He's one of the goofiest guys I've ever known, a dorky "white trash" kid with nothing more to offer a woman than sincerity and a good heart, which has always been about enough in my opinion. She is the eldest child of a very old-fashioned, working class Mexican family, the daughter they had pinned a lot of their hopes for the future on. Her family has never really approved of their three year relationship, with the language barrier being the smallest of the numerous handicaps to overcome. In spite of the dissension, the couple finally got married last weekend, roping me into being the lucky photographer for the festivities.
Neither the ceremony nor the after-party would have been described as formal or extravagant, with the reception being held at the groom's family home. The six-foot subs laid out on the pool table beneath the collection of Budweiser memorabilia still didn't prepare me for the joke wedding cake topper of a plastic bride dragging her squeamish groom to an unwanted future. Though I had been terribly reluctant to be there at all and remained unenthusiastic the entire time, I did my job well and in hindsight I'm very glad I was able to witness the spectacle.
Love, passion, overcoming odds, reality over desire, and destiny versus dumb luck are all topics that occupy my thoughts most of the time. Even with the palpable tension that day, dirty looks across family lines, and the groom's mother as disturbingly and maniacally overwhelmed with excitement as much as the bride's father was miserably uncomfortable, I found an inspiring sense of truth and beauty amidst the chaos. There in the 20' by 30' basement "reception hall", surrounded by the tenuously taped ceiling balloons, with the DJ blaring loud Spanish Banda music, complete with colored light show and smoke machine, the couple reminded us all in their two minute dance what the occasion was about.
They laughed and kissed and cried, whispering in each others' ears despite the maelstrom of both real and perceived distractions in the room. For that very brief time they illustrated what the whole concept of these kinds of ceremonies are about: the most optimistic sense of Hope. Of course it only lasted as long as the groom's mother could prevent herself from interrupting, beer in hand, to take over the dance floor. Still, it made an impact, if only on me. They were finally together, and no matter what vocal or unspoken objections anyone might have had that day, these two people were emotionally and now legally committed to each other. Whether blissfully ignorant of what the future holds for them or willful, they had at least ventured to take that first step on the path of a life together, and in this day and age you have to at least respect that.
All told, it was the most awkward, uncomfortable family gathering I had experienced since my extended family's 1990 reunion was abruptly ended by a drunk cousin picking a fight with the band leader. Experience has proven that even the strongest of relationships can not always hold up against the kind of countless obstacles these two young people will have to tackle together. All that they have is their promise to each other and the hope that they each can deliver. I, for one, wish them all the luck and happiness possible. Here's hoping they make it.