In Sickness & in Health & Even in Hurricanes

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jonah & Debra's wedding was meant to be in Old Bridge, N.J., which is about 25 minutes from Nathan's & my apartment. What a relief, we said beforehand, to be invited to a wedding so close to home, one we wouldn't need to travel for! What a rarity! We invited a friend to stay with us the night of the rehearsal dinner, & we planned a bagel brunch at our apartment for out-of-town pals the morning of the wedding so we could all catch up.

And then there was a hurricane that destroyed the Jersey Shore, leaving Jonah & Debra's wedding venue & hotel without power, among other issues. Early Thursday morning, I got a text:
We are considering moving wedding to DC. Not sure if you could join but would work with you on getting a ride if you would be willing. I know it is a ton to ask.
We probably can't come, I said. Of course we couldn't come... right?! More than half of the Garden State was without power, & who knew what lay beyond Red Bank's borders! Fearing downed trees, gas shortages, & road closures, we doubted we could make the four-hour drive to the District. And besides, what if Nathan was called back to work to help restore the Coast Guard Base after the flooding it suffered in the storm? But when his boss called to tell him not to expect to return to work until Monday, we decided we'd try.

Save a few back-road detours along the way, we made it to D.C. with almost no problems – & we weren't the only ones. More than 200 people made it to the change of venue, & when we got there, we found a truly fantastic & unbelievably pulled-together replacement wedding. A few bridesmaids got stuck in Manhattan without gas – so Debra sent a friend to pick them up. Another bridesmaid couldn't reroute her flight from Israel to D.C. – so another guest drove to LaGuardia to pick her up & drive her down to the new location. With transit at a standstill, a few attendees couldn't make it out of the city – so they rented a shuttle to pick them all up & bring them to D.C. The band was shuttled in from flooded Queens; Macy's corporate headquarters sent a store manager with a building key to retrieve Debra's bridal gown from a mall that lost power. A lot of people made a lot of effort to get to this wedding, & the results were... God, I don't even know if I have a word for the results.

There was no bridezilla to be found at this wedding, no arguing or agonizing or stressing over the sort of last-minute details & minutiae typical of weddings long in the planning process. This was a wedding re-planned in 48 hours, a wedding that went without unnecessary decorum like fancy welcome bags for hotel guests & flowers decorating the aisles. This was a wedding intended to be grandiose & beautiful that was, due to circumstances, not the former but was absolutely the latter – because it was focused solely on love & friendship & creating a day that honored both. Together, with some of my favorite people in the world, honoring two friends who are so wildly in love that even a superstorm could not suppress their joy, we laughed & we cried & we sang & we danced & we celebrated, celebrated, celebrated, proving that there are some things Mother Nature can't control – like love, friendship, & stubborn, determined Jews. And oh, yeah: Their story made the New York Times!

Mazel tov, Jonah & Debra, & may you weather every storm together with as much grace & aplomb you did this one. We love you!

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