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This guest post is the second in a series of posts about Matt & Jill’s upcoming wedding at Tellus360. Jill wrote the first post, and Matt chimes in here.

One of my favorite bands— not so much Jill’s–the gypsy punk rockers Gogol Bordello put their stunned reactions to American ways of matrimony to music on their 2007 masterpiece Super Taranta![i] The song begins with singer and broken English wordsmith Eugene Hutz desperately seeking answers to some of life’s more important questions:

Have you ever been to American Wedding?

Where is vodka? Where is marinated herring?

Where is the musicians that got the taste?

Where’s the supply that’s gonna last three days?

I think what Hutz is trying to say is that, somewhere along the line, we Americans, with our buttoned up Protestant work ethic and our unofficial social castes, have lost the sense of celebration that is supposed to attend to rites of passages.  It’s easy to understand why our weddings might reflect this change. Whole television shows are devoted to (perversely celebrating) petulant brides who want everything just so.  A billion dollar a year industry[ii] manufactures the sense that, unless your napkins match your urinal cakes, you’ve failed at getting married.  Luckily, I have friends who know how to celebrate, so I’ve rarely been to one of these dull, lifeless affairs. But with all the emphasis on pristine wonderfulness, sanitized elegance can oftentimes edge out true feeling— you know, that jump out of your seat and get lost in the moment kind of joy—for wedding supremacy.

I decided to take a look at what people in Hutz’s native Ukraine did for wedding celebrations, and if my now vast knowledge of Ukrainian peasant culture—watching fifty YouTube videos counts as “vast”, right?– is correct, then WE’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT.[iii] In this tradition, music is ubiquitous. Food is everywhere. Family and friends can only be extricated from shared dances and eating long enough to smooch the happy couple and (presumably) use the bathroom.   So while America may have 94 times the GDP of Ukraine[iv], we seem to suffer a major deficit in the fun department. Though Jill and I have a system of dividing life’s major pursuits into a Matt column (seats of pants, beer[v], music playing) and a Jill column (sewing said seats of pants, food, long-term thinking), one thing that is firmly in both columns is FUN!

While we won’t be having any marinated herring at our wedding, we will be serving top-notch vodka (and gin) from Lancaster’s own Thistle Finch Distillery. We’ve got plenty of musicians “who got the taste,” ranging from the Balkan Brass band West Philadelphia Orchestra to Lancaster’s own Vinegar Creek Constituency, all topped off by a perfectly curated, all-vinyl soul set from DJ Salinger   And while city ordinances won’t allow for a three day party[vi], we’re going to do the next best thing and throw a weekend-long affair. You see, we decided to get married on the eve of Capital Day, a Lancaster-wide holiday (it’s a law, look it up). Tellus will be the site of this year’s Capital Celebration, which I will pretend is just an after-hours continuation of our nuptials. Most importantly, we’re keeping it in the community that we hope to share with townsfolk and outsiders alike. I think we figured out that every bit of food we’re serving at our smaller ceremony comes from a Lancaster city business. All the alcohol’s from local producers a mere five blocks away, including delicious Wacker Beer. Even my suit probably belonged, at one point, to a dapper Lancaster gentleman whose family donated it to the local Salvation Army. I want to say thanks to Abe (the name I’ve given my imaginary benefactor), who I hope gives his blessing. From the orange Houndstooth lining in the blazer, I’m guessing he’s down.

Remember, while we have a ceremony with our very close family and friends earlier in the day, you are all invited to the event at 7:00pm.  Check out the Facebook page for more information.

 

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[i] www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTFufbcx8DI

[ii] I’d imagine.

[iii] To quote local band Ton Taun, whose album You’re Not Doing It Right will be available for free at the event.

[iv] That one’s true. I looked it up!

[v] This is heavily disputed in the Good-Johnson residence.

[vi] I just made that up, but you believed it because there’s probably something like that on the books.