The Wedding of Jennifer Ellen Casey and Douglas Alexander Morton
June 8, 2003 at 2:30 PM at Grace United Methodist Church, Valley Stream, New York
In the summer of 1980 a six year old boy wrote this prayer in his diary:
Today is your day and everybody loves you today.
June 8th may not have been the first "Loving Day" for Doug and Jenn and their families, and it surely will not be the last, but it will always rank in their personal histories as one of the best. Here is a picture of the bride and groom at their wedding reception in Caffe on the Green in Bayside. The special light in Jenn's eyes is probably the consequence of the photographer's inexperience; but the smile is all Jennifer's.
Heather McKnight, homegrown Grace Church soloist, student at SUNY Buffalo, whose name and face shall before too much longer adorn posters of famous concert halls, sang twice, accompanied by organist George J Simmons, before the processional and during the lighting of the Unity candle. The bridal party included many family members and dear friends of longstanding. The best man was Andrew Novell, Izumi and Alexander's brother, once a Church School student at Grace Church. Pastor Robert W Howard celebrated Doug and Jenn's union with these words:
One of the good things about growing older is to see young people you have known way back when grow up and come into their own, no longer only someone to whom you taught confirmation lessons, but someone from whom to learn about the life and times we share, someone interesting and accomplished, if once the junior high whose smile and laughter you enjoyed, now the mature person you’d like to know even better.
I suspect, Jenn and Doug, that that’s why God has given Pastor Howard these retirement years, to collect and renew the affection he shared with so many junior highs, as they make a major turning in their own lives. Thank you for wanting me to be here and be a part of your wedding. It’s even better than those garlic knots you introduced me to at the pizzeria at Gibson Station.
Would that another could be here this afternoon to say a loud “Amen” at this juncture. Carla Lopez Martin, Jenn’s cosmetology teacher, beloved mentor and dear, dear friend, who left us much too soon, at the tender age of 44, would be smiling and crying at the same time were she here… and she probably is, here, looking down, sending her blessing on her friend and her friend’s beloved. We remember her as guardian angel she hovers over you in this moment and through the days to come.
This is not the time, though it may be the place, to give you a lecture on what makes for happiness as husband and wife. You, Jenn, have already heard the most important wisdom I have to offer… several times. So I’ll just underscore the main theme of the two Scripture Readings you have chosen, reflected, that theme, is on the cover of the Order of Service memento presented to your friends as they entered the church this afternoon. Love. Love is the main thing. In fact, love is everything. But love, to be love worthy of our Lord and his cross, will be full-dimensioned, as strong as it is generous, as hopeful as it is clear-eyed, with arms open toward the world if reserving its strongest embrace for those whom God has given in the intimacy of a family. That’s the love that is enshrined in that symbol on the back wall. That’s the love which is the most enduring hope for our embattled world. That’s the love that will hold the two of you together for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.
Of course, there are lesser dimensions to this eternal love. They’re fun too. Like just holding hands. Or laughing together at some silliness in the movies. Or gently teasing one another… gently, mind you! The love of God, which started and continues to inform this whole enterprise, will surely have its expression in moments of high celebration like this one, and in those darker moments of the soul when life turns hard and things seem to go against us. But that same love will have its joyful expression in the bedroom and the living room and the kitchen of our day to day domesticity.
And the surprise, Jenn and Doug, of growing old together is that you will also grow closer and more deeply in love, if not inseparable, yet as two become one, you begin to wonder just how it could ever have been that you might never have found the other or lived so long without his and her sharing of this mortal life. Let Joe and Barbara say “Amen.” Sally and Allen too.
Welcome officially to God’s design for enlarging and deepening our lives. May God bless you as you grow old together. We bless you too and, true to our promise, will be with you and for you as day after day becomes year after year. Go together in God’s promise for an abundant life.
The evening before the wedding, following the rehearsal, a dinner was given by Doug's parents at Plattedeutsche Restaurant (complete with roast pork and sauerkraut!). Dad Alan Morton, with wife Sally looking on, thanked Joe and Barbara Casey for sharing with the Morton's the treasure that Jenn is. At the reception following the wedding best man Andy, as giddy and animated as any toaster anywhere anytime, remembered the wild moments shared with Doug and celebrated Doug's winning of Jenn's heart as a triumph of what destiny intended.
Jenn and Doug wrote personal addenda to the alternative wedding vows. Their sentiments deserve repeating here:
Jennifer: I take you, Douglas, to be my husband, and I promise before God and all who are present here to be your loving and faithful wife as long as we both shall live. I will serve you with tenderness and respect, and encourage you to develop God's gifts in you.
Douglas, Today is the happiest day of my life… I get to marry my best friend, my soul mater, the love of my life. You have filled a place in my heart and in my life, which I now know was awaiting you all along.
Douglas: : I take you, Jennifer, to be my wife, and I promise before God and all who are present here to be your loving and faithful husband as long as we both shall live. I will serve you with tenderness and respect, and encourage you to develop God's gifts in you.
My Sweetest Jennifer, I stand here today, looking back through the years we’ve shared, and my heart overflows with gratitude. The connection between us, the friendship we found, and the love we’ve nurtured has brought a value to my existence that I had never known before knowing you. And today I understand the precious gift in each moment we’re given during this life together. I see it in the warmth of your smile and the truth in your eyes. I feel it in the tenderness of your embrace and the tickle in your laugh. I hold these things close to my heart and thank God. Your love has blessed my life, Jenn. And today, before our family and friends, I promise my undying devotion to you and my love for all time.
Sequel: Jackson Morton's First and Grandmom's Special Birthdays
Email brought photo attachments recently. I share them with you. They portray the Casey and Morton (Doug, Jen, and Jackson) families. They celebrated in the space of one week Grandmother Barbara Kellett Casey's 39th and grandson Jackson Morton's first birthday. His uncles were on hand for the festivities, one of them, Brian Casey, now living in California and looking toward his own personal celebration, his marriage to Josipa (Opa) Petrlic. Here are the photos: