Last month my little family travelled to Winnipeg to celebrate Nikki and Orry’s wedding. We spent four days driving and only three days in the city – but it was worth it! Nikki and I typically only see each other once a year since she moved to Winnipeg right after Nathan and I got married. We Facebook multiple times a day, Skype every couple of weeks, talk on the phone, and send letters back and forth, but nothing beats being with your best friend, even if it is only a quick visit!
This is my Toast to the Bride.
“I’m the matron of honour, and I get the honour of letting everybody know how lucky Orry is to be married to my best friend. I’m sure he already knows most of this, but sometimes it’s good to have a reminder!
I met Nikki ten years ago, when we worked together at Brightwood Ranch. I remember the first time I saw Nikki: She was a few days late for staff training because she was still in high school and had to finish classes. She got out of her mom’s can and I remember thinking “She’s on staff?!?” She had blue hair and this high-pitched giggle and she was younger than some of our campers!
Nikki – or ‘Lil Blue, as we called her – and I were both wranglers and we worked pretty closely together that summer. It didn’t take more than a day of working with her for me to realize that Nikki may have been the youngest, but she was also probably the hardest working member of the entire staff. She would be up at 5:30 or so (usually because I had stuck my alarm under her pillow …) at the barn, saddling horses, then rushing back to the café to serve breakfast. She would eat as quickly as she could, then head back to the barn for a full day of work. After that it was time to serve dinner – then participate in evening games, sometimes deal with unruly campers or runaways … I was 21, used to being up all hours of the night – and I was exhausted. But Nikki? She was always bright and cheerful. Well, maybe not before breakfast … If something needed to be done, we could count on Nikki.
She was also one of the friendliest on staff. I moved to Alberta from New Brunswick to work at Brightwood so I didn’t know anybody outside of camp. Nikki was the first to invite me to stay at her house for the weekend – the first to include me as part of her family. Since that summer, Nikki hasn’t only been one of my best friends – she’s been my little sister.
And like a little sister, she hasn’t always listened to my sage advice. I remember one weekend that first summer, we were getting ready for church when Nikki realized all of her jeans were dirty. She was going to wear them anyway but I suggested it might not be such a good idea to wear jeans that smelled like horse manure to church and offered to loan her one of my skirts. She put it on – then pulled on her poo-covered boots and marched outside to get in the car. I think she lasted all of 27 seconds before she changed her mind – hitched up that skirt, and kicked the door open to go back inside and change into her smelly jeans. I don’t think anybody noticed – that was probably the summer a couple of the boys were trying to grow mold on their jeans.
The first time Nikki mentioned Orry in a brief message on Facebook, I suspected he might be the one. It didn’t hurt that he sent me a private message himself shortly after they started dating, introducing himself. When Nikki brought him home for a visit a few months later, I hoped he would be the one. I saw the way he looked at her, the gentle way he put his hand on her back, how he reached for her hand as soon as he sat down on the couch, the way he listened when she spoke. After they left, I sent Nikki a message, something along the lines of “I like him. Hold on to this one!”
I’m glad she listened.
I want you to know that I am so very proud of both you and Orry, and I am truly blessed to be your friend. But I feel like I would be failing in my duties as a friend – as a big sister, if you will! – if I didn’t give you something to think about.
Marriage is sort of like Star Wars. In the world of Star Wars you have the good guys (Luke and Yoda, who are the Jedi together with the Rebellion), and you have the bad guys (Darth Vader and the emperor who make up what is known as the Sith, or the Empire.) Most of you probably think I’m going to talk about the good guys and how they use the Force and they work together to bring freedom to the galaxy. While all that is true, I’m here to talk about the bad guys. The bad guys (the Sith) have a rule called The Rule of Two. The entire premise of this rule is that there will only ever be two, never more, and they are both guided by the force. They followed this rule for about 1000 years – because they found that if there were more, there was more opportunity for fighting and disagreements. The whole point of the Rule of Two was to keep the Sith strong.
What does this have to do with marriage, you ask?
Well, marriage is like the Rule of Two. You have the husband and the wife in a lifelong relationship who must rely on each other to ensure that the marriage remains strong. As the Sith were so committed to this rule, being completely sold on this rule for hundreds of years, it is equally important for you two to be completely committed to each other – if not for hundreds of years, then at least for your lifetime.
And with that, I invite you to raise your glasses with me to toast Nikki. May the force be with you.”