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The Wedding Toast I Want to Give My Newlywed Friends


I’m a writer.

As in, I write everything down. My grocery list, my to-do list, my schedule for each day, and any words or phrases that I like.  My handbag houses three notebooks at all times, while countless memos fill my phone and sticky notes with chicken scratch have made permanent residence on my desk. This very article began in a red moleskin journal tucked between the beginnings of a social media calendar and a recipe for blueberry pancakes.

And often when I’m waiting for coffee or attempting to avoid small talk in the check-out line, I’ll pull out a notebook or begin to scroll through my memos and read through the things I’ve written down.

Most recently I found myself waiting in the Chicago airport during a thirty-minute layover, and a memo from New Year’s Eve 2016 caught my eye. It read, “Marriage is not hard. Life is hard.”

As I read the words over, my mind immediately flashed back to that night. To those words. My three college roommates and I found ourselves standing around my kitchen, eating spinach dip straight out of the pan, drinking beers and catching up on life. 

Sherridan, the most fearless of the group, was telling us about her final semester of occupational therapy school, and her hopes to travel abroad for the summer. Courtney had just gotten engaged to her boyfriend of three years and as good friends do, we bombarded her with the usual questions, and we admired the new hardware that had made a home on her left hand. And Ciara brought us up to date with all the things newly-wed life had taught her. Ciara is soft spoken, but when she speaks, you listen, because it’s gold.

I found a window to get a word in and blurted out, “So, what’s the hardest thing about marriage?”

Without missing a beat, Ciara glanced across the room at her husband Austin, and simply said, “Marriage isn’t hard. Life is hard.” And as normal as I try to be in social settings, I threw my social graces out the window and frantically began to search for my phone. I jotted down those words into a new memo, enjoyed the rest of my evening and rang in 2017 surrounded by my favorite people.

I’m 24, so weddings are as frequent as hangovers for me. Some are equally painful.  I buy expensive placemats, put on a dress, and listen as my friends read their Hallmark vows about killing spiders and taking out the trash in the pouring rain, in exchange for eternal love. I clap along. I even laugh. But there is still so much I want to say to all my newlywed friends. 

I want to say, first and foremost, you’re brave. You put your broken and bruised heart on a rusted platter and offered it to someone. And in return you accepted their equally tarnished life. That’s brave. That’s beautiful. That’s what I’m here to celebrate. 

I want to say, there’s a reason they say today is the best day of your life. Because today, the real world wasn’t given an invitation. The real world wasn’t allowed to sit at your table, and the real world wasn’t allowed to bring reality as their plus one. 

The real world is cancer, debt, unfaithfulness, weight gain and miscarriages.

The real world does not care how much you spent on flower arrangements or appetizers. The real-world quite frankly, sucks. On the best day of your life, I genuinely hope that the person you are walking up the aisle with, is the same person you can walk through the real world with. 

I want to say, I hope you know your wedding is not the finish line, it’s the starting line. It’s the culmination of years of preparation for this day, despite the countless setbacks, but gracefully toeing the line, because the opportunity to run the race, is worth more than not trying at all. 

I hope you know I’m standing on the sideline rooting for you. 

I want to say, I hope you know the odds are stacked against you. Speaking strictly numbers, half of our friends who read those Hallmark vows, won’t keep them.  I hope you know marriage doesn’t equal success, and divorce doesn’t equal failure. I hope you know you’ll be in good company in whatever category you find yourself in years down the road.

And I hope you know marriage is not hard. Ciara can speak from experience. Marriage is an incredible gift that allows us to brave the real world with someone who knows our weaknesses. It’s the privilege of sharing our worst self with someone, every single day. And it’s the privilege that so many people, never get, and so many people are not even allowed. I hope you honor this gift and I hope you never take it for granted.

And despite all of this, despite what the real world will throw at you, I hope you damn well know, you’re still the protagonist of your life. You get to be invested in your story, because it is yours.  I will always be invested in your story and I so desperately cannot wait to turn the page, and see what you do next. 

Cheers, love. 

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