Have you ever been asked to make a speech at a wedding? If you were the best man, or parent of the bride or groom, you probably wrote down notes or maybe even the entire speech, but things don’t always go that smoothly.
This weekend I went to a wedding. It was an Orthodox Jewish wedding, the first I’ve attended. It was very small, hosted at a friend’s house and planned by another friend of the bride. Among the speeches was one made by the Kallah, or bride. She was the happiest I’ve ever seen her. After the wedding, she said her only regret was that she had not thanked the hostess and planner enough in her speech. She was overwhelmed with emotion that night and hadn’t delivered her thoughts as well as she had hoped—she wished she had a do-over. I asked what she would have said and she told me, so I thought I’d give her another shot (in writing) to express her feelings:
“Thank you all for coming and sharing our wedding. This morning one of my [Torah] teachers reminded me that while I’m under the Chuppah [wedding canopy], I am especially close to God, so I should pray… Hard. When I was planning what to pray for, I was overcome with gratitude because I could not think of one thing to ask for. I have a healthy, supportive family, great friends, a good job, freedom, safety, security—what else could I need? I really have so much, I felt guilty looking for things to pray for. (Can’t escape Jewish guilt even on your wedding day.) So my prayer under the Chuppah was a mantra of thank you, thank you, thank you. This wedding came together in a matter of two weeks. (Crazy, I know.) So I want to thank the Rabbi, who told my husband he should marry me NOW! Good suggestion; it took a lot of chutzpah, but I’m glad you were brave enough to make the suggestion. Thank you to my teacher, who has been my guide on this spiritual journey and prepared me for this day with courage, knowledge and holiness. She also planned this affair, and it is as beautiful as her faith and friendship are to me. And thank you to our hosts who opened up their home for our wedding. Wow, what an undertaking. You’ve planned an executed a stunning event in two weeks with graciousness, patience and kindness—thank you.
To my dear friend Reese, our paths have not always been easy, but your support of me and my new husband has meant so much. Your effort in helping plan my wedding has been Herculean. Your friendship is sacred to me. Thank you.
And to my husband. I never knew a man could love a woman the way you love me. I did not know I had the capacity to love someone the way I love you. I did not know there could be such a strong role model for the community. You are my moral compass, and I will spend the rest of my days trying to make you happy and be worthy of such love.
Wow. Now it’s me who’s grateful to offer this bride the gift of a wedding-speech-do-over. In the new year, may we all merit such love and gratitude.