I’m not the type, however, to get too caught up in scrutinizing every last detail about a wedding. I’m going to have fun, support the couple, and have more fun, and not necessarily in that order. If the couple wanted judgment from their wedding guests, they’d just invite more family members. Juuuust kidding. Kind of.
That being said, I notice when a wedding is done right. That can mean all sorts of different things of course, very few of which necessarily involve spending all that much money, mind you. And sometimes it’s hard to describe. But you’ll typically know it when you see it.
Lino and Augusta’s wedding? You could tell from a mile away it was going to be legendary.
Their wedding was probably the most unconventional wedding I’ve ever been to, and it was without doubt the greatest wedding I’ve ever been to (with apologies to my brother, sister, and everybody else). Here’s why.
I was pumped to go for all sorts of different reasons. One of which was I knew there’d be a ton of cool contemporaries of mine — and most of whom I’d never met before. That’s a bit intimidating of course, but this group is a fascinating combination of talented artists, entrepreneurs, and generally fun, smart, and interesting people. Or, in the case of Marcellino and Augusta, all of the above.
It was exciting to know I’d be meeting all these different people — and I was sure to meet them. You see, I’m not sure Marcellino and Augusta have any acquaintances. They have relationships. So I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be much small talk going on. I was right — as soon as I stepped on campus at the Lone Oak Retreat Center, I made friends.
And by “retreat center,” they mean ranch. Yes, the entirety of the wedding festivities — save for the ceremony held at a local country church — was held on a sprawling ranch. I had a bunk house waiting for me somewhere in the dark when I arrived on Friday around 9 p.m. But before I was to retire for the night, I (what else?) made some friends, and passed around some craft beer and bourbon.
But before bed, there was a surprise (to me, at least) on the agenda.
We were summoned for — wait for it — night prayer. I was exhausted after an early-morning flight, an extended layover in Denver, some pesky work in between, and the two-hour drive in Friday night Dallas traffic out to the ranch. And I wasn’t the only one feeling tired.
But there we all were, gathered in prayer as Marcellino and his twin brother Anthony played guitars and sang praise songs while the rest of us sang and prayed along. I didn’t know most of the words, but it didn’t matter. I just sat in the back and took in the opportunity for peace, clarity, and focus on God. Not insignificantly, I also gained insight into this engaged couple’s love for each other, and where that love came from.
I already knew their love for each other burned hot — these are two passionate people we’re talking about here. That late-night prayer time helped me realize their love for each other flowed from their love for God, which was real and tangible — and particularly visible that night in the rustic chapel.
We hadn’t yet done any actual wedding things, and yet I was already witnessing a man and woman offering their lives to each other for something greater than themselves. Watching them recite their vows in that packed country church the next day, then, took on more meaning as a result of what I witnessed the night before. Indeed, the entire Mass became more real to me because of how earnestly the couple was participating in it.
Once the wedding reception festivities began, it became clear very quickly that this was indeed the most *extra* wedding I’d ever been to. I mean, c’mon. Attendees were instructed to dress according to summer brit (men) and gypsy (women) stylings. The men of the wedding party wore paisley-patterned ascotts while the ladies wore dark pink lace dresses and white flower crowns. The photographers had them pose against a backdrop of red rocks and prairie grass. Lawn games were available in between the ceremony and dinner, including — you guessed it — croquet.
The reception area was built from scratch on a lawn near one of the main meeting areas on the ranch. The obligatory wedding hashtag (#AboutDambTime, using part of the couple’s now-shared surname to allude to their long-drawn-out courtship period) was represented in a cold brew Augusta’s mom had discovered on a trip to Colorado — for which she drove a van more than 20 hours round-trip to purchase, because they wouldn’t ship it and it’s only brewed in Colorado. The dance floor was dug — by hand — four inches into the ground so there wouldn’t be any tripping. Instead of a red (or white) carpet, a smattering of woven rugs adorned the ground leading to the head table. Members of the wedding party on both sides of the family not only gave speeches but performed live music or recited original poetry. There was a kissing contest. A punk rock performance. Men hoisting the bride on a chair above their heads. I could go on.
If you’re connecting the dots, that means Marcellino and Augusta saw their wedding as a representation of the “wedding feast of the lamb” described in the Book of Revelation (19:7-11). In this bit of apocalyptic imagery, they saw their arrival on a horse to be a sign of Christ’s faithfulness. A bold move, to be sure. But these are bold people we’re talking about.
I’ve heard heaven referred to as a “wedding feast” for a long time now and always imagined some sort of long, medieval dinner table with whole rotisserie hogs and wine-filled goblets. This was…not that. There was a fajitas buffet (perhaps the clearest sign that this was a heavenly banquet) and a couple of kegs of beer.
No, there was something much more real about this feast. It was real community with real people sharing the commitment of a couple madly in love with each other — and madly in love with God.
Yes, I’ve been to a lot of weddings in my day. And I’ve noticed that people come to these things for all sorts of reasons: support of the couple, loyalty to the family, free food and drink, fear of being conspicuously absent, and everything in between. I’m not sure I’d ever been to a wedding where everybody there was so obviously there because they love the wedding couple and wanted nothing other than to celebrate their audacious decision to give their lives away to one another. The final proof of this was when everybody stuck around to pack up the whole thing immediately after the music stopped — and before we all jumped into the pool.
It was this unity of mission of everybody involved, perhaps most of all, that made this the greatest wedding of all time — and made it perhaps my clearest experience of heaven. So far.