Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ceremony


It never felt Huge. It never felt contemplative. It never felt like this picture looked: Big. Important. Spiritual. Huge. Of course, it was all those things, and those emotions registered in different ways throughout the day. But this image imparts a false sense of quiet calm, as if that was how I experienced our ceremony. It wasn’t. The serenity from our morning setup stayed with me and grew into an easy sense of assurance but, the moment I saw Jason, something cracked. Something cracked open in my heart, and the only thing that registered was giddy, nearly weightless, yet weighty, joy.

But it never felt Huge. Huge has a weight to it, a heft, a feeling of importance. I thought the hugeness would make me feel small, humbled by the moment. Tiny when bobbing in the middle of  a sea of love. Quiet with the weight of history as our vows connected us to the centuries of ancestors who had spoken the same Hebrew words at their weddings. I thought it would feel like the ceremony photos I’d seen from other weddings that had grounded me when I got carried away with unimportant details.


But that’s not what it felt like for me.  The most accurate way to describe how I experienced my ceremony is that it felt like relief, embodied. It felt like letting go, breathing deeply, and finally finding my balance again. I’d been holding my breath for months, for so long I hadn’t even realized it anymore.  The moment our ceremony began, I could finally let go of the planning and let the love back in. It felt like the world was finally right again, after months of being so terribly wrong, and I was too happy for it to feel huge. I was too happy with the relief of finally being emotionally home again with Jason to feel anything more than joy. I felt like my joy had no walls. Our outdoor ceremony that we’d fought for was the perfect setting for that feeling, letting my heart open and keep expanding further, without limit.


Only after we had each walked down the aisle with both our parents, did I turn to Jason. Physically. Emotionally. I finally felt it really begin for us. It was finally ours. I circled him three times and he circled me. We took hands and circled each other once, and entered into the chuppah. Our chuppah grounded my joy, giving me a place to rest and center the emotions. As I stood under my ceremonial home with Jason, a home we’d created and painted together, my joy could focus on the moment. We took each others’ hands, which finally made it all real, and which allowed me to finally feel present. To be Here. To let This happen.


We held hands throughout the whole ceremony, as we took in our Rabbi’s sermon, as we were warmed by the Jewish seven blessings from our family, as our friends made us laugh and cry with their readings, and as the ceremony we crafted unfolded around us. I only let go of his hands once, as we each read personal letters to each other. The world narrowed around him as I spoke. I couldn’t get through it without crying a few times. But the words I’d practiced, that had felt real and honest but somehow hollow at home, where I was still waiting for the hellish last months to just end... they came alive at the wedding. I’d always known they were the right words, but I suddenly remembered why. I could feel the why of it deep in my chest, where words catch and tears start.  I remember our community laughing and crying, but it was somewhere in the background. I was speaking only to him. I’d fallen in love again. Differently. More painfully and with knowledge of what it really means to choose, to commit, and to remain committed. It’s a richer joy. It’s an earned ecstasy.


Even in the calm, it felt like barely contained laughter. It never felt heavy, but there were moments when my ever-present joy knew it important enough to become subdued, at least until the unrepentant smiles won and burst through again. My mother said I was vibrating all day long, a low hum of electric joy. Friends said they’ve never seen a happier bride or couple. And although they were probably just swept up in the moment, I'm not sure any heart could contain more joy than I felt on my wedding day.


It didn’t speed by. It never felt rushed. It just felt right as I savored each moment, starting to believe again in our happiness. I’d missed Jason in the last lonely months of wedding planning. Our wedding gave me the chance to fall in love again. To revel in the love we’d always had. To be happy with him.  Under the chuppah we made together, we found our way home.


All photos by Kelly Prizel Photography

24 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful post, Becca. It's an honour to read when you write like this. I'm so glad you were so happy.

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  2. The joy from your day just totally made mine. I'm sitting here eating my cereal grinning and getting a little teary. It makes me so glad that the emotional surged and burst out of your heart on that day. After those rough months, I'm sure it felt like the best thing you could possibly ever feel.

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  3. Wow. What a gorgeous post. Beautiful writing."Earned ecstasy." Lovely.

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  4. Have you read The Unbearable Lightness of Being? Because this is what I always take away from the ending of that book -- the most important bits of our lives, which feel crushingly heavy at first, become weightless with everyday joy and comfort.

    Beautiful words and beautiful images, Becca and Kelly.

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  5. This is such a wonderful post. Thank you, thank you for writing and sharing it. I'm about ten days out from my wedding, and I've spent the last few weeks overwhelmed by grad school exams and doubts about how we've planned our (very simple) wedding, worrying about whether it will be enough for our guests. This post is really helping me look forward to the wedding day again. Thank you so much.

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  6. So beautiful!!! I love how you describe what it felt like to you, with all the joy reverberating, and about finding your way home.

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  7. @Harriet - Right before the wedding is the worst part, especially when life-stresses are as present as wedding-stresses. You're not alone in experiencing this. And I promise, so long as you're in love, there's nothing simple about a the complex joy and emotions of a wedding and it will be enough.

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  8. Hi there. I found your blog link on APW and I am so stunned by this post.

