Like most of you, I’ve attended my fair share of weddings—from the backyard variety to the fancy-schmancy hotels. The few that stick out in my memory have a couple of things in common: First, they are authentic to the core, which is another way of saying that every word uttered during the ceremony and reception feels so genuine and true as to seem predestined.
Second, the weddings I admire most are far more focused on creating a sense of community among guests than with impressing them with decorations or catering. Finally, my favorite weddings are the ones where I spend at least half the night on the dance floor, shaking it with a big ol’ smile on my face.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a wedding that set a new bar (in my humble opinion) for how two people should tie the knot. My dear friends, Mark Smelzer (JCK‘s publisher!) and J. Eric Fisher, were married in a gorgeous ceremony that took place in a grove of pines on the property of the Roxbury Barn, an unbelievably charming event space in the heart of the western Catskills of upstate New York.
The Roxbury Barn on Friday evening, the night before Mark and Eric’s wedding
Mark and I had been talking about the wedding for months, so I knew to expect a good time. Our friend Alissa Goren, a familiar face to many in the diamond trade—she is the Tel Aviv, Israel–based show director of the Rapaport Group’s Diamond Show in Basel—extended her stay in the U.S. after Las Vegas so she could attend the wedding, and that pretty much sealed the deal. I flew to New York from Los Angeles on Thursday, and Alissa and I set off from the city on Friday morning for the three-hour drive to Roxbury (in the junkiest rental car ever—but that’s another story).
Alissa Goren, my copilot and partner in crime, on a lunch break in Phoenicia, N.Y.
Home to the former estate of Jay Gould, one of the 19th century’s infamous robber barons, Roxbury is today a summer retreat for New York City denizens. Bucolic and serene, it was the perfect gathering place for 119 of Mark and Eric’s family and friends. That a crew of JCKers—including JCK Events group vice president Yancy Weinrich and her lovely daughter, Greta; associate publisher Donna Borelli; national sales manager Bill Furman and his charming wife, Garee; Warsaw-based representative Mirek Kraczkowski and his girlfriend, Dominica; and regional sales managers Bobbie Hamburg, Randi Gewertz, Robin Lutin, and their respective partners—was there to witness the nuptials made it all the sweeter.
The ceremony kicked off shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday with a series of readings from the likes of Shakespeare, the Beatles, and the Bible. Eric’s father, Dave, led the couple through their marriage vows (which, I might add, set off plenty of tears in the pine grove) and the ring exchange. At some weddings, a 45-minute ceremony can seem like hours, as the officiant utters one platitude after another. Not this wedding! The readings that Mark and Eric selected were original, poignant, and engaging. I was honored to be among those asked to read.
Following the ceremony, we shuffled down to the barn, sidled up to the full bar, and got down to business eating, drinking, and, yes, dancing. But not before Mark and Eric stood in front of their guests hand in hand, as husbands. In some ways, not much had changed. They’ve been partners, lovers, and best friends for eight years. In other ways, everything had.
Congratulations, guys! I couldn’t be happier for you and all the other same-sex couples out there who are finally, legally able to wed. (Though your gorgeous wedding, so full of love and warmth and community, is a tough act to follow!)
Just as Mark and Eric stood up to thank everyone for coming, the son of one of their friends bounded into their arms.
I’ll sign off with the selection I was asked to read, which, I think, says it all:
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
—Sonnet XVII; Pablo Neruda