I was impressed with Sylvia from the moment she called me. Here is a mother of a 4 month old, a 5 year old special needs son and a 7 year old daughter planning an out of town wedding with her childhood sweetheart Ray, on a shoestring budget. Sylvia is a woman who goes for what she wants no matter what!
Yet I could not overlook her overwhelm as she dealt with the dozens of details for a beachside wedding and reception with 50 guests in late October on the Mendocino Coast. During our conversations her big heart and her commitment to making a memorable event for friends and family were clearly evident. And her desire to share her story was too.
Sylvia and Ray were high school sweethearts. They grew up together, meeting at ages 14 and 16. They played music together, and then life took them in different directions. After some years and personal challenges on separate paths, they have re-united and Ray has become father to a family of five!
Now, we coastal dwellers know that most days by the sea are very changeable. Fog, cold wind, high and low tides and the beginning of winter storms are all likely scenarios in late October. Sylvia had a few backup plans, and even with them in place, Mother Nature threw a curve on her wedding day.
We met at Seaside beach, 10 miles north of Fort Bragg. It began to rain lightly shortly after we began to put out the flowers and decorate the arbor. But now people were arriving and there was no turning back. So all 50 of us huddled together around Sylvia and Ray and performed their ceremony in a light rain on their favorite beach.
One of the things that always gets me is when I see the groom cry. It is deeply touching to witness and feel this in my heart. It makes me weak in the knees. Ray’s love for Sylvia was so palpable. The tender way he touched Sylvia, his words of endearment and his grateful, loving heart just broke me up. So, by the end of the ceremony all three of us had tears running down our cheeks mixing with the raindrops.
How did it happen that I found my way to the deeply fulfilling livelihood of performing weddings? It was not my original intent, but life gave me this opportunity and I have been following this path for over 30 years, and have performed many hundreds of weddings. I have learned a lot about the nature of marriage, its challenges and its gifts through my own marriage. But the ceremonies I perform are a consistent reminder of what makes a marriage thrive. As I learn to honor myself, speak authentically, listen fully and meet what is arising with openness and curiosity, life becomes a dance of love. My livelihood puts me in the middle of one of our most intimate and important cultural rituals. Those of us whose hearts are cracked open at times like this become extraordinary expressions of love, gratitude and generosity – a touching of souls that is truly enriching to the heart.