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Shiri & C’s Joyous, Imperfect Wedding

* Shiri, Museum Professional and C, Historian *

A commenter on a post in January asked those of us who’d already been through our weddings what we’d let go of. And I know she meant flowers or videographers or aisle decorations—material things the WIC has told us we need. But those weren’t the big things I worried about during my engagement, and they weren’t the things I let go of when I got married. On our wedding day, I let go of worrying about how my father would behave. I let go of worrying whether everyone could hear the music during the service, about the people who weren’t there, and if all the guests were having fun. I let go of worrying about how I looked in the pictures (mostly). I didn’t worry about getting sick, about not being able to stand up all day. I think I let go of everything but the day itself, the feeling, the happiness, the adrenaline, the joy. I let go of all of the pain and the worry.

I didn’t let go of these worries before the wedding. I screamed at my uncle for upsetting my grandmother, and I’m remarkably proud of it, actually. At our rehearsal dinner, when my father acted so boorishly I don’t even want to put it into words, I took his girlfriend to task about getting him under control. I woke up the night before unable to sleep and so worried about it that my little sister tried to make me put OB tampons in my ears like earplugs so that I’d block everything out.

If you add it all up, apparently our wedding wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t feel that way. It isn’t something I realize regularly or think about, because somehow those things that weren’t perfect didn’t matter then. And if I focus on it, I can make them not matter now. My dad didn’t behave the whole time; he purposely hurt my mother’s feelings as they walked me down the aisle together. I don’t love the way I look in every picture, though the pictures are spectacular. I’m sure there were people who didn’t think it was the best wedding ever, but they didn’t tell me and I don’t really care. I stood up the whole day, but I did collapse in the middle of the hora. The thing is, I’m surprised every time any of this comes to mind, because it just isn’t part of the day I remember.

I know these thoughts could become part of my narrative of the wedding if I let them or if I could even remember them amidst all the good. The stuff about my dad does hurt, even when I don’t let it. But, the fact that I still have no idea what song I walked down the aisle to because I couldn’t hear it that day—I did choose it, so I really should know—doesn’t matter. I don’t need the soundtrack. Our weddings don’t exist on film or in a blog post, in perfect or imperfect repose; they exist in our hearts and in the memory of the joy. And, I know, in the memory of the pain and the worry, too, but so much less.

My wedding was wonderful and glorious. I used part of my undergraduate post in my vows under a chuppah made from a tablecloth my great-grandmother brought from Poland. My childhood friends twirled fire, as we had done in the best nights of our teenage years. My grandmother made everyone laugh during her matron of honor toast. My dance-floor-hating husband danced all night long (and cried during his vows—just saying). There may be memories that are painful, but even though I’ve never let anything like that go in my life, and certainly couldn’t during the engagement process, I have been able to now, because the incredible beauty of the day was so much bigger than the pain and the worry. I didn’t know it would be, I didn’t know that was possible, but it is.

It turns out, it just is about the joy of being married. Which, we actually happen not to legally be, due to the marriage license either getting lost in the mail or somewhere in my mother’s house, but we’re dealing with that, and for now, I’m working on letting it go.

The Info—Photographer: Levi Stolove Photography / Venue: An extended family member’s home / Chuppah and Shiri’s Headpiece: Made by one of Shiri’s sisters / Shiri’s Dress: A sample from Kleinfeld / C’s Suit: Men’s Wearhouse

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