Eight years ago today, my husband I married. Our wedding, like just about everything else we do, was the product of careful planning which was promptly taken apart piece by piece by a cruel and unjust universe, not to mention well-meaning and not-so-much members of our family. If I could go back in time, I would just tell my younger self to run off and elope and deal with the fall out, which frankly couldn’t have been as bad.
We had been living together for a while, engaged and in our first home, collecting the occasional stray cat. Our life was pretty happy. Then, my fiancé’s employer came to us with a proposition to relocate to Delaware, where he would accept a new position with their main branch. Although we declined the invitation, due to logistics and salary, it became obvious that we would need to take care of some business on the home front so if we did relocate, we could share benefits and such.
So, we began putting money aside with the idea of an island wedding at a beach resort in our minds. Soon enough we had the funds to do it, and began to make plans. Once my parents found out, though, it pretty much incited World War III. Because of their protests and my inability to stand up for myself, we relented and took the meager budget to attempt to put on a wedding in the States to their satisfaction. Bearing in mind that, while they disputed our plans, no funds were offered by them to offset the additional costs.
I planned the wedding in its entirety by myself, often having roadblocks thrown up by my relatives to make it even more difficult. The guest list was delivered to me by my in-laws and was twice as many people as the venue could hold, not even accounting for invitations from my side (or any of our friends). My father’s new girlfriend wished to attend (and be seated at the head table), but since he was still married to my mother, it would be in bad taste for her to be there, especially with my mother and her sister-in-law threatening to “make her life miserable.”
Then, a few weeks before the wedding, my would-be step-father-in-law passed away suddenly from a sudden and tragic medical complication. While we were totally ready to call everything off, but my mother-in-law wouldn’t hear of it, insisting that he would have wanted us to get married. So we decided to go ahead with our plans. But, that of course didn’t stop the family and friends calling us to tell us to cancel the wedding, how inappropriate they thought it would be, and so on. It began to feel like the universe was trying to tell us something.
Still, I love my now-husband. I wanted to have this moment, in spite of everything, and we pushed through trying to keep everyone happy and remember why we were getting married in the first place. So, the night before our wedding, I worked tirelessly to hand calligraphy the place cards and finalize the seating arrangements. My mother was insisting on her “mommy moment” with me, in spite of doing nothing to help and creating an absolute dramatic nightmare for me, I could stand to look at her. I looked outside at the heavy rain falling, hoping that it would stop by morning.
I woke up the day of my wedding to find that the rain, which had sort of stopped, was the product of a hurricane rolling through. It had dumped two feet of water overnight, flooding our wedding site and most of the roads to our reception. Many others were closed due to mudslides and I began to click off. I sat quietly in my darkened living room looking out the back window, angry tears silently rolling down my face. I recalled the toast my fiancé had given the night before, saying “Come hell or high water, we’re getting hitched.” It was both, and I suppose he hadn’t expected the universe to take it so literally.
Soon, a phone call came in from my fiancé’s step-mother informing me my wedding site was a no go, and we had to find another option. She had been working with my fiancé’s mother to find sites at the last minute, and we settled on her church which was close, but the exact opposite of what I wanted. Not being religious myself, I didn’t want anything to do with a church wedding, but seeing how nothing I had wanted for this wedding was going to happen, I relinquished.
I drove off to the salon to get my hair done with my mother, paying for every dime of it myself. My manicure needed retouching, but the salon where I normally get it done was closed. The hair salon had a manicurist, who could do it, but her hands were shaking the entire time and she smelled of cigarettes. The lines for the French manicure were shaky and uneven as a result, my previously near-perfect manicure was now a hot mess. My husband’s best friend’s wife had wanted to do my make-up, so I agreed. Her heavy handed application left me looking like a raccoon, and I felt like I should have just done it myself.
As we arrived at the church, the organist was practicing, so we asked if he would mind playing us down the aisle, which he agreed. I believe someone gave him a few bucks after. And, as we all set up to go, my mother-in-law ran up with one last change, she wanted her pastor to give the benediction (even though we had paid through the nose for an officiant of our own). I couldn’t say no at that point, even though I wanted to, and as I turned the corner with my father and saw the mess that my wedding had become, I broke down. The damn photographer even has the moment on film of me walking with my hand over my face, trying not to cry. As I reached the altar, my mother who had been tasked only with holding the tissues for me, didn’t give me one, and as mascara ran down my face as I tried to hold it together, and she stood there gaping like an idiot not realizing that I needed her to do something, one thing for me.
The officiant asked my father the traditional question, of who presents this woman for marriage, he had only to say “her mother and I do,” he stumbled, forgetting he was supposed to say anything, and muttered, “Uh, me and, uh, her mother.” We finished the ceremony without much trouble, tears still streaming down my face until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I hissed quietly to my mother for a tissue. The other pastor stepped in at the end to give some overtly religious blessing and we were on our way.
At the reception, which was delayed because of the weather, I kept getting angry phone calls from my father who “hadn’t eaten all day,” which was somehow my fault because he refused to eat at my husband’s family’s house that morning. We finally arrived and the party began, although our first set of CD’s worked out nicely for the dances we had scheduled, the CD player suddenly stopped working halfway through and guests had to go home to get some working equipment. The food was great, and the cake cutting was uneventful, although I didn’t even get a taste of it since there were so many people to see and check in with.
My side of the family got absolutely wasted at the open bar, and as we were closing up to go home (as we had an early flight the next day), my drunken aunt and mother stumbled up to the bar as my mother-in-law was signing the tab and insisted on another drink. Thankfully, my mother-in-law obliged them, but it was truly embarrassing. When we left that night, my feet were numb, I was raging at how badly our families had treated us, and was frankly glad the whole thing was over. The honeymoon was a whole other nightmare, but that’s a story for another day.
In the end, I am grateful that throughout the whole nightmare my husband stuck with me, and that’s the true measure of love and dedication. I realize that no matter what nonsense the universe throws our way that he’ll be there for me. That’s what’s so amazing about him, and why I’m so glad he’s in my life.