I just spotted Eric’s wedding ring on the nightstand…
I just spotted Eric’s wedding ring on the nightstand…
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”**
When I came home to Potomac on Friday I was delighted to see that my mom had preserved my wedding bouquet in a beautiful crystal vase. “Wow,” I thought. “I wasn’t expecting her to preserve it, but how unexpectedly sweet and sentimental of her!”
“I just licked my hand because I thought there was mayo on it…but it was my ring.”
For those of you who have known the Lermans for awhile, you know that Em and I are very close. In fact, I like to think of all my siblings as my best friends, which is why I have no qualms letting everyone know that, as close as Em and I are now, our relationship growing up makes the bitter rivalry between the Hatfields and McCoys seem like a mild tiff between two groups of hostile, gossipy Yentas. It’s for this reason that I have no choice but to roast her here tonight – in front of all her family and friends – because, to quote Phil Collins, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life. (Pause) Oh Lord.”
By and large, my childhood can be summarized as follows: Em would constantly kick my ass; Zack would stand by and watch, laughing maniacally. Were I to seek any sort of redress through my Dad, he would defer any and all claims of wrongdoing to my mom—after he was done laughing maniacally; and Mom would continue playing bridge or mah jong with her friends. If I was really lucky, the babysitter was home. To Steph’s credit, she would often try to help me, so long as she wasn’t busy pretending she didn’t actually have any siblings. If Em had me pinned to the ground, Steph would pull her off of me. If Em was being mean to me, Stephanie told her to stop. If Em called me ugly, Steph would say: “Em – that’s not his fault.”
To label this relationship a rivalry is really a misnomer, as it may mislead one to think that I ever actually had the slightest chance of coming out ahead. Whatever the situation, and regardless of who instigated what, Em always got the upper hand. And it’s exactly for this reason that, for many years, my favorite Em story is the time I cut off all of her hair.
It was the middle of the night, and all of a sudden a loud, high-pitched crying fit reverberated throughout the entire house. Because there is absolutely zero possibility of confusing the sound of Em’s powerful, high-decibel wailing with the softer, weaker cries of her fellow siblings, Mom and Dad immediately rushed to Em’s room. By the time they had arrived, all that remained was Em and the third-worst haircut of her entire life. I don’t actually remember any details of the incident, but I basked in it and considered the unwanted trim a crowning victory.
About a decade later, Mom once again told the story, but as soon as she finishes, Em claims to recall the story differently, and says, “Yeah, just so you all know, that’s not what happened.” Everyone looks around at each other, confused but wild with anticipation. Em continues: “What actually happened is that I cut off my own hair, and when I went to look at myself in the mirror, I immediately became so mortified by what I’d done that I began to cry hysterically. When Mom and Dad asked me what happened, I knew they’d be angry at me, so I blamed you.”
I must say, I really can’t help but applaud the sheer boldness and brilliance of Em’s actions, and I maintain that her eventual confession remains one of the greatest long cons ever devised. To this day, I still have yet to decide which part of this entire scheme is most shrewd: is it the fact that 6-year-old Em thinks to blame someone who probably couldn’t have even identified scissors in a lineup? Or is it the fact that, after waiting for a decade, she finally comes clean and takes responsibility for the act which she knows damn well had been the one and only remaining testament of my status as her formidable contender?
Now, most of you know my Dad, a.k.a. Big Steve. He’s a highly-trained lawyer. He graduated at the top of his class from GW Law, and continues to manage his own law firm. And my Mom, Charla. What many people here may not know about my Mom is that prior to her career in real estate she had a very successful career as an investigative journalist after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill. Both my parents have made a good living based on their abilities to ask the hard questions and the right questions; to collect and evaluate evidence; and to discover the truth based on facts.
And yet, somehow, Em managed to conceal her culpability in the haircut incident for ten years. Where were the questions that day, Mom and Dad? One would think that between an experienced journalist and a veteran super-lawyer, three-year old Jeremy might have gotten some due process.
In addition to the fact that Em almost always got away with her absurd behavior, another source of my resentment toward Em while growing up was my feeling that our parents never seemed to treat the two of us fairly. In fact, all the siblings mutually recognize that, in the hierarchy of child favoritism, Em clearly occupied the top position. And my parents clearly recognized that I felt this way growing up, which is why Mom used to read me a children’s book about a family with a brother and sister, both of whom would complain that their parents treated them unfairly. I don’t remember all the details or even the name of the book, but the main lesson I was meant to take away was that my belief that my parents favored Em over me was simply a matter of perspective, and that Em felt the exact same way I did.
