The Best Wedding Gift

Author: Amy Babineaux-Smith

My brother had almost everything money could buy. It was the day before his wedding, and I still didn’t know what to get him. But fortunately, while walking on Chicago’s Navy Pier…I had an idea!

Bursting with excitement about my plan, I bought a nice, lined journal and went to bed early.

I woke up at 6am the next morning knowing that every person even remotely involved with the wedding would write a piece of advice in the journal for the newlyweds.

I began with the hotel’s staff: a housekeeper from Honduras, the front desk clerk from India, the concierge from Sri Lanka, the breakfast chef from France, and the event planner (who said he had no advice because he was gay). I encouraged him to contribute and he eventually wrote, “Take time to snuggle.”

And so the day continued with advice from the hotel manager, the limousine driver, the minister, the organ player, and the vocalist.

I was nervous going into the reception. This would be my first major social event as a sober person. There would be alcohol flowing all around me during the party at the top of Willis Tower.

The journal turned out to be a Godsend. I had a reason to talk to people and approach folks I didn’t know, PLUS, I could remember their names by looking at their journal entries.

I collected advice from every guest along with all the band members and the bartenders. I walked into the kitchen with my formal dress and journal and asked everyone from the line cooks to the dishwashers for their advice. The busboys, particularly, felt very honored to sign the book. A janitor from El Salvador wrote, “If you say you are coming home at midnight, don’t get home at 2 am.”

There were a few kids at the wedding, and one girl wrote, “Uncle Andy, if Emily ever gets mad at you, buy her a horse.” It was funny because they lived in a Chicago high-rise at the time.

There was a psychologist who wrote an entire page of advice, and a server from China who simply wrote, “Always show your love.”

At the end of the night, I had close to 300 pieces of advice from a wide variety of people from around the world. I titled the book, “From Busboys to Billionaires; Advice for the Newlyweds.” and presented it to my brother and his wife at brunch the next morning.

My new sister-in-law cried and said it was such a thoughtful and touching gift.

They took the journal on their honeymoon and continued collecting advice, asking their pilot and all the flight attendants to contribute.

The last entry was from a couple on the airplane who were headed to Hawaii to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Nine years later, they read the journal from time to time. It reminds them of what’s really important in a marriage, and they’re able to relive their special day, remembering all the people who were part of their celebration.

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