When my wonderful brother Stewart married my best friend Kristine last Saturday, December 29th, I was privileged to be the Maid of Honor. As the Maid of Honor – not to mention the groom’s sister – I got to give a speech at the reception. A lot of people came up to me afterwards and said it was a beautiful speech. I am so flattered by that praise! Although honestly, I was so keyed-up, overwhelmed, and exhausted at the time that it was all a blur to me.
So since I received so much praise for speaking the truth, and since there were a lot of people who weren’t at the reception, here’s as close an approximation to my reception speech as I can write, complete with the two things I wanted to say but forgot to in the moment…..
This is a story of Divine Providence. Yes, Divine Providence. For why else would a Pennsylvanian with a master’s degree in Theater from Villanova University decide to go to cosmetology school in Huntsville, Alabama? But that’s where Kristine and I met, in cosmetology school in Alabama. We became friends and ended up going to work at the same salon (eventually) when we graduated.
I also bought a house in Huntsville, and when I did I asked if Kristine wanted to move in and rent a room with me. She did, and our friendship got stronger. Except when things like The Potato Incident happened. After that we almost weren’t friends anymore. I’ll tell you about it sometime if you ask. But even then, potatoes and all, I knew that Kristine was the sister I never had.
After a while Kristine told me that she wanted to go to college, but since she was home-schooled she wasn’t sure she could. I told her, “Hey! I know this great college in Philadelphia, Bryn Athyn College, that is fantastic with home-schooled kids.” She applied, thinking that she’d never get in. But lo and behold, she did!
It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to stay in Alabama without Kristine. If she was going to Bryn Athyn, then I wanted to go home too. So we packed up the house and moved up HOME.
Again, Providence came into play. It was great to be home, but I’m a morning person. I wake up early and I go to bed early. But Kristine is a night person. She likes to stay up and go out. But she didn’t know anyone up here that summer. School hadn’t started and she hadn’t made any friends yet. The only person she knew besides me was my brother, Stewart. So Stewart asked her, “Well, do you want to come hang out with my friends?” And that was how it all began.
Stewart and Kristine were just friends at this point. In fact, when I directed them in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead many years ago and they played Hamlet and Ophelia, people kept asking if they were going out. Kristine’s response to that was “Eew! No! That would be like dating Merry!” Yep, everyone else always knows before the happy couple figures it out.
Then one day Kristine came to me and said, “Merry, I have something to tell you and I don’t think you’re going to like it.” “Oh?” I asked. “What’s that?” And she told me, “Stewart and I are kind of dating now.” And I was upset! No, really I was! Because what would happen if they broke up? Who was I supposed to side with, the boy who broke my best friend’s heart or the girl who broke my brother’s heart?
Fortunately, they did the only sensible thing they could do and got married.
[and then I transitioned into giving a “sister of the groom” speech ]
Stewart and I have been through a lot together. A LOT. We’ve lost a lot of people from our life. Most special of those people was our mom. A lot of people here [at the reception] knew our mom and how wonderful she was. She raised the two of us pretty much on her own. People also know that our mom was a quilter. She made the most beautiful quilts!
What people might not know is that Kristine’s mom, Jodi, is also a quilter.
One of the things I inherited from my mom was a big chest in which she kept all of our school projects and mementos and her quilting projects. What people don’t know is that before she passed away, Mom finished piecing together a quilt top. But then she put it away because she knew she would never be able to finish it and quilt it and put the binding on and all that.
So when Stewart and Kristine got engaged, one of the very first things I did was to call Jodi and ask her if she would be willing to finish the quilt. Well, she said yes.
So at the rehearsal dinner Jodi and I presented Stewart and Kristine with this beautiful quilt, made by both of their mothers together, even though they never met.
I ended my speech there, but there was one other thing that I wanted to say but forgot to:
Okay, Stewart. I found you the perfect wife. So now it’s your turn. You’ve got to go out there and find me the perfect husband! So get on it!
Congratulations to Stewart and Kristine, the two people who I love most in my life. May every happiness come their way!