The rehearsal dinner in 517 and Neighbor's backyard went well. It was my responsibility, so I clinked the glass and told everyone where to sit and where to wait, and in what order they would march down the aisle. We did a read-through of some parts of the ceremony, although the vows and my words to the couple are still unread. Turboglacier brought down the house with a straight-faced earnest reading of the lyrics to "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. People caught on at varying moments and invariably started to giggle, and pretty soon everyone, including the bride and groom, were laughing. [The bride's parents, who have probably never heard pop music, smiled along with generous but bland smiles.]
The bride and groom gave all of us at the rehearsal dinner baseball caps with a heart on them and the word "STAFF", asking us for our logistical help for the weekend and our emotional support for the rest of their lives. To the bridal party, they gave out Leatherman knives engraved with the words "Love S.W.A.T Team." They passed out a "master plan" for the rest of the weekend [girls' day on the island today, including yoga and a walk and a lunch and an art project, boys on the mainland, playing golf, then a party and dancing tonight, then the ceremony tomorrow at noon followed by a meal]. I know the group from last night is already ready to walk through fire for the bride and groom, but I think the designation as "STAFF" and "S.W.A.T Team" made a difference. By branding us as insiders, the bride and groom gave permission for people to take the initiative, and I think it worked. I can't point to anything big, just the way one group moved their table to a flatter spot before dinner was served and the way everyone was collaborating to light the candles on the table and the way people programmed various phone numbers into their phones after looking at the master list, but it did feel like a team effort.
I got a compliment when one guest said to me after our practice run, "I've been to more than 700 weddings. You're really good." She's a church organist, and when she got married herself three years ago she tallied up the number of ceremonies she's been to. Yikes. Her confidence in me is a nice boost. I'll say my words into a mirror a couple more times, and then cross my fingers.