If anyone ever tells you they intend to buy a house, pack, move, and get married all within one month, send them to me. I will be happy to set them straight.
On June 14th my fiancé and I took possession of our new house; on June 27th we packed up our respective former homes and moved way across town; on July 12th we got married. All this happened as we both continued working and undertook renovations (don’t get me started on installing the kitchen floor). Between the real estate agents, banks, lawyers, mortgage companies and movers, I think the least stressful part of the entire summer was our actual wedding day.
My fate was sealed back in 2009 when I was asked to run a singing class with a voice teacher. The moment we met I knew she was something special, although it seemed to take her a little longer to realize what a treasure I was.
We got engaged last Christmas Eve 2012. On Boxing Day we drove to Quebec, just in time for that province to be hit with the biggest winter storm in 40 years, breaking the previous record from 1971.
Now some might call this a bad omen, but I chose to see it as the weather gods’ way of celebrating our engagement. Clearly I don’t put much stock in portents because we then chose July 12th as our wedding day. As any Irishman can attest, The Glorious Twelfth, or Orangemen’s Day, is historically one of the most contentious dates in the calendar. Again I chose to put things in a positive light by considering this the ideal opportunity to encourage peace between Protestants (me) and Catholics (my fiancé).
We chose a beautiful Victorian era building in Toronto for both the wedding and reception. Thankfully this time the weather gods favoured us with a gorgeous, sunny day; not too hot so we could take lots of photos out in the gardens without any relatives suffering sunstroke.
I work in music and comedy and my wife is a classically trained opera singer; between us we have an abundance of amazing friends who are professional singers, actors, musicians, writers and comedians. We corralled many of them to be part of our wedding celebration, starting with our church accompanist who has been a composer and producer for everyone from Tommy Hunter to Roger Whittaker to The Muppets.
It was a beautiful ceremony full of wonderful music that included our hand-picked choir and Daniel Giverin on violin. The entire thing seemed to fly by in an instant, marred only by the fact that, much to the priest’s amusement, I accidentally signed the Marriage Register on the line for “Officiant.”
The reception was hosted by David Gale, one of my oldest friends and performing partners, with Mark Kersey on piano. It was a joyous event that culminated in an hour of outstanding entertainment provided by more of our cherished friends. In our speech we joked that we were happy we knew so many entertainers who were willing to work in exchange for food and an open bar. My only regret that day was that my dad could not be with us to share in the celebration.
My father spent a good part of his life as a columnist and author. His humourous stories and poems seemed to resonate with readers everywhere, a fact of which I am reminded each time I deal with another reprint request for his work from around the world. Most recently I have enjoyed numerous phone conversations with American singing legend Connie Francis, who has just recorded a spoken word version of my father’s well-known poem “Just A Common Soldier (A Soldier Died Today).”
Although my fiancé never had the chance to meet my dad, she knew how much he meant to me so I was extremely touched when she suggested that we choose one of his poems to be read at our reception. While browsing through some of his published collections she came upon a work that seemed ideal. The words so moved her that she immediately burst into tears…which would have been less awkward if she hadn’t been riding the bus at the time.
The moment she showed it to me I knew it was the perfect way to make my dad a part of our special day. It only seemed fitting to ask another dear friend, himself a popular columnist and television actor, to read the poem at our reception. Between his moving rendition and the subsequent fiddle duet performed by one of my childhood friends and my new father-in-law, we knew Dad was right there with us.
Now if only I had been able to actually taste a piece of our wedding cake…
ADVICE TO A SON
By A. Lawrence Vaincourt
You say you need no one, that you are a man
and can make it quite well on your own,
But you have a long route ahead of you, son –
much too far to travel alone.
From the home of your parents to one of your own,
and the knowledge that you are a man,
To the freedom you have from the love you have known,
is sometimes a terrible span.
No man is an island, so goes the old saw,
and those who have lived know it’s true,
And life’s heavy burdens, which now weigh you down,
are lighter, divided by two.
If it’s only a hand you can clasp in the dark,
or a warm, loving voice on the phone,
Which says you’re important and that you have worth,
it surely beats being alone.
Don’t punish yourself for mistakes in your past,
don’t say you can never go home,
But look for that someone who’ll share your long path,
for it’s too lonesome walking alone.
The star that you follow, you may never reach,
but you’ll know at life’s end that you tried;
And that on your way, you’d the love and support
of the person who walked by your side.
So don’t try to do it, son, all on your own,
for that path should be trodden by two;
And somewhere out there is a person who’ll share –
that someone who’s just right for you.