Sunday, November 23, 2014

A wedding to remember


This is my column today, November 23, 2014.
There are weddings that are really fashion events and where everyone struts and preens around like peacocks.  There are weddings that seem like a college carnival where everyone was allowed to run amuck with their creative ideas.  There are weddings that are conducted with military-like precision where everyone wears a constipated demeanor and go through the motions like they were merely doing an assigned task or role. 
The weddings that I remember fondly were those where the groom and bride were truly having the time of their lives and the whole atmosphere radiated of genuine love and affection.  I’ve been to simple weddings where the bride and groom wore seemingly nondescript clothes and where the focus was the ceremony and what it meant to the couple and everyone gathered for the ceremony.  I’ve also been to very lavish weddings where the bride and groom obviously agonized over every detail to make sure that the whole event was everything they imagined and wished it to be.
There are weddings and there are weddings.  But the wedding of my friend Andrew to JM held the other weekend was probably one of the most special and in many ways, most memorable. 
It was one of those rare occasions when words like “family” and “community” were palpable in the air.  Everyone in attendance was genuinely rooting for the couple
To begin with, the wedding was held in a beach resort in Olongapo City, which meant guests went out of their way to drive three to four hours from Manila just to attend the ceremony and the reception afterwards– and we’re talking more than 300 guests in attendance!  Everyone wore white as well, quite a feat in a country where people usually ignore dress codes and such other social conventions. 
The ceremony featured the usual symbolism and then some.  In addition to the cord, veil, and unity candle, the couple likewise chose to do the unity sand ceremony, which required them to pour colored sand into a common container and further stressing their intent to bind their lives and their futures together.   The sponsors were also required to narrate the meaning behind each of the rituals - something which I wish were done on all weddings as the significance of the rituals seem lost on not only the guests but even on the couple.
When I was younger, the sight of people crying at weddings used to be a source of amusement.  I’ve grown wiser through the years and have come to recognize that weddings do represent some of the ideals most of us wish or hope for – the fulfillment of love, the promise of fidelity, and the possibility of forever.  There were lots of tears at Andrew and JM’s wedding, and I understood why.  This was a wedding that took a lot of courage and commitment.
As customary in wedding receptions, there were quite a number of moving speeches delivered by people close to the couple.  But what made the speeches doubly meaningful were the way people invariably commended the couple for inspiring many others and for blazing new paths in the community.  I was particularly touched when the father of JM delivered his speech and basically talked about how he has always been supportive of his son.
Yes, it was a wedding between two men.  The union, of course, has no legal personality in this country, which is why Andrew and JM intend to hold another ceremony in the United States where same-sex unions are now legal.  But the fact that the ceremony was purely symbolic did not seem to diminish its significance for the couple and to everyone present.  In fact, it seemed even more special under the circumstances.  Getting married to the person they love is something that is expected among heterosexuals.  But for many others such as gay men, just loving another man is already forbidden; getting married remains unthinkable.
For this and many other reasons, Andrew and JM deserve all the love and good wishes that were heaped on them during their wedding.  I wish them all the best in their married life.

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