    "Even in the calm, it felt like barely contained laughter." The way that you describe your emotions is so exquisite. I can feel that feeling and I am so giddy that there are people out there who are such masters of words and writing. Please keep writing!

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  9. Aah, I can only hope for this. Thank you. :)

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  10. You looked so beautiful and so in love! Congratulations!! Thanks for sharing so much with us.

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  11. This is a beautiful post and your description of "relief" is very poignant and something I can relate to. I am happy you guys had those moments together.

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  12. Wow. I love this post. I love how you talk about what those around you saw/third-party viewers of your photos will see with what you felt. While photos are worth a 1000 words even they are limited. Thank you for the look into what you were feeling.

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  13. "giddy, nearly weightless, yet weighty, joy"

    Oh my goodness. I have read here for a while, but I was not expecting anything like this post.

    As if your eloquence weren't enough, there are the pictures. Just when I thought it couldn't get better than the expression on your face in the fourth picture, I saw the fifth. And my jaw dropped.

    If that isn't one of the most beautiful portraits of a couple at their wedding, I don't know what is. Not only is it beautiful in composition; it is beautiful emotionally.

    Your faces are radiating a quiet joy that looks like it feels overwhelming on the inside.

    Please have it framed. It looks like a painting.

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  14. See, mine felt HUGE but not particularly joyful. But NOT serene, or of importance, or bobbing in a sea of love. Just raw and present and odd and massive. The rest of the party felt joyful though. And I didn't miss the joy, I was too in it, whatever it was. And one second AFTER the service felt like total pure relief.

    But remember how I wrote about how you can never confuse how the pictures look and how the wedding felt? That. The pictures are an artistic rendering of a moment, and a way to remember, but not how it was. That's why it's tricky to write about weddings and show pictures, because I think that is hard to explain... ever.

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  15. @Becca @Harriet I'd nix "as long as you are IN love" and say "As long as you love your partner." Which is even easier. I wouldn't have described myself as in love, on my wedding day or now. That's some sort of action that could happen or not. If you just love them quietly, it will all work out... no matter what that feels like. And regardless, you'll be married. Which is cliche as hell, but totally what matters (and better than the wedding).

    And who cares if it's enough for your guests? It just has to be enough for you...

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  16. @Meg - When I started these recaps, I tried to be clear that this was just my experience. And I think my post about the yichud tomorrow does a better job talking about hugeness and the variety of ways it might hit. Because this was just the way it happened for me. And the yichud and the party were both different and important too. And the whole experience was huge, but just not my experiencing of the ceremony. It's so individual. And I'm writing about *my* experience here. Jason's was different too. At the same wedding. So yeah.

    And @harriet/@meg - I was very much NOT in love leading up to the wedding. Not at all. I loved him. I held onto that like a beacon. I wrote about how hard that was for me in a few posts recently. The "in love" part waxes and wanes throughout our relationship. It's back again, for us and for now, since ceremony and honeymoon. But love was enough. Not enough for the guests. Love is ENOUGH. It's the core of what mattered that day.

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  17. @Meg - and regarding photos... it's confusing and hard. I think, for everything except the ceremony, they actually managed to be a real documentation of *our* story. Yes, they help us remember. Yes, they are art in their own right. But they capture something so real and raw and honest about discrete moments (we also both wear our hearts on our sleeves. Faces? Yeah.) But the ceremony-as-a-whole was too big. And the art is quite magnificent. And sometimes it caught snippets. But mostly, the photos can't get inside the swirling emotions.

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  18. This is a lovely post Becca! I think that we all experience our weddings differently and that every experience is so valid and affirming! For me, it was total and complete joy and THAT made the ceremony huge, and weighty and impossible to capture with words/pictures. I think the joy is what I felt/remember most from our day, and the weight hit me that night, when it was all over. When I tried to write a little of it down, so I wouldn't lose the feeling. And I haven't. But I've lost the words. Or rather, I haven't found them yet...

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  19. @Becca @Meg Thank you both for your replies to my comment. I'm feeling much more content about the whole thing then I was earlier. Maybe wedding zen is on its way! As for the guests, I've allowed myself to be way too sensitive to a couple of comments from family friends. A dear friend of mine assures me she will run interference if anyone gets cranky ("I will punch them for you"), so I'm going to make myself relax. I love my partner, and we're getting married--yay.

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  20. I so get this - your definition of weight and release. I too felt this amazing sense of openness that I'd never experienced before. I think for the first time in my life, I put myself - my whole and my being - on display for all of my friends and family to witness. I thought it would overpower me. It didn't. It felt surreal and sublime and so so wonderful!

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  21. Holy crap. This post made me cry, felt very dear.

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  22. So gorgeous, so insightful. At this point, I can't really imagine how it will feel in that moment, but I'm really looking forward to finding out!

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  23. @Rachel - I don't think there's any way to imagine how it will feel in the moment. I had no expectations, but my vague notions of how it might feel were totally inadequate. And it hits everyone so differently. This was just my experience. But from all my friends I've spoken with, all of us had important experiences during the ceremony. And the importance maybe hit in different ways and different times before, during, and after. I'm so happy for you.

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  24. your posts are making me weepy! I am so happy for you. Such moving words and photos. These smiley photos of you are the best!!!

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