Here Comes My Sister

A Speech 31 Years in the Making


I think of myself as a bit of a wedding rookie. I’m about as far from Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses as a girl can get. I’ve been in two other weddings (not counting the one I photographed) and only really been to a handful. Most of the ones I’ve been to have been as a plus one, rather than via my own invite, so I only give myself partial credit for those.

All smiles with my Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sister’s — my first time as a bridesmaid.

Over the years, I’ve watched many a toast and I’ll admit, I rather like the role I’ve fondly played — champagne flute in hand with the only action required being catching the right point at which to raise my glass. Being on that side did give me a lot of ideas of what not to do. This may seem pretty obvious, but their exes shouldn’t be a focus, nothing too embarrassing should be mentioned, secrets are off limits, and please please remember it’s not really about you — it’s about them. (Details withheld to protect the guilty because I’m feeling kind!).

I’ve been speaking more often as of late at various conferences — most recently in NYC and Hamburg, Germany. I’ve gotten much more comfortable with being on stage. Some people prefer speaking without, but I love me a good PowerPoint presentation behind me. The lovely colors of a well assembled slide, accompanying the rush of feeling in charge of the moment with the only other contributing factor being the energy of the audience.

As much as you may love your work, no matter how passionate you are about it, nothing compares to talking about your family. Really talking about your family and how you feel. As someone who’s occasionally found herself sniffling at touching TODAY Show segments, I knew going into the wedding this would be a bit hard — anticipating I’d likely choke up a bit at some of the sentimental points. I didn’t, however, expect that to happen almost immediately.

Pro-tips for future MOH speech givers (that’s maid of honor) — take a deep breath before you start and only a fool goes up there without tissues. I’d also read online that it was good to put your speech on index cards so it doesn’t block your face as you speak, and I recommend it. Plan ahead though if like me, you’re buying index cards when school just starts back for the fall. Ooops.

Me and Leslie, circa 1984.
When we were younger, you could almost say we were almost polar opposites. Aside from wearing similarly smocked dresses Mom made us to wear to church, we were very different people even into high school. Leslie was very artsy and creative, whereas let’s say I was a bit more uptight and super type A.
Somewhere along the line, we met more in the middle personality-wise. I remember going over at Thanksgiving to meet up during her study abroad time in Amsterdam and when we sped through the city with me holding on the back of Leslie’s bike, I wasn’t just riding with my sister — I was riding with my friend.
Leslie was always the one we knew was going to end up in a big city. We weren’t sure exactly what she would end up doing — but knew it would be something fabulous. She started at Harper’s Bazaar before moving onto Macy’s, where she makes sure photos from their store brand or even her boss’ children look just perfect. I never thought I’d find my way to be close by, but it happened that our paths in the end lined up to NYC.
It’s easy to look back at moments for yourself and think that they meant nothing, but sometimes they just might mean the world for someone else. Over five years ago, I was dating someone who doesn’t warrant a name and was going to be out of town for several weekends one summer, which meant I was hoping to get a certain someone to help watch my crazy little Yorkie. Leslie obliged, coming up and hiding out several weekends in my spot in the East 50s. She was so bored one weekend that she decided to sign up for Match.com. For her, there was only one date to come from that. It was a simple night out at an East Village bar called Heathers that started it all.
Post brunch silliness. Ian in an industrial refrigerator, with Leslie in the reflection.
There have been so many wonderful memories. Brunches in the East Village with servers singing Britney Spears, or where Ian crawled into industrial refrigerators on Bowery. 3PM karaoke sessions (because karaoke pros know that’s when no one is there and you can own the place). Visits to Wigs (AND PLUS!). Always a wig with this lady over here. Riding the Cyclone time after time (because that’s what you did when that used to be free). Leslie dressing as Amy Winehouse and managing to find someone as we were walking through the East Village who was able to fully draw the appropriate tattoo set with a Sharpie to complete the “ensemble”. Ringing in the New Year with just each other and a German beer garden full of strangers. It’s been quite the journey.
Retro Barbie and Amy Winehouse in the East Village — Halloween 2007
I wanted to find a reading I thought was appropriate, but nothing was quite right. In keeping with our visit to Letterman this week, this is a composite of lyrics from a top 10 list of romantic karaoke songs [altered ever so slightly to make more sense].
Singing some Wilson Phillips at karaoke. We were fans of “Hold On” long before Bridesmaids came out. “Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye… Until then baby are you going to let them hold you down and make you cry?”
And he is good, so good.
He treats your little girl,
like a real man should.
He is good, SO good.
He makes promises he keeps.
No, he’s never gonna leave.
Then [you’ll] give [your] heart
‘Til the end of all time
Forever and a day
He wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad
All [he] wanna do is grow old with you
Yeah, [he] would fight for you, [he’d] lie for you,
Walk the wire for you, yeah, [he’d] die for you.
Even when you’re crying, [he thinks] you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, [he’s] around through every mood
You’re [his] downfall, you’re [his] muse
[His] worst distraction, [his] rhythm and blues
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
Every prayer has been answered
Every dream [has] come true
And right here in this moment is right where [he’s] meant to be
Here with you here with [him]
And in a white sea of eyes
[He] see[s] one pair that [he] recognize[s]
And [he] know[s]
That [he is]… the luckiest
Today’s the day
You’ll say “I do”
And you’ll never be lonely anymore
God blessed the broken road
That led [you] straight to [him].
Daniel, as my dad can attest, he’s been the lone male for over three decades in a sea of ladies — down to the dog. Welcome to the family from all of us. From your encouraging support for Leslie through those bumps along the way to your patience with Leslie’s cat lady tendencies, I’ve seen how much you love and support her. You’re the perfect balance to the wonderful unique person she is.
Congratulations to you both and I’m sure others here will agree we all look forward to paying you many a visit and learning more about this foreign land known as New Jersey. So let’s all raise a glass to Leslie and Daniel!
September 7, 2014 — Frankies 457, Brooklyn (Photo credit: Jennifer Gwatkin)

Congratulations indeed! So honored to have had the opportunity to help toast them as they start this next chapter in their lives together.

(FYI, I’ve been out to New Jersey twice already and lived to tell.)