The correct, non-clickbaity title for this post ought to be “Bleric Ack and the Prisoner of Marriage,” but I wanted this post to be accessible to non-weirdos as well as to you and I, so I switched it. But yes, I spent the weekend with my best friend Bleric Ack as he married the love of his life, Bat Moanin’. I was honored to be his best man, and to also sing at the ceremony, but it was, in fact, my first same-sex wedding ceremony, so my new title is accurate as well. I think I knew what to expect going in, but to make things more interesting I brought along my conservative Christian mother.
We needed my mother with us, because we were going to be in Maryland with our two children, and if you have ever been to a wedding reception with two children, it is a very different experience than going to a wedding reception without two children. As in, it totally sucks. And as I was on Best Man duties, it would have left my wife on her own, trying to keep track of the children and leaving early and not having fun. So we brought along a babysitter. And to be clear, Toy Grammy isn’t really all that conservative, when compared to what “conservatism” looks like these days, but Biblically, I would put her on the more conservative side. Anyway, I think it was her first same-sex wedding too. That’s all I’m saying.
So we drove all day on Friday to make it on time for the rehearsal, and then my mother took the kids so my wife and could I hang around to go over what was going to happen the next day. I sang my song with the accompanist, the pastor told us where to stand, and when to move. It was remarkably similar to, you know, every other wedding I have ever been in. And when it was over, we all ate way too much food (or not enough food, depending on who you ask, and who was in charge of storing leftovers), and went out for a pub crawl. Energy and excitement were high, as one might expect on our friends’ final day of being single.
When the big day actually arrived, there were a few more details to take care of. As best man #1 (there were two in this wedding), I was in charge of one of the rings. Bleric, it is a testament to our love and friendship that I managed to keep track of it the whole time. I can barely find my keys when they are in my hand, much less keep track of a tiny wedding band all day. But I did it! I did not lose the ring! I stood in the correct spot, I stood up and sat down at the correct times, and the only real issue was when, in the middle of the ceremony, Bat forgot that he was getting married I guess and decided to forget to repeat his vows. But hey, that was only for a second! And it is the little things like that that make for the great stories of every wedding.
There was one big difference I noticed about this particular wedding, aside from the fact that there were two grooms, and that was how excellent it was. They did a full service, with hymns, scripture, message, and ended with the two of them serving the guests the Eucharist after the pastor had blessed the elements. I have been to “full church service” weddings before, and they are always the worst. Sorry if I was at your wedding and you had one of these. I, of course, do not mean your wedding. But seriously, they are long and boring and fun for no one but the people up front. This one was different. I can’t really explain it. Was it the pastor, who was engaging and funny, but also sweet and interesting? Was it the perfect flow between excellent readers and beautiful music? Was it just that I was up there helping? Probably. But man, this very traditional wedding service was transcendent. And if you don’t believe me because I am biased, my wife felt the same way. And she hates boring church things way more than I do! No, this was a great ceremony. The fact that they were both male seemed to have no effect, other than to loosen the gender requirements for their wedding parties. Bleric had two male and one female attendant, Bat had his two sisters and his best dude friend. How nice to be able to pick who you want to stand with you, regardless of gender!
After they were fully married, it was my job to drive them around the city to do photo shoots at various wonderful places, and this was a true joy. It’s good to be the best man sometimes. How often do you attend a wedding, and leave feeling like you hardly saw the bride or groom, or other groom, or potential other bride, at all? They are so busy, doing all of the things, that there is no way they have time to hang out enough with every guest. But spending the afternoon with them, talking, laughing, and enjoying the day was perhaps my favorite thing about the weekend.
I also had to give a best man speech at the reception. This was worrying to me, because I had forgotten to write one, even though Bleric had warned me way ahead of time so that I would not forget to write one. I consulted with best man #2, and found that he was going to read a 14 page “roast” of his best friend Bat, complete with as many “gay jokes” as possible, and his only goal was to make everyone cringe and groan. I decided that I ought to go second.
After best man #2 was finished with his speech, which wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been I suppose (and parts were actually quite funny), I decided to go for the sweeter approach, and the far, far shorter approach, since we all wanted to eat dinner. I think I said some nice things, but here is what I did not say. When I first met Bleric ten years ago, I knew some people who were gay, but I wasn’t best friends with any of them. I think I was still slightly uncomfortable with the whole specific idea of it all, though I was supportive in a general way. I was all for “gay rights,” but I was known to say “that’s so gay” from time to time, just as a harmless joke of course, and I wasn’t really interested in the details of what it meant to be a gay man. For that, I am sorry. I missed out. I have learned so much from him over these years, and I am so glad that I was such a big part of this weekend. I have thought, studied, prayed, considered, and struggled over the past decade, and really my whole life, as I have grown to accept something that once made me uncomfortable. Thank goodness he was patient with me. I know that not everyone in his life is at this point yet, but I have hope that they will get there someday. I hope they do. Because what a blessing it was for me, to stand there in that church beside my best friend, and feeling not an ounce of discomfort, and seeing only love.