And as I’ve gotten older, I have a much greater appreciation for my parents as being very enlightened and smart about the way they went about raising four kids. Which is exactly why, when I reflect back on my time growing up with Em, I occasionally remember that book and think to myself: “Why were my parents feeding me this horseshit propaganda?” My parents will continue to vehemently deny any and all accusations that Em is and always has been the favorite child, but I know it, Em knows it, and more importantly, the American people know it.
But if the favoritism was somewhat infuriating while growing up, at this point I can’t help but find its continuation quite comical. Consider the following e-mail from my Dad, who, along with his army of loyal TEP fraternity brothers, was engaged in a virtuous effort to raise $100,000 in order to fund the Ari Johnson scholarship, established in memory of our good friend Ari. The TEP brothers had thus far come up a bit short of the 100,000-dollar mark, and one of the TEPs suggested that ten more people make pledges of $564 to close the gap. So the Lerman siblings joined forces to collectively donate one of the $564 pledges, not only to honor Ari’s memory, but also to pay tribute to Big Steve, whom all of his children deeply love and admire.
So Em sends the following e-mail to Dad: “Dad: Your offspring and offspring-in-laws will combine efforts to make one of the $564 pledges, in honor of Ari and because we love our Big Steve! We’re so proud of your hard work, generosity, and heart, Dad!” My dad, clearly moved by the gesture, replied: “Thanks Emily. Beyond the call!”
“Ok,” I thought to myself, no acknowledgment of the other children and children-in-law. Really not a big deal, just standard operating procedure, and I genuinely didn’t feel slighted in any way by my Dad’s very minor oversight. Big Steve makes too many sacrifices for his children – especially this very broke graduate student – for me to get upset over something that is really about something much more important than me. And of course, it didn’t take the TEPs long to hit the $100,000 goal, at which point my Dad sent out a second congratulatory e-mail to all involved: “Thanks TEP. Plus Emily…and friends!!”
Dot. Dot. Dot. An ellipsis? Really? Now again, I’m really not one to get bent out of shape over this kind of thing, but at a certain point it almost seems like Big Steve is actually trying to stick it to his other kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly proud to be a lifetime member of Emily Lerman and her E Street Band, but even Bruce Springsteen had the decency not to insult the band with an ellipsis. And back-to-back no mentions? Even Casey Affleck remembered to thank big brother Ben the second time around.
Even though Em was clearly the favorite, I wouldn’t want to give off the impression that she was able to get away with everything. To be sure, Dad never had the muscle to punish her. She’s been playing that sucker like a fiddle for 35 years. It’s for this reason that, when it comes to the Lerman organizational structure, Mom is necessarily the highest-ranking officer. Do not be misled by this woman’s mere five-foot stature and seemingly calm, quiet reserve. When shit hits the fan, this woman is a force of nature – especially when you fuck with her coffee.
When we were kids, Mom’s most effective weapon in her arsenal was what the Lermans have come to know as: The Count to Three. Em has previously blogged about The Count To Three, but for those not familiar, The Count to Three was Mom’s verbal threat to her children that if they didn’t immediately stop engaging in their idiotic antics and do exactly as she said by the time she finished counting to three, they would surely regret it.
The three count proceeds in two phases. Phase 1 is what I like to call, The Announcement, during which Mom utters the key phrase: “I’m going to count to three, so you better do what I say OR. SO. HELP. ME. GOD!” The Announcement was usually sufficient to instill the fear of God into us, and at this point it was typically game over.
But on the rare occasion when the children were feeling bold enough to tempt fate, they ignored her initial warning shot, at which point Charla proceeded to Phase 2: The Count. “1…2…2 and a half…” The “2 and a half” was Mom’s way of signaling to the kids, “I am showing you mercy, which you mistake for weakness at your own peril.”
Surely many of you are wondering, what happens after 2 and a half? Nobody knows – not even Em. The Lermans had watched enough Disney movies growing up to know that when the Beast tells you never to enter the West Wing, you don’t fucking go in there. If Charla ever gets to three, you’re not where you’re supposed to be.
