Friend: “If/when you get pregnant one day, who will you tell first– Eric or Facebook?”
Friend: “If/when you get pregnant one day, who will you tell first– Eric or Facebook?”
That amazing moment when you’re packing for the first wedding that isn’t your own wedding, and you realize it doesn’t matter what the hell you pack, wear, do, or say, because no one gives a fuck about YOU this weekend.
That moment when your rabbi Venmo’s you a wedding gift.
While there was a decent amount of ad-libbing and additional content in the live event, this is the general script of our wedding ceremony, led by our dear friends and fabulous officiants Gabi and Andrew.
Opening Remarks (Andrew)
Welcome to the Main Event. Gabi and I are thrilled and honored to be presiding over tonight’s ceremony. How fitting that we’re gathered here, from near and far, to celebrate Emily and Eric, in the state for lovers. The famous slogan, Virginia is for Lovers, at its core, represents a love of life and a passion for travel.
We’re here to celebrate love and passion, to celebrate commitment, to celebrate friendship, and to celebrate family. Most importantly, this is a celebration of Emily and Eric, as individuals and together as one.
Emily, Eric. Look around. Everyone is here for you and your love for each other. Please take it all in.
Just before arriving to the chupah, the Jewish wedding canopy that symbolizes the home that you will build together, we, along with Emily and Eric, and witnesses Danielle and Eric, gathered to sign the Ketubah.
This important contract is your promise to trust and respect each other; to be open and honest; and to be loving and forgiving in a relationship of equality. It’s your commitment to comfort and support each other through life’s sorrow and joys, to honor your families and traditions, and help fill our world with peace and love.
About Emily (Gabi)
Emily is the funniest person that Eric has ever met. Her humor is matched only by her intelligence, beauty, and courage. She runs marathons and runs her own small business, yet always makes time for the important things in life: Family, friends, and Facebook.
As I look around this room, I see smiles from all parts of Emily’s journey here today. Em grew up on the mean streets of Potomac, Maryland, with countless summers spent at Camp Robindel (although Steve could probably count them). At Penn, Em expanded her horizons — making friends from Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, and even one Houstonian (diversity). She became a scholar of Sociology, which led to a career in education, molding young minds as Miss Emily. It’s with an impressive balance of levity and gravity — and emoji — that she shares her thoughts and feelings with the readers of Emily’s Posts. But it is her dedication to family — the Sibling Dinners, her love of the Boog, the way she adores Big Steve and Charla — it’s those strong family values that make Emily who she is today and who she will become tomorrow.
When we asked those closest to Emily to describe her, we heard things like, “Em is a bundle of hilarity, awkwardness, sarcasm, and kindness rolled into one…. She is generous… She is compassionate… she doesn’t judge. She supports everyone’s journeys, no matter where they may lead…” And — our most popular answer — “she makes Eric the happiest we’ve ever seen him.”
About Eric (Andrew)
Eric is a lighting rod of excitement. When we were writing this, I asked Gabi, “Do think excitement is the word that best describes him?,” and without hesitation, she said, “Yep. He’s like a golden retriever that always wants to lick his owner’s face.”
But Eric is more. He’s personable, charming, and outgoing. He can talk intelligently about pretty much everything, and these are the exact reasons that make him Emily’s match.
And what he lacks in hair, he makes up in resilience, optimism, and perseverance – often in the pursuit of fun. (He once even tore his ACL just so I could use the handicap bathroom at a music festival.)
Cuddly but muscular, Eric has great values, great friends, and great moves on the dance floor – just wait – and Emily, like no one else on earth, you bring out his best.
About Couple (Gabi)
I know there are a few lawyers here tonight. Oh, excuse me, I’m sorry — I know there are a few DOZEN lawyers here tonight. So I feel it important to cite a little known statute – Federal Guideline 38.33 – otherwise known as Lerman’s Law, the rule that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong… for only Emily. It’s pretty much Murphy’s Law, but with greater anxiety and a lower tolerance for lactose. Sure, during our college years, we may have broken a few rules here and there, but the one Emily just could not escape was Lerman’s Law. For example, she takes an awkward step — most would maybe twist an ankle. Emily’s avian bones put her in a cast for months. Then there’s her travel record. Is there a suitcase lost or a flight canceled? You can bet it’s Emily’s. And in a city of 9 million people and 25,000 restaurants, Emily and Eric’s fourth date takes place at a table directly next to a high school acquaintance who blabs on about Emily’s dating blog… that she hasn’t told Eric about yet.
