The ceremony

By Harry Slomovits

Good afternoon and welcome to the wedding ceremony of Patricia Guadalupe Ramirez and Jay Robert Runquist, hereafter referred to as Patty and Jay.

I am Harry Slomovits, and It is my honor to preside over this joyous occasion, culminating in the union of Patty and Jay as one. 

All of you beautiful people here, represent an assembly of Patty and Jay’s close family and dearest friends. As a group, you have traveled from near and far. Some from overseas, some from other states, and some from just down the road, though, as I see it now, down the road seems rather unlikely, but let’s just accept the figurative nature of that statement.

It is a testament to the monumental nature of the day and strength of our relationships with these two people that so many have joined from far-flung places to bear witness, to support, and to celebrate the joining of Patty and Jay in matrimony.

And while many are here, we also remember some departed loved ones who would have loved to see this day in person, and remain in our couple’s hearts.

We remember Jay’s Grandmother, Ethel Anderson, and Patty’s Granny Goose, Gloria Medina, Both, symbolically present, front and center, on each side of our aisle by the placement of these “seated” floral arrangements. 

On first meeting Patty and Jay as a couple, they can seem quite different. Patty, always cognizant of optics and bubbling over with youthfulness. Jay, cerebrally choosing his outward expression, more inclined towards a ready grin and a gentle chuckle.

Patty is overflowing with energy and excitement. The adult version of a child who may best be located by closing one’s eyes, and following the exclamations of happiness and joy, or attempts at creating such a vibe. 

Jay is reliable and low-key, at times quiet, except with those closest to him, but with an ever-present welcoming message in his voice. Jay plays his cards close to the vest. Patty does not.

And yet, scratch the surface, and they will both endlessly regale you with their respective expertises, both intellectually and more importantly, culturally. 

Still, beneath the overt differences, Jay and Patty are deeply similar at the core; they are each among the most responsible, caring, and dedicated individuals I have the pleasure of knowing. Patty for nearly 14 years, and Jay just over 2.

Having traveled through so much more of life with Patty, experiencing the varied facets of her playfulness and emotions, I can truly say, I have never seen her fall so rapidly and resolutely for a personality she was just convinced was perfect from so early on.

These two, like so many others, likely even present here, met though a dating app. Patty would often show me matches presented to her, but never really chose to even give any of them a fighting chance. Her ennui towards the electronic format spelled sure doom for any prospects. Meetings were nigh nonexistent.

Then, one day, she gave me a phone number. Nothing more. 

No picture, no name, just a number, and asked me to don Harry’s creepy stalking cap and find out what I could. Since so many in this gathering work in some form of tech, I’m sure you know that even to a neophyte like myself, it wasn’t hard to pull information.

A couple of days later, She and I had lunch. I told her what I found. 

Nothing bad, which was a disappointment. Housing history, employment history, histories of history. Stable, seemingly good guy. But she seemed disappointed, mostly in me. 

I thought she wanted to know about the likelihood of his being like all the rest. A fake profile, building himself up to be a perfectly unobjectionable guy.  Apparently, she had already decided that through their chats. But she wanted something more. Something that would be impossible to know without physical evidence. 

You all don’t need to really know what that was, but I looked at everything I could and returned to her saying, Yes. Mind you, yes, in this instance, would not be a good thing. This is where I realized something was going on inside her. She had already made up her mind, and my work was irrelevant. Despite my answer, she moved forward, and was so gleeful to call me after they went on their first date to tell me that I was wrong. 

Later, I too had to admit, after I met him, that I was indeed wrong, I hate that. They dated for months before the roll out of invitations to meet friends happened. I met Jay 2 years and 1 day ago, on Patty’s birthday, and he was indeed different. I was curious as to how these two different personalities could have kept going without external encouragement?

But then came that Birthday dinner at A16, and though I sat in between them, (note to you all, do not invite me as a third wheel on a date), they were adorable right from the start.

Tossing comments laced with mutual concern and affection across the table, right past me, without a care. Always making sure the other was taken care of, all the while, including me in it all. It was as though the 3 of us were just always friends.

Jay was so friendly to me. Near instantly sharing his personal backstory to a guy he only knew from what his girlfriend had told him. Giving no inkling that he might think what he was told may have been crafted to ensure he would like me from the start. 

I was most surprised when he encouraged me to continue to take Patty to the multitude of concerts we both so love attending. Insisting that he liked that it was (quote) “our thing,” and that he didn’t need to join. In fact, it took me 2 years, and countless invitations to shows, to finally get him to accompany us to one. And “The Promise” of a set by When in Rome, to make it happen.

That was only 4 weeks ago!

