Way back when we first started wedding planning, I was adamant that we’d take a honeymoon immediately after the wedding. I heard of couples who did a “minimoon” or a belated honeymoon, and I knew instinctively that wasn’t for us. I had a suspicion that if we put off the honeymoon until a later date, we’d just never get around to taking one. When your family and your fiancé’s family live twelve hours apart, most of your trips wind up centered on visiting one side or the other, and we had never taken a real vacation, just the two of us. I was determined we were going to kick off married life with a proper grown-up trip.
Unfortunately, a proper grown-up trip involves other grown-up things like “excess vacation time” and “disposable income.” As we delved deeper into wedding planning, it quickly became apparent that an immediate honeymoon was not to be. I told myself that I was okay with this, that planning the trip of a lifetime on top of planning a wedding would have been too stressful, anyway. And that might have been true. I am a chronic over-planner for the most basic of trips, and slapping the label “honeymoon” on the trip is just begging for excessive amounts of research on where to go, what to see, and—most importantly—what to eat. No, I told myself, it is better this way. After the wedding, I’d have the rest of the year to obsessively plan every last waking (and sleeping!) moment of this grand adventure my husband and I would take in 2015.
Flash forward to approximately forty-eight hours after we said “I do,” and I was sitting in my office wondering what the hell happened. I know it’s a cliché, but our wedding weekend was truly the best weekend of our lives so far. On Tuesday morning, however, as we remedied a flat tire and stopped at our usual coffee shop and parted ways to head to our respective offices, suddenly the vows and toasts and hugs and dancing felt like they had happened years ago. My memories of the day already felt like they were fading, like a really great dream that begins to slip away quietly immediately upon waking. I felt grumpy and anxious, not to mention exhausted from a whirlwind wedding weekend capped off by a nightmarish day of travel home.
At first, I was a bit ashamed to be feeling this way. After all, we had taken the week before the wedding off to travel to Ohio and accomplish a litany of last-minute tasks that we couldn’t tackle at home, from dress fittings to procuring a marriage license. We had spent several amazing days surrounded by the people we love most, and everything had gone better than we could have imagined. Now I needed some fancy vacation to top the whole thing off? How greedy could I get?
It didn’t help that my shiny new husband was equally worn out and cranky. I aggravated Nick by refusing to use drier sheets (which I am convinced are a conspiracy invented by the laundry industry). Nick horrified me by farting in my presence for the first time. (Nick would want me to specify that he didn’t exactly fart in my presence. He farted in the next room, within earshot. For the first time ever, three days after our wedding.) Oh, and did I mention we hadn’t done our taxes yet? Nothing sets that sexy, newlywed vibe like an in-depth discussion of business expenses and the benefits of various deductions. It also didn’t help that anyone who heard that we weren’t taking a honeymoon responded with some variation of, “Who cares? You live in the Caribbean! Every day is your honeymoon!” Of course, this is nonsensical. A honeymoon is, by definition, a vacation. No one does laundry, files taxes, or farts on their honeymoon—at least, not on the honeymoon I was picturing in my mind.
I’m not sure what I did expect from those first few days of marriage. I’m not a fairytales and candle-lit dinners type of lady, and I like to think I went into this whole marriage business with my eyes wide open. But this—laundry spats, malodorous husband—was most certainly not what I expected, because our relationship had never been like this before. Or had it? It was hard to remember. In some ways, it felt like the wedding had never happened. We didn’t have many of the external hallmarks of newlyweds that people seemed to expect. We both kept our names. We elected not to buy new wedding rings, instead opting to re-exchange our engagement rings at the altar. We had already lived together for several years, and combined finances long ago. Nothing specific felt different. Maybe we had always been this testy with each other, had always bickered this way, and I was only noticing now that marriage had shed a new light on our relationship.
Or maybe—just maybe—we were both out of our minds with exhaustion, and overwhelmed trying to wrap our heads around this huge change that had taken place. Jumping back into our daily routine, so soon after such a life-altering event, was jarring. It wasn’t terrible, of course. I’m generally very happy with my life (a life, I might add, that I so often lamented missing out on during those last few weeks before the wedding, when crafting and logistical spreadsheets crowded out nearly every other activity we’d normally do). But getting back to business as usual felt a bit rushed after an incredibly emotional couple of days. Neither of us could put a finger on how, exactly, our lives had changed by getting married. Did we feel the same? Did we feel different? We couldn’t decide, and our normal routines didn’t leave a whole lot of time to think about it.
Sometime that Friday, though, Nick texted me that he unexpectedly had the entire weekend off. Did I want to go somewhere, he wanted to know? I didn’t answer, because I was already on my phone booking us a night away. I did not have a week’s vacation time or fancy honeymoon lingerie or thoroughly researched dinner reservations. What I did have, however, was a handsome new husband, approximately twenty-four hours, and a nearby hotel offering a local discount. (That the hotel had barely any Internet or cell phone service was icing on the cake.)
That weekend, we swam (okay, I lay on a raft and Nick shuttled me around the pool), napped, and talked and talked and talked some more—about our families, about the big trip we’d take on our first anniversary, about what we’d name our eventual five children. It was only one night, and it made all the difference in the world. Turns out, we didn’t need the trip of a lifetime. We just needed a few days—hell, one day—to reflect on getting married, to process what had (or hadn’t) changed, and to start looking forward to what might come next. We ate pizza and watched Animal Planet and looked at wedding photos. We were relaxed and silly and focused solely on each other. It was exactly what we needed.
I couldn’t have planned it better if I had planned it at all.