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I Was at a Wedding Last Saturday! Mine!

  So, this last Saturday I got married to long time lady friend and routine destroyer of worlds, Ashlie Baumann. The whole process started last year with a pretty perfect-if-I-do-say-so-myself proposal involving Enrico Colantoni and Harry Potter and a reference to Clone High USA or two. Since then, there have been all kinds of fun shenanigans, like creating corsages and boutonnieres from pages of Project Northwoods

As modeled by my headcrab, Hermie.
As modeled by my headcrab, Hermie.

… to accidentally ordering way too much blonde root beer…

"Oh, you must really like this soda!"
"Oh, you must really like this soda!"
"Ya think?"

… to making scratch off cards because clinking glasses is just so annoying

Most people got demonstrate, in case you're wondering.
Most people got demonstrate, in case you're wondering.

… to going mini-bowling a week before we got married.

Dramatic Re-enactment
Dramatic Re-enactment

  We decided early on to have a vague super villain-esque theme, as you may have noticed that I happen to have written a book on the subject. As such, we referred to our paranymphs as our goonsquads (or our bride- and groomsquads if we needed to refer to the specific subset). We also cut out Evil Twin Beards™ for our guests as a reference to either Star Trek or Community, depending on your preferred pop culture reference. Rather than have plain ol’ notecards telling people to sit, we made super villain name generators, allowing our guests to adopt an appellation should they so choose.

I'm not saying you're required to call me this, but you can.
I'm not saying you're required to call me this, but you can.

  In case you haven’t picked up on it, we’re kind of nerdy.

Are you new here or something?
Are you new here or something?

  It was a cloudless, warm morning when people gathered to witness our wedding ceremony. The gig was held at an outdoor amphitheater, so the wedding party milled about at the top of the steps, we got to see all of our waiting guests chatting below. And when we signaled our impromptu DJ (a friend with my phone connected via Bluetooth to a portable speaker), the music started up. Ashlie and I watched our friends walk down. Then, it was our turn.

  The officiant was my good friend from graduate school, Jessica. I asked her to do the service because neither Ashlie nor I are particularly religious and, more importantly, I did not want a stranger marrying us. I wrote the script for her, and let me tell you that that was a weird experience. Talking about myself in the third person about a relationship I’m pretty familiar with was all kinds of wonky. I still think it turned out alright, though.

The Officiant’s Script

  Welcome, friends and family, to the wedding of Ashlie Ann Baumann and Jonathan Charles Bruce. Today, June 18th, 2016, is a day of celebration in anticipation of future joys. Two separate stories are intersecting to create a new one, built upon all that came before. A wedding marks not the hard boundary between before and after, but a continuation, a solitary chapter out of an ever-growing novel of life and love.

  Love speaks to the highest that humanity can achieve. We are at our best when we love and are loved in return. And yet we are, each of us, the product of the love we have given, received, or lost. We are the sum of every joyous kiss and heartbreak, every friendship kept and misplaced. We are, at our best, a series of love stories. Some bittersweet, some blissful. Some simple in quiet contentment, others legendary in their expression.

  The two before you today are the products of their individual love stories, their latest and greatest bringing us to this moment. It started simply enough: Jonathan found out that Ashlie loved Harry Potter, so he read the series to have something to talk about with her. Ashlie anxiously awaited text messages from Jonathan, the conversations ranging from the literary to the absurd.

  We are, at our best, a series of love stories. And occasionally, we find someone with whom the story evolves from paragraph, to chapter, to novel. How that story is written changes from person to person, and in Jonathan and Ashlie’s particular situation, they wish to be wed, surrounded by the love of their friends and family. And who are we to say no to that?

  Jonathan, do you have something you wish to say?

[Jonathan does not shut up, Jesus Christ, but puts a ring on Ashlie’s finger]

  Ashlie, do you have something you wish to say?

