BCC and why my wedding made me like Mormons

In August, Kris Wright flew me up to her place in Canada to see where she lives, to meet her family and to celebrate my upcoming blessed event because she wouldn’t be able to come down in September. At customs, the guy asked me what I was doing there. Visiting a friend, I said. How did you meet this friend, he said. Church camp, I quickly replied. I hadn’t prepared that almost lie (we did meet in person at an Exponent II retreat) but it was like I was full of the Holy Spirit and knew just what to say. He let me through immediately. Usually those Canadian customs’ employees are tough.

I wondered why I’d said it. I’m not embarrassed that I visit people I met on the internet. I talk to them online as often as I talk to people in real life (I’m not supposed to be embarrassed am I?) and they know as much about me as anyone except for what I look like when I eat and whether or not I wash my hands after I pee. But who does know that?

The trip was wonderful. A peaceful break in the middle of my crazy wedding planning. Kris’ family charmed my socks off and I adore any and all time with Kris. I came home and then September came. And then I got married. September_2007_img_vows
I got married in a Mormon church on Binney Street in Cambridge. It’s an old boiler factory, rented by the church. My sister-in-law Kate got a gubernatorial appointment to marry us and Sam (MB) helped with the ceremony. All five of my brothers walked me down the aisle. We sang hymns, Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling which was chosen by our Kristine and Come Thou Fount. We lit a unity candle. Kate’s sermon/speech was more than I could have ever imagined. No Mormon balked at me getting married in that church. No one complained about Kate or said no. Not that leadership needs to say yes to all my ideas but it was healing for me to be allowed to do this day in my own way, with love and support from my ward. Kate pronounced us husband and wife and I looked out over all my friends and family, most of whom I’ve know a long long time and traveled quite a ways to be there. And among them were my friends from BCC.




They came in to see me get married. Some of them I’ve only met once or twice but there they were, just to say we like you. We’re happy you’re getting married. In the end, I know them because I am a Mormon and they are Mormons. They are the best kind of people. They are my friends and I met them on the internet. An awkward thing to tell those mean Canadian customs’ agents but something I thank God for every day.



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Random wedding details for those of you that want to know: I bought my dress from a vintage prom dress website. Brett bought his suit in Lima. It’s polyester. Three of my nieces attempted to throw rose petals down the aisle. Only one succeeded.I came down the aisle to Mendelsohn’s wedding march, my 5 brothers leading me to the next. Brett’s dad prayed. The photog got pix of both of us with our eyes open. Kate intro’d then Sam talked about unity in the Godhead (how can three be one and three? and finding oneness in marriage) then our moms lit their candles, they lit ours and then we lit the unity candle and blew out our own. One wouldn’t quit smoking so my quick thinking Brett stuck it in a vase. Then Kate spoke. Her talk/sermon was full of our own language and stories and poetry. And she talked about us as a couple up til now and then beyond. We read vows to each other, she had us repeat stuff and then she pronounced us husband and wife. Then Sam spoke about rings and eternity and our trying to understand it.



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We exchanged rings, stainless steel that we ended up buying on the internet randomly from some company in SLC. Then Kate said I could kiss my groom. Somewhere in there we sang hymns and Sam said, “God bless the Commonwealth for giving a Mormon woman the Priesthood.” Half the group laughed. The other half fake laughed, pretending they got the joke. Then everyone went upstairs for appetizers while we took pictures. Then we did a sitdown dinner. A BBQ place called Red Bones did our catering for dinner. The flowers were ordered from the florist I know and love and told them to surprise me and they were absolutely perfect. Same with the cake, I told the pastry chef to surprise and it was also so tasty and perfect, though on the first go round the delivery guy got in a wreck and demolished the cakes and then the chef whipped up two new ones that arrived with plenty of time. Then we had a dance. And then we all went home. A very lovely day. The ceremony was of course my favorite and mostly all I had to do for that was ask Sam and Kate to be in charge. If you want more details, let me know and I’ll post them in comments.

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Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    My mother is of the generation that just doesn’t get computers. I try to send an e-mail to my family every week or two, and she waits until Saturday and then goes over to her stepson’s house to have him print them off for her. I tried to teach her how to do e-mail herself, including step by step instructions, but it never took. I’m sure she would probably think it a little strange that I went to Amri’s wedding–someone I had only met in the flesh once before, earlier this year when most of the BCC permas got together for a weekend.

    But when I expressed an interest in going to Amri’s wedding in Cambridge, my wife understood completely. She has zero interest in Mormon studies/blogs herself, but she is involved in online communities involving rock music. She has very good friends she’s never even met; these people will give the shirt off their backs for their internet friends. It’s a different world these days; online communities–and the friendships they generate–are not ethereal, but rather are very real.

  2. Congratulations, Amri. The pictures are beautiful, and the ceremony sounded absolutely lovely. I hope we can meet sometime – maybe to celebrate your 25th anniversary?

  3. You two made the ceremony, your attention to each other, your tender affection and commitment. Made me want to cry.

  4. Congratulations, Amri. It sounds like a beautiful wedding. And your post is wonderful. Mazel tov.

    A very minor complaint about the post, though: Is there any chance of a slightly larger picture? I’ve heard a lot of good things about the gown that Kevin Barney wore, and I’d like to be able to see the details a little better.

