On November 6, 2022, I received a text from one of my best friends on this planet: “Are you around tonight?”
This is an odd text to get from a friend who lives 433 miles away, but he clarified that he wanted to FaceTime. Since he was engaged, I knew he would ask me to play a role in his wedding.
I figured I would be an usher or a groomsman.
“So, we wanted to ask you if you would officiate our wedding?”
Has your heart ever started beating so hard that you can feel it in your ears?
I asked them, “Did everyone else say no?” I was partly kidding, as this couple has friends and family surrounding them who are much more qualified than myself. They assured me that I was their first choice.
I kept them on FaceTime and brought my phone downstairs so they could share with my wife what they had asked of me. Her face was instantly covered in shock and worry.
At the time, I was struggling with my mental health. Navigating my stress and anxiety while trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up at thirty-eight started to take a toll. My wife’s concern was not for my ability to handle the actual officiating. Instead, she was worried the added stress would be too much.
Everything in my body agreed with her. I had a choice to make. Steer into the skid and become their officiant, or take the coward’s route and let them know it was too much for me.
I grabbed my computer and started writing. The words began to pour out. My fingers had trouble keeping up with the pace of the ideas. As I wrote, I realized that I was smiling.
It was the happiest I had felt in months.
I spent the remaining 186 days writing, re-writing, outlining, and rehearsing a wedding ceremony from start to finish.
It felt incredible. Working on something for two people I care about was cathartic. The writing felt fun and easy again.
You should know that the wedding would be in Cabo San Lucas, on the beach. I arrived in Mexico feeling confident the ceremony would be terrific.
We rehearsed briefly with the resort’s wedding coordinator the night before the wedding. She let me know that I would be holding the microphone.
I did not rehearse this way. I felt the anxiety rise, but I kept it under control.
The following morning, the day of the wedding, I grabbed a water bottle to use as a microphone to rehearse.
I made it 3 sentences in before I began to cry.
I thought, that was weird.
I had read the words hundreds of times over the past few months, and not one time did I get emotional.
I shook it off and started over. I lost it again 3 paragraphs in.
Uh-oh, I’ve got a problem.
Every attempt led me to tears, so I decided to steer into the skid and let myself cry for thirty minutes on our hotel balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
My wife walked out to find me sobbing. Something that she has done quite a bit over the past year or so. She was relieved to find out that my tears were mostly happy tears. She assured me that if I did get emotional, it wouldn’t ruin the wedding. I believed her, but I didn’t think anyone, let alone the Bride and Groom, would want to see me ugly crying on the beach.
I dressed and went to the best man’s room to take photos before the ceremony. It was the most wind we had during our entire stay. I glanced at the folder in my hand with the wedding as the whole inside and thought, this will make things interesting.
Fortunately (for me), the groom was experiencing the pre-wedding jitters, which helped keep my mind occupied.
We got to the beach, and I found a spot to give myself one last read-through. The wind had its way with the pages inside my officiant binder. This meant I would be battling my pages while holding a binder and the microphone.
I did not rehearse this.
As it turned out, the wind was my savior. It forced me to focus on something other than my emotions. The wind also did a fine job of hiding my shaking legs.
You may be wondering, how did it go?
I did a good job.
Of course, there are things that I would change if I had to do it again.
When the ceremony was finished, the wedding guests had nothing but lovely things to say to me. Their kind words mean more to me than any of them know.
When I’m old and looking back on life, November 6, 2022, will be a day that changed my life for the better. It led me to May 11, 2023, one of the best days of my life.
Remember when the path of life takes an unexpected turn to hang on and enjoy the ride. Hold your judgment until the moment passes. In hindsight, things we think are good or lousy flip-flops.
Embrace the anxiety. You never know when the wind that wrecks your hair will end up being the thing that saves the day.