Yes, Emily started this relationship with a big ol’ secret. But Eric was not so innocent either. You see, Eric shares the same name with the lead character of Emily’s favorite TV show, Coach Eric Taylor of Friday Night Lights. When Eric learned how much this thrilled Emily, he rrrrreally leaned into the joke, an early commonality to bring the two closer together. The only problem? He was a liar. He had never seen a single episode. So for the next two months, Eric secretly watched all five seasons to make good on this white lie.
Secrets and lies. The foundation of any strong relationship.
Both of these stories happened in their earliest weeks together, yet each signals the most important truths for Eric and Emily.
First, their love is honest. Their love is free from judgment or shame. Each accepts and embraces the other’s whole being with eyes wide open. Clear eyes.
Second, their love is limitless, boundless, endless. They are overflowing with joy, laughter, friendship, partnership, music, and dance. In good times and in bad, their hearts are full.
It’s with great pride — and legal authority — that today we mark the official end to Lerman’s Law as Emily and Eric officially become The Taylors. The start of a new episode for these two – this one filled with good luck, in good health, with love and laughter. Because together — with clear eyes and full hearts — Eric and Emily simply can’t lose.
Before proceeding, we would like to make a few acknowledgements:
Thank you to everyone here today, loving family and loyal friends.
We would also like to honor Grandma Bibby, whose presence is certainly felt but isn’t able to join us here.
Additionally, we would like to honor the memory of:
Nanny City, and
whose spirit resides among us today. May their memories be an inspiration to us and always remain in our hearts.
Wine is the Jewish people’s symbol for joy and celebration; a symbol of the richness of life and the sweetness of love.
This Kiddush cup, passed down from Emily’s family, symbolizes you, Eric and Emily, coming together to share one life. Remember to fill it with forgiveness, understanding, appreciation, and wine. Lots of wine.
“Baruch atta adoni, ello heynu meleth ha olum, ba ray pre hagufan.”
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the Fruit of the Vine.
Now please both take a sip. As you share this wine together, may you share happiness and fulfillment from the cup of life.
It is my tradition, and Gabi now yours, too, to also have a sip of wine to thank God for giving us the opportunity to perform this mitzvah.
In my family, on momentous occasions, we say another prayer – the Shehecheyanu – to give thanks for all the blessings in life that have brought us here today.
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, oh Lord our God, King of the Universe,
for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this very special day.
Vows & Rings (Gabi)
Your rings are powerful symbols and constant reminders that your love for each other is never-ending and ever-lasting.
(Andrew) Eric, Please place the ring on Emily’s finger and repeat after me:
Emily, I give you this ring
As a reminder that I will love, honor, and cherish you
In all times, in all places, and in all ways, forever.
(Gabi) Emily, Please place the ring on Eric’s finger and repeat after me:
Eric, I give you this ring
As a reminder that I will love, honor, and cherish you
In all times, in all places, and in all ways, forever.
Breaking the Glass
(Andrew) It’s tradition at the end of a Jewish wedding that a glass is broken. It serves as a reminder that just as pieces of a broken glass can never be put back together, marriage changes the lives of individuals forever.
Throughout this ceremony, you’ve vowed in our presence, to be loyal and loving towards each other. Therefore, it is my pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife. Eric, take care of that glass, and you may now kiss the bride.
(Gabi) Throughout this ceremony, Eric and Emily, you’ve vowed in our presence, to be loyal and loving towards each other. We love you both and it’s our great pleasure to officially pronounce you husband and wife.
**Not in the script but best line of the ceremony from Andrew, and now unofficial hashtag of our wedding: “We love you very both”**
A friend of ours, Shaun, is designing a wedding trinket for us and using our wedding hashtag, #cleareyesfullheartstwojews on the design (If you don’t watch Friday Night Lights, and don’t know we are The Taylors, then there is nothing I can do to help you understand or appreciate this hashtag. I’m sorry.)
Shaun also runs his own business. While designing our trinket, he was simultaneously emailing a potential new client. In this email, he meant to cut and paste a standard questionnaire that goes out to all potential new clients.
