The date was August 20, 1995. The weather was sunny and a bit humid. The venue was Birchwood Manor in Whippany, New Jersey. The caterer was Mauzone, with a wonderful man named Alan Shulman at the helm. He had also catered my bat mitzvah, and then all three of my sons bar mitzvahs (after the wedding, of course.)
The flowers were magnificent — lots of white hydrangeas stunningly crafted by the elusive “Mrs. Gold” of Monsey, New York. Half the price of the Spitz and Peck centerpieces that I loved and just as gorgeous (which made the in-laws happy). The groom was a law-school graduate, who had already lost most of his hair (so no one can say it was my fault since it happened BEFORE we married), but had a smile that could and still does light up a room.
It was really a perfect six hours. I only fell during the dancing once, and I didn’t fall off the chair when I was picked up on one. Still don’t know how they pulled that off, but somehow they did. My parents were thrilled that they were able to finally make a wedding for their 24-year-old daughter. And the groom’s parents were even happier to have someone else take care of him. I even managed to have some bridesmaids — and, 23 years later, I still talk to three out of the four! The groom had two ushers, and he still speaks to both.
What is a wedding, really? I ask myself that question at every wedding I go to. You see a groom that looks like he would rather be executed than under the chuppah. A bride that seems to regret her dress choice. Most of the time, like the most recent chuppah I was at, you see a boy with tears in his eyes who is walking toward his future with the love of his life. And a bride who usually eschews conventional emotions, but looks all aglow and just really happy.
But after 23 years, which makes me more of an expert than anyone married less than 23 years, but a ding dong to those married more than 23 years, I think I have finally learned what a wedding is. It is taking two people who think they have it all figured out — love, plans for the future, hopes and dreams — and you stick them in an apartment or house together and see how long it takes for one of them to want to kill the other one. If that doesn’t happen within the first few years, and your relationship morphs into one of solid trust and friendship, then you know you are doing OK. Like the bride who was unhappy that her benchers didn’t have her maiden name on them, so 19 years later, as an anniversary gift, her groom bought her a new set of benchers with her maiden name on them. Of course it took 19 years, but that isn’t the point. She finally got them and she was so happy because this gift took thought, and he knew she would love them. So what it if took almost 20 years … It’s the thought that counts. (Did I mention it took 19 years?)
I was thinking back to gifts I have received over the years of wedded bliss and, honestly, the only gifts that stand out are my boys. You know my boys — the ones that were only thoughts on the sunny and humid day in August. Whenever I see them, even if it is when they are driving me crazy, I still see them as the best anniversary gifts. I spent my anniversary this year with son #3, because the other two deserted me for Camp Overtime, a hockey camp at Camp Mesorah. And it was such a fun day. We saw some famous Lakers player, we went to the NHL store — because what is more exciting than that? And a whole bunch of other stuff that only this crazy mom would do to make her kid happy.
As for my groom, he went to work, he went to physical therapy, and then he ate the dinner that I grilled for him. I also bought him more Fanta and the cream cheese he asked for. Because that is how this marriage works. No rose petals or bottles of wine. No wooing or romantic overtures…just my best friend, sitting on the couch, watching little league baseball with son #3 and eating his cherry ices. And that works just fine. Happy 23 #1…..
Banji Ganchrow and her groom did not exchange cards or gifts this year. But she will probably buy herself something when her groom isn’t paying attention…