By Jessica Anya Blau
When David asked me to marry him, I said, "Yes, as long as we don't have a wedding."
Although I enjoy other people's weddings (I watched for hours when Kate and Wills married, eagerly awaiting the kiss), I've never wanted one myself. To be the designated center of attention is torturous to me -- I feel an intense responsibility to make sure anyone celebrating me is wildly happy to be doing so. Also, the idea of pulling together a gorgeous, moving, plush event seems way beyond my abilities.
David suggested that we have a small ceremony and include only our families. We had a 5-month-old, Ella, and I had a 5-year old, Maddie, from my first marriage -- he thought it would be nice for them to participate in more than a drive to city hall.
We struck a deal: The family-only wedding could fly if all I had to do was show up -- it would be his to execute however he wanted. David's brother, Ira, was thrilled with this idea and immediately joined David to plan the assembly of 26 people, a rabbi, flowers and food. It was very Frasier and Niles.
The ceremony took place in Ira's 16th-floor corner apartment on the Upper West Side. There was loads of sunshine, plenty of fresh flowers, and delicious light-fare food.
Pre-ceremony, David and I chatted with the rabbi, whom we had never met before. He asked where we met, how long we'd been together, etc.
"Is there anything you'd like me specifically to say?" the rabbi asked.
"Just make it as short as possible," I said. I had little faith that fussy baby Ella could make it through more than a few sentences.
"Short?" he asked.
"Keep it short," David agreed.
"You don't even have to speak English!" I said. "Just make it short."
And then we were there, in the living room: David, Me, Maddie, and Ella in my arms, standing under the chuppah that was held by our siblings and David's dad. The other guests encircled us.
"David ..." the rabbi began, "and Jessica ..." he paused. "Met at a bagel shop ..." Only one sentence in and he was already too prolix for Ella who leaned down from my shoulder and banged her head against my breast, her mouth flapping open like a bird.
"Two years ago ..."
He was starting from the beginning and about to work his way up to this moment! Why didn't we tell him we had just met this morning?! Ella's head became a battering ram against my breast. She wanted milk right that minute. I glanced nervously at the wedding planners, David and Ira. Both appeared to be putting on a good front.
The rabbi droned on, I juggled Ella who went feet up as she dove for the nipple.
And then a cell phone rang. And David's aunt actually answered it. She has a gorgeous New York accent that can cut through a room like a taxi in traffic.
"Hello?" she said.
The rabbi continued: "Jessica had Maddie ..."
"Look in the bathroom!" David's aunt said. "IT'S BEHIND THE TOILET!"
"A beautiful family of four. ..." the rabbi said.
"YOUR FATHER WAS READING IT ON THE TOILET," David's aunt said. "IT'S PROBABALY STUCK BEHIND THE CAN."
I stared at David. Surprisingly, he didn't even flinch during the dueling voices.
"Family," the rabbi said. "What is family?"
Ella did one solid head-thrust against my breast and my milk let down and pulsated out in dribbly throbs.
"I'M AT DAVID AND JESSICA'S WEDDING," David's aunt said. "IF IT'S NOT BEHIND THE TOILET, I'LL FIND IT LATER."
Ella suctioned my velvety shirt into her mouth while David held his face in placid non-reaction.
After the rabbi had gone through the history of me and David, the history of marriage, and the many millennia-long history of Judaism, we were pronounced man and wife. My breasts were fully inflated and milk drizzled down to my stomach as David stomped on the napkin-wrapped glass. We kissed, before kissing Maddie and frantic Ella. Then I ran to the couch, almost in tears, as I unbuttoned my shirt to feed Ella. I was heartbroken for my groom whose wedding, so far, seemed a disaster.
As I nursed, I watched my new husband joyfully circle the room. His smile was like a beam of light shining on each and every guest. I realized then that this was the greatest wedding we could have had. Not because of the décor, the clothes, the food, the flowers, or the way the service went down. But because we were surrounded by the people we love most who were witnessing the confirmation of our family of four. In David's unabashed, unhindered, unrelenting joy, he reminded me of the only thing that truly matters in a wedding: love.
Jessica Anya Blau is the author of newly released Drinking Closer to Home, which has been called "a raging success" and "unrelentingly, sidesplittingly funny." Her first novel, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, was picked as a Best Summer Book by The Today Show, the New York Post, and New York Magazine. Jessica lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College. Buy her books and read her blog on Red Room.
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