I woke up early. I had planned to sleep in but as soon as I realised it was the morning of OUR SPECIAL DAY (vomit) I couldn’t sleep. But I could lie in bed for an hour checking Facebook and Instagram and emails. It was our 10-year anniversary and we’d decided to get married to celebrate. There was a knock at the door and I scrambled to find a shirt in the dark. We’d ordered the complementary continental breakfast.
After breakfast we went downstairs to the hotel gym, as we had hours until we needed to be ready (taxis weren’t coming until 15:00). We even had time to drive around Niagara on the directions of a novelty map with arrows pointing West, North and East to possible grocery store locations (no names, no distances, just vague arrows). Dan drove. I navigated. Fiamma, John and Helen sat in the back and happily continued to make interrupting conversation while we worked our way through all three directions of driving to nowhere in particular and not finding a grocery store or suitable place for food, and quickly Dan and I were not on speaking terms. When it came time later in the day to consider our marriage vows, we had both carefully considered the decision and commitment indeed.
I asked Mum and Aunty Gaye to be dressed by 14:00, to help me dress (tuxedo buttons and cufflinks were not made to be easy to do by oneself) as I wanted them to share the experience. Dan dressed himself. We had tried to have a nap from 13:00 to 14:00 but only slept for ten minutes. We were out of bed by a quarter to two, showered by 14:00. By 14:30 both grooms were dressed and photographs with our immediate family were already taken, thanks to friends dropping in (Julian brought me a Red Bull). I think I spent 8 seconds doing my hair.
Dan had booked taxis to take us to the winery. I climbed into the back seat, John sat between us. Mum, Helen and Aunty Gaye climbed into the forward seats. The driver didn’t know where he was going. I let him sort it out. He had the address; it was his job. I looked out the window and went over my vows.
At the winery the Event Coordinator, PJ, was pacing out front. We had arrived on time. We scrambled out. I needed to pee. We had brought wine to give PJ as a Thank You and some board games, in case people didn’t want to dance or talk, so put them in PJ’s office.
Dan had made a great slideshow of pictures of the two of us, and put it on a USB but we had forgot that. Thankfully Pete & Royden zipped back to the hotel after the ceremony, before the food, and retrieved it. But, then the JPEG files weren’t recognized. Oh well.
We shooed the immediate family away and waited with PJ. We both haven’t shaken the head colds that plagued us all week and both had headaches. PJ fetched us a bottle of water. I swallowed some ibuprofen. Too quickly it was time to go.
I don’t have photos of the ceremony; for once I had to put my iPhone away. PJ directed us toward the road end of the grapevines. We began our long walk toward the lakeshore. It was like the slow incline on a rollercoaster. Dan charged off down the vines, PJ on his right. I held back and walked with Bill, the Officiant. I should’ve told him I’d memorized my vows and I wanted to be left alone to say them. We hadn’t rehearsed anything; we’d only met five minutes earlier. It didn’t matter; the important thing was that our guests were there, and we’d made it to the venue alive, with clothes on.
Halfway toward the lake PJ spoke into his headset. Guests were seated. Mandie, our photographer, was directed toward the end of the vines. PJ turned toward me and told me to walk ahead with Dan. The show was about to begin. PJ and Bill left us in the vines, sheltered from the cold wind, and Mandie and her assistant took photos. We crouched down, trying to catch glimpses of our guests.
Too quickly PJ returned, lifted his hand – the signal for us to emerge from the vines and walk to the back of the rows of seats. Dan raced ahead, without me, as usual. I whipped out my iPhone, took one last picture, and tripped over my shoes. I grabbed Dan’s hand and strode out with him. All our guests burst up and applauded. I wanted to die from self-consciousness. I tried not to trip over my feet. Pete was recording on his iPhone (his plan to use his video camera didn’t turn out when the battery failed to charge) and Julian held Dan’s GoPro. Kevin had set up Dan’s camera on a tripod. I realized we were rushing ahead (Dan had a purpose) and tried to slow us down but that would only prolong being stared at.
Mum and Dan’s Dad met us at the back of the 5 rows of chairs. Mum and Helen had kindly at the last minute bought a basket and rose petals and instructed the two children present (Dylan and Katelyn) to walk up the aisle, and throw the petals on the ground. Perhaps we should’ve rehearsed. The kids raced up, within ten seconds had thrown about ten petals on the ground, and then gleefully stood at the front emptying the entire basket all over the grass. It was great. In my mind I had wanted them to have their moment, before Mum and I followed them but Mum had begun to race off, dragging me with her. I realized that this was it and choked up, holding back tears. I raced ahead and stood next to a wine barrel, hoping I was standing on the side I’d wanted to stand (my left nostril was a peeling mess from trying to pop a deep pimple on the weekend).
