- A pre-show "Amy & Mark Trivia" slide show on the big screen, just like at a "real" movie these days.
- Popcorn, treat bags, and fountain soda for all.
- A Laurel & Hardy short silent film
- A reading by yours truly
- Music, images, and dance by friends of the couple
- Vows that made the crowd laugh and cry (among their promises to each other? Mark's word to "split the difference on the thermostat")
- Fabulous vintage outfits
- An excellent reception party (with no bouquet/garter toss or money dance or Macarena. whew.)
I've got photos up on Flickr if anyone's interested. Meanwhile, as promised, below is the "live blog post" I read that day. A thousand thanks again to everyone who answered my call for lessons we've learned about love from the movies. You offered so many great suggestions that I didn't even manage to squeeze in all of my own. I left out Bridget Jones! And Never Been Kissed! How could I neglect either of those?? Because you guys had so many great ideas that I had more than enough to work with. Big thanks in particular to Guinness Girl, who sent me email after email with all sorts of fun movie references, and to Sognatrice, who damn-near wrote my conclusion for me. You guys are the best. Seriously.
Anyway, here it is.
What I've Learned about Love from the Movies
(presented at Amy & Mark's wedding, October 6, 2007)
A few weeks ago, Amy called me up to ask if I would read something at her wedding. I agreed, of course, said I was honored, and asked what she would like me to read. As popular as that letter from First Corinthians is, I figured it was probably not on the agenda for today. "Love is patient, love is kind"... those are pleasant and valid sentiments, of course, but we've all heard them many times over, and Amy and Mark are not two people to bow to convention, as a general rule.
Then she said she'd actually like me to write something to read today.
Now, most of you don't know me, so I'll just fill you in and tell you that I am not any sort of expert on love or marriage. I have very few words of wisdom from experience to offer a couple starting a new life together. So I wasn't sure exactly what I should talk about today. But then I started thinking about exactly where we are, and not just why we're here. And naturally, I started thinking about movies.
I've often wondered whether art really imitates life, or if it's the other way around: if we search for the things we search for because movies have told us to--the sweeping romances and easy resolutions--or if movie producers are just trying to capture for us on the big screen something real and true--that indescribable thing called love that lucky people like Amy and Mark have actually found in real life. So I started to think about movies, and the sorts of things I have learned about love from them.
After all, movies offer us plenty of wisdom and advice about love... They've taught me that sometimes you find love when you least expect it... like when you're a nun-in-training working as a governess for a retired Naval captain and you suddenly find yourself edging out the Baroness after dressing his seven children in drapes and teaching them to sing. (That may not be a universal example, but maybe it still lends itself to a greater point.)
Movies also offer plenty of maybe not-so-good advice... Ali MacGraw in Love Story taught me that love means never having to say you're sorry--something I'm not so sure I recommend to Amy and Mark, or to any couple, really. If you take her advice on that, you let me know how that goes, OK?
Movies teach us about pain... Anyone who's seen Say Anything knows that if you give someone your heart, they might give you a pen in return.
But they also teach us about possibilities...
Before Sunrise taught me that sometimes you need to be spontaneous and get off the train with the chatty stranger, because it might just be a night you never forget. And Dirty Dancing taught me that if you take a girl to the lake to show her how to do a lift, say you'd rather be with her even if it means eating jujubes to stay alive, and tell off her overly strict parents for putting her in the corner, then you're bound to wrap up your summer singing about how you've had the time of your life and you owe it all to her.
Some movies give us good, practical advice for dealing with heartache...
Meg Ryan in Addicted to Love taught me that putting rotten strawberries under your ex-boyfriend's pillow to turn his face into a splotchy red mess is not a good way to win him back... nor is boiling his daughter's pet rabbit on the stove (this courtesy of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, of course).
They also teach us how not to get the guy (or girl) in the first place...
A fairly bad late 80s movie called Teen Witch taught me that putting a spell on someone to make him like me is pretty much an all-around bad idea, and an only slightly better movie called She's All That taught me that if you fall in love with someone after you secretly bet your best friend that you could make her the prom queen, she will find out, and she will not be happy about it.
And Patrick Dempsey taught me in Can't Buy Me Love that, well, you can't buy yourself love... though you might end up finding it unexpectedly after attempting to pay for it anyway. Oh, and also, that you shouldn't overlook the curly-haired nerdy guy, because one day he might end up being the McDreamiest doctor at Seattle Grace.
Movies have taught me about patience... In Field of Dreams, I learned that sometimes you need to let your crazy husband who thinks he's seeing dead baseball players cut down all your corn and build a baseball field in your backyard. And in The Princess Bride, I learned that even if the farm boy you fell in love with goes away and becomes a pirate, he will still come back for you, to save you from shrieking eels and fire swamps and rodents of unusual size, not to mention marriage to a wussy prince you do not love. After all, even death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.
Movies taught me that the one I think I want isn't necessarily the one for me. Sandra Bullock made this mistake in While You Were Sleeping. "Forget about the guy in the coma," we all wanted to say. "His brother's the one you want." And Gone with the Wind (which I actually saw in this very theater, with Amy and Mark, just a few months ago) taught me that rogue, wild men aren't necessarily dangerous, so maybe I should stop pining away for that boring old Ashley Wilkes and get on with my life already.
Movies have taught me that unlikely pairings are sometimes the most incredible... High School Musical taught me that the basketball star and the brain can fall in love, and can also sing cheesy music beautifully together. Grease taught me that the love of my young life might be just a tight black t-shirt and a pair of leather pants away. And The Philadelphia Story taught me that if I want passion, I should probably marry the difficult guy, the one I sometimes want to throw a golf club at... that witty banter and playful sparring with that guy beats life with the boring, safe rich guy any day.
Movies have taught me that even maddeningly particular girls can find love, that even if you take an hour and a half to order a sandwich and get cold when it's 71 degrees outside, you might be the person someone wants to talk to just before he goes to sleep, the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
But perhaps most importantly, a relatively obscure little movie called Dream for an Insomniac taught me that there are far too many mediocre things in life to deal with, and love shouldn't be one of them--that anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of your time.
Which basically means that what I've learned about love from the movies is this: it's not magical, it's not about clichés, it's not about changing yourself to fit into the ideal you think someone else wants. Also, it's not going to wrap itself up into a neat little bow in a mere two hours or less.
Love is simple and complicated at the same time. It is beautiful and honest, and the most real thing we can hope to find in this world. And those like Amy and Mark who have found it are not only extraordinarily lucky but also the ones laughing hardest at Hollywood for trying so hard to capture an inexplicable and overwhelming emotion that doesn't generally come with a bag of popcorn and a diet Coke.