…Because She Was Always Cooler Than Me…. My Cousin’s Wedding Toast

A few folks have asked for this wedding toast, and truth be told, it was THE COOLEST THING EVER to be asked to give it. I was super nervous, and the mic was weird, but Liza and her knight in shining armour were there, and the faces were friendly, and I had like way too much wine afterwards, and the sun was shining on those unmistakably dry California hills, so I did it even though I was nervous! Here it is. And warning, basically I think she’s awesome:

HI everyone, good evening. I’m Chelsey, Liza’s cousin. Liza’s my big cousin. I’ve always looked up to her.

For me, Liza has always been cooler, always older, always one step ahead. I’ve always wanted to get where she already was. There are a few traits in particular that Liza has, traits I’ve always coveted, traits that I’ve always admired, traits that she’s always modeled.

First of all, she is one of the most stubborn, tenacious women I know. And she always has been. Those of us who can remember little Liza will also remember how Little Liza liked her socks. You know those seems that go where your toes begin, on the top of your feet? Little Liza liked those seems lined up right at the edge of her toes. And Little Liza could do nothing and go nowhere if her sock seems her not properly aligned. She was stubborn as hell about this, and she made us late more than once. But you know, that stubborn little girl turned into a tenacious woman who never gives up. A young woman who could shepherd her family through a house fire with nothing to cling to but a vision of a better life. A young woman who could throw this rockin’ party and reclaim this day for her own. That tenacity has served her well. Indeed, her tenacity has served all of us- her closest community- well.

Second of all, she always follows her heart, and she doesn’t care what other people think. When we were little girls, Liza knew what she wanted, she knew who mattered, and she didn’t give a shit about what other people thought. It was the 80s. Side pony tails and trained bangs were popular. She was cool, and I was her model. Boy was I happy to be her model. I was delighted with the way she was training my bangs, ecstatic over her commitment to styling my hair into a ponytail on the side of my head. Nothing could be better.

Our parents, however, had other ideas. The side ponytails and trained bangs? They were making us sassy. Our parents unraveled my pony tail, brushed my bangs forward, and told us not to be sassy. We were only little girls, and we were sad. And vivid as yesterday, I remember when Liza pulled me into her room, and gathered my hair into a side-scrunchie anyway. “Do you like it?” she asked me. I nodded. I loved it. She looked me in the eye, and with all the force of a seven year old girl, said “Then it doesn’t matter what they think.”

And still today, Liza doesn’t care what they think, whoever they may be. She knew she’d wear a red wedding dress, and she didn’t care what they’d think. She knew just how to reclaim this day back for herself and she knew how to make her own memories, and she didn’t care what they’d think. She knows how to walk to the beat of her own drum, how to match wild colors together and paint her nails with crazy patterns, and she didn’t care what they’d think. And still now, I strive to be like her because regardless of what they think, she follows her heart.

Speaking of hearts, Hawk came into Liza’s life– and all of our lives- seventeen years ago. To Liza’s wild ideas and giggles, Hawk brought a evenness, a grounding, a sense of calm. He is her center admist her storm of bright colors and funky nail polish patterns. Hawk loves Liza for all that she’s ever been, all that she is, all that she will become. Hawk’s love is a guiding light for Liza, a firm, hopeful presence. Hawk loves Liza even when Liza isn’t quite sure how to love herself- their love for each other is a love we all aspire to.

It is this firm, unwavering love that persisted through times of extraordinary challenge. It is this firm, unwavering love that produced and surrounds their two beautiful children, Jonny and Emily. It is this firm, unwavering love that inspired all of us to come together to celebrate Liza and Hawk, their special union, and the joyful way that they have reclaimed today.

Today is a day reclaimed. Today, Liza and Hawk are showing us how to grasp life and shape it into our own, how to build the friendships, homes, dreams, and communities we imagine, and how to live, laugh and love. I am so proud to call both of you my family, so excited to spend more time watching you grow your lives, your children, your hearts, and your garden in this beautiful place. I love you both fiercely, and am honored to be able to be here with you today, to reclaim this day, and to make it yours, all of it, forever and for always.

So please raise your glass in congratulations with me tonight, to Liza and Hawk- May you love each other fiercely.

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