After we all made our way to our seats (much dancing happened in the interim), our DJ handed the mic over for the speeches.
Introductions and speeches are always my favorite parts of weddings, hive. These segments are what showcase the personalities and histories of all involved.
*all photos courtesy of Limelight-Images
Best Man R went first. In true Best Man R fashion, he completely pulled it out of nowhere.
“Today is a very special day for all of us, for these two, for me—because I got to see not one, but two of my best friends get married today. But I think we all have heard the story and history of Jon and Steph. I’ve actually known both of them for quite a while as well. I met Jon when we were both freshman at PITT, when Jon was still a chubby nerd who played video games. And he went home pretty much every weekend, he never came out with us. It wasn’t until the following year when I met the reason he would never come out with us—and that’s the girl sitting to his right today.
“And she was a very sweet and awkward high school senior, and she came down to visit us when we lived together in Brackenridge sophomore year. She was just great, we hit it off right away, and we all became best friends. It was amazing, it was—I finally understand why Jon went home as much as he did, you know? He wanted to be with her. And then sophomore year, she pretty much lived with us—I don’t think she ever went to school her senior year. She may have been there once every couple of weeks just to save face, I guess. I don’t know.
“It’s just been fantastic for me, knowing both of them and going out with them and spending time with them. Just watching them grow up—eventually, Jon cut the long hair, much to Steph’s chagrin. And Steph, she became the beautiful young woman we see before us today, maybe slightly less awkward. I’ve just loved watching both of them grow up into the people that they’ve become and I’m so proud that I could be here today. I’ve loved the journey so far and I can’t wait to see where life takes them. I wish them all the best and I love them so much. Here’s to Steph and Jon.”
MOH Mem was next.
“My name is Emily and I’m Steph and Jon’s roommate—and that won’t ever get awkward, for future questions.
“I want to thank Steph and Jon for asking me to be a part of such a special day in their lives. Today is about celebrating a nine-year-long relationship, friendships that turned in to family, and unconditional love. Today has proven that high school sweethearts, true love, and happily ever afters do exist.
“I’ve known Stephanie for the last 13 years, and it all started at a lunch table in the fifth grade when she literally yelled at me, ‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU!’ and the rest is history. I’ve rescued her from bathroom stalls; we’ve traveled to Bermuda on camels; we’ve cracked ceiling playing karate; survived Snowmageddon on macaroni and buffalo chicken dip and three television channels in Jon’s one small, tiny bedroom apartment; laid on Carson Street and swam in one of the Three Rivers—we’re still waiting for the Alex Mac 2.0 versions of ourselves to kick in…
“She’s the J-Woww to my Snooki…and as corny as it sounds—the best to my friend. We’ve been through thick and thin, good times and bad, and all the pains of growing up. We’ve grown up, we’ve grown out, and we’ve graduated twice, and now we’ve started careers…and we’ve done it all together. We’ve stood side by side through it all and, looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else standing beside me.
“When Steph and Jon reconnected in high school, I remember her filling me in on their childhood and showing the scars to prove their hatred. But through the years their love flourished into the kind of love everyone wants to have. Even during the rough times—I remember Stephanie asking me if I believed that they were supposed to be together, and I remember telling her without a doubt that they were soul mates…and if they couldn’t make it, I’d have to give up all hope.
“Steph and Jon complement each other in so many ways and they keep each other grounded. They support each other, they challenge each other in good and bad ways, and their love for each other is always unconditional. For being pretty opposite, they oddly enough fit together like puzzle pieces. Today is such a big milestone in your lives—but I know that it’s only the beginning of a great life for the two of you.
“The best advice I can think to give you—is to make it count.
“You’ll wake up each morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or who you’re gonna meet…or where you’ll wind up. Just last night, we celebrated your last night as a Miss and now here we are at The Fez, having champagne with all of these fine people, welcoming you into the life of a Mrs. Life is a gift and you need to take each day as it comes at you. Make each day count. Here’s to Stephanie and Jonathon!”
I have to tell you, hive, I have known MOH Mem for 15 years—essentially, my whole life. She is many things, but a public speaker and a writer are not among the words I would typically use to describe her. Her speech, though, absolutely blew my mind. I remember sitting there and thinking, “Oh my God, is this my Emily?” I expected it to be great and touching, don’t get me wrong—but she just went above and beyond any expectations. I still get teary whenever I even think about it.
Oh—and yes, that totally IS a Titanic reference in the last part of her speech. Like most ’90s folk (including Mrs. Unicycle and her wedding party), MOH Mem and I are pretty much obsessed with Titanic. We’ve often talked about getting Jack Dawson’s speech printed as a wall quote. In addition to me losing my shit as soon as she began that part of it (the picture inserted there is a real-time photo: I remember vividly being like “Ohhhhhh, Titanic“), our guests loved it. So many people came up to me with stories of their table discussing it. GM Pythagoras’s sister was equal parts excited and baffled that she was the only one at their table who knew what MOH Mem was referencing.
Mr. Palm Tree’s grandfather closed out the speeches for us. We’re both very close to his grandparents and often say that we’re “mini versions” of them.
“This is unexpected, why didn’t you tell me?” (Me, in the background: I did!) “No, you didn’t. I was supposed to jot a bunch of things down about Jon, all of the good things and the memories and I have none.” *drops mic*
“Jonathon, when he was about two or three, he was a reader and the smartest kid you ever met at that age…he’s still smart! He went to PITT, he graduated. But when he was four years old, he was talking better than all of us can now. He was way beyond his years. When he got to about second or third grade, his teachers couldn’t teach him anything because he knew everything. So, he was helping preschoolers and first graders. They said, ‘OK, Jon, we can’t teach you anything, go back and help other kids.’ And he did. I remember one time, Carmen [Mr. Palm Tree’s father], Jon, and I went fishing—he was about eight—and there were two ponds. Carmen went to one pond and Jon and I went to the other pond. I remember Jon said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be ironic if my dad caught more fish than we did?’ I said, ‘I have to start taking my dictionary with me because I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.’ Ironic? He’s eight. I had to go home and look it up.
“He was always very competitive; he still is. Stephanie talks about their card games and their board games—I think a lot of us in the family are like that. He wouldn’t let her win anything. We watched him through Pop Warner—he wasn’t the most athletic person. We watched him through Pony League—he wasn’t the most athletic person. But he tried so hard that he was always good at everything he did. And now he’s in a situation where he’s still going to be competitive, he has a real great job and if you keep it up the rest of your life, you’ll do great. Stephanie and Jon, keep the competition up and you’ll do great in life.”
My cousin B wrote a beautiful blessing that she shared right before we ate.
“Could everyone please bow their heads? Dear heavenly father, we thank you for the coming together of family and friends for the union of Jonathon and Stephanie Laurenza. We thank you for all of the wonderful food you have provided for us and we ask that you bless this event in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
The introductions and speeches at our wedding did not disappoint, hive—as you can tell by the pictures. I’m a big, emotional sap on a normal day and our wedding was not an exception. I’m so grateful to Limelight for catching the emotion as it happened. Our pictures have a very real quality to them, for which I am so incredibly grateful.
I’m sure reading about how much I love our friends can get a little old (even though it’s true and I really do think we are surrounded by the best people ever), so rest assured it’s mostly out of the way.
Next up: We eat and get our traditions out of the way so that we can par-tay!