A Wedding Speech about the Real Mary

Mary Shiraef
8 min readMay 9, 2023

I witnessed Mary Trachian-Bradley and Miguel E. Gonzalez get married last year. It was beautiful, intimate, and ultimately, a party. The day of preparation was intensely chaotic because Mary’s phone was dead (conveniently), but the event was also full of love and so much laughter since Mary is Mary. It was one of those rarer days when you fall asleep with a smile in your soul and the feeling of happiness and memory flashes of joy lasts for days and days. Most memorable of all, the day was pitched to friends and family as an engagement party, but to the surprise of the guests, was also a full-on wedding. In short, it was a day which needs be logged in the history books.

Mary said I could be “any part of the day” that I wished. So, naturally, I attended her 10:00am hair appointment, read an assigned Maya Angelou poem in the ceremony, sang an unassigned song to launch the ceremony, and gave a toast for the reception.

I chose the hair appointment because it is the only place I knew I would be certain to find Mary at a specific time and I wanted to catch up before the big day. Mary being Mary though had me get my hair done first. Meanwhile, she practiced her vows. Another last-minute but also VIP guest, Randa Farkouh, joined straight from the airport. The almighty hair stylist Lucine Makaryan whipped all our hairs, which collectively derive from the Ottoman Empire, into tip-top shape.

Showcasing Lucine’s great work on our Armenia, Greece, and Syria-deriving hair

The Maya Angelou poem I read was Touched by an Angel, one of Mary’s favorites. The song I chose, rather boldly, was Lady Gaga’s lesser-known lyric from A Star is Born called “Is that Alright?” The singing of the song was meant for Mary, Miguel, and the attendees only (and also was apparently a surprise to the officiant), but in honor of the occasion, I post the speech I wrote here for the Internet’s eternal memory.

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Hello everyone! My name is Mary, but the #realMary of the night calls me Attie, and you can too.

I am unsure of when I first met Mary, but suffice to say, the people who give you the most meaning in your life often have no clear beginning or end in your memory. Mary is this for me. It is such a tremendous honor to have the chance to speak about her virtues on this occasion.

It is exceptionally rare to find a person who is both the smartest and kindest person in the room. That is Mary.

This has been true for as long as I have known her. Some people are so smart, they run circles around everyone else in the room. Mary could do this, but instead, she forges lasting friendships. She lifts the people in her life up – as far as we can go.

She aggressively pushes you forward. She thinks of who you will become, not who you were. For an example, when I started working at her firm, as an intern, clients would get us confused, so, naturally, she was like let’s just change your name.

She named me Attie after Athens, Greece. Greece is where my family heritage hails from and where I was then, on a quest to visit for the first time. I know now that she did this because, as a child of an Armenian immigrant herself, she understood the importance of connecting with one’s past – while moving beyond it.

On top of that though, Mary loaned me money, no strings attached — which helped me to travel to Greece and live there for a year, meet her family in Lebanon, and then, get a Master’s degree in Scotland, after which we frolicked through the Highlands together with ME as her guide and host.

Mary does not only imagine your future with you, she manifests it. She does not only push you forward, she pushes you ahead of herself. She embodies selflessness, just as she exemplifies self-care. Mary empowers.

For a more recent example, I was describing my upcoming life options, and she stopped me and asked me “but which of those options should I be excited for?” – framing my desires as her own.

Don’t get me wrong. Mary by no means adopts or domineers other people’s perspectives. She is powerful. She speaks her mind. She challenges me. She tells me I’m wrong (often). But one does not lose her voice with Mary. She listens. She is a true mentor.

I’ve had the great life opportunity to watch Mary evolve and meanwhile, love her people all the same. I watched her love her parents deeply, her siblings, her siblings’ significant others, her nieces and nephews. I watched her love Henry, Nala, Dulce, Gabriel and so many of you who are here tonight. It’s incredible. Mary is fiercely loyal – and at the same time, I so admire that she has room to meet and accept new people into her life – to forge new relationships that last.

For a most significant example of Mary’s loyalty, Mary’s love for Dulce — for more than a decade now — is a relationship from which I have benefitted and that I emulate as a mentor of my own “little” through the Big Brother Big Sisters of America program. Mary supported, guided, and pushed Dulce up to realize her dreams — and at the same time, created a home and a family which includes and will always include her.

I’ve known Dulce and Gabriel for a majority each of our lives now! From the left this is me and Dulce on the big day, me and Gabriel making a verrry creative Thai curry a few years ago, and me and Janelle on the wedding day — right after she mouthed to me, “Is this a WEDDING?” (I’m consistently meeting new amazing people, like Janelle, because of Mary.)

When it comes to Mary’s people, she doesn’t think twice about these things.

Each of these reasons are why Mary is also the absolute best mother I have ever had the pleasure to see in action. She oversees Gabriel’s life options, she learns his unique personality as it evolves, and she connects the two thoughtfully and powerfully.

Ok, so those are the big points, Mary as a mentor and friend, Mary as a mother.

Now, let’s review Mary’s flaws. [insert sarcasm]

  1. Mary always has an opinion. It’s amazing. Is there any topic Mary cannot debate you forcefully on? However, she also – admirably – changes her mind. I’ve seen her expand her perspective on a wide variety of issues. This is unusual. Mary is remarkable.
  2. Mary is almost NEVER on time. I say *almost* because I found the solution recently – which is that I hacked her attorney calendar. As it turns out, Mary is on time for court-related items.

Ok, now that I’ve covered all two of Mary’s flaws, am I the only person here who has seen her in the courtroom? As a trial attorney, Mary is FIRE. She is respected, coherent, creative, and persuasive. She is prepared and when she is not, she is confident. I attended every trial of hers over the duration of a summer and watched her win every single case. The only case our office lost that summer was after one of our clients hit an old lady with her own cane.

It truly was an honor of my life to watch her in the courtroom.

Writing this speech reminded me how precious it is to have friends who choose you. There is little I can offer Mary. Even still, she always responds to FB messages of mine, she travels internationally to see me, she attends events I invite her to — and one time, she even answered when I called.

Mary chooses me, over and over again, and makes it explicitly clear this will be the case, no matter how, with whom, or where I fuck up.

It’s powerful.

So, in short, Miguel – as you know well, you are a lucky man. And from the wonderful times we have had to create memories together already, I can tell you know that. I have seen you cherish Mary, support her, and contribute to a world in which she can be herself.

The grace, calm, and kindness with which you and Mary handled your recent life transitions prioritized Gabriel, added Thunder, and Storm, and Lightning to the mix. Your work and your patience established a foundation for a home – and for a family.

This is when Gabriel chirped in, “And Poseidon 2.5!” (Poseidon is the family fish name, twice now.)

Gabriel walked Mary down the stairs before handing her to Mary’s father to walk her down the aisle.

I extend all the love, respect, and admiration I have for Mary to you, Miguel. I know that Mary chooses good people. I may be biased, but I would say she chooses the best of people, even. And she chose you for a lifetime.

I love you, Miguel. I love you, Mary. I wish you a lifetime of cherishing each other – and selfishly, as many of life’s precious memories as possible with me too.

Cheers to the Real Mary!

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I am proud of this speech — even though it basically wrote itself!

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Mary Shiraef

Everyday Researcher. I write here about the people, experiences, and small businesses that bring me joy in this world and occasionally, the politics that don't.