My cousin. My Brother. My Friend.

Bloodlines may create families, but experiences give the word its meaning. It is our experiences that have brought us closer than the traditional definition of “cousins” ever could. Through thrills of family vacations, despair of family loss, happiness of young love gained, heartache of young love depleted, and pride of lifetime achievements, we are closer than ever at this very special moment.

This moment, when you, one of my best friends, is promising his years, affection, and happiness to the love of his life. And here I am, not as a second cousin, but a companion who has seen you grow and become a man that everyone in your life is proud to know.

From a very young age you shone like a star, and continue to be that beacon for so many. You have always been considerate, kind, smart, athletic, and generally a great guy. I have thought of you as confidant, upon whom I could always rely. Whether it was to talk sports, boys, academics, “my parents don’t understand me,” or any one of a million other topics over the years, I knew you would always be there for me without judgement or resentment.

Since Alyssa came into your life, those characteristics were not altered, tailored, or masked. They were all enhanced by her glow and influence.

A true partnership between two loving individuals shouldn’t call for or demand the alteration of individual splendor for the sake of the couple. Freddie, you stand taller, speak with more confidence, love more tenderly, and care more deeply, with your beautiful bride by your side.

In the amount of time you two have shared thus far, you have constructed a solid foundation upon which to build a wonderful family life together. May the steadfast love you’ve developed over the years keep you both strong, focused, ambitious, adventurous, and happy. May you both continue to grow as individuals and as a married couple, continuing to complement each other’s brilliance.

Thank you, Freddie, for being my basketball competitor, the silly Mets fan to battle my Yankees love, my cousin with the cute baseball friends, my teen co-conspirator, my fellow confused young adult, and for being a man to whom I can always turn when needing advice, encouragement, or just a chat.

Congratulations to you and Alyssa on your wedding. May the love and joy you feel at this moment be the wind in the sails of your marriage, carrying you tenderly through the years.