Wedding to the Unknown: Making the “Me” “We”

The lucky couple cuts their amazing wedding cake by Edra Soto

The thing about a good wedding is, it reminds you just how bad they can actually be. Everyone disses on the poor bridezilla, but she’s got nothing on the long lost uncle who holds up the cake cutting with his stupid story about junior at the community pool. Or how about the uncomfortable conversations with boring people you’ve been seated with so Aunt Irma doesn’t have to sit with Cousin Lonnie. This is the booby prize after a ceremony that went on about, oh, 45 minutes too long. Last Friday night, I had an experience that made me come to terms with what a wedding for sure shouldn’t be.

The artist, Alberto Aguilar and Edra Soto

As part of the exhibition, RISK: Empathy, Art and Social Practice, artist Alberto Aguilar offered a real wedding celebration to a willing couple he found through a Craigslist ad.  How generous, right? But there was a catch, and a very interesting one: the couple would have to take a risk, a leap of faith if you will, with the guest list and party lineup.  Nina and Chorenzo Young and their daughter, Shiela were the lucky recipients…hopefully.  They were allowed to invite 12 guests. The other 150 were invited by Aguilar.

I was lucky enough to be Sabina Ott’s hot ticket date for the event. Wine on the table: check. Many cool people I knew from Tracers Book Club and Chicago art openings: check. This was set to be a good night. 

The RISK exhibition curators, Neysa Page Lieberman, and Amy Mooney

The event had many fascinating and delicious twists including an authentic ceremony of the North American native peoples with accompaniment by Strawberry Moon Women Singers.  The couple fed each another a spoonful of food, a symbol for a community that functions with concern for more than individual bodies and needs.  The dinner was provided by potluck: chicago, and Miss Rad Vegetarian yours truly was served up a gorgeous plate of veg friendly food by Mr. Aguilar himself.  He’d made a rather smashing mole sauce from dozens of ingredients from Trader Joe’s, which appealed to this sweet tooth.  And whetted my appetite for perhaps the most bangin’ cake I’ve had in years, Edra Soto's upside-down pineapple cake, an extension of her Wedding Cake Project.  Girl, let me tell you this was divine, and I consider myself an aficionado.

The party in full swing

After dinner, the floor started to swell with dancing, it was a right good song list with Beatles to-boot.  Everyone danced, laughed, spun, and mugged for the iPhone.  I talked to the couple quite a bit throughout the night. They were incredibly relaxed about it all, and when I asked Mr. Young what he thought, he told me, “This is definitely something I will be telling my grandchildren.”

We experienced something unusual together, something that transformed an expensive, rather predictable experience into something  filled with thoughtful departures from the everyday. The night ended early for me, as I’d spent the week in marathon crits with my graduate students.  But it wasn’t before I stood at the end of the room, and took a nice long look in and said to myself, “I was here for this.”

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