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A Wedding For Ourselves

In the Alaskan wilderness

Nina, Homemaker & Vic, mechanic

After my husband and I met, he knew immediately I was the woman he was going to marry; over the course of some months I came to realize he was the man for me.

Vic was nineteen and I was twenty-two when we met; by the time of our wedding he was twenty-two and I was twenty-five. In the nearly two years of our relationship, my overbearing family threatened the health of our relationship, saying we were too young, wouldn’t be able to support ourselves, and would be ruining our lives. (His family on the other hand was completely supportive, encouraging us every chance they got.)

We had talked about marriage and at the beginning of the year agreed we would be married eventually. In early July he proposed (for a second time) and we started making our engagement known to our family and friends, informing them we would be wed in the autumn. Needless to say, there were mixed reactions. Some wondered what took us so long to get to that point; others wondered what was making us rush into such a big decision. Repeatedly I had to reassure people, sometimes jokingly, sometimes with utmost seriousness, that I was not pregnant (both of us being virgins by choice), that we were just ready to take this step, huge though it was.

I had come to the realization I loved him, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loved me, and imagined we would marry one day. Even though I had never before thought about marriage or weddings, now I daydreamed about what our wedding would be like: what everyone would wear, what my dress would look like, what my handsome man would look like when he first saw me that day, and how we might feel. What kind of wedding would it be? Big and formal with a dinner reception and dancing to follow? Small and intimate with a dessert reception? An elopement?

Then family got involved; things got complicated, messy, and stressful fast. Suddenly the idea of an elopement seemed so perfect to both of us that we abandoned our plans and jumped on the opportunity to have a simple and easygoing wedding day. But nothing is ever that simple or easy. His family, who had originally been so supportive, was now our biggest source of heartache, whereas my family suddenly became very understanding. Cue insomnia, nightmares, hair loss, and weight gain for the bride who already suffered from depression and anxiety and unimaginable stress. And cue anguish for the groom as he tried not to alienate his wife-to-be or his family. We even lost friends through our choices.

It hurts and it’s hard when people can’t see the bigger picture and there are emotional and relationship casualties as a result. Weddings really can bring out the worst, ugliest sides of people. Yet there are some who really give you love and support to an extent that surprises you and endears them to you even more.

So Vic and I had a long difficult talk, and a couple more later on, through more than a few tears. We concluded that we’d have a small, intimate wedding. We would choose where and when, who would be there, and how things would take place. Yes, weddings are supposed to be about the people getting married, while at the same time being for the loved ones of the couple, but we learned a painful lesson and were acting on our hard-earned knowledge. We had tried so hard to make plans that would please everyone, but they still resulted in dissatisfaction. Our wedding had to be just that—ours.

In the end, we decided we wanted our families involved in the day, but we knew should any sort of planning or opinions be involved on their parts, chaos would ensue. So instead we kept everything as simple as possible and only asked that they arrive on time.

The morning of September 7th arrived, chilly and overcast. The previous week had been filled with rain and gusting winds. With my officiating brother (who had flown from New York to Alaska just a few days before), I got ready in my apartment, wondering if Vic had remembered to set his alarm and trying to decide whether or not I wanted it to rain. I was strangely calm, ready to start the life I’d dreamed of and strived for with the man who was my other half.

After preparing and attending to a few finishing touches, we all met on time. With our family gathered at the designated trail, Vic and I wound our way to them, hand in hand, and proceeded to promise our lives to each other before family, friends, and God. Afterwards, smiles, hugs, and photographs were plentiful. Then we parted ways from our families, now a new family of our own, and headed off to our honeymoon with our hearts and minds full of love and hope for our new life.

As we drove off, the images and emotions of that morning flooded my mind—when he first saw me, our last kiss before we were joined in holy matrimony, when he offered me his hand to walk down that woodland aisle, when he looked into my soul as we promised ourselves one to the other, when we kissed for the first time as husband and wife… The world around us ceased to be and all that existed was just the two of us, all that mattered was this moment. It was wonderful.

Life hasn’t been a cakewalk since our wedding day. We’ve still had family issues, complications resulting from health problems, some financial worries, and just the daily wear and tear of life, but I can tell you this: all of the stress and trouble, heartache and sleepless nights become just a shadow of a memory in the light of love and the things it enables us to endure and conquer.

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