a new wedding experience

This past Saturday Phillip and I attended the wedding of my coworker, Robin, and her fiance (now husband!)  Many of you have heard me talk about Robin from time to time.  To put it simply, she is glue that holds me together and keeps me sane at work.  When I have a problem, Robin has a solution.  When I’m feeling particularly unmotivated, Robin is there to entertain me.

Robin Colannino Wedding

Robin’s wedding was an experience for me, as well as a few other guests.  The ceremony was Quaker, as her now husband’s family has observed the religion for many generations.   It will be difficult to describe the experience, as it was so different from what I was expecting, but I will do my best.

I’ll start from the beginning.  Phillip and I are seated  in the meeting-house 15 minutes before the ceremony is set to start.  For all of you who have not been in a meeting-house, the seats are arranged in a circle.  Deciding where to sit was a bit of an ordeal as every seat affords a completely different view of the center of the room.  (Turns out we picked the worst seat because throughout the vows all I could see were the back of  Chris’ shoulders and none of Robin!)  Once seated we begin to whisper back and forth about all that we are expecting to happen in the ceremony.  About 5 minutes into the whispering Phillip informs me, politely, that we are supposed to be silent.  When I look up and take the time to see the other guests, it is obvious that they are all in silence.  Serious embarrassment but it could have been much worse if we would have still been whispering away when Robin & Chris entered!

All is silent  in the room when Robin & Chris enter.  They seat themselves and a man, who is leading the ceremony, explains to the non-Quaker attendees how the meeting is set to work.  We are to sit in reflective silence and if we are so moved we are able to stand and voice a thought for the couple.

Throughout the entire 1.5 hours about 15 people stood to speak – Phillip can call me out if he thinks this is an exaggeration as I’ve been known to exaggerate a bit.  At one point, Robin & Chris stand to recite their vows then quietly return to their seats.  A marriage certificate, to be signed by all attendees, is read aloud.  Other than these times, all was silent.

The thoughts, offered by the people who stood to speak, were heartfelt.  (Robin’s mother made me cry within 15 seconds of standing up to speak.)  And the sense of community, which is a pillar of the Quaker religion, was evident.  But, several times throughout the meeting, I wanted to stand up and clap and shout.  The hardest moment of restraint for me came after the vows when the couple was re-seated and endured another hour of silence while the ceremony continued before they could express their joy!  The entire experience reconfirmed that my patience could still use some improvement.  Especially considering my urge for sudden outburst and the fact that the 6-year-old on the opposite side of the circle was able to sit more still than I was able.

Robin Colaninno Wedding

We ended the night with a wonderful reception.  The evening was filled with delicious food, lots of booze, great conversations with interesting people, birthday singing to the Mother of the Groom, and a cupcake in Robin’s face 🙂  Great party, Robin.  Thanks for having us – and we hope you are enjoying the Keys!

PS.  Phillip didn’t take a serious picture the ENTIRE evening.  The picture above is the best I could find.


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