He is a man who holds deep affinity for esoteric things, and genotypical internal love for what interests him and the things he yearns for. There IS something about him, but how do I get to see the real deal? He was always nice, but that’s not hard to pull off. 

And then I started to get a clue.

Hearing Patty describe her cousins and niece’s deep affection for interacting with Jay, not a thing kids are generally known for with newly introduced adults, and then seeing it first-hand, initially at a gathering this summer, and again even just yesterday at lunch, was just so amazingly endearing. For me, it opened a window into him, and his genuine kindness that is simply undeniable.

And now, here, in mere minutes, they will be married, BY ME! 

There will be music, and there will be dancing, so I’m just going to count this as concert #2, because I have no idea what it will take to make that happen again. Jay, you’re just going to have to share the rest of that bucket list with me.

One thing I think these two do share in common is that they are not particularly gigantic risk takers. That’s not to say they have not each punctuated their lives with well thought out and timed risks (which would of course define the antonym of the word risk), but not so much the types to do so on a daily basis. 

And yet, here they are, getting married, and, in the words of Madeleine L’Engle:

“To marry, is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation.”

“It takes a lifetime to learn another person.”

“When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.”

But not here, not today. 

Today, that risk pays off. 

For two people who have steadfastly, though at times slowly, pursued their dreams, I pray you find that this leap is indeed most pleasurably, and endearingly rewarding.

So here is a single guy, prognosticating on the virtues of getting married. What do I know? Research was in order. And for that, I did what any perpetually single officiant would do.

I mined court records. 

Who knew that the Massachusetts Supreme Court would define marriage in a way that makes complete sense to one who has never pondered it?

They wrote:

“Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being, and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.  "It is an association that promotes a way of life… a harmony in living… a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects."  

“Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity… marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.”

I, will likely never see the two of you in the same light again after tonight, and that makes me happy. I don’t need to know Patty anymore, or Jay anymore. I yearn to know the new “Patty with Jay,” and “Jay with Patty,” both in the times we spend 1-on-1 or 2-on-1.

When I was told the date on which Jay and Patty chose to hold their wedding, the date rang familiar. It would be on the eve of one of my people’s holiest of days. You see, tonight, begins the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a new year. 

In reality, it is a time of spiritual renewal. An annual expunging of the past. A wiping clean of our respective slates. An opportunity to begin anew and forge a better future, year after year.

So, in that vein, I cannot help but think how appropriate it is that the two of you have, though inadvertently, chosen to begin your new, joint lives together, on this day.

Take this opportunity to cast away the baggage of the past. Allow yourselves this luxury to leave behind any missteps, poorly chosen words, thoughts, conscious or not, that may shackle your minds in eternal loops, acting as never-ending barriers to your emotional progress. 

Take this very moment, hand in hand, on the precipice of leaping into your newly minted joint singularity, to rejoice together of this beautiful opportunity to hit refresh. Take on yourselves the commitment, annually, to forgive the past, and renew your love for the future. It is a very freeing concept, from a tradition that is not well known for such overtures.

Jay, Patty, from the moment you met, you have given each other shelter, warmth, and inspiration. You have chosen to marry. To publicly share your private relationship, and to mark the start of an official, permanent bond. By marrying, you will join together your two families, and you will declare yourselves a new family legacy.  

Are you ready?

Weddings are sealed with both promissory vows and of course, rings, so…

 

(take Patty’s ring from your pocket)

Jay, please place this ring on Patty’ finger. 

Do you Jay, take Patty to be your lawfully wedded wife? 

Promising her a future full of impossible things, justice amongst yourselves and freedom to live her genuine life, a practical shoulder to rely on, and a sheltering and enduringly loving spirit, tolerating an appropriate amount of spice in both person, and food? As long as you both shall live?

(take Jay’s ring from pocket) 

Patty, please place this ring on Jay’s finger.

Do you Patty, take Jay to be your lawfully wedded Husband? 

Promising him a future full of impossible things, justice amongst yourselves and freedom to live his genuine life? A practical shoulder to rely on, and a sheltering and enduringly loving spirit? Tolerating an appropriate amount of cinematic parsing, and yes, Tom Cruise? As long as you both shall live?

To everyone in attendance.

We have been called together as witnesses to the happiness that this couple has found together, and to the pledges they have made to each other for the mutual service of their common life.  

Do you, the assembled friends and family, now offer YOUR blessing and support for Jay and Patty, and wish them the best in their lives together? If so, please say aloud, “we do!” 

And with that, by the power vested in me by the Universal Life Church and ratified by the community here today I now pronounce you, husband and wife!

PLEASE kiss your bride!

To all of Patty and Jay’s loved ones gathered here today, it is my honor to present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Jay and Patty Runquist!!!