In what most consider an unlikely turn of events, I officiated a wedding. Comedian friends especially mocked this, given have an “anti-marriage” chunk, followed by a “why you should never have kids” chunk, all with clever punch lines and salient points.
I stand accused of not respecting marriage, which isn’t really the whole truth. While I do believe marriage is a tired institution (with lots of stats to back this up), I respect a marriage if the persons within a marriage respect their own. It’s quite simple. From the evidence I can gather, those couples (married or not) who truly listen, love, understand and respect each other are the minority. It would be impossible for me to respect something of yours that you do not respect yourself.
See, somewhere beneath the callused heart of the person I am today, there is a romantic. Because those couples whom I believe share a true bond exist, and I know them. This is most true for the newly weds I officiated. Long time friend, Lauren, who now lives in the Midwest with her husband, had two weddings to accommodate both sides of friends and family. She had asked me to officiate the New York wedding, even though they would technically be married, so I’d really be more faux officiating (seems more appropriate anyway).
Without hesitation, I said yes. Because these are two people who are the real deal; not just as a couple, but as people. Below is the scripted speech, and I meant every damn word.
[Lori Palminteri, Officiating in Great South Bay Brewery]
“We are here today so that Lauren and Justin can renew their vows…
I don’t know if I should introduce myself, but for anyone that doesn’t know me, I’m Lori Palminteri; I’m a writer, a comedian, and your quintessential jaded New York cynic. There’s a comical irony in me officiating a wedding, but I am honored to be Lauren and Justin’s New York officiate.
I have known Lauren and her family most of my life. Lauren and I have been friends since kindergarten and even back then, I knew I wanted to be friends with Lauren. There was always something special about her. It would be impossible for me to understand why Lauren is special until I met her family and got to know them as well as I did.
The LaPinta’s, as many of you know, are the kindest, most down to earth, good humored people I have ever met. Even from a young age, I was a dubious and cynical, convinced they were hiding some sort of secrets when out of the public eye. It seemed unlikely to me that a family could be so well rounded.
The LaPinta’s are exceptional and extraordinary empathetic beings; the world is better place with them in it.
Growing up in the orbit of one of the finest families I’d ever come to know, I knew that Lauren’s life would be filled happiness, success, and warmth, as she put too much of it into the universe for it not to deliver back to her.
Though I was never too sure there would be anyone good enough for Lauren.
And there isn’t. That’s why I’m calling off this wedding… [a bit]
Even before I got know what a sweet and charming man Justin is, it was so obvious he was just smitten with Lauren. To anyone paying attention, it’s so clear that he’s smart, funny, a pure goodness to him that reminded me of Lauren. She was smitten with him too, and they made falling in love look easy.
That’s why we are all here today… not merely to celebrate the marriage of Lauren and Justin, but as friends and family members of a family that is not only an example of how to love each other, but why. Because there isn’t anything worth more than time spent with people who make you feel safe and happy, and to be in love with someone so spectacular, you can hardly believe you’re lucky enough that they’re in love with you back.
Justin and Lauren, you’re two of the world’s greatest humans. You deserve the best in life, and I’ve no doubt you’ve found that in each other.
However, I’m not sure luck has anything to do with it.
You both glow.
I don’t know if you know that.
You both glow.
Light begets light, and you both exude a beauty of humanity at it’s finest.
And it’s us… your friends and family whom you’ve laughed with that are truly the lucky ones…
to witness the union of a true and real love. Because you are proof that just because something is rare doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Comedian Gene Wilder wrote and recited this at his wedding:
“We both believe in music and painting and truth that we can see all around us in nature. We also believe that something, some fate, brought us together at this exact point in both of our lives. With appreciation for these exquisite insights, and with the love and respect we both feel for each other, we think we have the foundation for a happy life… so long as we keep laughing.”