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The Wedding of Jessica Lydia Mahoney and Michael Angelo Fiermonti

The Wedding of Jessica Lydia Mahoney and Michael Angelo Fiermonti

October 25, 2003 at 7:00 PM at Leonard's of Great Neck (NY)

    As long as I live I learn.  New experiences.  New people.  New places.  In fifty years of doing my Marryin' Sam bit I had never previously presided (or even entered) Leonard's of Great Neck, the wedding catering palace on Northern Blvd on Nassau County's North Shore.  Oh, I had heard of its lavish decor and feasts: they are legendary among my fraternity of officiants.  Thanks to a young woman, Jessica Mahoney, whose name and middle initial duplicate a granddaughter of our own, I was treated to Leonard's opulence up close and professional.  Jessica's groom is a personal friend of the owner and in his time has worked the valet parking. 

    The main participants in the evening's proceedings arrived well in advance of the stated hour.  The bride was driven to the front door in a vintage auto.  The groom, in a stretch limousine, was attended by ten groomsmen. At 7:05 PM in the Colonade Room the men assembled up front within whispering distance of me, and the bridal procession commenced to the strains of Jeremiah Clarke's "Trumpet Tune."  As the bride neared the front of the room, escorted by her stepfather, Bill Buttafuoco, her grandfather, Ned Mahoney, joined them for the "giving of the hand" ceremony, accompanied, of course, with kisses (bride) and handshakes (groom).  Ned, 92 years young, had spent the week in L I Jewish Hospital recovering from a reoccurrence of a digestive ailment; but nothing, no way, was going to keep him from attending his Jessica at her nuptials!

    Herewith is the message I presented:

Keeping the Promises

            This wedding service is filled with promises.

            Those you make to each other… first and foremost… what we have gathered here to hear, how Jessica will tell us and the rest of the world that she is for Michael to the end of time and then some.  Michael will do more than say “Me too.”  He has already told me, in answer to my question, in effect, “Do you really want to do this?” “I really do.”  And that’s just the beginning.  The vows, my dear friends, the vows, which, hearing, bring tears to many an eye, not because they are so dreamy and idealistic, because they touch on the real circumstances which the two of you will be called to face… together, long after toasts have been raised, the wedding cake has been eaten, and the bouquet tossed.

            I know you know how to keep the promises.  Like the one about in sickness and in health. You, Jessica, have been there in the warmth of a family’s compassion throughout the long, wasting illness of your Dad, a courageous young man, who made it easy to love him and help him through his last illness, a sad experience transformed by his courage and the love of the people around him. That, Jessica, is part of your inheritance.  May you never have to draw upon that resource.  May there be only health.  But should any of the untoward circumstances which find their way to our doorstep come knocking on yours, you will be up to it.

            Together.  It’s true, and often repeated, that in marriage a couple halve (cut in half) their sorrows and double their joys.  Keep your promises to each other and life will open before you the way a flower opens its beauty in the morning sun.

            But there are some other promises being made this evening in this marriage service.  I distinctly heard your family and friends state they would be there for you in the days that succeed this one.  You know they will be.  Because they have been… there for you year in and out since the day you were born.  Your request, Michael, that your grandmother, Angelina, be named and remembered this evening tells me that your family has surrounded you with love and encouragement and have played a most important part in making you a strong and independent person.  Jessica, all I have to say is, “Mom, Bill, Anne, Ned, Carol, Steve, Barbara, Ray, Lisa, and David” and you can count your blessings by God for giving your life issue in a family that will always be there for you no matter what.

            But there’s another set of promises voiced this evening at this wedding service.  Not only yours for each other.  Not your family and friends to you.  God’s.  That when you try, really try, to live to the letter and spirit of the message about love from I Corinthians 13, what Dolores read for us, then God will see to it that, has arranged the world in fact in such a way, you will find love coming back to you at every turn.  That’s God’s promise.  That when you live outwardly, givingly, more ready to serve than to be served, when you, in the words of the old Sunday School song, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” the sunlight of God’s grace will shine on you and fill your days with satisfaction.  That when you let the love you share spill out on the world around you, bringing others into the warmth of your family circle, making those who once were strangers friends, being the kind of neighbor you would like to have live next door to you, when you let your life together be a sign of God’s love in the world; then you’ll come back here in twenty-five years more deeply and surely in love with each other than you are in this wonderful moment.  That’s a promise from God.

            God bless you, Michael and Jessica.  We bless you too.

    Family friend, Dolores Hanc, former elementary school teacher, read I Corinthians 13.  Jessica's cousins were in the bridal party.  Lisa Tepper was the maid of honor; David Tepper was an usher.  Mothers Lydia and Michele lit the individual candles flanking the unity candle.  The DJ sang "The Wedding Song" as the bride and groom lit the unity candle.  With the announcement of the marriage, the assembly burst out in applause, "hoorays," and whistles. 

    We made our way to the cocktail hour, where I managed, as usual, to eat too much of my favorite items from the salumeria.  We caught up with the recent developments in the lives of Mahoney family and friends.  Those conversations continued during the reception in the Grand Ballroom.  Among the pleasant surprises of the evening was seeing again after fifteen or more years Doris Bauer, now Mrs. Pat McGonigle, living in Pittsburgh, helping her husband in the office with his roofing business, and watching over her thirteen year old son.  We also exchanged news with fellow Connecticut residents, Bill and Jean Peterman, longtime friends and neighbors of the Mahoneys.

    Jessica's aunt and uncle, Barbara (nee Mahoney) and Ray Hamel, residents of both Rockville Centre NY and St. Augustine FL, sat across the table from us, sporting tans from the land of sunshine and oranges.  Ray, once a financial consultant in Manhattan, now captains a ferry boat off the Florida east coast and is a certified guide giving lectures on pre-Plymouth Rock Florida.

    The following pictures of the Teppers, Jessica's aunt Carol (nee Mahoney) and uncle Steve, and her cousins, Lisa Anne and David, carry captions with additional information.  Above you will also find a snapshot of another bride and groom whom I was privileged to unite in marriage, Jessica's mother and father, Lydia and Bill Buttafuoco. 



    Jessica and Michael Fiermonti will reside in Glen Oaks following their honeymoon.  Michael is a stage hand for a TV soap opera in a Manhattan studio.  Jessica, a certified physical therapist, is recently unemployed.  Jessica was a member of the famous confirmation class of 1989 of Grace UM Church, which also included my Scottish traveling companion, marathoner Jeff McGregor; former cross country star, Debbie Brown; recent bride, Jen (nee Casey) Morton; Elizabeth (nee Kupfer) Civiello; new mom, Jenifer (nee Harvey) Hartig; golf pros, Paul and Vincent Joaquin; elementary school teacher, Phil Passaro; Granby CT computer expert, Rob Perissi; Whitney Smith; and writer, Billy Smyth.

    Near midnight we took our leave.  As we waited for the elevator we couldn't resist taking a picture of three members of the bridal party more exhausted than we were. 





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