My family has a long history of writing lyrics for every big family event, to the tune of Woody Guthrie’s “Hey Lolly.” Hey Lolly consists of rhyming lines, with “Hey lolly lolly lo” sung after each line and a longer refrain sung after each section.

The job (or joy, should I say?) of writing these roasts used be owned by my creatively gifted dad. Since his death 20 years ago, I’ve carried on the tradition in my own way. I wrote songs for my two nephews when they were Bar Mitzvah’ed (one to the tune of “The Rainbow Connection,” and the other to Pharrell’s “Happy”). I’ve written wedding roasts for other friends, too. Up until now, never a Hey Lolly.

But then my 75-year-old mom got engaged to be married, and it was time. A few months ago, I started thinking of everything I knew about my mom and her fiancé, asking them sneaky questions, and putting the best bits into rhyming couplets—which my family and I delivered last Saturday at her wedding.

It will help you, as you read, to know a few things:

  • My dad went to Yale and attended just about every Yale-Harvard Game that was hosted at Yale.
  • My sister and her husband combined their names when they were married, to “Gostein.”
  • My mom drinks kombucha like it’s water, and it’s not unusual to find an entire shelfful of the stuff in her fridge.
  • The wedding took place in Austin, TX, where my mom moved to join my sister several years ago. The wedding had a cowboy theme and the fare was Texas barbecue.

Now imagine that my family and I are on stage facing an audience of 200+ guests, with my mom and her fiancé in centrally located chairs facing the stage. My nephew is on the piano and each of the rest of us is singing a part that were appropriately assigned. I hope you enjoy!

Hey Lolly for Marcia and Arnold – March 25, 2017

We gather here with joy and laughter
To celebrate forever after
Arnold, Marcia, now it’s time
To roast you with a little rhyme.


Arnold Lo – o – pez Cepero
Is our tale’s swashbuckling hero
And Marcia Bernstein is our queen
Or should we call you Marcia Lopestein?


Arnold ‘fore he met his new belle
Spent many hours playing Free Cell,
Passionate ‘bout his trips to India,
Head filled up with loads of trivia…
He likes to study all things quizzical
Especially the astrophysical.

Marcia spent her hours singing
And hugs to her grandchildren bringing
She built a life she loved in Austin,
With family, friends, and temple tossed in.
And what could you count on to sate her?
Kombucha in the ‘frigerator.


Both bride and groom led splendid lives,
But something lacked on their insides
In both their hearts there was a cavern
And so each headed to a tavern.
‘Twas ‘round the middle of November
A day we always will remember
Marcia got a hunch and came
To watch the Yale Harvard Game
Arnold showed up too and met
A lady he would n’er forget
That day this couple’s fate was sealed
While Ivies battled on the field.
It’s strange that game was so much fun…
‘Cuz Yale lost… but these two won!

One problem – Arnold had no number
He couldn’t call her – what a blunder!
But in the end his Yalie smarts
Found a way to Marcia’s heart.


Two plus years have passed and now
Each has made a faithful vow,
He puts sushi on her plate,
And often keeps her up too late,
She has curbed his too-sweet tooth,
And brought him to the fount of youth.
They’ve traveled to exotic lands,
And always come back holding hands
Masada brought them sacred blessing
Just one step toward their cowboy wedding.

Let’s wish them joy that overflows,
And love that grows and grows and grows.


So, that is what The Essay Expert does when I’m not writing about LinkedIn, resumes, or big life lessons.

I could write one of these for anyone if I were provided enough material, so let me know if you would like to enlist my assistance. I’d love to have the chance to use this different part of my brain more often.

I’d also love to hear your favorite stories and traditions for weddings and other family events. Please share in the comments!




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