The wedding picture
A portrait of contemporary couples
Despite the terrible stories about discrimination in conservative families, sometimes people surprise us by being much more tolerant than we expect. I suppose it is because we are all human and it’s no secret to anyone that we have similar passions…
A few years ago I was invited to a birthday party in a beautiful country house in the mountains. Among the guests there were friends that I have known since childhood, but now almost everyone is over 40 years old, many have children, some even grandchildren; others are divorced. We are an unequal group, but despite the distance that life imposes on us, when we are together it is as if time has not passed and we treat each other without the slightest difference.
The hostess, my friend from school, her children and her husband, have a small collection of family photographs at the entrance to the house, among which one from their wedding stands out. Up to here everything sounds perfectly common; nothing that the most respectable of families wouldn’t have in their living room; except for one detail: in the wedding photograph, he is wearing a white dress and she wears a suit.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend their wedding, not because of lack of affection or disinterest, but because the fast pace of our lives sometimes prevents us from attending what’s important to resolve the urgent. It also happens that friendships have different turns throughout life and each relationship has its cycles, so I could not enjoy that incredible celebration, where the couple decided to challenge tradition and do something completely irreverent.
The wardrobe choice must surely have been a bitter pill for the family who, to greater or lesser degree, would have had to make an effort to disguise their bewilderment. Since she and he are artists and naturally theatrical, no one should have been surprised they would pull off something like that. I suppose they took it as a joke and everyone tried to laugh politely.
Back at the birthday party, among the faces of unknown guests, I was particularly struck by a young gentleman who reminded me of an old friend, who time has faded from my life. The similarity impressed me to such an extent that I came to consider they could be family; but it was not so and it turned out to be the young couple of another contemporary friend, Aaron. For some time they had started a relationship and at first glance it was obvious the share a great connection. I was happy to see how at ease they were with each other and the affection between them.
During the course of the party and the help of wine, we progressed to a state of euphoria where each one felt so confident that these boys, who do not usually show affection in public, found no greater reason not to, and like the icing on the cake, they came out profile against profile in the back corner of the group pose for the party zenith, kissing for the photo. In our group of friends this is by no means a problem and perhaps that’s why the hostess didn’t think twice before posting the photo on her Facebook, properly tagging all her friends, including of course the couple in question.
The wedding picture in that house are a must for conversation, as you can imagine. That night I spent a very pleasant time with Aaron and his friend talking about marriage parties and long relationships. We laughed endlessly imagining who would wear the wedding dress and who the suit on their wedding day.
Commenting on her wedding photo, the hostess told us what we had all easily deduced: it had been an extravagance of youth and all the guests found it very funny, except for a family friend priest who had been invited to the reception; But since they were not getting married by the church it wasn’t a problem. However, she admitted that she would have liked to, because although she is not very religious, she is deeply spiritual and is fascinated to participate in whatever shamanic ritual she is invited to.
The issue of church weddings is familiar to me because, although I am not religious (not even baptized), I sang for several years with a chamber ensemble and we were hired many times to perform sacred music during wedding masses, which I think is a thousand times nicer than a concert, since there are no uncomfortable applauses or awkward silences, music is played when it’s supposed to and nothing in the world compares to the moment when the soprano sings the Ave Maria and the entire congregation suppress their tears at same time.
Afterwards they would usually invite us to the reception too and we could enjoy the sets, try the canapés, talk to the guests and hear funny stories. My favorite part were always the decorated tables, the games of colors between the dishes, the flower arrangements and the tablecloths, these images evoke a feeling of abundance and joy to which I can always go back to in my memory when I need them.
Asking her about the photograph again, my hostess friend explained that, while it had not been an opulent celebration, she has the belief that offering her guests a beautiful and memorable time would bring her good luck at the start of her new life, that bringing joy to others on your wedding day would bring you good karma. Our host also confessed to us that the idea of exchanging traditional attires was his, that he always refused a conventional celebration and firmly stated: “one plans to get married only once in his life and it must be absolutely unforgettable”…
And boy was it! Not only because of the bride and groom’s crossdressing … several guests succumbed to romance that day. The bride’s mother ran away with a handsome waiter (who was barely past the age of her own daughter) and a couple of girls staged an altered encounter of jealousy that ended in a group war of jams and bikinis (yes, bikinis) while an uninvited cat jumped onto the cake table as Cupid. The behind-the-scenes stories of weddings, the ones we will always remember smiling.
They looked at me and asked me if I would marry, I said it wasn’t worth it because I tend to fall in love several times a day with different people, but that I would do it exclusively for the dress, without a single doubt. My friends looked at each other and, laughing, jested about my fabulous tailored dress, my hairstyle, all the jewelry and the bouquet of flowers, so I promised them an invitation of honor for the celebration. Lots of wine later came the group photo scene with the kiss, that was labeled and viralized between friends and … family!
Some time later when we saw each other again, my friend Aaron told us about how that photo had kicked him right out of the closet with his family, at first he didn’t understand what the silences and murmurs were all about. Then his aunts made up an excuse to bring up the subject and invited him coffee with muffins. He expected something much worse, but they only tried to convince him that he could still marry a nice girl and lead a perfectly normal life.
My friend laughed out loud as he told us that, faced to his denial, they made all kinds of reproaches: “how can you be so cruel and not give your good old mother some well deserved grandchildren? She who has done so much for you etc” He finally confessed to them that he had no wedding plans at the moment, but that he did not rule out the idea because he felt very happy with his boyfriend. That night had been a symbolic celebration with his partner, he told them, and that’s why they look so in love in the photo. His aunts looked at each other perplexed and after recovering their composure they asked him very seriously: “So why weren’t we invited?”
…If you liked THE WEDDING PICTURE you could also read SAME SEX WEDDINGS