A friend of mine, Zee, officiates at weddings as a side job, and she has asked me twice now to witness. Both times the wedding was just the four of us—true elopements, in both cases remarriages of people in their fifties who didn't need the pomp and fruffery; both times, too, the short ceremony took place on the beach—Garrapata State Beach, to be precise.
They vanished, not even a divot to mark the spot.
At that point we all flung ourselves on our knees and started sifting. Soon, the groom snagged the ring on his index finger. Disaster averted!
It was a good outcome, but what struck me was how calm they both were. If they had never found the ring, I suspect it would have ended up just one of many stories, part of their married mythology. And when they did find it, they laughed—so now it's part of their married mythology in a good way.
(As a point of fact, I am now wearing a different wedding ring than the one I started out with. Long, not especially interesting story. I wear a simple gold ring now, which was actually sold as a toe ring, in Santa Cruz. It's perfect.)
Today there were no mishaps—just a very light sprinkling of rain (surprise!) as we arrived at the beach. A little anointing of the soon-to-be newlyweds. It was a nice day, with a touch of wind, and the spot they chose for the vows was near a large rock that kept throwing waves up in the air, joyfully.
Deanna handed me her iPhone and so I served as wedding photographer also. She seemed quite happy with the snapshots: documentary evidence.
I like elopements, the lack of fuss. I suppose a full-on wedding with all the trimmings is more memorable, but it's also a heck of a lot more stress. And when you've reached a certain age and this is a second or third marriage, the wedding itself isn't what matters: it's what you make of the time that follows.
Today, Zee and I left Deanna and Robert on the beach. Tomorrow, they said, they're continuing up the coast to San Francisco. When they get home, they're having a back-yard barbecue with her four boys and other friends and family. No reception per se, no honeymoon exactly, and arguably the wedding itself barely rates. But the way they looked into each other's eyes while they said their vows: that told this witness, at any rate, that they're off to a good start.