We pulled up to the synagogue at exactly 4:11pm, August 14th, 2003. It's the most important day of my 26 years; I'm getting married.
In keeping with Jewish tradition, I've been fasting all day. So when the wedding consultant came out of the shul and told me that we just lost ALL power, I was feeling a little nauseous and faint.
"Not to worry," I was told. "Everything was going to be fine," they said. "We're working on it."
Ok, fine. Why not just start getting dressed. How bad could a little power outage be? The whole block couldn't be left without power for hours. In the worst case, we could always move the party to a hall down the street.
Fifteen minutes turned into 30. Before I knew it, an hour had passed without a word. It was 15 minutes before people should start arriving and I was starting to get nervous.
Just then, I got the news. It gave a new definition to the phrase "worst-case scenario." There is no power, period. Not this block, not in all of Toronto, not in the whole northeast! The only way for this show to proceed as planned is to fly everyone to Seattle.
My mind started racing. I was frantically reviewing all the preparations made by Rachel, my bride, that were for naught. No generators, no lights, no ovens, microphones or speakers. We wouldn't have any singing or dancing. We wouldn't be able to serve any food. Heck, we wouldn't even be able to see our guests!!
Little did I know that all this would become the essential ingredients for the BEST night of our lives.
And so the magic began. The candles were lit. And lit and lit. Little flickering lights everywhere you looked. The room was glowing and the atmosphere was beginning to take shape.
Next, we had to feed our guests. My mother joked with the caterer, "Do you have any barbeques?" Just like at camp, the chefs roll out about a dozen coal barbeques and started cooking. The smell of chicken and veggies begin to waft through the ceremony.
The chuppah was held outside so the rabbis had to amplify there voices, but it mainly stayed as planned. The Yichud room where I spent my first private moments with my wife, was very romantic; it too was illuminated with candlelight.
There was no electricity that night, but it was electric.
Then the real party started. With great apprehension, my wife and I dashed into the large dining hall. It was pandemonium. A few people were brandishing flashlights, waving them wildly and giving the room a disco vibe. Nobody could really see with whom or where they were dancing, but they were doing it enthusiastically nevertheless. It was incredible. There was no electricity that night, but it was electric. Someone later remarked, "If you closed your eyes, it was like you were back in Jerusalem!"
Behind the scenes, hundreds of selfless acts were taking place. The staff was working in the sweltering heat, barely able to see what they were doing. Members of the synagogue began dropping off flashlights and candles, asking if they could be of help. Other people were directing traffic and helping others in and out of the shul.
But the single deed that had the greatest affect on all of us was yet to come. The lead singer of the band placed a call to some of his friends. "Listen, we need serious backup," he said. "This bride and groom need your help!"
And so they came. In droves. Some in T-shirts and sweatpants, some rolled right out of bed. Just to help fellow Jews in need. They entered the hall in unison, singing to the rafters. People left their tables to join them. The night turned into an inspiring sing-along for young and old alike.
What took place didn't hit us until the treacherous drive home that night. Once we pieced together what had transpired on our wedding night, the lesson for us became clear. Life is not about the flowers or how the chairs are covered. It's not about how much money we spend or what we wear. Life is defined by the values that direct our actions. It was the selfless and loving spirit of our wedding that we will remember forever. The sensitivity of our family and friends and the consideration shown by perfect strangers is overwhelming.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the best night of our lives.