I am going to take a second here and say something that might sound melodramatic, but that I mean wholeheartedly: my wedding day was one of the worst days of my life. And because this isn’t something you’ll often hear online, I have been spending a lot (a lot) of time thinking about how to write about what I’m feeling.
I have been daydreaming about my wedding for as long as I can remember (really). As soon as Pinterest became a thing, I started really fleshing it out: my dress, my bridesmaids (with pin-up inspired dresses, of course), the papel picado, the little Amor Eterno Calavera wedding cake toppers. After I met my partner, M, I got even more into it—if I closed my eyes hard enough, I could even picture his eyes softening as I walked toward him down the aisle.
Not to say he’s perfect; we have our differences, and have had our fair share of arguments. Sometimes he drives me nuts, even, but I knew (and still know) that he was the first man to enter my life that I couldn’t live without. When we met, we had beautiful, long conversations. We still talk about everything: politics, reality TV, books. He can really hold his own with my friends, and is really good at math (which I find beyond sexy).
A few years after meeting, we were madly in love and tiptoeing around The Ring Conversation (you know: what kind, what size is your ring finger, etc.). We were running six miles a day together, and were following the traditional path of courtship that many a Mexican parent would approve.
And then boom: like a ton of bricks, a positive pregnancy test fell in our laps. At first, my parents were ecstatic that they were going to be grandparents despite the fact that I had been diagnosed with PCOS years prior. Then, the socio-cultural reality hit them: What would people say about me being pregnant and unmarried? Despite the fact that we were two grown-ass adults, building careers with great paying jobs, and the fact that we loved each other ferociously and had created a life (who we chose to bring into the world!) out of that love, we still somehow, someway managed to piss people off.
My parents refused to let me move in with him without being married. In retrospect, it was an intense period of growth and change for all of us. My parents had been so used to their daughter following a neat path that made them proud. So when they discovered that their daughter was in fact human, and made mistakes, and loved outside the lines—well, that terrified them.
The solution? We got married—and fast. It was rushed, it was harried, it was nothing like what I imagined. Our mothers fought; my grandmother fainted shortly after our ceremony; I was missing so many people that I wanted by my side on my special day.
It probably comes as no surprise that I have since grown critical of the Wedding Industrial Complex, and am largely outspoken about the cultural expectations placed on us by our families through decades of patriarchy, colonization, and capitalism. It turns out that when you defy expectations, especially cultural ones, it can be a groundbreaking, earth-shattering experience.
And yet, change can be so beautiful, and is so important.
I love my culture; I am proud of my heritage; I love my parents; I love many of the values I was raised with. Though I am still learning how to navigate it all myself, I encourage you to do what is right for you and your family. I’ve learned that you need to create your own family, your own traditions—whatever those look like.
And you know what else I’ve learned? That having an awful wedding day doesn’t mean that you’ll have an awful marriage—in my experience, it’s the opposite. I would be lying if I said that our first year of marriage was not hard. It really, really was. I’m happy to report, though, that this year has only made us stronger, and better together. We are still very much in love; our daughter is healthy, intelligent, and wonderful; and we are setting goals as a family and crushing the shit out of them.
I would not change anything about my life. I love my husband, I love my daughter, and though I did not love my wedding, I do love my marriage. So here’s to two years of marriage—may the rest be just as beautiful and defiant.