[Ashlie is sweet and puts a ring on Jonathan’s finger]

  We are, at our best, a series of love stories. Yours have brought you here, to this moment, where I say “With the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife”. Let’s start this chapter right—kiss her like you mean it.

* * *

  The rest of the day was spent doing what should be done at weddings—hanging out with friends and family. Photos were taken, lunch from Chipotle was devoured, and a first dance was… um… danced. We had a photo booth set up to take all kinds of pictures, and people were in and out as they explored the surrounding park. It was a fantastic, personal, and beautiful day.

  I’d like to close this out by talking about my groomsquad. The people who took time out of their lives to stand by my side as I embarrassed myself made my half-remembered heartfelt proclamation to my wife. Outside of Ashlie and my family (and Jessica, of course), these are the people that I love the most. If that’s a problem, you should definitely not gaze upon the following image in all of its glory.

Hello, sunburned Jonathan!
Hello, sunburned Jonathan!
Also, we are classy as hell.

  There is Matt, my fellow graduate school rabble rouser. We shared an office for a couple of weeks before I actually got to know him, as when I was in there in the early days of the semester he was usually having a Skype conversation with his then-girlfriend. Once I realized that there was a place that served pretty good breakfast down the road, I would routinely ask if he would join me, only to end up eating alone. The day he first joined me, his relationship had ended the previous night and he wanted someone to talk to. Although it wasn’t the happiest of beginnings, it was the start of an enduring friendship.

  We fought the forces of darkness in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, dueled in World of Warcraft, discussed all manner of absurd things, and continued to get breakfast. I even got him in trouble for a joke that I made, but that was less my fault and more the fault of the scolding party’s divided attention. It’s hard to say just what exactly makes two people become friends, let alone stay that way, but whatever the hell it is, we have it.

  Also, I named a character in Project Northwoods after him. Inadvertently, but still.

  Then there’s Leah. My second semester as a TA, I was watching students funnel into the large lecture hall that, many years prior, I had taken a sociology course. Anyway, my first day custom as an assistant-to-the-professor was to watch people arrive and try to guess whom I would be responsible for. As all of these fresh-faced kids were coming in, I saw young woman with turquoise hair come in and sit down. As I’m fond of pointing out in this story, I fully admit that I could be wrong and that her hair wasn’t turquoise and I’m just remembering really incorrectly. In any case, I know for a fact that I really hoped that she would be one of my students—and it turned out that Leah was indeed in my class.

  I had the opportunity to work with Leah as a student and as a peer. I got to watch her develop her already inquisitive and critical mind in a way that few people get to see. I still get to read her work, which makes me so excited to see in print and online. On top of all that, I’m lucky that I get to call her my friend. Although I don’t take any responsibility for her success, I’m grateful that I got to be a part of it at all.

  Leah is one of Marley’s adopted names in Improbables.

  And then there’s Heidi. My oldest, dearest, closest friend. We met in high school, specifically in the smoldering crucible that is in drama club. Unlike the other two, I don’t know the precise moment we became friends. I have a strong feeling that we were certainly not the golden children of the group, so we kind of milled about in the same “just happy to be here” circles until we bumped into each other. A sophomore to my freshman standing, in many ways I feel that Heidi adopted me. While my memory fails me about the specifics, I’m glad that she did.

  We hung out a lot, playing video games and generally avoiding responsibility. We made up songs about our crappy deli jobs and came up with ridiculous stories. We had fantasies about making movies and writing for realsies. And while we could give each other a hard time, we always had the other’s back.

  Now, it was like me to ruin good things, and this friendship was no different. A combination of being oversensitive and having a girlfriend who hated my female friends led to many years of estrangement. I’m not proud of that. But it is a testament to Heidi’s character that even after I was a colossal wiener, she still wanted to be my friend. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful she’s in my corner.

  Heidi is referenced in all of my books, and that will be something I continue to do until the day I die.

  So… um… weddings are pretty fun.

  Buy my books, please.

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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