Dan and his Dad followed us. The freezing wind whipped our faces. We wished we’d worn gloves. Our guests were cyanotic. But smiling.
Aunty Gaye started the ceremony. I really wished we’d rehearsed in the morning. I had no idea what was happening next, as we’d written it months ago. We gave our rings to Mum and John just before we’d sent them down to the lake, as we’d forgot to ask our friends, Ben & Simon, and the boxes were too big to fit into our pockets. The stood behind us as we each huddled at our own wine barrel.
We got Mum to read The Art of Marriage by Wilfred Arlan Petersen:
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say, “I love you,” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
The courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
It should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude
Of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation
And demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
Understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship, in which the independence is equal,
Dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner,
It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.
Reverend Thomas took over the ceremony, to have it Ontario legal. His notes whipped up by the wind. Thankfully it didn’t rain. Did anybody know any lawful reason why we may not be married? No, of course not. This isn’t Australia. It’s Canada. Thanks, Canada!
My vows were first. I had memorized them, but Bill read them out line-by-line. He stumbled over Dan’s surname. I copied his pronunciation, which drew titters. We had planned to be serious but, we’re Australian and irreverence is our nature. By the time Dan got to his vows there were belly laughs.
I call upon these persons, here present, to witness that I, Glen Lo do take you, Daniel Scarparolo, to be my lawful wedded husband from this day forward, through bitter Canadian winter and scorching Australian summer, wherever we are.
to laugh at your silly jokes, mostly because I find them funny.
to be your biggest fan and your toughest critic,
your consolation in disappointment and
your accomplice in mischief,
to be your lover and beloved,
your companion and friend,
in times of joy and in times of sorrow
As we share our life together,
Because – and, if I had only five words:
Life is better with you.
I call upon these persons, here present, to witness that I, Daniel Scarparolo, do take you, Glen Lo, to be my lawful wedded husband from this day forward and wherever that may be.
to steer you clear of bad buffets, but gorge with you at the good ones;
to give you the orange-flavoured lollies out of the bag, and refrain from feeding you capsicum and olives;
to indulge your love of tourist attraction gift shops, even when we haven’t been in to see anything;
to listen to and sympathise with your radiological woes, but keep you from getting too fixated on the negative;
and to do and be a million things and more to make the life we share together beautiful, wonderful and special.
Because life is better with you.
Dan stole a kiss after his vows. Everybody applauded. I exhaled with relief. It’s done. Apparently not. We still hadn’t exchanged rings or been pronounced, or signed our paperwork. Reverend Thomas chided Daniel. He instructed me to place Dan’s ring on his finger. So I did. The whole way. I hadn’t read his emailed update to our ceremony sent the day before where I was meant to slowly place the ring while waffling on for hours. Oops. Dan went next.
After what seemed an eternity of talking and the longest pronouncement in the history of the world (it was actually succinct and poignant) we were finally pronounced husbands and allowed to kiss. So we did. Simon and Ben joined us in the gazebo to sign our Marriage License (the license TO GET MARRIED, which has to be signed by a registered officiant, sent in, processed and then a marriage certificate can be sent out).
There were canapés and photos and our cyanotic guests were whisked inside for a tour and wine tasting while Dan and I froze outside for an hour with our photographer, Mandie, and her assistant in the gorgeous setting sunlight over the vineyard. Sunbeams broke through the clouds and we had plenty of great shots. We even went downstairs into the celllar.
At 18:30 Dan and I stood behind the double doors to the dining room, waiting to hand out our wedding favours (Hangover Kits) to our guests. I quickly logged onto Facebook to update our relationship status – 2 hours late! I don’t understand how Australia still hasn’t legalized same sex marriage. We’ve had 350 likes in the first 48 hours and I have yet to see either any negative response or cause-proven effect. (Of course there is a nutcase in NYC claiming Ebola outbreaks in the U.S. due to gay people drinking Starbucks.)
We ate. We danced. It all ended too soon. The staff at the winery even filmed us as the entire dance floor dance and sang to Disney’s Let it Go. Speeches were made, tears were shed. We were thankful for our family and friends (Dan’s grandmother had even watched the entire ceremony at 04:00 in Perth, via Skype, she’d stayed up all night). By the time our charter bus came at 01:00 to take us home we were pooped. It was the quietest bus, as most people fell asleep.