My Three Weddings by Jamie Kirkpatrick


My wife and I are at that stage in life when the children of our good friends are tying the knot. Just in the last month alone, we’ve been to three weddings, each unique, each fun, and each a destination affair. That seems to be the thing these days; destinations. In our case, that meant Cape Cod, Rehoboth, and just this past weekend, Austin, Texas. I guess nobody gets married at home anymore.

Weddings these days aren’t simple affairs culminating in a nervously whispered “I do,” a sip of champagne, and a little polite dancing. Destinations require more thought and planning: places to stay, a welcome party (two days prior to the actual ceremony), a rehearsal dinner, a reception, a day-after brunch…oh wait…I forgot the main event—the wedding itself. Might be in a church or at a country club, or as was the case this past weekend, on a Texas ranch complete with longhorn cattle. The officiants these days are different, too: we had one priest, one uncle of the bride (a minister), and back down in Texas, the bride’s best friend, newly “ordained” by the Universal Life Church. The ceremonies were all very personal, full of stories of the brides and grooms, told by scrubbed and (mostly) clean-shaven groomsmen and coifed and manicured bridesmaids. There were cute ring-bearers and shy flower girls (including two of my own grandkids) who almost stole the show. At each of the three weddings, fathers gave away their precious daughters to handsome young men full of hope and glory. And at each event, the new in-laws all appeared to get along well enough which in a way is too bad because sometimes those nervous toasts or awkward new family photos can be pretty funny.

There were a couple of common denominators (like Pachelbel’s Canon in D) but each affair even had its own special destination aura. Out on misty Cape Cod, that arm bent at the elbow sticking out of the body of Massachusetts, there was plenty of New England charm and mystique to go with the lobster rolls and clam chowda. There was a picture-perfect round of golf at the iconic Hyannisport Club, the boys sporting lots of Nantucket red while the sun-tanned girls wore their best Lillys. All very Scott Fitzgerald and John Cheever. The newlyweds left the church in an old woody beach wagon and got their wedding pictures taken just before a squall blew in off the Atlantic in that might have dampened lesser spirits, but not ours. The band kept the party going until the stars came out just before midnight.

Our second event was almost a home game. We typically spend a couple of August weeks in Rehoboth so for this affair, we only had to pack an extra dress or two and several pairs of heels for Kat and a suit, tie, and real shoes (not flip-flops) for me. We watched bride and groom pledge their troth (whatever that is) as the summer sun lowered itself gently into Rehoboth Bay, the end of one day and the beginning of a new life for Mr. and Mrs. The dancing went on late into the night in Rehoboth, too.

Number three was a Texas treat. Austin is a funky, hip place, full of live music, cowboy hats and boots, craft beer, and out-of-this-world Mexican food. (The fare for the rehearsal dinner was Bar-B-Q; the wedding feast was tacos.) Some longhorn cattle were pastured one fence over from the venue; the Shiner Bocks afterward were icy cold. And here, too, the band played on: a little MoTown and Michael Jackson for us old folks, a little funk, a little rap, and some Bruno Mars for the younger crowd. Kat and I thought about going out for some post-reception two-stepping down at The Broken Spoke, but common sense and an early morning flight back home sent us home to bed just after midnight.

Weddings are promises made, families united, friends gathered in joyful celebration. For those of us who watch these new chapters in young lives, we’re reminded of our own stories, the wins and losses, the joys and sorrows. I know one thing for sure: weddings make me count my blessings and repledge my own troth—whatever that is.

I’ll be right back.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is

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