Dearly Beloved

It’s wedding season.

Which means the “Wedding March” and “Love Shack” are topping playlists everywhere. I happen to be a fan of the B-52s – and Mendelssohn too – so I’m ok with that. (I draw the line at “Turn Down for What.” Just… no.)

I love weddings. The solemn vows, the sentimental toasts, the sacred union. The blushing bride, dashing groom, teary-eyed parents. The dress, the flowers, the CAKE. That last, lovely daddy-daughter dance, the crazy kid doing the Worm, the bevy of bridesmaids clap-hop-stomping to the Cha Cha Slide. The bouquet toss, the clinking glasses, the joyful rice/bubbles/sparkler sendoff.

But first – barely above a whisper – the seating of the guests, the lighting of the candles, the sprinkling of the petals to herald the bride’s slow, sweet stroll down the aisle. And then the pastor/priest/rabbi/internet-ordained-second-cousin-of-the-groom begins the ceremony… and at that point, I have to suppress a little giggle.

Because I’m envisioning the bishop from “The Princess Bride,” that’s why.

Mawwwage… Mawwwage is what bwings us togevver today. Mawwwage, that bwessed awwwangement. That dweam wifffin a dweam…

(Well played, Peter Cook.)

There are lots of terrific films about engagements and weddings and brides and grooms but “The Princess Bride” is my favorite… (six-fingered) hands down. It’s action, adventure, romance, comedy, fantasy and fairy tale all delightfully mined and cut into one brilliant little cinematic gem.

Brandishing a stellar cast, quotable script, and enduring lessons on life and love, the film adaptation of William Goldman’s book was a sleeper hit. It opened just a few weeks before Steve and I were married in 1987 and had a mildly successful run in theaters before gaining widespread fame and “family classic” status following its video release. Perhaps that’s the reason I remain so enamored: the story harkens back to the beginning of my own “happily ever after.”

(You may heretofore refer to Steve as “sweet Westley” and me as Buttercup. If you wish.)

“The Princess Bride” launched Robin Wright’s award-winning career and brought Columbo’s to a satisfying and splendid close. It introduced us to the dangers of shrieking eels, fireswamps, and iocane powder, and the wonders of MLT sandwiches, swashbuckling swordplay, and chocolate-covered miracle pills. And it bestowed a rich stash of witty and iconic film quotes (which serve as regular retorts in our household).

I’m not a witch; I’m your wife!

Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates…? Morons!

When I was your age, (YouTube/Netflix/Xbox) was called books.

We are men of action. Lies do not become us.

Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

But I digress.

The reason I find weddings so captivating is this: they remind me what matters most. Family, beauty, devotion, worship. They make no apologies about what we ought to do: keep our promises, cherish our people, love big and bold and brave… ever after.

Sadly, things don’t always turn out as swimmingly as they did for Buttercup and Westley. There’s a whole lot of living that happens between “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” and it requires copious amounts of grit and grace. Day after day after day after day after day.

Every so often, I watch the bride and groom wave goodbye to their guests, and I think…

Have fun storming the castle!

Do you think it’ll work?

It would take a miracle.

The odds are stacked pretty high against lifelong love and devotion. Two people are drawn by their differences, then dashed by them. Or by the natural (and/or manmade) disasters that inevitably strike every living thing on planet Earth.

Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Some couples grow apart, others grow bitter. And a few – those rare and lovely few – grow old together. They hold tight – for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health – ’til their very last breath. Gladly. Gracefully.

Mother Theresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Yes, that’s the hard holy work, isn’t it? Loving the people under your own roof.

Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes. To serve, sacrifice, set me-me-me aside.

For us-us-us.

Love – real love – costs. (The people who say it’s free are… well… morons.) Love costs a bundle.

A willingness to risk your life… and lay it down. Risking your life may be the easier thing. It’s the laying it down, day in and day out, that’s really hard. Choosing to selflessly, relentlessly love an imperfect person. Someone whose flaws have become glaringly apparent. Someone who has failed you time and time again.

It’s an impossible task, really. Unless we are filled and fueled by Love Incarnate.

Here’s the hitch:

We must be fully loved before we can love fully.

This is true love. You think this happens every day?

Yes.

God loves you, truly.

Nothing you accomplish could make Him love you more than He already does. And nothing you do will make Him love you any less.

Inconceivable, isn’t it?

All He wants from you, beloved, is that you… be loved.

So, soak it up. And splash it all around. It’s what you were made for.

All you ever really wanted was to be loved (just the way you are)?

As you wish.

Wendy

P.S. You can quote me.