On August 19, 2000, I was the DJ at the wedding of Matt Shepard and Kelly Shepard.
Two years and 38 days later, Matt and Kelly attended the wedding of their friends, John and Becky. I was the DJ at that wedding, too. As the wedding came to a close, Matt and Kelly approached the DJ booth to say hello. We chatted for a while, then I invited them over to my home for some must-see TV.
That simple invitation launched our friendship.
Matt and Kelly’s marriage did not last, but our friendship endured. Matt and I soon became New England Patriots season ticket seat mates. Over the years, we have attended more than 200 games together, including 7 AFC championship games. We’ve played many a round of golf and many games of poker together. Matt is one of the very first readers of almost everything that I write.
I’ve dedicated a book to him.
We’ve been friends for 20 years, but it sometimes feels like we have enough memories to fill twice that number of years.
All of this leads to Veterans Day 2021. Despite their divorce, Kelly and Matt have remained good friends as they’ve raised their daughter, so Kelly and I have remained friendly as well.
On Veterans Day, Kelly married her longtime boyfriend, Colton.
I officiated the wedding.
I’ve done some strange things in my time as a wedding DJ and minister.
I’ve been the DJ and/or minister of the weddings of my ex-girlfriend, Elysha’s ex-boyfriend, and my ex-wife’s ex-husband.
I’ve officiated the wedding of my former second grade student.
I’ve officiated a wedding where the best man was a dog.
I’ve officiated a wedding for a couple who arrived to their ceremony in a helicopter.
But this one might be the most unique of all.
A Thursday evening wedding.
I was wearing jeans and a sweater to cover the abdominal brace from my recent surgery.
I could barely stand.
The bride was one of my closest friend’s ex-wife.
The groom – oddly enough – was the bride’s ex-husband’s good friend, too. Turns out Colton and Matt are pals.
The groom had a bowl of food in front of him during the ceremony and was eating less than a minute after I pronounced them husband and wife.
Had I not been available to officiate the wedding, the backup minister would’ve been Kelly’s ex-father-in-law. Matt’s dad.
As I expressed at the ceremony, the wedding of Kelly and Colton was different in many ways, but in many ways, it was also better than many weddings I’ve attended in the past.
Equally joyous, Equally important. Equally filled with happiness and love.
Also a lot less formal and fussy. A hell of a lot more accepting of the unique ways that families can arrange and conduct themselves in this ever-changing world.
It’s always an honor to officiate a wedding. In addition to Kelly and Colton, I also had the honor of officiating the weddings of two colleagues this year. Both were just as lovely and unique.
In one, the daughter of the bride stole the show with a remarkable reading of something she wrote herself.
In the other, beer was tossed to guests by groomsmen who danced down the aisle ahead of the bride. One of the cans – the last one, of course – was dropped by the intended recipient. It hit the ground and split, spraying beer on the front row. The groomsman picked it up with surprising speed and grace, shotgunned the rest in seconds, and then moved on like he does this kind of thing every weekend.
Pretty hilarious. Absolutely unforgettable.
There’s nothing wrong with a traditional ceremony. In many ways, Elysha Dicks and I were married in a more traditional way.
The person who officiated our wedding was our friend and principal, who was ordained by the same online church as me.
The music – all Beatles songs – was played by our friends and music teachers.
Elysha and I wrote and recited our own vows and included a couple of Jewish traditions, and I later quoted a South Park character in a toast, referring to him (not entirely inaccurately) as a Jewish philosopher, but still, our wedding was fairly traditional.
Also joyous and perfect and unforgettable. No dogs or helicopters or bowls of food at the ceremony.
Actually, there was a dog. One of my in-law’s friends brought a small dog in her handbag, but that was neither planned nor appreciated.
Still, joyous and perfect and pretty traditional.
But it turns out that different is good, too. Pretty damn good, in fact.
Congratulations Kelly and Colton.