The Wedding of Noelle Lauren Panzarino and Daniel John Sjöberg
The Wedding of Noelle Lauren Panzarino and Daniel John Sjöberg
The evolution of wedding celebrations over the past 60 years telltales a story of the increased prosperity of average Americans. In 1955 when Barbara and I were married our reception was held for 400 of our and our families' closest friends (!) in the basement hall of First United Methodist Church, Stamford CT. No booze, of course: it was a Methodist affair, and the bishop was present. Finger-tip sandwiches and punch was the fare. By the time Barbara and I finished greeting the guests, a full hour and a half after the benediction, most of the guests had left. The bridal party reconvened a couple of hours later at my parents house for a picnic on the back lawn, a gathering of sufficient duration to permit my boyhood pals to break a garage window to get to our honeymoon car, and adorn it with tin cans and a "Just Married" sign. That was it... for Connecticut Yankees in love and united in marriage on their nuptial day.
A few of my high school friends, those with Italian roots, celebrated their weddings in a more lavish way, in a catered hall, with a sit-down dinner... while, perhaps, thinking some unkind judgments about our Yankee frugality.
In Brooklyn where I served Methodist Vikings the wedding receptions in the early years were comparable to my economical Yankee ways. But as the years progressed the Norwegians and Swedes and Danes began to imitate their Italian-American neighbors: holding receptions with emcees, grand entrances, fiery cherry jubilees, fathers of the brides dancing with daughters to "Daddy's Little Girl," Viennese tables of sweets, open bars, and bands playing loud enough to inhibit casual conversation. Typically in the present moment in Greater New York the wedding celebration has four events: the rehearsal dinner party; the church ceremony; the catered five hour reception in a large hall; and breakfast the following morning for the bridal couple, their families, and the wedding party.
So it was for Noelle and Dan, the weekend of November 9 - 11. A grand, delicious, and joyful weekend: this Connecticut Yankee was almost converted into a booster of metropolitan wedding extravaganzas.
The rehearsal was held Friday, November 9th, in the nave and chancel of Grace United Methodist Church, Valley Stream NY, the scene of the nuptials the following afternoon.
The sun shone brightly the day of the wedding. The bridal party arrived at the church ahead of schedule in a very large van built, it seemed, just for such occasions. The guests were seated in the pews, family members escorted to the near-front rows, after which, unbeknownst to the pastors and groom, the bridesmaids and groomsmen processed to the communion rail. Noelle waited patiently until the organist played the opening bars of "Here Comes the Bride" to process down the center aisle on Dad's arm. Dan and Noelle were radiant as they held hands at the entrance to the chancel to answer the ritual questions and to listen to Pastors Curry and Howard deliver thoughts traditional and personal.
Herewith is my message for the bride and groom:
I asked Noelle and Dan to tell me what it was they especially liked/loved about the other. Their answers are a full-hearted endorsement of Sarah’s reading moments ago from the Bible about love. Noelle, an avid Yankee fan (genetically!), admits, however, to a higher loyalty than the Bronx team when she forecasts a future in marriage in which they, today’s bridal couple, will “always be supportive of each other and be each other's number one fan.” The Apostle Paul, or Derek Jeter, couldn’t say it better.
Dan, in his answer to my impertinently pertinent question about what he hopes for marriage with Noelle says: “I want us to learn to compromise and communicate as well as two people ever have.” And that, I would insist, is a total endorsement of the same Apostle Paul about living together in harmony.
Marriage is for sharing… life, love, gladness, sorrow, all of the circumstances which find their way to our doorstep. Like that adage I’ve quoted often, “Marriage is for cutting in half the sorrows and doubling the joys.” To understand that, Noelle and Dan, as you do, at the beginning not only indicates your maturity but predicts your success in this, now your primary, relationship.
Of course, you have worthy examples surrounding you. That’s company that includes another avid Yankee fan and his lifelong helpmate, Pat and Diane. I am reminded standing here in this corner of the Village of a neighbor, also from the NYPD, harbor patrol. The late Frank Hunt was a member of the church in which you, Dan, were brought up. Frank retired and his wife went to work at the library, while Frank did the household chores, explaining, “Now it’s her turn.” That sounds to me like loving your nearest and dearest neighbor as yourself. God bless you for aiming in that good direction.
Love, made up of equal parts of romance and friendship, that’s the foundation of a "happy and enduring home," to quote a line from the marriage service your parents, Noelle, heard a few years ago in Floral Park. Taking the sturdier elements of that love, fashioned as they are after the love of God in Christ for all of us, bodes well for the family (with lots of children, according to Dan) you are now beginning.
You need no advice or counsel from me or Matt or any guru on marriage. Just hold to your own expectations and a gray-haired Pastor Curry will be here to help you celebrate your silver anniversary in 2037.
Noelle and Dan, hand in hand, said their vows, lit a unity candle, and recessed down the church aisle with big smiles to applause. Outside on the church steps bubbles, pretty bubbles, better than rice and confetti, showered down as final photos were taken, the van entered, and the guests and bridal party prepared to reconvene for the reception in early evening at The Hamlet Golf and Country Club in Hauppauge.
Dan returned to police duty Monday; Noelle, back to school on Tuesday. When the Sandy-outage lights go on again in their Long Beach apartment, the newly-marrieds will return to their apartment from their temporary nest in the Panzarino house on Elmwood Street in Valley Stream, dreaming of a honeymoon in April in the Caribbean.