  5. cj douglass says:

    Amri,
    I’m assuming Brett is the same guy you brought to the Brooklyn Snacker. If so, you both did a good job! :) I’m so glad you shared these thoughts with us. I’ve read your posts for the last couple of years including the one(or 2?) about marriage. It’s great to see this part of your life begin in such a happy way. I know the issue hasn’t really been brought up on this blog (as it should be) but I have to say that after seeing too many non-temple mormon weddings treated like funerals, its heart warming to see you and Brett supported in such loving way. All the best!

  6. There are certain Powers that Be (I think the ones from Angel) that said that small is best though Kevin Barney’s gown was the dreamiest.

    CJ, he is the one I brought to Brooklyn and like you said usually non temple weddings are sad. I’ve been to several in which the bishop emphasizes the time only part. Chastises the couple a little for being outside of the temple (seriously I’ve been to 6 weddings like this) But this was really great. Because of Sam and Kate. Because of the permission from the ward and maybe their trust that I would be respectful. It was all familiarity and excitement. On both sides the Mormon and the non. I feel lucky.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Kaimi, in the little picture, that’s me in the backrow center. If the picture were bigger you would be able to see my gown. Amri wore pink (and was totally beautiful–she positively glowed) and I wore yellow. If the picture were bigger you would be able to see that I had no visible panty lines. One word–thong.

    Seriously, if you want to know what I wore, it was a white shirt with yellow tie, dark green pants and a sport coat. I usually don’t wear a white shirt to church just to piss people off, but I figured that a wedding in a boiker factory officiated by a Mormon woman was already sufficiently heterodox that there was no need for me to make a statement by eschewing my white shirt.

  8. This is simply delightful. Thanks for sharing, even though I am horribly jealous of those who attended.

  9. Darn. No interpretive dance?

    Congrats, it looks like a lovely wedding, and what’s more amazing, it looks rather stress-free! Was it?

    Kevin, I’d like to talk to your wife sometime.

  10. Amri, Congrats! You look positively lovely and radiant, as all brides should! Thanks for the pictures! Wish I could have been there

  11. I can’t believe you admitted wearing a thong Kevin. Usually you keep beauty secrets to yourself.
    First off, Kevin’s wife is a hottie. She shows up to the Friday nite thing in this cute little jean jacket with a wilco pin on and she’s got these hip glasses and I’m like holy crap Kevin’s wife is a hipster! She’s gorgeous and very cool.

    It was stressful actually because of someone I will call uh MiLlie. The ceremony was wonderful but the reception got more and more stressful for me bc of MiLlie. But still it was good. We got some hot dancin’ in too.

  12. Congratulations! That place on Binney St. is a great spot for a ceremony. I’ve always loved that building, even before I got to go inside. Random thing that I found humorous: I also had “Come Thou Fount” at my wedding, picked (at our request) by my Mormon mother-in-law. We strongly considered picking up Redbones food & bringing it to CT – that’s how good a choice *that* was!

  13. Amri,

    Of course, I’ve been dying to hear any and all details of your wedding day. It just sounds lovely — I still wish I was there.

    But my real burning question is: punch or pop?

  14. Sublime. Congratulations! You were married in a Mormon church (I’ve been there — very cool), so were there constraints on the ceremony? Or you were allowed to do things the way you wanted, as you said?

    I would love to read a summary of Sam MB’s talk on the Godhead and unity.

    Are those all BCC bloggers in the last picture? Who?

    All the best to you.

  15. Joanne, it was scrawled on the back of some hotel notepad, unfortunately. I understand someone filmed the wedding, as I’m a little curious what I said as well. I remember talking about Jonathan Edwards’s love of the excellency of the Triune God, his sense that the Trinity was because the logic of Trinity was perfect and irresistible, which drew me to thinking about the nature of self-love, a love which cannot resist expressing itself in the appreciation of existence. I also talked about one Christian view that the Holy Spirit was the awareness of Father and Son of each other (this was meant to be an ecumenical wedding; I was admiring but not adopting other views of the nature of God). Overall, I think I was saying that the unity of Trinity and marriage is an extension of the irresistible and unconditional and spontaneous love of self to love of another.

  16. This just about brought tears to my eyes. And Kevin your comment – a wedding in an LDS building/boiler room officiated by a woman – well, let’s just say that I think your white shirt was the perfect shirt to wear.

    There is a hymn I used to sing when I was a Catholic that starts:

    Where charity and love prevail
    there God is ever found.

    It sounds like it describes this service beautifully.

  17. Congratulations Amri!
    I hope now that the wedding is over you will maybe have more time to share more of your wonderful thoughts via blogging.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    In the bigger picture at the bottom, front row from left, are Taryn, Kristine, Amri, ECS, and back row Taryn’s husband J., Kevin, and Amri’s brother Sam.

    Another thing I loved about the wedding service were Sam’s commentaries. When was the last time I went to a Mormon wedding where the classical dogma of the Trinity was used as an allegory of marital love? Uh…never. It was great.

