Perfect is the Enemy of Wonderful

I use the phrase “Perfect is the Enemy of Good” a lot, reminding myself that retooling a sentence or a paragraph can mash all the spontaneity and beauty right out of it. But it’s not just applicable to writing.

My daughter got married on New Year’s Eve. It was–to my “make-a-list-and-check-it-twice-delegate-but-confirm” mind–a rather oddly organized event: outside on December 31 in Northern California. Setup on the driveway of the house of some of their friends, and organized as a potluck. And plagued, like any human endeavor, with the small plagues that fate likes to throw at you: it was 40 degrees and gusty by the time the ceremony started, and while the bride wore a cardigan over her sleeveless gown, the rest of us had on hats and coats and gloves. An area-wide blackout hit about the same time as nightfall, with the result that those of us with thin blood who had repaired to the basement of the house (an amazing rec space with a bar and a wall full of stringed instruments there for the playing) were suddenly partying in the dark.

And it was the most love-filled, joyful, ridiculous and wonderful event imaginable. The vows were the perfect combination of touching and ridiculous; the ceremony was brief; and everyone there was so damned happy for the happy couple that it just made my heart (a notoriously steely organ) swell with delight. My daughter and her husband (!) have wonderful friends. And my almost-93-year-old aunt, who we imported for the event, just beamed at it all.

If it had been one of those magnificent weddings from Four Weddings and a Funeral I don’t doubt it would have been just as swell, and they would be just as married. But sometimes magnificent, or perfect, just doesn’t burnish the event as much as a little chaos and a ton of goodwill.

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