Even when Em and I were children, it wasn’t as if we were fighting 100% of the time, and even during these years of bitter turmoil we were still very close. After all, an abused puppy still loves his master. But when she wasn’t busy torturing me, Em was always very fun to be around, so long as she was feeling generous enough to let me hang out in the same vicinity as her. Even at that age, I always admired and looked up to my big sister, and that admiration has only grown stronger as we’ve grown older.
And the truth is that, in Emily, I see not only many of the traits and habits I see in myself, but also other traits I wish that I possessed or had more courage to exercise in the way that she does. The people closest to Em are familiar with her razor sharp wit and her unique ability to point out the hilarity of the absurd, the contradictory, and the hypocritical. It isn’t just that Em is incredibly smart, which she clearly is. There is a depth to Em’s intelligence that cannot be attributed merely to commonplace notions of intellect. She possesses a unique and even uncanny ability to sense what people are feeling and to genuinely empathize with their emotions to an extent unparalleled by anyone I’ve ever known. And while she may not know a damn thing about anything I study or about the details of my career, Em understands the core of who I am in the ways that matter most to me, and in a way that I can honestly say that nobody else in the world really does.
The source of these qualities that make Em such an amazing person and sister is often the very source of some of her most difficult struggles, which she has frequently spoken about, openly and honestly, with the kind of courage and determination that is so often lacking in the world around us. But as difficult as it is to see my sister when she’s in pain, what she may not know is just how inspired I am by what she is able to accomplish in spite of the obstacles.
And again, part of this is because, during these struggles, I see so much of myself in her: the perpetual self-doubt, the crippling anxiety, the fear that so often accompanies the continual change that life’s circumstances throw our way, and the sadness that threatens to overwhelm us as we struggle to come to grips with the possibility that so many of the big plans we ever dared to dream are all too often beyond our control. Time becomes more scarce, and the sacrifices we’re forced to make begin to weigh on us. Even with all the beauty and boundless opportunity the world has to offer, particularly for the people in this room, most of us can’t help but feel that reality as we experience it is not always easy, regardless of who you are or whatever your circumstances.
But being able to witness the strength with which Em not only fights her battles but also channels her energy into helping others fight theirs has been one of the greatest sources of inspiration in my life. Her efforts are, in my humble opinion, the very embodiment of heroism. And I think that, for Emily, one of the hardest things for her to deal with is that she never wants to disappoint those she cares about the most or feel like she might possibly be burdening them in any way. She wants to be the one helping and taking care of others – that’s just at the core of who she is.
All the Lermans take pride in bragging about how amazing and special our family is, and we make no apologies for doing so. But the truth is, as much as I make fun of Em for being the family’s center of attention – and believe me, I have no plans of rescinding this conclusion tonight – there comes a point where, as her brother, I feel compelled to admit that, in some of the most important ways, Em is the heart and soul of our family. She’s the one who makes the effort to remember all the stuff that no one else remembers. She makes sure to know what’s going on with everyone else in the family, whether it’s a big thing or something small that no one else can seem to keep track of. To be clear, unlike my parents, I love all my siblings equally. But when the family gets together and Em isn’t there, her absence sucks the air out of the room, and the difference in the family dynamic is palpable.
Despite most of this speech being dedicated entirely to Em, this isn’t just about her. Eric – What can I say, brotha? I can’t help but be very excited to have you join the Lerman clan. As much as I appreciate that Eric is a very funny and genuinely great guy, what’s more important is that he makes Em incredibly happy. No one could deny his love for her when they’re together, but what I also appreciate about Eric is how much he cares about getting to know the entire family and how seemingly effortless it’s been for him to find his own niche in the land of Lerman.
Watching him settle into the family brings me almost as much joy as I gain from witnessing his ability to absorb the torrential flood of shit that Em drops on him like a cascading waterfall, and to do so with the kind of grace and humility that Em will surely take advantage of for the rest of his life.
