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On September 29th, 2018, my best friends and my found-family members, Mare and Blais, got married. I officiated the ceremony, which took place on Mare’s family’s land in Vermont. Mare and Blais wrote their own vows. A transcription of the ceremony follows.
CEREMONY ATTENDEES gather in the CEREMONY AREA and are seated. RACH stands at the ARCH, with SPEECH NOTES, and WEDDING RINGS. MARE and BLAIS and ANDY, TERESA, CINDY and JIM are stationed at the FROG POND away from the CEREMONY AREA. Two songs are prepared to play on cue: “Intro: Serendipity” by BTS and “Go Places” by The New Pornographers.
Friends and family, we’ll get started in just a moment. While you find your seats, please allow us a word about music.
The first song you’ll hear today is one most of you won’t be able to understand, because it is in Korean. I think it’s important to understand why this song was chosen, so I’d like to share a translation of its lyrics with you. They are:
All this is no coincidence,
just by my feeling.
The whole world is different from yesterday
just with your joy.
When you called me,
I became your flower.
As if we were waiting,
we bloom until we ache.
Maybe it’s the providence of the universe.
It just had to be that.
You know, I know:
you are me, I am you.
As much as my heart flutters, I’m worried
destiny is jealous of us.
Just like you, I’m so scared
when you see me, when you touch me.
The universe has moved for us.
There wasn’t even a little miss.
Our happiness was meant to be
cause you love me, and I love you.
You’re my penicillin, saving me–
My angel, my world.
I’m your calico cat, here to see you–
Love me, touch me.
Just let me love you.
Since the creation of the universe,
everything was destined.
(wait for everyone to be seated)
“Intro: Serendipity” begins to play. MARE and BLAIS process with ANDY, TERESA, CINDY and JIM. JIM, CINDY, TERESA,and ANDY take their seats when they come to them. MARE and BLAIS proceed to the arch. Music ends at the natural conclusion of the song.
On behalf of Mare and Blais, I welcome you into our family.
Everyone who received an invitation to this ceremony has had an indelible impact upon Mare and Blais’s lives. Gathered here are blood relatives, who laid the foundation for who these two became; not-so-blood relatives, who gave of yourself and welcomed them into your own family; friends, there for them when times were bad, but also when they were good; and those friends who have come to us and said, “You are a safe space. Thank you.”
We’ve gotten that sentiment a lot, over the years. It’s something this family takes pride in and is honored by. And it’s worth talking about today, because–as much as it may look like an inborn gift–that kind of warmth and welcome is something earned. Effort went into that, and these two have been at the core of that work.
But let’s begin with the beginning, in the year 2010, on a day when Mare had something to say about his metalsmithing class.
You see, there was a new metals major who had joined the studio, and this individual, according to Mare, was terrible. He was an annoying know-it-all who got along with everyone and bore the sin of chattiness. Mare informed me that this individual was named Wylie Blais and that Mare hated him.
Three or so months later, Mare happened to mention, in the most relaxed and friendly of voices, an interesting chat he’d had with Blais while walking home together.
Suffice it to say, I did a double-take. “I thought you hated Blais?” I asked. Mare insisted that oh, no, well, you see Blais is pretty cool. They’ve been hanging out, you know.
(meaningful look and/or blinking guy gif) Uh huh.
One month later, one of Mare’s roommates held a large birthday party to which Blais was invited. He arrived in cocktail black and white, his sleeves rolled up to the elbows, and an actual coyote tail for a tie, which even after a scarce three prior meetings, I knew was par for the course. Blais got through maybe four greetings before spotting Mare in a little black ensemble and a pair of faux-Oxford heels I’d bullied him into buying.
I watched Blais’s jaw hit the floor. In my memory, everyone in the room blurs out of focus, except for Mare and Blais on opposite sides of the kitchen, Mare smiling sheepishly at Blais, and Blais in a state of delighted shock.
Now, this was very immediately after Mare had had a rough breakup. There’d been no time for sorting through emotional baggage, and I had only recently found out that my best friend in the world didn’t hate this person. And so I did what any good buddy would do: I arranged for about half the party to gently prevent the pair from getting together that night.
Would you like to guess the results?
(small “oh well” shrug)
In that first year, everyone around Mare failed to understand what we were watching. For the friends Mare had gathered in college, it was as if Blais showed up and Mare’s personality completely changed. For myself, I knew that Mare had started to act like himself again, after a very long time spent conforming to the expectations of others.
Mare and I have been best friends since we were twelve, and the Mare I had known then was patient, diligent, and in love with the natural world. The return of that person came with deer bones and fursonas, hippie hair and bursts of color. Mare’s patience grew broad again, and the diligence that had never fully left now arrived alongside passion, rather than obligation.
Blais was and is extraordinarily grounded in who he is, which makes him honest and direct. He believes in communication, which means that Blais responds to problems by starting a conversation that is defined by pragmatism, not accusation. As Blais shared the skill of communication with Mare, he brought with him taxidermy and wolf drawings, mullets and neon hats. And a little at a time, the pair began to find themselves in each other and one another in themselves.
With hindsight, we can solve the mystery of what happened back then. When Blais’s honesty and directness came into contact with Mare’s patience and diligence and those qualities began to converse, everything changed, and the work of building something wonderful began.
I know firsthand that when looking at their relationship from the outside, it can appear positively idyllic, as if two people who are innately gifted and mature have found each other and formed an inherently happy relationship. But none of that is a given. It isn’t that they don’t have arguments and fights–it’s that they have them in privacy, where they can talk genuinely about the problem with an eye toward collaborative solutions, rather than compromise.
