I’m sure this may seem a little shocking for those of you who loved your wedding (I’m jealous!), but I kind of hated mine. You see, ten years into marriage I have discovered something: our wedding was not the important part of our life. Not by a long-shot. It turn out, choosing the flowers and cake flavor and menu options and napkin colors are not important to me. They were then. Once upon a time I thought these details were the MOST important. I thought that day would trump all the other days in my life, and be the most cherished of my life. It wasn’t.
You see, we had originally planned on getting married in Vegas. Not by an Elvis impersonator or at a drive thru chapel wedding, but an intimate affair in a hotel with just those that were the closest to us. I wanted to hand over all the decisions to a wedding planner, skip the reception and minute details and church worries and just get married in the simplest way I knew how. I wanted a beautiful beaded slip dress to say my vows in, and spend time with just my husband, soaking it all in. Except at the last minute, when we were going to actually DO all of this, I caved. I decided that I really needed the big church wedding with 150 guests. I thought it was something I would regret forever if I went against this early dream and jetted off to Vegas. I was 23 and caved to the pressures of those that tend to mean well and steer us in a direction that may not be the best, but is the best for everyone else. I went against my gut and threw away the glittering wedding of my Vegas dreams and planned a large affair in a town, thousands of miles away from me, in three months or less.
Planning a wedding is a lot. There are so many tiny details that all add up to a lot of stress. It is the biggest party of your life held in front of everyone in the world you want to impress. It’s seating plans and hotel reservations, marriage license issues and church loopholes. It’s fighting your way against what everyone else thinks you need with what you really want. It’s a lot of STUFF that adds up to something that doesn’t really resemble what you were looking for in the first place, but makes a lot of other folks happy. It’s seeing the man you love at an alter, when you haven’t really seen him in days because of the craziness of planning and parties and LIFE, and saying vows in a less than romantic or ideal setting. It’s not seeing him again for more than snippets the entire night because there are so many people to see and talk to. It’s having a blast with everyone and enjoying one of the best parties of your life, yet not really getting the entire point of the event itself. I’ve learned that having a wedding is often the opposite of getting married. The point tends to get lost in all the details and the hoopla of it.
To be fair, I think the circumstances of our life at the time of our wedding were less than ideal. He was finishing flight school at the time and only had three days off. We had to fly back home, visit court to expedite a marriage license, battle the church for a dispensation for me (it almost didn’t happen), and he had to fly back the morning after our wedding to finish school. It was really rushed and frantic and stressful. Yes, we had fun. We did! We were kids, living far away from everyone, and our wedding ended up being a reunion of sorts. I just didn’t know myself enough to create an event that was about us. I didn’t know enough to trust my gut and go with something that would have made the two of us a bit happier about our wedding in the long run. Not just happy about the event itself, but really taking in the deliciousness of saying vows and holding hands and knowing without a doubt that this was the most important part. Not the party after, but the actual getting married part.
The funny thing is, though marrying him is one of the best things I have ever done, our wedding is not the best day of my life. It’s not even the tenth best day of my life. The best parts are actually living this life together. Watching movies with our kids on Friday nights, holding hands in the car, date nights every two months or so, laughing in bed at night over Jimmy Fallon, and a million other tiny moments that make this life OURS. Having our lives intertwined in so many different ways, sharing a last name and a family, and knowing that he is mine and I am his is what makes me smile.
The expensive wedding photos and the dress I hated, the flowers and cake and music playlist and appetizer options and limo rentals and all that other STUFF does not matter to me. What matters is the second we became husband and wife and learned what is means to be married and be a team. We could have done this on a beach, barefoot and alone, and have been happier, I think. I do know this: It’s not the wedding that matters, but the life you create. Growing up and old together is what makes me smile. The wedding is only a distant memory.
Now I know that simple vows that are private and beautiful and meaningful, they would have been more US. I think that is life, though, learning what makes you truly happy and accepting no less as you grow older.
I wish we hadn’t shared it sometimes, kept it private and meaningful and simple. And that is why I wish we had eloped.