Instead, he accidentally cut and pasted our hashtag, and hit send before realizing.
The client signed.
Four years ago, Ari Johnson, an incredible human being and dear friend, took his own life. On this anniversary of his death, here’s a little known story that I’ve never shared publicly, but think about all the time, particularly on this day.
It’s no secret that I struggle with my mental health. There were certainly incidents throughout my childhood that indicated an issue, but my first semester as a freshman at Penn is when things really started to spiral out of control. I was on my own for the first time, and the anxiety was skyrocketing. I cried all the time and felt completely and utterly alone. My sister Steph was a junior at Penn at the time, but she was spending that first semester abroad in Australia. I certainly had some friends on campus who I had known before college, so I wasn’t actually alone– but my god did I feel that way. Because that’s what depression does.
Ari was a very close friend of Steph’s, and a senior at the time. I had met him dozens of times when I was a high schooler visiting my sister at Penn, and he was the best. Just a super chill, friendly, funny, laid back guy. The first week of my freshman year, his fraternity, TEP, had a party, and he told me to come by and bring all my friends. I gathered the acquaintances I knew and headed over to the “TEP Deck.” It was a crowded mob scene, as first-week-of-college parties tend to be. Ari saw me and told everyone to move the hell out of the way and let his friend Emily, and all her friends, come in. It was absurd but fantastic– and at age 18, yeah, it made me feel super fucking cool.
Ari totally took me under his wing that first semester while Steph was away. He could see that I was kind of struggling, and wanted to be the surrogate older sibling in the absence of my sister. This was certainly not his job, but he made it so. Because that’s just who he was.
I started confiding in Ari more and more as the weeks went on, because he was one of the few people on campus I felt I could relate to. While he never explicitly said it, I sensed a darkness in him. An underlying, inner battle. There’s a certain kinship that exists among people with mental health issues– we can sense it in others, even when they haven’t sensed it yet in themselves. Something about the conversations Ari and I had led me to believe that deep down, he was struggling, too.
But I never asked. I didn’t feel it was my place, and I sensed he probably didn’t want to discuss it.
Words cannot express how much I regret that.
About a month into freshman year, my anxiety and depression began to take the form of bulimia. I was living each day grasping at strings, and bingeing and purging was the only method I had for feeling in-control (the ultimate irony, because nothing says “out of control” more than eating a meal for 5 and then shoving your finger down your throat). By the second month of college, I was making myself throw up 3-4 times a day.
One day I just grew weary. Shortly after a purge, staring at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror, I got so damn tired of carrying this secret. It was at that moment that Ari sent me an instant message (remember those?!) asking me what’s up. I responded, “I think I might be bulimic.”
I told him everything. He responded with immediate, genuine concern, and told me I needed to get help at the student health center. At the very least, he said, I needed to tell my family. That’s when I panicked and tried to backtrack. I didn’t want my family to know. I didn’t want to disappoint or worry anyone. I just wanted to tell Ari so that I could get it off my chest– but really, I was fine.
I was 100% not fine. But I tried to downplay what was happening. I told Ari it wasn’t that big a deal, I was just having a bad day, this was all under control. I begged him not to tell my sister. By the end of the conversation, I was sure I had convinced him that a little bulimia was not really a genuine health concern, and that I’d be fine.
But Ari was no idiot. And he had too much heart to sit back and do nothing. He did exactly what he should have done– he told my sister. And then, immediately after telling her, he told me that he had told her. And that was the first step in my realizing that this was a real problem, and that I needed help.
Knowing that I now had no choice but to take action, I immediately confided in another friend of mine, and she took me to the student health center. It was the first time in my life that I had ever been evaluated for the state of my mental health. Needless to say, I did not pass. I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. The doctor was amazed I had made it this far without doing something truly drastic, seeing as though I was waking up every day hating myself and feeling so utterly alone. I was put on medication and set up with a doctor for talk therapy. I have been in treatment ever since, and can’t even fathom where I’d be today if I hadn’t taken those beginning steps to acknowledge and understand what was happening to me.
In that sense, I truly feel I owe Ari my life. I wish I could have told him that while he was still alive. I wish I could have told him that in recognizing my pain, taking it seriously, and putting me on the path to getting the help I needed, he did more to save my life than he will ever know.