    Amri’s right that often when a Mormon marries a non-Mormon, and say the bishop performs the service in the gym under the basketball hoop, there’s a sense of disappointment, of loss for the lack of a temple service, and almost a subtle tone of rebuke and chastisement to the couple. There was none of that here. It was just a joyous, happy occasion, as weddings ought to be.

    And I simply can’t express how cool it was to have Kate perform the service. To me it was a small glimpse of how things could–and ought to–be.

  19. It was just one of the best weddings I’ve ever seen. I wish Taryn and I could have had half that nice a service when we were married!

    Amri, we’re all still hoping that Iquitos will spark some of your sensational posts! So here’s the challenge: write a post that fits the title “Mormons among the Piranhas.” Readers will rate your efforts on a zero-to-five-Inca scale!

  20. That sounds amazing. We have dozens of things we regret about our (Catholic) wedding, and it sounds like yours had all the beauty and love and -especially- integrity to yourselves as individuals that ours totally lacked.

    Oh, and Congrats!

  21. Oooh! I like the bottom pic.

    Amri, you look absolutely luminous. Can totally see your smile in this one — it looks like you’re having a perfect day.

    As for the rest of you clowns — well, be glad that Amri’s luminosity rubs off a little. :)

    And Kevin, you’re right. I can’t spot any visible panty line. Good call on the thong, dude. Maintains presentability . . . avoids the potential drawbacks of the Britney approach . . . hey, best of both worlds.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    Amri, I just now reread your account above and had forgotten about something I found remarkable at the time, which was [almost] more surprising than Kate being allowed to perform the marriage–the fact that they let you light candles in the chapel! Maybe its origins as a boiler factory makes people less skittish about candles….

    You must have great, inspired local leaders there in Cambridge, so a hat tip to them in permitting such a great wedding.

  23. Amri,

    If I’d known you were catering with Red Bones, I for sure would have crashed the party!

  24. “You must have great, inspired local leaders there in Cambridge, so a hat tip to them in permitting such a great wedding.”

    She does!! My uncle’s her bishop ;)

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Ah, that explains a lot, Kristine. I hope you’ll let him know about the rave reviews and the great appreciation being expressed for a remarkable Mormon wedding. He deserves a hearty round of applause for taking a laissez-faire approach to this.

  26. Will Schryver says:

    I’m a “newbie” on the BCC threads, but I am acquainted with both Sam and Kevin. The very thought of Kevin in a gown is enough to make any conventional cross-dresser give serious consideration to a Tibetan monastery.

    As for Pastor Brown and his foray into “orthodox religion,” I can only say that, given Sam’s inimitable eloquence, even I could be brought to believe in a god who sits atop a topless throne, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere; who fills the universe, and yet is so small that he can dwell in your heart.

    My only question is, how much did he charge?

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    Will, when I was in fifth grade I crossdressed for a part in a play we put on in the grade school’s summer arts and crafts camp. The local paper ran a picture of several of us, so there I was dressed as a girl with a wig and everything on the front page of the local paper. I was too young to be embarrassed.

    I was a good little actor; I should have joined the drama club in high school or something.

  28. Will Schryver says:

    Kevin,

    I think I’m starting to understand better your fascination with the concept of “shovel buddies.”

    This also explains why your wife feels the need to keep her lingerie in a locked drawer. ;-)

  29. Kristine’s uncle was fantastic. But also everyone was. The RS president. The EQ president. The primary teachers that I subbed with. Everyone thought it was a swell idea. I couldn’t get over that. It helped that it was the ward that Sam and Kate lived in for many years. And I did volunteer to be their slave for the summer. I spoke, babysat for free (tho I try to do that for moms anyway), subbed in Primary, pretty much volunteered for anything.

    Kevin we should have put on a play at the wedding. That would have made it the best.

    JNS I am so glad that you and Taryn came. It made me so happy. Every time I’d see a blogger I’d think holy crap they’re here for me. I’ll start blogging on Iquitos soon. It’s one hell of a place.

    Sam’s talks were great. I need to get that video of the wedding.

  30. Oh yeah, and Kris we had lemonade but we also had lots and lots of soda. We’re soda maniacs and we were having BBQ so we figured it was the only way to go.

  31. Will, you are sweet, but a) I’ve got no aspirations to pastor, and b) I don’t personally believe in creedal Christianity, no matter how much sympathy I feel for it and how much beauty I can see in some of its doctrines. I do, however, believe that almost all of us are trying to figure out God and the meaning of existence and there is much to learn from others’ efforts at understanding.

    Amri, the EQ president in that ward is an odd duck.

  32. Congratulations, Amri and Brett! I loved the details of what sounds like a perfect day.

    Amri, please don’t let nuptual bliss distract you from posting for us, your church camp friends.

  33. My husband officiated marrying our friends to each other in Mexico about six months ago. He came up with “you may now kiss the groom” too. Much better than “you may now kiss each other.”

  34. Congratulations, Amri.

  35. Yay, pictures. It sounds like a wonderful day. I’m so glad.

  36. I loved being there Amri, and you were beyond radiant.

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