Weddings are supposed to be a lot of things. They end up being anxiety-fueled stress monsters. Everyone involved is usually far happier just getting it over with. This applies to all weddings, including those where everything goes exactly as planned.

Things never go exactly as planned.

One of my closest friends got married recently. I don’t even consider him a friend anymore, more like a brother. Needless to say, as the best man, I was heavily invested in the outcome of his ceremony.

Scheduling conflicts had ensured that there were already plenty of anxious moments for everyone. They were getting married here, no there, now over here, this building, no, never mind. Finally, though, they had a nice outdoor ceremony planned.

Oh, but the hits didn’t stop there.

Hours before the rehearsal, the groom called to inform everyone that he had to work overtime. We’d have to do it without him. That was the beginning of the train wreck that followed.

Everyone had an opinion on where the arch should be moved. No one knew where the groomsmen and bridesmaids would enter. The speaker system hadn’t yet arrived, so we were trying to get timing down based on music from an SUV parked nearby.

The walkthrough … it didn’t go well. The maid of honor I was paired with threatened to bring me down with her if I let her fall. I told her, in my opinion, better if she fell during the rehearsal than the real thing. She wasn’t super amused at my joke. The DJ did poorly enough to get fired and we all lined up completely wrong.

Then the wedding day arrived. Some of the flowers the groomsmen were to wear came up missing. While the groom was getting his pinned on, the bride ordered all remaining flowers tossed. We didn’t all get that message.

The ring-bearer couldn’t be woken up in time for the ceremony (in his defense, he’s a child). A last-minute change meant I’d be carrying a ring. No pressure.

All of this was small potatoes to the biggest problem of them all. An hour before the ceremony, the skies opened up. It wasn’t a fun summer shower. I peeked outside and couldn’t see the field across my house the rain was so heavy. Fierce winds knocked tree limbs (and chairs and tables set up for the wedding) around and I was left wondering if there was a backup plan.

There wasn’t.

I found the groom in his garage, soaked. He was hunched over, in need of a miracle. I had to do something. This was my chance. I told him I knew a place that might let us move inside last minute.

He said if I pulled it off, he’d owe me forever. I just knew I’d come through and save the day.

I couldn’t. They told me no. I told him I’d take care of it and I couldn’t. There’s few feelings worse than letting someone down when they need you.

The universe must have known we needed a break, though. The rain stopped, and it was just hot and humid enough for the ground to dry (mostly) in time for the ceremony.

It still didn’t go perfectly. The wrong song played, and we were left wondering when we should walk. Most everyone was still wet from the shower. The bride was reportedly quite upset.

Despite the imperfections, despite all the crap my friend and his new wife went through just to get to that altar, they made it there. She said “I do” before the preacher finished speaking, but like receiving presents, it’s the thought that counts.

What matters is they were happy. When the ceremony was over, none of those little things that went wrong leading up to it mattered at all. They were forgotten, almost like they never happened.

You know what else? Between struggling with the things life had thrown at me and worrying over the wedding, I was surprised to find that I was happy, too. I wasn’t relieved that it was over. I wasn’t sad to “lose” a friend. I was happy. Not for myself, not about my circumstances, but for them. Because they were happy.

I often think of happiness solely in terms of how I feel about things affecting me. I realize now how selfish that is. Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize not everything is about us.

To my newlywed friends, if you’re reading this, I found happiness in your happiness, and I can’t think you enough for that.

Sometimes, I think, we have to take good feelings where we can get them. Never be afraid to seize that opportunity. That’s this week’s small victory.

(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the New Era Media Group. Email for restaurant recommendations in Charlotte County, Florida.)

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