When I got the news I thought it may be an adventure, but I had some trepidation. There was the distance, the unfamiliarity, and even the concept to contend to. However, my attendance was assured. My niece Emma was getting married, I would attend. The event made sweeter by the passage of time; the last wedding on my wife’s side of the family was ours. The distance measured by 25 years, three children, and the loss of my hair.
My niece met her husband when they were both counselors at a summer camp in Michigan. A Swedish Covenant Bible camp, to be specific. She hailed from Minnesota, her husband from Michigan. Joined by a mutual heritage, they found each other among the cabins and fields in a place that they initially attended as campers, metamorphosed by time into camp counselors.
Their shared friends, experiences, and memories from that epicenter; it only made sense that they marry there.
I only attended summer camp once as a child. It was a Boys Club camp somewhere in Wisconsin. Barren uninsulated cabins, metal cots, and a community bathroom were the biases that I brought with me. My biases were wrong, as biases often are. The beautiful setting was picture perfect with clean and neat bunkhouses, grassy lawns and a sparkling lake.
We had been assigned a room in one of the cabins that was jam packed with beds. Our room was one of four in the building, which also contained two bathrooms. The camp also functions during the winter months as a retreat center, and there are comfortable spots to meet, discuss, and exercise. It even has its own coffee shop, a perfect place to purchase my early morning Americano.
It was clear that my niece had put a tremendous amount of work and planning into making her wedding memorable. Clever homemade signs, packets of information, strung lights, these were just a few of her special touches. The officiating minister had known both Emma and Luke for years, so his sermon was heartfelt and personal. The music performed by friends.
The reception was held in an all-purpose building at the local county fairgrounds. Classic in presentation with food, music, and the now ubiquitous photo booth. The music got me dancing. The dancing made me grateful that I had been jogging and going to the gym. Overall, I was able to keep up with the younger attendees, at least in endurance if not in style.
The event warmed me. I was warmed by the love that the newlyweds radiated. I was warmed by family, who traveled long distances to celebrate with my niece and her new husband. I was warmed by their friends: fellow campers, college connections, childhood besties. They all came to be part of the momentous event. I was happy to be there. Happy to witness the genesis of their marriage. Aware and happy that their union signified the passing of one generation to the next.
Weddings are happy times. Weddings are serious times. Their wedding was unique in a wonderful way. Stamped with their personalities, dusted with their experiences, and filled with their connections.
As I drove the long drive home I savored the sweet aftertaste of the event. A smile on my face as my imagination projected forward into their coming weeks, months, years, and decades.
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to be included in great events in the lives of others.