Our son Anthony and our new daughter-in-law Chelsea were married September 12 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Manhattan. It’s time to share more of the story that has been unfolding here since they announced their engagement. I described the synchronicity in their meeting–their origin story involving Forrest Church and Match.com here. And I described the Vaughn family tradition of rhyming poems as toasts here. So the first thing several people asked when I returned was, “How did the toast go?”
Well, we changed our plan. FaceBook friends had some helpful advice when I asked for suggestions on giving toasts. We thought of doing a sonnet but gave up that idea. For one thing, neither Stuart nor I had ever written a sonnet of any merit. For another, poems were a Vaughn family tradition, not a Showalter tradition.
So we wrote a short dialogue as our toast. Here it is.
Toast, September 12, 2009
Stuart – We join with Kate in thanking the Vaughn family for making this day so special.
Anthony, early-on there was something in your laid-back, easy-going disposition that led me to give you a nickname: “Son-Shine.”
Shirley—I loved that name. And I loved watching the two of you together. Once, Anthony, when Dad was taking you for a bike ride down the street, and I was looking at both of you receding in the distance, I burst out laughing. It was like, “Honey, I shrunk the kid.” The little Stuart looked so much like the big one.
Stuart – But you, Anthony, are no clone of me. You have grown into your own man. You are an entrepreneur — now a social entrepreneur — using your considerable problem-solving skills and technology expertise to help other people. Anthony, we are proud of you and we love you.
Shirley – And we are so delighted that you found, courted, and are now married to Chelsea. Your love for her has returned the spring to your step and the light to your eyes. You did not make the marriage decision lightly, but you have made this commitment today with a level of wisdom, humility, and maturity that we honor and appreciate.
And Chelsea, your warmth, intelligence, curiosity, and courage charmed us from the beginning. Your spirit is deep and wide—and all of us Showalters can use a good dose of your incredible organizing skills. Chelsea, we love you.
Stuart – Chelsea, we treasure you as our new daughter and Kate’s new sister. You have our son, and, hence, you have our sonshine. Here’s to a long, fulfilling, and joyful life together.
Toasts are not a Mennonite tradition, since most Mennonites of our generation and earlier were, or are, teetotalers. But for one who loves life stories–memoir!–toasts are wonderful. We heard about Chelsea the straight -A student with the best science project on seashells ever–and her brother coming after her who claims he had the worst ever. We heard about Anthony the quiet one in the room who somehow makes it safe for others to reveal more about their inner lives than they expected to do. From Anthony’s sister Kate there was the story of watching the Frugal Gourmet and then experimenting in the kitchen afterward–along with encouragement to keep on taking risks in life and in cooking. Chelsea’s sister Vanessa encouraged the newlyweds to learn from their parents, and her parents capped off the toasting with a rollicking rhyme fest that brought the house down.
Here are two slideshows that only take a few minutes to watch and tell more of the wedding story. The first one (photos I took) depicts what went on behind the scenes. The second slideshow, with much better photographs (including the ones in this blog post) taken by photographer Lowell Brown shows the wedding and reception itself.
Nothing compares to the joy one feels when one’s children are deeply happy. As Stuart and I walked Anthony down the aisle moments before the Vaughns escorted Chelsea, all hearts were full. The members of this wedding have pledged themselves to support this marriage. The hearty “we will!” that came from the congregation was the best toast of all.
What memories of weddings or toasts do you have to share? Any words of encouragement or advice for the bride and groom–or for their parents?