In this way, they bore each other up through thyroid cancer recovery; PTSD; two major surgeries; Blais’s second puberty; complete upheavals in identity; living alongside my depression; incompatible roommates; each of our college experiences and subsequent graduations; near-firings and one actual lay-off; the Boston Marathon bombing; the 2016 election; and spending a lot of time in a car with me in my first year of driving.
Mare and Blais have the most stable relationship I have ever seen. They have such a deep well of commitment and trust, and it is the openness and kindness that grows out of that trust that many of you have felt in our home. That came from Mare and Blais’s efforts. It is the willingness to speak honestly and work collaboratively toward a mutually assured happiness that has defined these past seven years.
(To MARE and BLAIS)
This is your day. It would be wholly inappropriate not to honor what you’ve built by keeping you from speaking any longer. Blais?
TALKING? MY FAVORITE!
I met Mare at a pivotal point in my life. After some initial distrust, he welcomed me into our school studio, his friend group, family, and eventually his heart.
(face Mare) When I met you, I was just starting to fall in love with my work at school and make new friends. Then I found out I had cancer. You showed me patience–with me while I was healing, with our transitions to our work lives as you graduated before me, and with me trying to keep up with house chores… You showed me the good that can come from seeds sown carefully in life, and built strength into our relationship. I have come to take for granted how stable our momentum of growth is, but it wasn’t always so obvious and secure. In one of my darkest times, trying to understand who I was and what I should be doing, you were there for me. I fell in love with you then and quickly. Every day since you and I got together, you’ve reminded me in both small and big ways that you’ll continue to be there for me.
I am honored to announce my vows to you today:
- I promise to love and support you and your family, including by learning Polish. You heard it here, everybody, I am working on it! Nie wiem jak.
- Creating a safe and loving home with you has been one of the best parts of my life with you, and promise to preserve this energy always for you and our family and friends
- I promise to take both of our needs seriously, and will always listen to you openly.
- Just as you supported me while I transitioned, I promise to be there for you while you evolve into your Final Form. It’s totally exciting that I get to watch from the other side and cheer you on! I love who you are, and the badass guy you’re becoming.
- I promise to continue to work on not talking over you when I’m excited.
- I can’t promise not to tickle you, which I know you hate, but I will otherwise always be there to take care of you when you are sick, tired, or hangry.
- I mentioned momentum before – it is inspiring to watch how much effort and diligence you will put into anything you set out to do. We have so much we dream to accomplish, and so I promise to always try hard to be the best I can be for both of us. You are always more humble, but I promise to proudly and loudly stand up for everything you work on.
- I also promise to encourage you to play and relax sometimes. It is ok to not always be working, I promise you! Play some video games!
More than anything, you are my best friend, and I promise to be your best friend. I made a promise to you to be honest and forthcoming since day one, and today I renew that vow. You deserve the truth from me always, and no matter how hard it is I will share with you the whole of me. I love you very much and for as long as I live I will give you the best of me.
Now that Blais is stealing my job… Mare?
Rach outlined how bewildering it looked from the outside to watch me fall for Blais, but I want to talk about how it felt from in here.
I remember walking down Mission Hill from my apartment in late March after that party, feeling like the sun was actually shining on me for the first time in a couple years. The sense that you were some kind of rival vanished – I didn’t want to impress you to do better than you, but to do well alongside you and for you. Sitting at the top of Mission Hill in a drizzle and watching worms roll across the park path with you felt like poetry, and walking through the Fenway victory gardens between classes felt like an adventure. I felt safe, like I could be honest with you and rush forward to show you everything I cared about. I felt inspired to be curious and playful in a way that was beyond exhilarating. I could be an animal with you, a metalsmith, a nerd, a furry, a girl or a boy or both or neither, a friend, a partner, enough, myself.
We’ve come a long way from then, but those feelings of freedom and joy and trust have not faltered for a moment.
I promise to trust you and put my faith in you as we continue to grow together.
As we grow, I promise to share the fruits of that growth with you. I promise to guide you when I’m ahead and cheer you on when I’m behind.
I promise to bring my best self to you every day, even when I’m tired, overwhelmed, or hangry.
I promise that when I feel like I might be grumpy, I’ll remember to laugh and just be ornery instead.
I promise to hold myself accountable for my own mistakes and flaws, to be humble and apologize when I’ve made those mistakes, and to put the work into becoming better when I need to.
I promise to say what I think and feel, to use my words and not hold back – to be honest and confide in you without fear. I promise to listen carefully and respond thoughtfully.
You’ve taught me so much, and I promise to keep an open mind and continue to learn from you, as well as teach you anything I have to offer in return.
I promise to be my own whole person, so that together, we are not 50/50, but 200%!
I promise to collaborate with you on anything from making dinner to making art to making a home and a community, as it has been my joy to do, offering my steadiness and taking inspiration from your curiosity, for the last 7 years.
Wylie Blais, I’m proud and excited every day to call you my partner. You make it so easy to show I love you. I want to do that for the best of my ability for as long as I live.
RACH picks up the RINGS and shows them to the ATTENDEES.
Mare and Blais made their wedding rings together, using metal from the MassArt studio in which they first met.
RACH hands MARE and BLAIS the rings. MARE and BLAIS exchange rings.
By the power vested in me by the state of Vermont–and the power vested in me by all we have been through together–I pronounce you married.
ATTENDEES do some cheering (I assume), and MARE and BLAIS smooch it up.
“Go Places” plays.
Please follow us to the reception tent.
EVERYBODY processes to the TENT.