Today’s post is from Helen Elizabeth, who writes at Happenstance Wedding, and hosted the APW book club in Tennessee back when we read Committed. She’s good people. So, when her wedding undergraduate post landed in my inbox, one about dreams that you didn’t know you had falling apart, about church families, and waiting for sex till marriage, and about weddings being f*cking hard sometimes? Well. I knew we had to talk about it. So let’s do this, and let’s cheer for Helen Elizabeth, who’s in the painful homestretch working towards something wonderful: her marriage.
I’m typing this while I sit in a yucky motel that I had to rent because there’s a giant tree in the roof of the house. (I swear to God that I respect you all enough not to make it into a metaphor; I merely say this to emphasize how crummy it’s been lately. )
I had desire and a plan for a practical wedding. We didn’t invite the whole town, but we also didn’t stress ourselves out by trying to narrow a large family into a 10-person guest list. We chose to get married at our home church—because we not only loved it, it was free—I did research online to find the best price for things and we were looking at about $3,500 all told, for this 100 people wedding. Things were going swimmingly and I was blogging rather gaily about it. Look at these altar arrangements and this set of pearls! Mr. Dear and I were in the home stretch of our eighteen month engagement, I had just started taking birth control pills in preparation for marriage boomboom, and we hit our first snag. My boobs got too big for my dress, which had fit like a glove before. So I ordered a wholesale one from China (which I still don’t f*cking have) and made a merry blog post about it. This was like a teen TV show, there is conflict, but it’s solvable and no one gets their feelings hurt for long and all’s well by the end of the episode.
Then we switched counselors. We had been counseled previously by the main pastor of our church, but all lines of communication were broken when he looked me in the eye and told me that it was my duty as a Christian wife to have babies, and that was the biblical view. He implied, but did not state that God would not bless my marriage if I chose not to have children. Mr. Dear was possibly more bothered by this than I was. Non-Christians, please note that this is not a view shared by all Christians and most of us are not legalistic. I knew that this is not usual, so we asked the pastor who would marry us to continue our counseling, and he agreed. Crisis averted?
Then, my high school best friend (and courtesy bridesmaid) told me- via facebook chat- that she was not comfortable around me anymore and it was because of my “party nature” and that I was living a life of poor witness. I really wasn’t surprised that she wasn’t comfortable, we barely spoke. I had accepted the fact that our friendship had been over for a couple of years. I was again hurt by a quick rejection of my lifestyle. Mr. Dear and I do live together, but we do so chastely in order to maintain what we see as something that God has ordained for his believers to do. We knew then that it was time to look for another church home. My heart breaks even now remembering it, because a church family isn’t something you can explain to someone who’s never had one. The ties are deep and tight and you trust those people completely. I never used to think that my family could change into such a group of people, people I don’t recognize. I never thought that I would be confronted by them in the role of Judge.
As we were literally making a list of churches we were going to visit, I got a call from the new pastor that he had decided that one of us needed to move out until after the wedding. He said that we needed to be living a life that was “above reproach” and whether we were still virgins or not was irrelevant. I cried for almost an hour that night. I had considered this man a friend, a confidante, and a man I admired. He had changed, too. My heart is still broken.
We came to the decision to move the wedding location. The RSVPs were already back. At forty-three days until the wedding, we still haven’t found a new place to hold it. The wedding I dreamed about won’t happen. Almost all of the decisions I’ve made so far are useless. We have no dress, no venue, and no caterer. We have half a bridal party that still loves us. We have each other. I have Visine to get the red out.
I don’t have a happy ending yet. I just thought that someone needed to hear my story about my practical wedding that suddenly became my impossible wedding. It’s crazy how dreams you don’t even have can be shattered.
Photo by Tomorrow’s Memories Photography, taken at a friend’s wedding