Sunday, April 14, 2013

A different kind of wedding

A couple waiting for the Ceremony (neither is our nephew)
On Friday we went to the wedding of our oldest nephew to a woman he first met in college.  He and his new wife were married at the New York City Hall in a civil ceremony.   I have never participated in one so did not know what to expect.

I had a couple of impressions.   City Hall in New York must have celebrated at least 100 ceremonies on Friday.  The city does civil ceremonies like it does the rest of life.  The range of participants represented the broad complexity of the city - so all types of backgrounds, genders and couples.   Some very traditional, some not.   Each however all were full of the anticipation that is evident in more traditional surroundings.

In the last forty years my perspective on New York has not changed.  From my perspective, while there are lots of amenities (things to do, a variety of good restaurants) navigating the place takes a lot of energy.   Like a lot of the East Coast, I am not a fan of the weather - a bit too cold in the winter and not entirely pleasant in the summer.   It is also bloody expensive.   So from my point of view it is not worth the effort.   But a lot of people are captivated by it.   Oddly, I like LA, which has many of the same qualities as New York but much better weather.

Here is the process for the civil ceremony.  A couple first gets a license and then picks a date.   One the day of the ceremony, the couple  registers with a clerk and then waits.  In our case after about an hour delay they are called with their wedding party into one of two small chapels.   Each ceremony takes about 5 minutes.   The clerk who conducted the ceremony was a bit theatrical but as our nephew commented that probably allows him some sanity.   You get use of the room for an extra five minutes to take pictures - while the other chapel is in use.  Then you are done.

The process is a bit bureaucratic but that does not diminish the sentiment among the participants.    We got there about 10:30 and left by 12:30 including the short ceremony.  They actually have an electronic tote board which keeps track of the couples and their progress (our nephew's number was C693).   Obviously, one of the tradeoffs you get with this process is a bit less personalization.   Some people came dressed up to the nines others were more casual.

After the ceremony we went to an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn for a lunch and then to a reception at a bar close to the couple's house (with an Indian buffet) and a dynamite Black Forest wedding cake.   It was a fun day.

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