Throughout the course of the very limited conversations we had about our marriage ending, my ex made it quite clear to me that our wedding was a mistake. If not a mistake, a distraction. While it makes sense that, in the end, it may have been an unnecessary use of resources, I have really wrestled with believing that it was an unnecessary use of my heart and an unnecessary reflection of the love I felt for and shared with my ex. To have it be such a fresh memory—seven months ago—only compounds the clashing feelings of joy and loss. I’ve just been trying to figure out how I truly feel about it all.
The biggest impediments to just pretending it never happened are the physical, tangible artifacts of the day itself. In my possession I have every note, every sample, every plan, and multiple copies of almost every component from my wedding day. I have photos, online and on hand. I have gifts from our registries and handmade things from my family and friends to celebrate our love. I have the cards, the soundtrack to our day, my ring. And every single love note or card my ex ever gave to me, including daily notes from the month before our wedding day.
I have the blanket one of my closest friends hand-knitted for us draped across my bed. The beautiful gold frame my brother gave us for Christmas, with a photo of my family at our wedding, sits on my windowsill, repurposed. The platters I had hoped to serve delicious meals on to our families on holidays and at special celebrations are tucked away in a closet. My wedding dress is balled up and shoved into a basket with copies of my wedding program, our guestbook, and the hand-calligraphy print our stationer made especially for us. I could throw all of these things into a giant fire pit and turn the memories of them into ash, but I don’t want to do that. Because they were given with love and with the intention of becoming part of memories. Good memories. And I deserve to keep them.
There are these memories of the process and the day to hold close to my heart, but there are also the archives of the connections I share with everyone there. Archives that continue to be filled, despite my marriage ending. To erase these images and these memories seems unnecessary. And to be honest, it seems mean.
My best friends in the whole world, by my side through everything.
My dear friend and incredible spiritual guide, Bishop David Flaherty, who wrote one of the most moving and personalized wedding ceremonies that could ever be written for two people he believed in without fail and without hesitation.
Katherine seeing me in my dress for the first time, her face reflecting the love she has held in her heart for me for twenty-eight-plus years.
Angela and me looking at each other adoringly, and then collapsing into a fit of giggles. This is not unique to the day, this is unique to us.
My brother and me, voguing in the driveway between photos.
My family. Oh, my incredible family.
And my sisters-by-choice, who have been there for me since before we knew what friendship and sisterhood even meant. They have held me up, loved me, comforted me, and saved me from myself forever.
My brother giving one of the best wedding toasts in the history of wedding toasts.
My aunt and uncle, who flew in from Switzerland, dancing.
Pang, my sweetest friend and photographer, and her boyfriend leaving me a love note in the middle of our picture files.
My extended family coming together from all corners of the country. Dancing and laughing and being loud and being so supremely wonderful. For us and for me.
These photographs contain memories and connections that are timeless, and they exist not just because of my relationship, but in spite of it, too. I refuse to have contempt for anyone when looking back on the day I crafted as a reflection of my enduring love for someone who decided to not love me back. Every tear, every laugh, every moment where we were deeply moved is to be treasured.
No matter how much I seethe with hate or weep with despair, I cannot seem to convince myself that forgetting October 13, 2012, is in my best interest. On that day we were surrounded by sixty of the most important people in the world to us, as individuals and as a couple. These were people who had demonstrated, in either word or deed, that they were committed to our union as much as we were, that they would be there through good times and bad, and should we ever need sanctuary or space, that they would hold our burdens and our hearts for us until we were strong enough to take them on again. In fact, these commitments were made by us to them in our vows, and they made those commitments to us in return. Everyone I brought into my marriage through familial connection or friendship has been there for me, from the moment my marriage began to the moment it ended to the place I’m in now—this weird, new, exciting, and strange transition space. They’re all there. With pom-poms. And love. And sometimes more hope than I’m capable of generating on my own. The vows I made to them, and that they made to me, have survived.
The past month in therapy has been really challenging and wonderful. There are days and weeks and years where I couldn’t see—literally anything. But my wedding was a perfect reflection of the genuine, and (hypothetically) never-ending, love I felt for my ex. My marriage was going to be more of the same—cautious deliberation, meticulous planning, joy, confusion, frustration, celebration, love, and chaos. My marriage ending means I lose people, of course. But the fact that I get to take such an incredible collection of people and things and memories with me after the six-and-a-half-year chapter of my relationship ends is a true gift. The book of my life is still being written, and how lucky am I to keep the best characters from chapter to chapter!
So no, my marriage didn’t survive. But this day—this beautiful, perfect, love-filled day—it’s mine. And it stands alone.
Photos by Pang Tubhirun of Pangtography