I recently attended an amazing Hindu-Jewish wedding in Chicago. It was beautiful the way all weddings are, but even more spectacular to the senses, starting with the elaborate traditional Indian clothes worn by the bride’s family and guests. The women dressed in brilliantly colored, flowing sarees embellished with gold, lace and jewels; intricate henna designs adorned their hands and palms. The men wore elegant sherwani suits, some in jacquard or silk embroidered with gold and red brocade, and ornate shoes of leather, velvet or satin with sharply curved toes. Next, our senses were delighted to the rich chanting of blessings and prayers in Sanskrit and Hebrew, to the heat wave as temperatures rose into the 90s!, to the interwoven ceremonial traditions of both cultures, all still culminating in the presentation of a newly betrothed Mr. and Mrs. You may kiss the bride!
Who doesn’t love the hope and promise of a young couple and a storybook wedding? We attend as witnesses to the bond they are tying, the dreams they are pursuing together instead of alone, and the vows they take. As guests we occupy this sacred space they hold for family and friends to participate in this moment of their lives. This seems to me one of the most important parts of a wedding that often gets lost after the guests depart and lives return to the ordinary. Especially when you go from such an experience of sumptuous joy and celebration like we had in Chicago back to regular life!
Have you ever really thought about what the guest’s responsibility is to the wedding couple? Beyond just sending a gift, looking fabulous for pictures and having fun at the reception? Even if you’re not in the select wedding party, I believe we all have a role to play after the party’s over. But, far too often, we just go on with our lives, like a few photos and videos that pop up on our feed, and tuck away the memories as the suit or dress gets put back in the closet.
Everyone is busy. You, the newlyweds. I get it. But I think it’s too easily overlooked that we are now part of their community from that moment in time when they said I do. We are now part of their support system. It’s up to us to reach out and check in. As friends and family, we cheered them on and surrounded them with love, and that encouragement doesn’t have to fade away.
It’s not easy, even for the best of couples, to start a new life together. Struggles are inevitable, from little road bumps to big detours to completely stalling out. I’m suggesting we remember our responsibility to show up for them, this time in our favorite worn out t-shirt with the same message of love and support that says I see you and am here for you. Whether it’s to help them with a problem, talk something through, or just have fun again, that is the enduring role of a wedding guest.
Even if you’re not best friends with the couple, you can still send an email out of the blue, meet for coffee, share something that reminds you of them, and maybe discover that you enjoy getting to know each other more. Your gesture of support might be exactly what they needed in that moment to lift them up, just like you offered with your presence on their wedding day. I encourage you to think about this concept and give it a try. “Raise your glass” even after the music and dancing has ended.
I’m off to write a note now to a newly married bride! Let me know how it goes for you. Wishing you only success in your relationships!