Last weekend, on Mar 21, I had the honour and pleasure of attending my dear friend Cristine’s wedding. We have known each other since the first week of University, when she sat next to me at a Frosh week orientation activity. Over 18 years later I still consider her one of my closest friends.
Unfortunately, for the last decade I no longer have the pleasure of living in the same city (or country for that matter) as her. We rarely have the opportunity now to spend selfish time physically together to just talk about nothing in particular, or share the minor tribulations and triumphs of daily life. It is in this other city that she met and fell in love with her now-husband Chris. (which of course generated the cute couple nickname, C-Squared)
I wish I had the luxury of time and proximity to get to know him better, because what I do know of him from our few interactions together to date, he seems like a guy I would be good friends with too. Quietly self-assured. Sly sense of humour. Adventurous spirit, willing to meet new people and at least try anything at least once. Tall, so he can reach high things on shelves and has a built-in selfie-stick with his long arm (the quantity of quality selfie couple photos on their Facebook streams is a testament of this). And most importantly, he clearly respects and adores Cristine. That she thinks the world of him and loves him as much as she does is all I need to give my stamp of approval; she is an unrelenting judge of character. (an exasperated exclamation of “who does that?!?” has been one of her trademark catchphrases for years)
While my heart wishes that we would somehow be able to expand time and remove space so we can grow our friendship deeply now as couples, my brain knows the laws of physics and the impracticality of manipulating time and space. Instead, my brain says that what I can do is resolve to keep track of the who-what-when-and-wheres of C-Squared’s lives from social media, so we can focus on the hows and whys during those those precious moments we do have together. It’s sharing the hows and whys that is the magic sauce in real friendship, no?
But back to the wedding of C-Squared. Cynics will ask, ‘What significance is one day, in the span of all their days together from the past to the distant future’? Well it’s significant because a wedding gives all of us, their families and friends, in essence their community, an opportunity to come together to mark a milestone with them and celebrate their love. In this journey of their lives together, they will always have this day as a mooring in their relationship. As their close friend and wedding officiant Toni said during the ceremony, their community of family and friends will now help keep them accountable to their vows to each other, and point them back to this port. Not that they’ll ever need any reminder. You can see by the way they look at each other, and the small gestures they make to each other in quiet moments, that this match is meant to last.
When they kiss each other as husband and wife, my heart bursts with happiness for them.
In addition to the photos that I took during the wedding, I have memories from the day that I want to document so I’ll have them always.
Cristine invited us to hang out in the bridal suite with her while she got her hair and makeup done. The topic turned to fake eyelashes. The truly funny Julie Kim then shares the story of how she had fake eyelashes done for the first time last year and the revelatory experience it was for her, both in the impact to her image and in the impact to her habits. Among the things said: (these are paraphrased quotes)
- “I realized I wasn’t pretty before.”
- “Just having the eyelashes in, and no other makeup, made me 80% prettier!” It was fun throwing around that statistic around for the rest of the day. (“That totally makes you 80% prettier.”)
- “You can’t sleep on your side though. You can’t smush your face into the pillow, or else you’ll get kinks in your lashes and then you’d look like a crazy person.”
- “It’s the best thing any woman can do to immediately make her prettier. Your eyes suddenly look twice as large.”
She’s never been nervous, not even as a child
There was a moment while Cristine was in the walk-in closet putting on her dress that a few of us were chatting with her mom. We were speculating whether Cristine was feeling nervous about the wedding in just a couple hours’ time. Her mom said, “No, she won’t be nervous. She’s never been a nervous person, even as a child. Always very brave. ”
When Cris did come out with her gorgeous dress on, she looked amazing, and I just felt so proud of her. Proud of the woman she’s evolved to be, proud of all her accomplishments, the challenges that she’s overcome, and staying true to herself and her ambitions.
There was also a certain heightened atmosphere in the air. I don’t think it was nerves about being the center of attention in front of lots of people; being a veteran in sales and marketing, she’s an old pro at commanding a room. It was more like…I’m purely speculating now as I remember this, but perhaps she was feeling trepidation at the thought of really opening up the vulnerable part of her heart and sharing it with us all.
As Cristine was walking down the aisle with her father, I stole a look at her mom. The look on her face as she tried to hold back tears of pride and joy, made my heart catch in my throat. Will this be my face in 20 or 30 years when my daughters get married?
