My husband Cameron and I got our friend to officiate our wedding. We didn’t want a stranger up there with us on our special day. We wanted someone we knew, someone with whom we were comfortable, someone who wouldn’t charge us money.
And while none of our guests understood a word our friend said because he stood too far from the microphone, he had no idea when to have us exchange rings, he didn’t write any prepared marks and chose to free-form stuff about love, he tried quoting ‘Princess Bride’ while doing a lame impersonation of that speech-impediment priest, he knocked over our unity candle, setting the Maid of Honor’s dress on fire, and when it turned out that his Universal Life Church ordination was not valid in our part of New York State, our marriage turned out not to be legal, at least he didn’t charge us any money.
Even though he completely ruined our ceremony, it was personal, it was someone we knew. And that’s all that matters. And we saved money.
We also elected to have a friend cater the wedding, because he’d had us over for barbecues so many times before. We wanted to know that the food had been prepared by someone close to us, someone who knew our dietary particulars. And while he prepared burgers and hot dogs despite our specific request for a choice of salmon or chicken, and even though most of the hot dogs were rubbery, and there was only enough food for about thirty of our eighty guests, and he forgot to supply any utensils, and the condiments ran out after ten minutes, at least we knew that he’d ruined our wedding reception with love, on a very personal level.
And best yet, our other friend, the one we’d hired to photograph our wedding, salvaged a dozen shots of our friend cooking, even though he lost the rest of the wedding photos when he forgot to load his one camera with a memory card. And we saved money.
We wanted to drive to our honeymoon but our car needed a new transmission. Even though we knew there was a respected mechanic right around the corner, we decided to have our friend fix our transmission. It was so much more personal that way. That car was important to us, so it was important that we have a friend touching its parts. I just couldn’t live with myself if I knew that a stranger had been touching my car’s parts, even if that stranger was actually a professional who knows how to fix cars.
And while our friend had no idea what he was doing, and the transmission is still broken, and the car doesn’t work, and my husband had a heart attack when he tried to push the car back to our driveway, at least we know that our friend tried to help, with love. And we saved money.
My husband needed to have a pretty serious heart bypass surgery as a result of the heart attack, and while I knew that there were doctors who did that sort of work, this was my husband’s heart we were talking about. This was the organ with which he loved me. I couldn’t just have some guy I met in a hospital put his hands all over my husband’s chest cavity. That would have been just so impersonal. We decided to have our friend perform the surgery. He played a doctor in a community theater production last fall and he looked great in hospital scrubs. This was so much more comforting for us, knowing that when my husband’s life was on the line, when he was dancing on the edge of death, he was in the presence of a true friend.
And while the operation was unsuccessful, and my husband is now dead, it’s okay, because we know he died by the hand of a friend. And by not visiting a hospital or using a real doctor, we saved money.
My husband’s funeral is tomorrow, and I’ve found another friend to say the memorial. Another friend stepped up to actually dig the grave, which is fair because I asked yet another friend to do the embalming. After googling ‘how to embalm somebody’, my friend assured me that she had a real solid grasp on the basic principles.
She didn’t: my husband looks worse now than he did during the middle of the surgery, just stickier, but at least he was mangled into this horrendous disfigurement by a friend, someone who knows us, someone who didn’t charge us any money.