Jules and I are sitting in a coffee shop near her office, waiting to meet the DJ our coordinator recommended. Ostensibly we’re sharing a giant, delicious, chocolate peanut butter cookie, but with a beet salad on the side for Julie. The candidate walks in, only a few minutes late, and we all make awkward blind date halfway eye contact until we establish that we’re all here for the same meeting. We hand him the filled-out stack of papers he had emailed us with for our first dance song, etc. I tell him we haven’t decided on a couple of songs yet, and he says that’s all right, we can email him any additional information.
“Mostly,” he says, “the forms are just to make sure I’m not missing anything. I just want everything to be perfect for you two on the best day of your lives.”
We flinch, as I assume probably a lot of couples do when they’re this far along with the wedding planning, and have heard this line as many times as we have. It’s particularly painful coming from him, because he’s not the DJ we hired (our friend Jeff had to cancel due to a tragic personal loss, leaving us with a short time to find someone else for the job), so having him there is actually the physical manifestation of how our wedding, like all weddings, will not be perfect. Julie and I try to pass off our mutual reaction with some forced laughter.
“We’re not really going for perfect,” Julie assures him. “We’re just hoping everyone has a good time.”
“Understood!” he responds. “So, are you ladies Pitbull fans?”
We leave the coffee shop together after our meeting. “Well, he’s annoying.” I say.
“Not as annoying as trying to interview other DJs with less than a month to go before our wedding.” Julie replies. I concede the point. “Besides,” she goes on, “you just don’t like him because he’s not Jeff.” This is also true.
Julie and I have never been and will never be a perfect couple, even before you take into account the essential fallibility of being human. We’re very different people; it’s one of the first things people comment on when they meet both of us. Julie is a personal trainer who does crossfit and runs long distances at great speeds in her spare time. I prefer reading books and baking things. Julie likes schedules, alone time, and hanging out at home. I would happily meet friends for dog walks, impromptu lunches, or happy hour every day. Our friends ask how she stays in shape when I’m tweaking my salted caramel brownie recipe. “Do you train together?” her coworkers ask her, prior to meeting me. “What does Julie say about you eating cookies for breakfast?” my family teases.
If you ask us, however, we feel like our differences are exactly what make us strong together. We’ve had to work on compromise from the very beginning, from how we spend our weekends, to what we’re having for dinner. We show respect and regard for each other when we’re talking about our separate passions because our interests don’t naturally intersect—I watch Julie demonstrate another variation of a one armed push up, and she listens when I need to discuss the subtleties of the relationship between characters in my latest book. Also, since we don’t find commonalities very often, it’s delightful when we find a yoga class we both can do, or the new burger place in our neighborhood which serves boozy milkshakes and lettuce wrapped salmon burgers.
Sometimes she makes me mad like no one else does, and then we have to talk about it. We have to work on a solution together, because we both live here, and I love her like crazy, so I can’t just walk away and pretend everything is fine. We’re not perfect, and it’s not always easy, but the end result is that each of us knows we’re still choosing the other over and over again, and our occasional struggles add value to the times when everything is just clicking along nicely. We’ve put a lot of thought into honoring our differences and accepting our imperfections, both in our ceremony and our marriage.
Julie and I have challenged each other throughout the planning process to know that our wedding would never be perfect. But still, we were hoping for meaningful, and hopefully awesome. We chose the people we wanted to have close to us on our wedding day with care, so when we lost one of our key people, we had to face the hard reality that thoughtful planning does not (necessarily) equal the wedding we had been hoping for.
We mourned the reality of this change along with grieving with our friend, and I even thought we’d moved past it. Then we met the poor DJ. I admit that he is perhaps not as bad as I am making him out to be, and that my general dislike of the man has, perhaps, nothing to do with who he is as a person, or even how qualified he is at his job. We’ve signed a contract and given him a deposit, but I have not stopped talking about what a disappointment he has the potential to be to everyone I can get to listen. My friend Zee listens to me, and reminds me of the artisans who deliberately include a flaw in their work, because only God is perfect. She says that maybe, now that we’ve hired this man, we have already included our one deliberate flaw, and have saved ourselves from other wedding related headaches. I love this philosophy for a wedding, because weddings are such a particular, discrete, point in time. This one moment when, ideally, all the important people in your world are pulling together and going out of their ways to do what they can to give you this pretty wonderful, albeit imperfect day.
You don’t get those assurances before and after that one day, and in life, sometimes the imperfections can be breathtakingly terrible and unchangeable. You can step into a wedding with knowledge that the low points might be as minor as a bad DJ; maybe nothing more than a good story later. But you might be lucky enough to spend that party with the people, and one person in particular, that you can count on being by your side again through the rest of the truly most imperfect days.