A Circus Wedding and the MOH Toast

My sister is married! The wedding was a literal circus – a vintage-themed circus where so many guests dressed up and made the night unforgettable. There were fire dancers and circus games. One little girl put her hand in ice for something like 17 minutes to win a huge stuffed bear. It was a wedding like no other wedding, and it was awesome.

Several people have asked me to share my toast because some people missed it and a few people threw back a few too many mint juleps before the toasts began.  Also, please note that since this wedding was anything but traditional, I am bucking tradition and would like to be referred to as a maid, not a matron. It’s very fitting as I am extremely youthful and maid-like.

I practiced this baby a jillion times, using advice from my comedy coach to record myself. I have lots of videos of myself in a robe, towel on my head, working on timing. I will not share these videos as they only work to disprove that I am youthful and maid-like.  

When the moment came, I was a ball of nerves. Nobody believes me when I say I struggle with public speaking. I REALLY struggle, as social and extroverted as I am. So in the end, I took a little note card up on stage to calm my nerves, and I did my best. I flubbed some of the jokes and left out a few humdingers that I’m sad about, but hopefully the meaning wasn’t lost on the bride and the groom, because in the end, this was all about them.

To Mr. and Mrs. Montez, I am so happy for you both! What a magical wedding for a magical couple.

_____

I’m Amy Arndt, Emily’s sister. I know about 25% of you and I have no clue in hell who the rest of you are, but I look forward to meeting you at some point tonight.

Most of us don’t know over 450 people they like, much less love enough to invite to their wedding. But Rocky and Emily are not your average people, and that is part of why we’re all here. Still, I’m keeping an eye out, expecting a clown car to pull up and piling out of it will be 16 of the failed Republican presidential hopefuls.  

If anyone spots Ted Cruz in the hot dog line, he was absolutely not invited. Please let Rocky’s mom Elvia or his sister Celeste know and they’ll take care of it right away.

As you can see by this fantastic place and the transformation from a working film studio to a magical vintage circus, a lot of work went into this labor of love. Just last weekend, I watched as this gorgeous bride hovered over a some kind of a saw with a nail file thingy on it that my dad and stepmom gave her as a pre-wedding gift. As I watched in awe, Emily painstakingly cut out the elephants you see behind us. I didn’t offer to help because Em is the handy sister, and I like having fingers.

____

Last weekend, I was sitting at a coffee shop when I noticed a dad with a stroller with a baby in it. Standing beside the stroller was a little girl who was around 4. She looked up at me with a serious expression on her face.

“This is my baby sister,” she said, pointing to the baby. “I take care of her.”

The age difference between the two girls was just the same as us, and I instantly knew what the older sister was talking about. I also instantly burst into tears, scaring the kid, her father, the infant and very likely the manager of the coffee shop.

For most of Emily’s life, in my head, I was her caretaker.  We had four terrific parents, but I was her constant as we moved back and forth between houses. She was very sweet, very cute, and pretty easy to boss around. We’ve been more than sisters, we’ve been the greatest of friends. Through the years, Emily has been my default dance partner, always offering to be the boy. At our mom’s 60th birthday, we hopped on stage and sang the harmonies to “Sisters.” We share a secret language based loosely on the critically acclaimed movie, Ladies Man.

She may be the younger sister, but Emily’s been taking care of me just as long as I’ve taken care of her. If you are lucky enough to have Emily in your life, she’s taken care of you at some point, too. In this room are countless recipients of her grace, love and unending generosity.  

Some examples:

  1. She singlehandedly outfitted Cella Blue for at least 27 White Ghost Shivers Halloweens. One of those dresses was made out of NEWSPAPER.

  2. When my mom had foot surgery, Emily handled all of the things I was super dramatic about, like reading basic medication instructions, and finding the wine opener when we needed it most.

  3. I can’t count the number of handmade costumes she made for her namesake Emily Rose, including a hand-cut acrylic guitar, a suede and rhinestone cowgirl outfit, and a Mad Hatter hat so detailed and gorgeous I almost didn’t let ER wear it for Halloween.  

  4. Emily helped me get motherhood off the ground when I had a rough start. Then she moved from LA to Austin and got to see my kids grow up, and she helped us raise them. She even helped me raise Tim.

  5. And, lest you think she wasn’t already a superstar, she did most of these things while simultaneously holding Max and Maya, Todd and Michelle’s dogs.

It’s probably no secret that of everyone in this room, I’ve been the most guarded about letting my sister go. But what does that mean, “letting her go?” I looked up a quote about it, and I found one from Emily’s favorite philosopher, Jack Handey:

If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let’ em go, because, man, they’re gone.

But a wedding isn’t about letting go, it’s about letting more people in. So tonight, our family gets the honor of welcoming a huge new family, and the love expands.

In that new family, the anchor is Rocky.

Now, Rocky, I love you to death but I am not going to refer to you as my brother, because if you’re married to my sister, and we’re brother and sister, this really is a circus.

Rocky, here’s a little secret about Emily that I’ve never shared. The very first time Emily told me about you, it was clear you were the one. You make her laugh harder than anyone has ever made her laugh – her most important criteria for a good relationship. You embrace her obsession with Elvis. You make her bacon on the grill and pour her a sip of whiskey. You can dance her socks off. Together, the two of you know more show tune lyrics than any two heterosexual people have the nerve to know.

Rocky, I know you will care for Emily when she’s so tired she falls asleep standing up. Because she is Emily, she will care for you in return, and you will have a beautiful life together.  So tonight, I raise a glass to Mr. and Mrs. Montez. I love you both.  Cheers.

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