Brooke & Brian

Two wedding graduates in a row? What have you guys done to deserve such a treat? Well, first there was last week’s awesomeness, and then there was the fact that we have had two weeks with ZERO wedding graduates, and I just want to roll around in wedding awesomeness… and am pretty sure you guys do to, am I right?

So, I’m really excited about Brooke’s post, because it gives us a chance to discuss the ‘My wedding changed me’, ‘my wedding didn’t change me’ phenomenon. I’ve been pretty clear… my wedding day changed me (and that actually was not the fun bit). But that doesn’t happen for everyone. In the comments a few weeks ago, we started discussing this and someone said, “Well didn’t you already feel married in your heart before your wedding day?” and my eyes bulged out of my head, because what? No, I totally did not already feel married in my heart. For us marriage was about a huge Jewish and legal ritual, and not something that could happen in our hearts. And then someone asked me “Well wasn’t the day you decided to spend forever together a big deal?” And I realized, no, it totally wasn’t (though I did feel puke-y and overwhelmed when we got engaged). David and I had known each other for a decade before we started dating, so the day I decided to marry him was the day I kissed him (no joke). So. For me the wedding day had a good reason to feel big, and for some of you, that big moment happens in other unexpected ways. So I’m thrilled to have Brooke share her super articulate perspective (and her f*cking beautiful wedding). So lets do this thing:

When Brian asked me to be his wife, I cried and he got teary and then we laughed as we walked around the park in giddy silliness with the idea that soon we would call each other husband and wife. I found myself completely in awe of this commitment that we had made to one another.

At the restaurant where we had dinner that night, the couple sitting at the table beside us was celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary. I had never given anniversaries that much consideration, but suddenly I was amazed that these two people (and people all around us) had committed themselves to one another and had done what they needed to do to make their marriages work. The whole idea of marriage was suddenly so real to me.

Then I read all about Meg and the other APW graduates having similar magical, sparkly, this-is-bigger-than-us feelings on their wedding days. I realized that this was what had happened to me on our engagement. I could hardly wait to experience more of the feel-good goodness on June 19th, 2010.

June 19th came around, but the same feeling did not come my way. At the end of the day, I felt like I had missed out on something big and important and now I would never get another chance to get it back because my one and only wedding day was over.

Thankfully, with a few months of perspective now on my side, I can see the bigness of that day in minds’ eye and feel it in my gut. When I think of our wedding day, I see this giant sea of faces smiling at us – at our love, at our relationship. I feel Brian holding my hand at the altar as we joined the congregation in singing a hymn. And, I smile because I think of him singing beside me in this have no fear, just go ahead and belt it out way of his. My brain has literally tinted every memory of that day with a surreal glow of both happiness and rightness. So, I may have been too present on the day of my wedding to appreciate the love that surrounded me and the enormity of our actions, but now I can see that it was there all along and I have the pleasure of enjoying it each and every time that I think back to that day.

So, my advice to wedding undergraduates – If you don’t recognize a specific magical moment on your wedding day, it is okay. You have not failed. Maybe your entire day will be so subtly full of love that you just have to wait a few weeks or months for all of that goodness to accumulate in your post-wedding brain.

If all of the wedding planning would have been up to me, I would have had Brian and I whisked away from the ceremony in a 1968 Mustang. I imagined us using those brief moments between the ceremony and reception as our time to stop and spend a few quiet moments together as we tried to absorb the momentousness of the occasion.

Alas, Brian had a different idea. He was strongly in favor of renting a limousine to drive us around town for an hour. As there seemed to be very few wedding-related things on which he had much of an opinion, I figured we better go with his plan for our post-wedding getaway. The limo was booked and, as the months passed, I slowly grew to like this idea of having some time to relax with our friends and celebrate what had just happened – without the pressure of playing host and hostess to the rest of our guests.

Then we received our confirmation phone call from the limo company. We learned that instead of the black Cadillac Escalade limousine, that we had requested, we would be traveling around town in a black and orange Harley Davidson pickup limousine. I came very close to freaking out. Brian called them back to see if we could pretty-please have a different vehicle. The verdict: Harley Davidson or bust.

I was worried that people would think that we had specifically chosen this less-than-attractive vehicle. I was concerned that it would ruin all of the carefully planned aesthetics of the day. I just kept thinking back to the pretty Mustang that could have been ours. Yep. I pretty much freaked out. Thankfully, perspective found its way to me and I decided that I should be grateful that the ugliness of our getaway vehicle was my biggest concern. Seriously. That hour of driving around town with our closest friends, some good party music, champagne and a few beers was one of the best hours of the entire day. Everyone was on a post-ceremony high and the giant-sized limo even allowed us to include Brian’s sisters, who were not part of the official wedding party. The fun factor was further upped when the driver let us stop on a downtown street to do a Chinese fire drill.

When the limo dropped us off at the reception hall, we did get a few (great!) snapshots of the wedding party lined up in front of it. Then, the wedding party made their way inside as Brian and I took ten minutes to sit on a curb a block away and enjoy a bit of alone time before we made our grand entrance.

While wedding planning I placed unfounded pressure on myself to find a dress on the first day I shopped. That didn’t happen, but I did buy one on the second day (thanks to the still unfounded, yet mounting pressure). I thought the dress pretty and relatively flattering. I was proud of myself for having that task out of the way. I picked the dress up from the bridal shop a few weeks later. That was when the worrying started. Aaaahhh!! What had I done? Why had I purchased a dress that I wasn’t in love with? I called the shop, but they would not accept returns or even do an exchange. My mom had paid for the dress and, while it was not exorbitantly priced, it was at the top end of what I felt comfortable spending. I felt like there was no way for me to just go out and buy another dress and eat the cost of the first one. Also, for really no good reason, I felt that I couldn’t tell my mom that I didn’t love the dress. Actually, I was afraid to say anything to anyone. I didn’t want to sound like a b*tchy girl that couldn’t be happy with the pretty dress that her mother had so graciously purchased for her.

After MUCH worrying and the working up of MANY alternate schemes, I made a trip to the mall and looked through the racks of prom dresses. I tried on a few and then – lo and behold! – a dress that made me feel pretty and happy and sexy and it was less than $100! I still couldn’t take my “real” dress back and I was still hesitant to tell my mom that I wasn’t in love with it, so I decided that I could be a girl with two wedding dresses. I would wear the “real” wedding dress during the ceremony and change into my “fun” dress before the reception. I kept the second dress a secret and totally enjoyed all of the shocked faces when I emerged in my party dress. I did end up quite happy with my first dress, but I am so, so glad that I took the plunge and bought the second one. The short dress was not heavy or hot. I didn’t worry about getting beer spilled on me and, most importantly, I felt great about myself while I was wearing it.

Weddings are good because they give you an excuse to pull all of the people that you love into one place. Weddings are bad because you will have very little time with the individuals that attend. I worried a lot about all of the people that I greeted in the receiving line, but with whom I didn’t find time to have a personal conversation. These people had made the effort to be there with us and for us and had given us gifts, for Pete’s sake! Surely I could have found a moment to give them an extra “hello.” I was upset with myself for dancing and spending time with the people that I see all the time instead of with those that had traveled long distances or those that I hadn’t seen for a number of years.

Six weeks after our wedding, we drove a bit over four hours to attend my cousin’s wedding. I talked with my cousin for all of two minutes and to his new wife for about thirty seconds. And guess what. I didn’t care a bit. I was just happy to see them happy and glad that they were enjoying their day. So, I decided that I would no longer allow myself to feel guilty about the people that I hadn’t spent time with at my own wedding.

Photos by: Holly and Jared and by family/friends.

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