Given that the CDC* reports an estimated 35% divorce rate in the United States, one might conclude that choosing carefully does not come easily to our population.

This union, though, was a very good choice. The Family enjoyed a ceremony at the Interfaith Chapel on the University of Rochester campus followed by a lovely reception. I was asked to do a reading from Paul’s First letter to Corinthians (Love is patient, love is kind – yadda, yadda, yadda), then also to write something for the occasion.

Wedding speeches can be a long yawn. I purposefully wanted to deliver something that would be both fun and heartfelt, and also brief.

This is what I wrote, here by permission of the new Mr. and Mrs. Coleman:

Last summer, just after Jennifer and Mark’s engagement, Jen asked me if I would write something to read at their wedding. I asked her what I should write about and she said, “Oh, love, people, family, that sort of thing.”

Love, people and family are actually the reasons we are all here today, and how we’re all connected.

I could quote more Bible passages and authors who speak eloquently on the topics: Exodus and Wharton on People, Genesis and Alcott on Family, and the Song of Solomon and Bronte on Love.

I could talk about all the people who are here, who Jen and Mark love, but you can look around and see for yourself.

I could talk about the people who aren’t here…and how much we miss them today, especially.

We bring into this room our memories, and our lives, which all intersect at Jen and Mark. At schools (mainly Gates-Chili and East Ridge**), at jobs, around Christmas trees and dinner tables, in good times and in hard times – we are all here because we were there; with Jen or with Mark, or with both of them. Love. People. Family.

So on this day, as Jen and Mark get married, let’s get “love, people family” down to one simple sentence.

And let’s do it Together.

By a show of hands:

How many people are here as friends or family of Jen?

How many are here as friends or family of Mark?

Now, you know, there are a lot of Mark’s in Jen’s life. So….***

How many people here are ‘a’ Mark?

How many people here are related to ‘a’ Mark?

How many are married to ‘a’ Mark? (Jen needed to be reminded to raise her hand here)

How many people love Jen?

How many people love Mark?

(Okay, I said we would get it down to one sentence, together, and here it comes…)

By a show of hands –
How many people here love that Jen and Mark (and Aurora and Makayla****) are now a family?

Everything about yesterday was perfect. I’m just glad I got to be a part of it!

* Yes, the Center for Disease Control keeps these statistics, NOT the U.S. Census Bureau. Weird fact.
** Inside joke. My husband and now each of his siblings, who went to one high school, have all married spouses who went to a single high school on the other side of the county.
*** Indeed, Jen’s brother (my husband) and step-father are named Mark, as is her new husband. Yes, it’s complicated.
**** The two lovely young daughters of The Groom.

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  1. It is so wonderful how your toast engaged the entire group. I cannot think of a better way to have everyone share such an important moment. This toast was perfect.

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