Their friend Toni did a great job officiating the ceremony. She was eloquent, and thoughtful, and how much she cares for both Chris and Cristine was clear. While the ceremony was taking place, I couldn’t help but think of this following sonnet from Shakespeare. With the wide amount of travel that Cristine has for her work and career, it seems particularly apropos.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
As part of her vows, Cris read the poem [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by e.e. cummings.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me(i carry it inmy heart)i am never without it(anywherei go you go,my dear;and whatever is doneby only me is your doing,my darling)i fearno fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i wantno world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meantand whatever a sun will always sing is youhere is the deepest secret nobody knows(here is the root of the root and the bud of the budand the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which growshigher than soul can hope or mind can hide)and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars aparti carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Her voice cracked a bit at one part (was it the first mention of “darling”?). By the end she was in definite need of a tissue, which in turn made my eyes well up. I had not heard that poem before, but it’s beautiful.
Then it was Chris’s turn for his vows. He admitted up front that he wasn’t as eloquent as Cristine may be, but I don’t think it mattered. He was clearly honest about how he felt about her, his love for her, and how he pledged to be supportive of her always. When his voice cracked my eyes welled up with tears again.
In a truly adorable and humorous moment after he finished reading his vows, Cristine then passed her tissue to Chris to dab his eyes.
And that was essentially it. Short and sweet, they were declared man and wife, and had their first kiss.
C-Squared didn’t ask in advance for anyone to prepare speeches, but just had the DJ provide an open microphone during the dinner. Kind of a risky proposition, because you might either get no one saying anything, or you get someone saying too much. Fortune smiled on us though and four people came to share their stories with the crowd.
One friend shared how his assessment of Chris went from thinking he was a strange guy for drinking alone at the bar the first time they met, but evolving to Chris being a great person the more times they spent together.
Our friend A shared the story of he’s partly responsible for how Cristine got introduced to paddling sports, and her intense, combative nature even as a rookie toward one of her coaches (aka our friend A).
My own husband T shared the story of Cristine’s propane BBQ lighting experience that resulted in the loss of her hair bangs.
And her friend H shared the story of Cristine’s somewhat “harsh” and “expletive-filled” motivating techniques for urging H to stay on her feet and finish the marathon they were running together.
- It was a mini U Waterloo / Science & Business program reunion. It was so great to spend time with friends who no longer live in our city.
- Friends H&W busting out their selfie stick (complete with bluetooth trigger!), only to be busted by the museum staff (it’s banned).
- Friends shamelessly loitering by the kitchen door during cocktails, in order to snag the waiters with passed hors d’oeuvres.
- Friends shamelessly moving the dinner furniture around so that our large group could somehow converge together around laughably small cocktail tables.
- Some nervousness that there may not be enough food left once our tables were finally called to the food stations. Thankfully those fears were unfounded. The food was quite delicious to eat, though some things were a bit tricky, especially with the table situation noted above.
- Lots of laughs as we did our U Waterloo group photos with C-Squared. I think our group “jumping” photo is my favourite of the whole event.
- The Chicago History Museum exhibits looked interesting…for another time. T and I did go through the small exhibit on Vivian Maier’s photographic work. Hers is a really fascinating story.
- Cristine’s change into an equally gorgeous cocktail dress, appropriately hemmed for dancing, and the classy flip flops that adorned her feet.
- Chris showing off his shiny black kicks.
- Many other ladies, myself included, busting out their more appropriately comfortable dancing shoes. My amusement that this indicates our age more than our looks…in our twenties we would have just suffered in our high heels until we gave up and went barefoot.
- Dancing…all night long. As C-Squared requested, we filled the dance floor the whole night. The DJ was great, he played many of our songs from back in the days that we went out to the clubs! Memories of Fed Hall floated by…
- Cristine and others peer pressuring my poor husband to once again bust out his bboy moves on the dance floor. He first did this as a surprise to the group during a New Year’s eve party in 1999, after he’d spent a whole university work term practicing. He’s been pressured to do it at so many weddings ever since, but now with no practice, always improper dress shoes, and a body that’s not in the same shape as it was 15 years ago. Good on him for braving the attempt each time, but maybe it’s time to retire this tradition.
- I had the smallest feeling of disappointment there was no cake for dessert. I know it’s really not anything big in the grand scheme of things, but…I love trying wedding cake.
It was a wonderful time. Our joy for C-Squared was evident in all the happy faces I witnessed as I scanned the room, and a testament that they will always be surrounded by many people who will love and support them.
Congratulations Cristine and Chris, on starting your shared life!