*Blind Irish Pirate & Curly Haired Husband*
This month has been a riotous flood of posts into our submissions box that I’ve been waiting for… for what feels like ever. And the funny thing is, the posts I’ve waited the longest for sometimes end up being the ones that hit home the hardest. Today’s Wedding Graduate post is from Blind Irish Pirate, who has been reading APW since its very very early days. She was a regular commenter three years ago, when we were both in the throes of planning our own weddings. So her post today comes with the weight of several years of perspective on its side. She speaks eloquently about how societal expectations can leave us trapped and how fighting against the expectations of the wedding-industrial-complex (as it were), can leave us entangled in our rebellion, which can make it equally hard to find our true path.
I wish I thought we had the wedding that other people think we did. Even three years and a handful of months later, some friends will tell me that they had enjoyed our wedding, it was their favorite, or they wish they had planned their wedding with the simplicity and thought that we had. Boy, do I wish they were right. At least, at the time, I wasn’t so sure they were.
See, when I was a kid, I didn’t Get It; ‘it’ being weddings, of course. I had to dress up, I didn’t know anyone, it was boring and I was uncomfortable. But then, suddenly, I was the first of my friends to get engaged and—bam—we were planning a wedding. We were so clueless, surrounded by the precedents of well-intentioned relatives, wedding-industrial-complex opinions, and traditional “you-have-tos” and “you-cannots.” My fiancé, who I affectionately refer to as the Curly Haired Husband (because he is) from this point on, was pretty relaxed about the whole racket, true to his nature. And, true to my nature, I was a woman possessed. Much like all adventures, hobbies, and passions that I commit myself to, I threw myself into planning, perceiving it to be just another challenge to be mastered and conquered.
Maybe I was a little disillusioned, actually.
It truly did not help that my mentors in the early stages consisted of a wedding planning text book (yes! textbook!) from my sister-in-law and the snarktastic wedding website with which many of us are all too familiar. The wedding textbook informed me of every.single.option known to the wedded-kind; I still, to this day, am unsure exactly what a snood is… Unfortunately, I was mostly fed the popular WIC standards of Right or Wrong, Correct or Tacky, Black or White. It’s not so much that I wanted perfection (I had abandoned that concept long ago), but I wanted the wedding to be Just So.
(*Ahem* If this were my own blog, I’d attach an asterisk after “Just So” and then place a foot note at the bottom of the post, with a snippy follow up about how maybe “Just So” is another word for “Perfection.” Since this is not my blog, consider this your footnote.)
And then came the discovery of A Practical Wedding, which at the time was just in the early stages of Meg’s personal experiences while planning her own wedding. I must say that you, the readers, are very lucky to have years of wisdom, passion and stories of all types of people and experiences. And! A book! But still, there was much for me to “amen!” about, and when I looked back on the past couple of months of planning, I wondered why the hell I was so bent out of shape. The dark, twisty, independent voice that I was trying to control for the “Just So” of it all was suddenly validated. How freeing!
But, I was a casualty of the WIC (har-har), my good intentions tarnished by the gnawing shadow to whom you, dear reader, are all too familiar. There were many things that I wish I hadn’t done or felt or worried about. I felt like I was completely trapped between two mindsets: the Traditional and the Practical. I would loudly defy “traditional” schemes and proclaim to have done it in the name of practicality. It was almost as if I perverted what practical actually was. I didn’t want to be formulaic and generic, so I prescribed to the trends that indie and off-beat (re: cooler) brides were up to. And then, I called it practical, when really it was just a rose by another name. You know how I said that “Just So” may have been “Perfect” in disguise? Well, my use of “practical” may have also ended up being “impractical.” I tried so hard to be what I considered practical because I didn’t want to fall into the usual traps; that wasn’t very practical at all.
And there were still the same traps.
And so, when I hear positive comments about the wedding, I still have a hard time not feeling like a phony. Because while I was subscribed to being “above” the WIC, I certainly felt trapped by it, and sometimes I felt guilty because of it. While planning, I started to feel as though the small, inscrutable details of the wedding had tarnished the bright prospects of marriage. I felt inauthentic.
I wish that I had believed the Curly Haired Husband sooner when he said that the only thing that mattered in the end was that we were married.
Oh, but then I believed it by the day leading up to the wedding! And I believe it now that everything is signed, sealed and safely tucked away in memories and photographs. In the days and minutes leading up to our ceremony, there were moments in which that tarnish and spoilage shed from my being. It was as a snake sheds her dull, dead skin, or old concrete is pulled up from the ground, piece by piece, to reveal the roots of young grass. The bullshit that bothered my pretty, young head mattered no longer.
What mattered was that we were married. And in hosting a wedding to proclaim that commitment, we invited our family, friends and community to be a part of it. Our ceremony was full of this swelling joy that finally defeated any doubts or fears that we could have had. The Reverend was true to our nature and filled the chapel with hope, love and laughter. The most distinct memory that I have of the ceremony was when a friend briefly summarized how apostles in the new Christian church would be anointed and prayed over by their people before heading out in their adventures; so, in the same way he invited everyone to do the same for the Curly Haired Husband and me. As we joined hands with one another and our parents, and our friends placed their hands on us, I felt an overwhelming sense of rightness: This is it. Him and me, and our circles of friends and family, all of us together. The largest moment of peace that I had felt in some time. There was a sense that the world with its busyness and troubles was pushed back long enough to commit to serve one another and our communities as is only right. Instead of “Just So,” it Just Was. And because it was as such, we did, in fact, get married, and that was all that mattered.
Alas, I am, above all, most ridiculous.
Three years and some months later, the Curly Haired Husband and I have clung to that peace that we find in one another. When we are struggling with loving our neighbors, or loving ourselves, we turn to each other, and when the time is right, we look for wisdom in our community. In the same way, we try to be part of the community wisdom for other people who are full of happiness or who are struggling. But, I suppose that is another story for another day.
Oh, and? This is what an alcohol-free wedding can look like.
There was some discussion about that some time ago, and I never got around to sharing what ours looked like. I was under no disillusions that our reception might be shorter, with less dancing. And I heard that there was quite the after-party later that night. Too bad that we didn’t go, however, er, we had better things to be doing at the time.
The Info—Photography: Erin Hertz of Simple Memories Photography / Venue: Tippencanoe Battlefield