And I will never stop wishing that I had done the same for him.
If you know someone struggling, say something. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation. There are no wrong words– if you think someone is suicidal, ask them. Urge them to get help. Remind them that you care.
If you’re looking for a way to help someone today, there are two links to fabulous causes below. The first is for Active Minds, a mental health organization that is extremely dear to my heart, and whose ultimate goal is to change the conversation about mental health, creating a world where no one has to feel alone in his or her struggle.
The second is a link to the Ari Johnson Memorial Scholarship– started by my family, this scholarship will keep Ari’s memory and impact alive, and will be awarded to a student at Penn who shows dedication to overcoming adversity and disadvantage, including but not limited to the area of mental health challenges and advocacy.
*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to represent the experience or feelings of anyone but myself. I recognize that crawling out of depression and Trump being president are not universally analogous, nor is the comparison relevant to most people out there, especially the people most potentially threatened by his presidency. This is simply a personal, self-indulgent journaling of how I am processing my emotions and looking to stay positive and make sense of things in a time that is overwhelmingly challenging to do so. But mostly, it’s just an ode to a dear friend.
Today I received this email from a dear friend…
Nine years ago, this same friend came to visit me in my darkest hour. I was living with my parents in Maryland, in the midst of an extremely serious depressive episode. I had left my job and my life in Philadelphia. I was literally sleeping in my parents’ bed, between them, too afraid to be alone with my thoughts. Despair was eating my insides. I couldn’t function, couldn’t eat, could barely breathe. Dressing myself was a challenge. I had lost any semblance of the life I had known and loved, and I saw absolutely no path to getting it back.
And then this friend came in from NY to visit. He dragged me into DC and forced me on a tour of our nation’s capital. And as we sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he promised me hope.
I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t see how that was possible. I couldn’t see past the very moment I was trapped in. I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever be able to function again, how I’d ever be able to take a breath that didn’t feel shallow. I couldn’t imagine ever holding a job. I couldn’t imagine being able to connect with anyone, on any level, ever again. If I couldn’t even imagine these simplest of human tasks, the idea of ever living a fulfilling, productive life seemed completely out of my reach. I wanted to die.
But this friend insisted on hope. He insisted that progress doesn’t happen in a straight line– but that eventually, we always move forward. He promised me I’d not only get my life back, but this painful experience would, in time, lead to an even better, more connected life than the one I had before.
I protested. He protested back. Eventually, too bone-tired and sad to argue, I nodded. My heart wanted to believe him but my mind told me he was full of shit.
Shortly after his visit, life began to change. It wasn’t instant and it wasn’t easy. It took work. It took a LOT of support from those around me. It took a damn village. It took faith. It took forcing myself into action. It took constantly reminding myself that no matter the setback, everything was going to be ok.
Today I not only function, I thrive. Today I not only breathe, I breathe deeply. Today I not only work, I have my own business. Today I not only connect, I get to marry and share my life with the most incredible man I’ve ever known.
My friend was right. My life is better today than the life I was living before my darkest hour. Not only because I survived the despair, but because I learned from it. It opened my eyes. It gave me perspective. It made me more empathetic. It deepened my connections with others. It inspired me to give back. It forced me to speak out. It sprung me into action, and inspired me to work on myself and stand up for others every chance I get. It made me realize that I have to cherish, appreciate, and look for the good if I want to ensure that darkness will never win in the end.
So thank you, friend. I needed this reminder of hope today. And not because there aren’t other messages of hope out there. There certainly are, thank god.
But you are a source I can trust.
In response to Worse Things, a friend just texted…
Discussing fasting on Yom Kippur with a Jewish friend…
The following story should beautifully illustrate for all of you why I walk around this world in a constant state of panic, with the assumption that at any point in time, I will do something epically dumb/awkward/socially unacceptable/spastic that will leave me slapping myself for years to come.
A few weeks ago, one of my best friends, Adam, asked me to sign the ketubah at his wedding, which occurred last night (*note to the non-Jews– a ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract between the bride and groom. It requires the signature of some Jewish witnesses. In this case, me and three other Jewish friends of the couple.) My first thought was “What an honor!” and my immediate second thought was “Christ, what does that entail?!” (No, just kidding. I definitely thought the Christ thing first.)
