I went into the week of our wedding feeling flat. There were several reasons for that: I had a client that abruptly needed a lot of my focus clinically, a teacher friend from school was very ill, it was the first week of school for my students and interns, and we were about to have friends and family descend upon us from all over the place. I’m very good in a crisis, and I’m also very good at compartmentalizing, but I think that week I ran out of empty compartments. While the wedding prep was proceeding according to plan, it was something a piece of my brain was constantly working on—things to do, things to remember, things to remember to tell someone else to do—and I think eventually my subconscious decided that it was a crisis too and shut off my emotional response regarding the wedding. And in some ways, that was okay, because I was outwardly calm and efficient, and I guess that was what it felt like on the inside too, except for the last tiny little voice in my head that kept shouting at me “Wake up, you dummy! You’re going to miss this!” I listen to that voice, so I tried really hard to do whatever I could to snap out of it.
And I did enjoy the festivities: dinner out at a favorite place with Julie and my parents, friends trickling onto our porch for the flower arranging party, getting my nails done with my sister, Karley, and my friend Cookie (who comprised my part of our un-bridal party). It just felt like I was enjoying them from a distance, more of an, “Oh, that’s nice,” kind of feeling than the can’t-stop-smiling joy that any one of these events would have brought me at any other time. Because one of the things about the kind of wedding we had is that the people that were there are people that we adore that we sometimes go months or years without seeing. Just spending time with them is an amazing special occasion. All of a sudden, it was multiple days where every activity was a special one, and it was just more than I could fully process.
I was still feeling that way when I went to my family’s hotel to get ready on the morning of our wedding day. We drank Prosecco and ate sandwiches while we took turns getting our hair and make up done, with the bouquets I had made for my sister and myself propped up in coffee cups in the hotel room dishwasher. And then it was almost time to go, so I figured I should get dressed, and I did while Karley and I laughed at each other in our Spanx. There was no bevvy of bridesmaids helping me in, and no artfully composed photo op of my momma doing up the back of my dress, just one minute yoga pants and the next—I was a bride, standing in the middle of the tiny den so that my train could be laid out and unwrinkled. And that was fine with me.
I started to snap out of it when I got to see our photographer, and tease her about the abundance of alleys for her to photograph around the gallery. I smiled and laughed with Julie all through our first look. But I slipped back into crisis mode while we waited downstairs, tucked into a hot, tiny room with our officiant, our families, Cookie, and our dog, Samantha. Julie wanted to know if the ring warming was going according to plan. I couldn’t hear the music. Did the coordinators know they needed to come get us to send us down the aisle? Just how late were we running? And then the coordinators were there and we were off and when I turned the corner and saw a room filled with our people, and the huppah we made, with Julie, and Sam, and some of my favorite people standing around it while our song played—finally I could feel everything.
Our ceremony was wonderful—we felt so anchored in the moment and it felt like everyone in the room was right there with us. It was so personal and it didn’t feel like we were the only ones in the room, instead we felt so connected to everyone there. It was such a delightful paradox because it was a moment with so much gravity, and the lighter moments when we all shifted to find more room under the huppah for the next set of readers, or when one of Julie’s vows made me (and everyone else) laugh delightedly, didn’t cheapen it or diminish how serious we were about the commitment we were making; it just added to the intimacy and the joy that we didn’t really think we would feel so keenly surrounded by 135 of our nearest and dearest. And then were down the aisle and down the stairs, gently shooing a skipping niece and nephews out of the way, and I was holding my wife and shaking and sipping champagne while we laughed, maybe just a little hysterically.
Afterwards, the ceremony was what we’ve had the most texts and calls and Facebook messages about—that so many of our guests felt like we did about it, that it was beautiful and meaningful, and they laughed and they cried. That and that the food was amazing, which is exactly what we were going for all along, and those two things probably would have been enough for me even without the dancing, and the hula hooping, and the perfect weather, despite the forecasted thunderstorms. It was a very good wedding. And it turns out that it’s hard to feel flat while the love of your life promises you forever and your family and your friends beam at you and your pops cries in the front row. I couldn’t have missed it if I tried.