It’s possible that today’s Wedding Graduate post needs no introduction, except this: you should read it, even if you’re long-married and never read these posts anymore. It might be the best written Wedding Grad post we’ve ever run. It certainly talks about the hugeness of marriage and how on your wedding day, the tidal wave of enormous competes with the minutiae of moments in time, and it sometimes overwhelms us. It will help you remember what you’re wedding day felt like, how it changed you, and why. And if you want to read more of Kate’s writing (you know you do), she writes at Eat The Damn Cake.
I threw up on my wedding night.
I don’t know where to start the story. Which is why instead of starting, I got some pizza, looked through some photos of friends of people I am friends with on Facebook, and watched an episode of Castle on Hulu. Then I clicked open a blank Word document, and here I am. Typing and looking at my hands on the dirty keyboard. Chipping turquoise nails, gold wedding band. Because I’m married. And when you don’t know where or how to start, the best thing to do is just start.
The world wants to ask me, “Does it feel different? How does it feel?”
And my answer is, “It feels different.” I think I’m supposed to say, “It feels exactly the same.” Because after all, we already loved each other a lot, and we were already living together, as most young modern couples are when they get married, and neither of us were virgins, and we’re pretty down to earth in general. We don’t run around dramatically with our feelings flapping in the wind. But it feels different. I can’t quite explain how, so I’ll tell you this:
I threw up on my wedding night.
Everyone was leaving. There were only a few people left at the venue. I was still in my dress, Bear was in his tux, we were trying to leave, but there were all these gifts, piled on a table by the doors. And we didn’t know how to get them home. I’d been smiling hysterically for about eight hours straight, and suddenly, I felt like I was going to fall over. Actually fall over, not just the way people say that to mean other things, like, “I was so happy and tired!” No. It hit me like a truck. It wasn’t cute. I was going to fall down. I leaned on Bear.
Then we were outside. People were still talking to me. They were carrying the gifts down to a cab. I was by the fence, at the bottom of the steps, in my enormous dress, sinking towards the sidewalk. My dress was a parachute. It was a nest. I was tiny in the middle of it. People driving by slowed down and stared. I could barely speak. I was going to throw up.
I was married. Bear was married. He had a gold ring on his finger. He looked like a married man in it. That’s what he kept saying when we tried on the rings, after we bought them. “Don’t I look married?” Then he’d make this little punching motion.
“Why are you punching?” I asked. “Why does wearing a wedding ring make you want to punch things?”
“It shows off the ring,” he said.
Masculinity. They need more options. Sigh.
I sang during the ceremony. A Hebrew love song. Neshama Carlebach backed me up. I was backed up by Neshama Carlebach, an actual Jewish popstar who I recently somehow became friendly with over the course of an intensive period of me following her around like an especially small and decidedly lost puppy. Yes, I was. She was singing harmony. And her band was playing. I was looking at Bear, and singing, and I wasn’t nervous at all. I wasn’t anything but happy.
In fact, I was more than happy. I was a fluttering thing, caught between a line that led to the ground, and the wide open chaos of infinity. I thought perfectly mundane things, like, when I walked down the aisle, “Don’t trip. You’re going to trip. Slide your feet, don’t take real steps. Don’t inhale the veil. Are you sucking the veil up your nose? Don’t trip. Oh, shit. Here are the stairs. How many petticoats does this damn thing have? A whole orphanage of starving children in an impoverished country somewhere could be clothed with the petticoats of this dress.” But then I also thought things that didn’t have any words, because they were too big. Things about how wildly proud of Bear I was. I was proud of the way all of the lines of his face worked when he smiled like that. I was proud of him for existing. I was overwhelmed by us existing at the same time, standing there together, getting married.
Before the ceremony began, I made everyone leave the bridal room (bridal chambers? It looked like a chamber. That sounds slightly medieval and creepy), and I sat there, alone, looking at myself in the mirror. It was suddenly intensely quiet.
There I was, in my gigantic dress, and my veil. With my hair doing something it would never do on its own, or even if I begged it. With only the faintest touch of makeup. I looked like myself. I had not been transformed into a fairytale princess. I hadn’t been airbrushed. I was me, wearing a wedding gown and a frothy veil. I was beautiful, and problematic. I looked different from different angles. In one mirror, I looked stunning. In the one beside it, I looked awkward and ill-proportioned. I had exactly the same disagreements with my face that I usually have, and in that moment, strung with nerves and two minutes away from being married, I was relieved to see myself, with all of my complicatedness, in those mirrors. I was glad of looking exactly like I would have expected, had I given it proper thought, and appreciative of my beauty, and unmoved by my flaws. It was me, after all, getting married. Not an exquisite fantasy woman or a cover model from a bridal magazine or anyone else. And I liked knowing that the old Kate, who wore jeans and a flannel shirt and never brushed her hair, was there for me, even now. Because she was the one who I was going to be for the rest of my life. And getting married is all about the rest of your life.
We ate pastrami for dinner. Not that I got to eat very much. That much is true. A bunch of people told me I’d probably not get a chance to eat. I also didn’t notice the flowers. Or even the music, really. I didn’t see what the tables looked like, set up. I saw individual people’s faces, when they came up to me, and I felt the fabric of Bear’s tuxedo under my hands, and I tried to find my feet inside the dress. I didn’t, somehow, worry even once that my breasts would pop out if I raised my arms. That was a triumph, in retrospect.
I lifted my arms as we danced at the center of circles of people who were cheering and yelling and laughing. I didn’t think about my arms being chubby. At some point, my dress split open down the back, surrendering. My friend Elena was trying to rehook all of the tiny hooks, and I was still laughing.
There were waves of happiness sweeping over everything, so that the colors blurred and blended together, and everyone’s smiles looked exactly the same, and a whirlpool formed around Bear and me, and sucked all the happiness in, faster and faster and faster around us.
So it makes a little bit of sense that abruptly, when it was all over, I was so sick I couldn’t stand. All that spinning. Happiness so extreme it nearly crushed me. My body had no idea how to process it all. It had never felt like that before. It had never had to handle so much emotion, all at once.
On the cab ride back to our apartment, I tried to tell myself, “You’re married!” but I could only tell myself, “Don’t throw up yet. Wait for the toilet.” And I did. Which was also a triumph.
Then I curled up in bed in one of Bear’s tee-shirts. Bear got in bed with me, and said, “Can you believe we’re married?”
“I threw up all over our wedding night,” I said.
“It’s really OK,” he said. “Can I get you anything?”
“Sorry,” I said.
He laughed. It really was OK. I fell asleep.