Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Imagine all the Many Beginnings of a Wedding Story

Ashley and John. (photo by my daugher, Evie)

This past weekend I witnessed the beginning of a love story. Not the true beginning, of course. A wedding is usually a sign that a story has been in progress for quite sometime. Sometimes a wedding is several chapters into the story. And some stories like to end with weddings, but we all know that happily-ever-after is just as full of worthy stories to tell as as-it-all-began.  And as weddings are likely to do, this one sent me spinning back in time and forward again, thinking of all the stories that came before in order to bring us to this day.

When I was sixteen years old and my niece was born, I could not have imagined that I would be attending her wedding one day with three kids of my own in tow. I could not have imagined that my mother would not be there to attend the wedding of her first grandchild, nor that so many grandchildren would arrive once she left this world. I could not have imagined that my sister would bring a selection of dresses and shoes from her very own closet and that I would go through them, like a kid playing dress up, to select the very one I wanted to wear. I could not have imagined that I would dance the night away wearing high heels without falling down or breaking an ankle. (That, in fact, I was having trouble imaginging right up until the moment I was doing it!)

Eight Million in a Photo Booth. Too bad they aren't having any fun.
Stories were central to my niece's wedding, and not only my own stories and the bits and pieces of our lives I was reminded of as the day advanced. The officiant told stories I had never heard before... about the bride and groom's first day and about college years and friends and parties.

Now that's a crowd of cousins having fun.
Earlier in the day I listened to my father tell the story of his move to Kansas. It was 1946 and his family took the train from Iowa. They got off in Kansas City to switch trains. The big room, which we were standing in as he told the story, was filled wall-to-wall with soldiers. "I don't think we even had any luggage," he said. "We came to Kansas with just the clothes we were wearing on our backs."

That wide-eyed little boy could never have imagined that he would find his true love in Kansas and marry and have four children of his own. He never could have imagined returning to Union Station one day trying to keep up with six of his very own eight grandkids. He could not have imagined walking the sky link that crosses Kansas City's busy streets and touring an aquariam for a whopping $20 a ticket. 

Ah yes, the rabbit ears... a true sign that hilarity prevails.
Ashley and John's wedding story may have started with a first date when they were still just kids or with a day in college when they realized that maybe they really were meant for each other. But it also started with many connected and related stories that one or the other or neither of them had anything to do with. 

Once upon a time there was a proud young girl who loved nothing more than spending an evening babysitting her niece. 

Once upon a time there was a young man who came home and told his sister that he'd met the most beautiful woman in the world. That young man eventually became Ashley's father. That beautiful woman became Ashley's mom.

Once upon a time there was a young Vietnamese couple who got in a boat and dreamed of a better life in the United States.

Imagine all the many ways you could begin to tell the story of a wedding, a couple, a life together, a love that both preceeds a single person and keeps going long after they are gone. 

Now everybody kiss the bride! Ashley's wedding story will include many fun images from a photo booth.

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