Bill Maher: CNN, to mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11, is going to be replaying their original coverage of that day. Let’s just hope that President Bush doesn’t tune in and go "Oh, my God. They’ve done it again."
—Real Time With Bill Maher, episode 4.13 (2006)
A couple of years ago (two, to be a little too exact), Wife and I were doing our annual Pig Roast thing in the back yard. At that time, Wife was still GF. About midway through the festivities, I turned down the music that had been playing through our speakers and turned on a microphone I’d planted for the occasion.
I thanked everyone for coming and noted that I had an announcement for everyone. People have been asking about this, so we wanted our guests—friends and family, don’t you know—to be among the first to know that GF and I had gotten engaged, and that we’d set a date for the special occasion.
“And,” I continued, “we definitely expect all of you to be there. The date we’ve set is July 11, 2009.”
There was a moment of silence, and a little confusion. And then finally someone way in the back of the yard (to this day nobody knows who) piped up, “But…that’s today!”
“Yes, it is,” I confirmed, and I stepped down off the deck and onto our patio. Pastor Lisa Arrington, who was at St. Luke’s Church nearby, had joined the party following the Saturday afternoon service and performed the ceremony right there.
Only a few people knew about the secret purpose of the party, and after the vows were spoken and several people had gotten up to say a few words of support, the party resumed. Go figure, we all got a little polluted that night.
There were several positive side effects of doing our wedding like this. First and foremost was having the happy presence of our family and friends without the bother of a Big Deal ceremony, or the pressure on the guests to dress up, or bring gifts, or anything else. We just went and got it done, and we did it for only a few hundred bucks total. If you count the cost of the patio and the pergola we’d installed (not specifically for the occasion but they sure came in handy), we were still under $3000 altogether. Money well spent.
Another plus was the ability of the party to bring our families together, not just for that day but for subsequent events and visits as well. Family members are making more of a point of coming to the Pig Roasts, so it’s turning into a multi-day event for the families involved.
On a related note, something that struck us as interesting was the level of commitment that our friends attached to the day. There are a lot of people out there who don’t necessarily commit to this sort of thing. Now, of course, some of them have distance issues, and others have scheduled events that they simply can’t miss (a friend of mine was also getting married that day—she got a pass). But for some people it was clearly a matter of “maybe we’ll come” with the unspoken subtext of “if something better doesn’t come up.” I don’t necessarily hold that against them; this is the way people are. But here’s the weird part: the people who heard about what happened at the party later on and who said to us, “Oh, if we’d know that you were going to do that, then we’d have come!”
I was going to turn this into a bit of a rant about people’s priorities, but I think I’m going to let that last one stand on its own.