My wife Lisa and I are on the road for that classic summer vacation which all red blooded Americans work their fingernails off for. Goal, head up to Pacific Northwest for some summer skiing with our son (which is red blooded American as far as we’re concerned), by way of the Frank Konsella and Brittany Walker nuptials in Crested Butte, Colorado.
The wedding was this past Saturday afternoon and evening. Super fun, with the theme being ski mountaineering. Understandable, since both these guys have skied every 14er on the famous list of 54, and done 38 of them together so as to be certain their minds and spirits were aligned with the stars. Table pieces were crampons, with each table at the reception named after a 14er. We sat at the Kit Carson table.
I was the “officiant,” for the secular ceremony, truly an honor to help Britt and Frank tie the knot.
Along with helping with the repeat-after-me (which I think we got through without flubbing), I whipped up a short ski alpinism themed wedding talk that seemed appropriate to the occasion. Following is my crib sheet. Folks seemed to enjoy, so we share it here. I put this together by coming up with some original words, but also re-writing a few paragraphs from the wealth of excellent wedding ceremony speeches I found on the web.
Intro talk, officiant, Frank Konsella and Brittany Walker wedding.
Dear family and friends, on behalf of Brittany and Frank I welcome all of you to this marriage celebration. Also, let us acknowledge those who would be here but can not — Jack and Lacy who passed away enjoying their love of big mountain skiing, and Frank’s father who recently passed on as well.
We are here today to encourage, celebrate and support the covenant these two people, Brittany and Frank, beloved to us, now make — and to share in the joy that Brittany and Frank are feeling as they pledge their love and commitment to each other.
We rejoice and celebrate in the ways life led Brittany and Frank to each other and got them to the place where they now stand. We celebrate the beauty of the mountains that rise up here above our gathering, but more, we celebrate life in the full here today — wherever we live and whatever we do.
Finding your life companion happens in ways that are sometimes unusual– and always remembered. In these guy’s case you might think Frank saw Brittany one day peddling her mountain bike down Elk Avenue her in CB, and said to himself “that’s the one for me,” as in a conventional sense meeting someone that way could be considered out of the ordinary. Or perhaps Brittany saw Frank first, and thought, wow, good legs? (Possibly more ordinary?) But the process was a bit more involved than that. It began with Brittany taking the risk of posting on an internet mountaineering forum that SHE was looking for 14er skiing partners.
Thing is, such forums are probably about 99.9 percent male dominated. So the fact that Frank rose to the top through what had to be a vetting as rigorous as that of a professional match maker says something to they way these guys clicked. I leave it up to you folks to extract stories from Britt about some of the other folks she met that way…
And the relationship that subsequently developed is a mountain partnership as good as they come. I know this to be true, because Brittany told me the best thing Frank ever did for her was to catch her snowmobile on fire and burn it to the ground (as in, she ended up with a much nicer sled).
Many of us here are mountain climbers and backcountry skiers, and know well of Brittany and Frank’s commitment in that arena. Still others of you may not lead a life that looks as exciting on the surface (and perhaps are glad you don’t), but you still strive for excellence in whatever you do, and that still entails risk and reward, be it emotional, spiritual or physical.
Just like climbing and skiing down a mountain, marriage has qualities of commitment, risk, and reward.
To be sure, in marriage two people commit to take on the day-to-day process of living together, to enhance life’s joy, to express their love…or to share gas money for 14er skiing trips.
But so much more importantly in terms of commitment, Frank and Brittney are not only promising support and love to each other when they can tromp up mountains and ski the steepest faces TOGETHER, but they’re saying they’ll stick with each other when an ACL gets blown, or life presents other challenges that go beyond the summits.
Yes, marriage is risky. You know things can get tough. And it’s scary knowing that you are two individuals who are committing to create an entity of one, giving up some of each self to that, loosing part of your self to create something more wonderful that in turn empowers each of you.
And now, Brooke will read the classic Roy Croft poem that speaks to this.
By Roy Croft
“I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
Indeed, I say to you Brittany and Frank, the miraculous process of love and discovery you are experiencing and committing to today is nothing less than a journey, a life of becoming — a journey we can easily liken to skiing on a big wilderness mountain, when at times you might encounter things such as a patch of difficult snow, and purely on faith, you skim that rough spot and find yourself on a slope of perfect powder that you did not expect but somehow, deep within, just knew was there — then, with the alpine sun warming your back, fluffy snow flies from your ski tips as a gleaming torch, lighting your way.
Marriage is intended to provide a place of faith where you know that persevering through the rough spots will always lead to the good, a place where you take the risk of living and sharing from the center of oneself, and, loosing some of oneself to the greater whole. Because you know that beyond the rough spots, you will always hit that patch of perfect powder.
Yes, a marriage such as that of Brittany and Frank is a covenant – a promise that across many cultures, across much of the history of humanity, says: I love you. I trust you. I will be here for you when you are hurting, and when I am hurting. — I will not leave, we will reach the summit together — and I will always always be with you for the adventure.
Now, the vows!
(Brittany and Frank blog here.)
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.