By Shelley Murphy
Earlier this month, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. We commemorated the occasion by attending a wedding—a wedding that our older son officiated. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined we’d spend our anniversary watching our son marry two of his closest friends.
When my son told me he’d been asked to officiate his friends’ wedding, I laughed. Then he said he was serious. The fun phenomenon finds its roots in the television show Friends. In one episode, Joey becomes ordained by “the internet guys” and later marries Monica and Chandler.
Asking a close friend, or in my son’s case the couple’s “designated third wheel,” to officiate the ceremony provides a personal perspective. A friend can share poignant and funny moments imparted with intimate insights.
But I understand why some couples prefer traditional ceremonies, getting a friend to officiate could be risky. My older son, like me, is known to procrastinate.
Months ago, I suggested that prior to the wedding it might be a good idea for someone (me) to read what my son calls his “speech.” My son agreed, and I began checking my inbox.
Twelve days before the nuptials, I received an email with his speech.
I wasn’t surprised but impressed when I found myself fighting back tears while reading my son’s heartfelt words. He penned the perfect mix of humorous anecdotes, sentimental reflections and sacred pledges.
With his speech finished, my son arrived home to get the pre-wedding party started. Both my boys are fortunate to maintain long-lasting friendships, initiated in middle and high school, with an overlapping core group of guys. Their lives are woven together by shared stories, struggles and Snapchats.
The night of my older son’s homecoming, one friend spent the night. Early the next morning I passed by an empty guest bedroom. Later, when his friend wandered downstairs, I asked why he didn’t sleep in the available guestroom.
He said he preferred the sofa in my son’s room, “I wanted to sleep in his room, like I did in high school.” I took comfort knowing I wasn’t the only one feeling nostalgic.
Days before the wedding, friends flew from near and far to witness the first among them to enter wedlock. I savor the moments when the boys are back; I’m transported to a time when they filled our house with loud laughter and spirited fun.
The afternoon of the rehearsal dinner the group reunited at our house. Their gathering looked familiar: they were racing to the pantry for snacks, playing basketball in the pool and shouting fantasy football statistics.
While their reunion resembled their high school days, the conversation wasn’t that of adolescent teens but adult men. Instead of relaxing together in the backyard imagining and predicting their collegiate futures, they sat together wondering and betting who would be the next among them to wed.
The day of the ceremony the kinetic energy and excitement pulsating through our house became palpable; the teens who got ready together for prom were now adults dressing-up for the wedding of their peers.
As the sun began setting over the ocean, we arrived at the outdoor venue. It felt surreal seeing my son take his officiant position and prepare to preside over the ceremony.
We took our seats and the music played, marking the commencement of the wedding processional. Watching the bride and her father walking toward the groom and exchanging a tender whisper of words triggered my tears.
The couple sealed their vows with a kiss, and the sweet ceremony concluded with my son pronouncing his friends’ husband and wife. At the reception, a night of singing and dancing mixed with sincere toasts, joyous laughter and warm embraces.
That night, celebrating the couple’s rite of passage, ushered in a new era of milestones for the old group of friends.
I wish the newlyweds a lifetime of happiness and hope their 28th wedding anniversary is as memorable as ours.
Shelley Murphy has lived in San Clemente with her husband for the past 18 years, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.