I recently had tea and cookies with my friend Mira, who’s getting married in Beirut in a few weeks. We traded updates on wedding planning and baby anticipation while protecting our coveted table from browsers at Powells. As we talked, I couldn’t help but notice parallels between our two momentous life events.
“People come together like this only three times in your life—for weddings, births and funerals,” Mira said. “Except you can’t enjoy the last one because you’re dead.”
Regardless of your stance on the afterlife, she has a point. We’re both in the midst of witnessing friends and family come together to pull off something big.
I thought back to our own wedding, in October 2008. We had been living in a little apartment in West Harlem then moved cross-country for Eric’s graduate program and so didn’t have a bottomless savings account to pay for anything extravagant. With the help of loved ones, our nuptials were very DIY: We cooked and prepped all the food; made our own music mixes for dancing; and set up everything in a rural site outside Junction City, Oregon.
Before I walked down the aisle, friends mopped up rainwater that had fallen on the assembled chairs earlier that day. They folded napkins and strategically placed potted ferns over stains on the less-than-pristine rented tablecloths. And when dusk approached, everyone pitched in to clean up the dirty cups, plates and utensils.
Sure, the efforts of our guests saved us loads of money we simply didn’t have to spend. But the communal work felt like much more than a way to cut costs.
Getting married was, for me and Eric, a public way to share our commitment to each other. We also recognized that we wouldn’t be there without the support of loved ones. Our wedding celebration ended up being a representation of that idea. We couldn’t have pulled it off without everyone arranging centerpieces, cutting up fruit salad and stacking folding chairs. Everyone who lent a hand became an integral part of that day and, by extension, our union.
Peeper hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m already sensing similarities. My friend Ember, mother of a sassy five-year-old, advised me to accept help from whatever quarters it comes. So far I’ve followed her recommendation. Friends have lent us a stroller, car seat, co-sleeper, maternity clothes and a closet-ful of other baby goods we have no budget for. And I’m pretty sure we’re not far off from offers of dinner deliveries, babysitting and hand-me-downs.
And really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Even if we could afford all-new baby gear and an on-call nanny, I love feeling like part of a tight-knit community coming together for something important (even if that something is small, say 7 or 8 pounds!). As on that drizzly October day almost five years ago, I’m grateful for our closest and dearest for lifting us up and making it work.