Don’t get me wrong, Eric is no pushover, and that’s one of the things I most respect about him. But believe me when I say that Eric is bound to run up against some hard limits. Many of you are probably familiar with the story of how Eric proposed to Em, but I’m willing to bet that none of you know the following details of the precise moment when Em and Eric mutually acknowledged that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
It was the middle of the night, sometime before the engagement proposal, and Em was having trouble sleeping because she had suddenly come to the realization that she was ready to take the plunge and she was too excited to sleep. So Em gently shook Eric to wake him up. When he didn’t wake up, she shook him violently. When he gained consciousness, Em said to him: “Hey Babe, I think I’m ready.” “Ready?” Eric inquired. “Yeah,” Em said, “I’m ready to get married.” “Oh,” Eric said. Em could sense the hesitation in Eric’s voice, and wasting no time, she closed the deal the only way she knew how: “Eric,” she said. “I’M GOING TO COUNT TO THREE…OR SO. HELP. ME. GOD.” Mazel tov to bride and groom!
Jeremy gave a fantastic speech at our rehearsal dinner, which ended with the “real” story of why Eric proposed. It was a nod to Mom’s famous “I’m counting to 3 or so help me god” routine (which he had mentioned earlier in the speech). Excerpt here:
It seems, however, that some people thought this is actually how things went down. Which is truly a testament to how absolutely absurd a human being people believe me to be.
Which is fantastic.
(Part of the Ebola Mom series)
Zero time passed between these texts. For all she knows I am, in fact, on my honeymoon.
Also #4 is not hard.
The wedding is in 5 days, and I am an anxious fire monster.
I have resisted writing in detail about my anxiety because I don’t want it to be misinterpreted by friends and family as doubts about getting married. I have zero doubts. But not being open about my anxiety is, as always, making it worse.
I should know better by now than to sit and stew.
So let me be as clear as possible and immediately halt any possible misinterpretation for those of you who still might not be totally clear on how mood disorders work– this has NOTHING to do with Eric. I have never been more confident in a decision in my life (which is saying a lot, as decision-making, for me, is the ultimate anxiety trigger, and is usually done with 100% haste and 0% confidence). I love Eric with all my heart and can’t believe I found him and get to marry him.
But anxiety doesn’t care if you’re grateful or happy. Anxiety has its own agenda, and the only way I’ve found to combat it is to do the exact opposite of combating it– to accept it and to be open about it. Because when I’m not, it eats me alive.
To be clear, I am excited– VERY excited. But the things is, when you have an anxiety disorder, excitement and panic run through the same pipeline, and, despite the fact that you are happy and really looking forward to something, that anticipation can FEEL very uncomfortable, produce an acute restlessness, make you feel like you’re crawling out of your skin, and just cause you to feel plain bad. It’s a frustrating cycle because you know you are lucky and happy, and you want to just feel those simple feelings of happiness and gratitude, but the nerves take over and don’t let you. They just leave you feeling like you sort of want to vomit, and maybe casually pull out your arm hairs one by one.
About 3 weeks ago, I began to feel like a line of drummer boys entered my body, and started a looped parade through my bloodstream, playing a steady, catchy beat– not altogether unpleasant, often actually fairly enjoyable. Sometimes I’d find myself bopping to their steady rhythm and feeling the flow, other times I was like, “Eh, I could use a little calm and quiet now. Oh, no? You’re not going anywhere? Ok I guess I’ll just drink wine straight from the bottle.”
And then, somewhere around last week, the drummer boys decided that right on top of my heart was a good place for them to all settle in, place their instruments on the floor, and then just start banging the SHIT out of them. Cymbals flying, drumsticks clanking. Even some cowbell. Because every band could use a little more cowbell.
All that being said, I know once this weekend arrives I will be thrilled and full of joy and love. Once all the people I care about most in the world are there, gathered in one space, and I get to marry this ridiculously awesome guy while surrounded by them, it will be incredible. Anticipation is always the hardest part for me. The lead-up is torture. Once the event is happening, the energy takes over and I can enjoy myself. I know I will.
So for all of you who have been so lovingly inquiring, “Are you so excited?!”, the answer is yes, absolutely. But I’m also anxious as fuck. And that’s ok. That’s who I am. And I think as long as I acknowledge that’s ok, to both you and myself, I will be able to at least mildly quell that inner voice asking, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just be happy? Why can’t you just be like everyone else?”
Because I’m not everyone else. I’m me.
And you know what? I found someone who can’t even remotely personally relate to these feelings, but who does everything he can to fully understand them, support them, and, inexplicably, love me even more because of them.
Can’t get much better than that.
“Emily, no. NO. Jesus christ, just…no.”
— Friend, when I asked if I can wear my FitBit to my wedding.