I’ve never signed a ketubah at a wedding, and I had heard various stories about how it works– one friend of mine had to write a bunch of shit in Hebrew, a task this barely-Jew is CLEARLY incapable of without at least one month of practice. Another friend said he had to write his entire address in cursive. As we recently established, I do not know how to write a cursive t, much less any other letter that is not part of my name. I could envision me standing there with a shaky hand, taking 45 minutes to pen the words “New York” with the same skill and accuracy as Billy Madison writing “Rizzuto,” while Adam puts his head in his hands and silently wishes he had just asked his 98-year-old senile great aunt to do this instead. (Note: Adam does not actually have an old, senile great aunt. I’m just saying, if he did, she would have been the better choice).
“No, no,” Adam assured me. “You literally just have to sign your name. No Hebrew, no extraneous cursive. We are making this as easy as possible for everyone involved.”
And then, in what can only be labeled the most unrealistic notion to ever enter my psyche, I thought, “Oh, ok. There’s no way I can fuck this up.”
You see where this is going.
I fucking fucked up the fuck out of it.
“But…but…how is that even possible?” you say. “You just had to write your name! You literally just had to do the one thing you’ve been practicing doing since you were 4 years old!”
Yeah. I know. FOR CHRIST’S SAKE I KNOW.
Here’s what happened. A bunch of guests were gathered in a room, and the rabbi called over the “witnesses.” To me, that meant ALL the witnesses (I’m not the only one who thought this– ALL the ketubah witnesses came over. #throwingmyselfabonehere). The rabbi explained to the first witness standing in front of her, Jon, that he needed to fill out his name and address on the sheet of paper, and “we’ll do the signature part later.” So Jon went first. Then the rabbi turned to me, as I was second in line, so I picked up the pen and went next. Right below Jon’s information, there was a line for the next witness to write in her information. So I did. Full name, full address. In print, not cursive, thank god.
I then passed the pen to the next witness, Melissa. She went to fill out her information but there was no space for a 3rd witness (I had failed to notice this when I filled out my part. I just did what I was told by the rabbi– she has God on her side, people! If a rabbi gives you a task you fucking do it and you don’t ask questions. I later pointed this out to the rabbi, and she was honored that I gave her that much credit and power. Yeah, well. Never again, sister.) Confused, Melissa turned to the rabbi and said, “There are more than two witnesses here but there is no more space.” It is at this point that the rabbi informed us that this was not a form for the ketubah signers– this form was the official marriage license. You know, the paper you use to legally seal your union and prove you are married? That form. That binding, lasting contract. And I was NOT the designated witness for that form. Jon, who filled it out before me and is a best friend of the groom, was. The second witness was supposed to be the best friend of the bride.
I am not the best friend of the bride.
I’m an asshole friend of the groom who wrote on the wrong paper.
A paper that just happened to be the legal marriage license.
“Well, I guess you’re the new witness instead!” said the rabbi casually, thinking that solved the problem, which it clearly did NOT. The bride and groom had obviously very precisely planned who would sign their legal license, and I was not included even a little bit in that plan.
The only saving grace is that I did not actually SIGN the license. I just filled out the form with my information. The actual assigned witness could still sign it at the bottom, but her signature would not match the information I had given. So, in other words– it would not be, you know…legal. Per se.
“I mean….I guess we can just cross it out…” said the rabbi tentatively, clearly never having had to deal with a fuck-up this epic before. “It won’t look great, but it can still be used…”
Every newlywed couple’s dream.
So that’s what happened. The poor girl who was supposed to have had the honor of being the marriage license witness had to draw a line through all my printed information and squeeze hers in on top of it. And for the rest of their lives, Adam and Diana will have proof of my idiocy forever imprinted on a document reflecting the most important, meaningful decision they’ve made in life thus far.
When the ketubah signing part happened afterwards, I managed to get my signature down on the correct line, because I looked the bride dead in the eye and said, “Please show me EXACTLY where to sign.” I then wished the couple a lifetime full of “love, happiness and LAUGHTER,” emphasizing the word laughter in my most dire tone, so as to indicate, “Hey, remember when I screwed up your marriage license? We’re all already laughing about that, right?”
When the whole thing was over, Adam came over to me, gave me a huge, warm bear hug and gently whispered in my ear, “Thank you for ruining my wedding.”
Well you. are. WELCOME.