On June 28, my step-son David (whom I’ve loved and co-parented since he was 12) was married in Orange County in the city of Aliso Viejo, California. It was an elaborate three-day event which began with rehearsals and a dinner Friday evening, a tea ceremony at the bride’s parents’ home Saturday morning, and an outdoor wedding at 5:00 in the evening.
The wedding was held at the campus of Soka University on a verdant hilltop lawn surrounded by panoramic mountain views and breathtakingly deep canyons below.
The nuptials were followed by lots of family photos, a cocktail hour, a full blown reception dinner complete with inspirational toasts and even more photos with the bride and groom and both sets of parents as we visited each and every guest table.
My new daughter-in-law, Anh, is of Vietnamese descent and the morning ceremony at the home of her parents was performed to honor her ancestors and their culture. Essentially, the groom, his men and his family bring gifts in exchange for the bride. It was a beautiful and touching ritual, and I have never seen so much food!
David and Anh are both graduates of UCLA and met when David interviewed Anh to become a counselor for UniCamp, the university’s official student charity. To hear her tell the story, David was just so-so when they first spoke on the phone, but when she met him in person, she thought he was pretty GOOD lookin’.
And David? Well, he was smitten from the first ogle. He says Anh walked into the room and began hugging everyone she came into contact with. Everyone knew her and everyone loved her. And I believe him because that’s what I witnessed all weekend. Anh is beautiful inside and out; intelligent and funny and everything a parent could hope for in a mate for their son.
I was asked by David and Anh to say a few inspirational words before they took their vows, so I wrote a poem dedicated to them called I Vow to Love You which I read near the beginning of the ceremony.
When I finished, the audience applauded and I gave each of the bride and groom a heartfelt hug. I then took a small step back to clear the microphone, and I immediately sank the three-inch heels of my shiny black patent leather pumps into the soft grassy area behind me, causing me to teeter backwards under the serene wedding arbor so beautifully threaded with climbing roses.
All the grace of the moment… all of my poise… all of my sophistication, dignity and good yogic posture was lost as I flailed my arms to regain my balance and forcibly hurled my body forward past the wedding officiate like a drunken sailor on shore leave.
I could hear myself mumbling aloud as I stumbled back to my front row seat, grateful just to plop back down in my chair again with a soft thud and enjoy the rest of the proceedings. My husband turned to me, smiled and gently patted me on the knee. If I had done anything awkward, there was no evidence of it in the expression on his face.
In fact, for a brief moment, I thought perhaps in my nervousness, I had imagined the whole thing. Then I looked down at my dusty heels and noticed the tell-tale evidence of a woman who had almost fallen backwards over the edge of the cliff behind the arbor.
And for just an instant, I could see her in my mind’s eye reeling backwards calling out for all to hear as she disappeared against the backdrop of the cloud covered mountains — something about wearing a nice pair of flats to her next outdoor wedding, and shouting…
CONGRATULA-A-A-A-A-A-AA-A-A-TIONS ANH & DAVID!!