I do not like weddings. In fact, I like to say that I hate weddings, in the same way that I hate bell peppers (they contaminate everything they touch), any kind of animal-derived protein (vegetarian since I could hide meat under my plate) and Jar Jar Binks (it’s just so easy).
My big, huge, giant secret is that I am lying. I actually love weddings, and what I hate is the veneer placed around the wedding – which often obscures or completely obliterates the meaning, love and happiness that could be encompassed in that supposed “happiest” day.
It was a long road to reach this point, but I’m here to say it: “My name is Mallory, and I want a wedding.”
I’ve learned my wedding porn lesson; I avoid bridal magazines at all costs these days. Once, I almost booked a venue that I didn’t even like, only because it seemed like the thing to do. I tried on dozens of wedding dresses and I even bought a few (three), but I returned or sold them all within a few days of each purchase. I tried to fit into the traditional mold, and then I tried to fit into the indie mold. First, I was not doing enough do-it-yourself, but then it was too much. I started getting the judgment faces and comments from acquaintances when I told them about my plans – either it was too cheap or too fancy, too mainstream or too liberal. I lost myself in the swirl of ideas, and the wedding is supposed to be about me, right? *sarcasm alert*
As a result, I said f*ck it. I spent hours and hours trying to convince my fiancé that eloping was the safest and most cost-effective choice. (Truthfully, it is the most cost-effective, and we are poor graduate students, but darn his desire to have our families present.) He is right, though, and he calmed me down. I put it all aside for a few months; we put the planning on hold. There was no date, and the engagement was set to be a few years long (after five years of dating, which garnered a whole additional set of judging commentary – that’s another story). I finally let myself be at peace.
It was in this lovely unassigned time where I finally found my own voice.
I remembered who I am and what I love. I love my fiancé, and we are getting married, and that day is our wedding day. Because we had no date and no timeline, I was able to talk through everything with him. We figured out what was important and what we did not care about; we also found out that our families were just happy to be invited at all. In the charming calm of our non-planning phase, I actually found myself happy when I thought about our wedding.
My fiancé and I demolished all rules and tradition, but then we started to build our wedding from scratch. The wedding became a template for our lives together and reflective of our current relationship; we took each stressor (money, guests, drama, dancing in public omg shoot me now), cut it our or down to size, and then layered our own values on top to create a day that isn’t about a party. It is about the day after, and the week after that, and all the years to come.
I know it has been said before, but I want to say it again: the wedding day is a single day in an entire life. It does not have to be fancy or simple or anything other than a trip to the courthouse. It can be an indie-diy-vintage-o-ganza or the most traditionally sweet ceremony in the world. The cake can be dry and the caterers can ruin the food; sh*t, caterers are not even necessary. Family and friends may start drama or be perfectly well behaved (dare to dream). We are all free to let our weddings and our marriages be what they need to be. That is it. That’s the magic that I discovered. Earth-shattering.
Now I’m planning again, a term I use loosely, since the “plan” roughly involves making food for about 30 people and booking an officiant for a backyard ceremony. Instead of an uncertain date in the future, August 7th is the day. I’m having a wedding, but more importantly, I’m having a marriage. I’m happy about both of them.