On Thursday, August 16, two of my friends and fellow prospective seniors, Jesse Boland and Madison "Madie" Dean, stood before 30 or so of their closest friends on Toronto Island's idyllic beach to exchange what could only be considered the most unusual set of vows. Yes, a wedding between two whimsical 17-year-olds is worrisome, however, this isn't a typical story with kids blinded by love. Our two unlikely protagonists proclaimed a strong passionate and strictly platonic love for each other at the altar, and here's the best part: While our blushing bride, Madie, is certainly attracted to the opposite sex, our groom, Jesse, is gay.
Though this is definitely not the first time a gay man and straight woman have wed, but it may be the first time a gay man and straight woman haven't married for a green card or their religion or other reasons of convenience. "That's what makes it original," according to Madie. So, is this a protest against the constitution of marriage? A simple ceremony cementing their hopeful lifelong friendship? Yes and yes.
Jesse and Madie have only been friends for a little more than year but felt that a pseudo-wedding was a necessary way to display their special relationship to everyone close to them. When they first told their friends they were getting hitched, most people, including myself, assumed it was a joke or just an excuse for a party. No one but Madie and Jesse believed they would really say "I do" until good friend Madeleine Staikos became ordained to marry them via the Internet. "We knew a real minister wouldn't take us seriously," Madie explained. So this is real, then? This is actually going to happen. Apparently so, because sometime during the summer haze where no one knows what day it is, my good friend asked me, "Are you going to the wedding on Thursday?"
And Thursday came in all its glory, along with 30 or so excited teenagers on a ferry to Ward's Island (the groom's home). Some people wore button-down shirts or dresses while others just brought things they could swim in. The bride was getting ready for her big walk down the aisle while the minister was jumping up and down from nerves at the altar and most of us sat anxiously on the sand with our phones out, filming. Their DJ, close friend Stuart Norton had a few malfunctions with the docking system ("Yo, hold up! It's buffering"), but eventually flower girl Corby Patterson, best man Jamie Boland (the groom's brother), maid of honor Brett Gorski, and the blushing bride all walked down the aisle to Penny and The Quarters' "You and Me."
During their vows, we were reminded of their shared love for cats and Will and Grace, but were also convinced of a deeper connection that somehow made the ceremony more important and more legitimate.
"I never thought I would meet anyone as f*cked up as me, but if that person had to exist, I'm glad that it's you. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with you," Madie improvised during her vows, which she fully credits to drama class. Jesse, on the other hand, in his more organized style, had a prepared, rehearsed and clearly memorized speech.
"When I first told people that I was getting married to you, people didn't understand why... for obvious reasons. But... what matters to me is that you have my heart."
They exchanged rings and shared a kiss, and the rest of the night began. The legal age to marry in Ontario is 18, so this isn't legitimate yet. However, on their one-year anniversary, when Jesse and Madie are both 18, the pair plan on taking a trip to City Hall and making It official.
So, on August 16 (intentionally on Madonna's birthday), I was reminded of how love for a close friend is just as, if not more important, than love for your romantic partner. Most surprisingly, I was convinced of the purpose for this kind of ceremony. These people love each other, clearly need each other and intend to closely spend the rest of their lives together. So why can't they share the same benefits of similar people in love?
Even if most people don't hold the same opinion as me, it has to be said that this type of "wedding" is reflective of how many kids of my generation view marriage. Without generalizing, it's not uncommon for unreligious modern North American middle-class teenagers such as myself to not be opposed to marriage, but certainly not see a necessity for it, at least in a traditional sense.
With that in mind, is it not possible that various unconventional weddings like this might appear in the future? Is it possible that Madie and Jesse are a part of a much bigger wave of turning marriage on its head? Maybe this was a one-time kind of event that can't be redone. Madie and Jesse are pretty content, either way.