We were at a wonderful seafood restaurant on the Causeway between Mobile and Baldwin County, and everything seemed special that night. I had just finished singing happy birthday to a young boy who was celebrating his 6th birthday; I was finishing my wonderful cup of gumbo and enjoying the beautiful sunset over Mobile Bay and my mind was racing with the awe that is my life.
My youngest son was singing on the small stage there on the deck and both the upper and lower decks were packed with people who were happy, festive, eating, drinking and being merry. As I looked around at the happy faces of those people, my thoughts were the evening could not have been any better. It turned out I was wrong.
My son played the entire gig without a break. He often plays straight through with no breaks for numerous reasons, one of which is that he is enjoying himself so much he finds it hard to stop.
At the end of four straight hours of playing with no break, I could see that he was worn out and ready to call it a night. The restaurant manager walked over to him as he was thanking everyone for coming. They spoke for a few minutes and I watched my son re-connect his guitar strap and steady himself back on the stool where he had been perched for hours. Then I watched as he appeared to be searching his memory and practicing a song; I figured there was someone special there who wanted a particular song played; one that he does not usually sing.
Moments later the manager came and took his place in front of the stage, facing the crowd. He announced that he is an ordained minister and a wedding was about to take place. Then one of the wait staff ladies and a young man walked up and stood directly in front of him. Next came the announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to have a wedding ceremony.” Everyone stared in awe and surprise at such an event taking place impromptu on the deck right before their eyes. This grabbed our full attention as we watched in disbelief.
As the manager/clergyman performed the ceremony, the vows were initiated and my son played the song “Somewhere over the Rainbow” …instrumental only. Once the vows were completed and they turned to face the crowd, he sang and played the same song as they had requested, while they exited the deck. It was that quick. It was sweet, it was a little bit awkward as she stood there in her blue work tee shirt and khaki shorts and he in his jeans and grey pull over shirt. On closer inspection I could see sheer joy in their faces.
I have always believed the wedding ceremony is not as important as the marriage. I have attended extravagant weddings with all of the fanciful dreams of a lifetime on display in every direction as I looked around. I have seen wedding cakes that were enormous and opulent. In a surprising number of cases, it is only a few months before there is word that they have split up and divorce is eminent. After all of the effort and huge expense, the actual marriage did not work out well. Unfortunately in some cases the ceremony received more attention than the love or the marriage; "until death do we part", suddenly falls to the floor with no real meaning. I am not judging, that is just how life works out sometimes. As we mature, we can better ascertain relationships and truly see a person's heart. But some people get it right the first time, those are the lucky ones. I believe this couple is in love and their marriage has as good a chance of being “Happy ever after!” as those hugely expensive ones. Who knows?