I want to talk honestly about the journey to this point. Specifically, I want to talk about expectations, disappointment, reality.
The whole dialogue around engagements, weddings, and marriage is imbued with notions of magic and happiness. Life, however, is far more complex and sometimes uglier. As humans, our dreams often don’t quite match up. Relationships are messy. When money and other people and popular culture and expectations become involved, there are bound to be moments far less than ecstatic. And that’s normal.
For one, I didn’t love my engagement ring. I didn’t even particularly LIKE it at first. It’s a family ring that has untold emotional value, very old-fashioned, and for a long time it looked as if I wouldn’t even be able to wear it, as we couldn’t find anyone who could resize it to the extent I needed. As I was about to give up, though, I found a boutique jeweller who took on the task with aplomb, and started wearing it.
You know what? It grew on me. It’s gold, and old, but has a lovely silver filigree, and the three-stone bridge is super cool and has an awesome side profile. I love that it’s unique, and that it has so much history and meaning.
You might remember how I agonised over whether to have a bridal party at all, and if so, who should be in it.
I’m glad I did ask my girlfriends to be part of it (even if only one ended up being able to come), and I’m glad I also asked two of my guy friends to be bridesmen. Friday was girls’ night (my first mani/pedi ever) and Saturday boys’ night (food, food, and more food), and instead of doing my own makeup I was powdered, lined, and curled by friends in the morning. It was a ton more than I would have worn on my own, but it looked good in pictures, I think…!
It wasn’t completely smooth sailing, but I have no regrets.
Sweating the small stuff
Despite being very certain about the kinds of things I did and didn’t want at this wedding (e.g. not to be ‘given away’, because I’m a person, not chattel; or no decor, because I’m missing the gene that enables me to fuss over frippery) as the day got closer, every little thing started to weigh on my mind. Would I be judged for having cheap table covers/no centrepieces/no fancy vehicle/a kickass shabby-chic rustic reception nook that is about as far from a typical pristine wedding venue as possible? OH, THE DOUBTS.
Do you want to know what nearly broke the camel’s back? Flowers. Yes, fucking flowers. Everyone was on my case about flowers; apparently not having flowers is un-wedding like and absolutely unthinkable. I do not like hewing to tradition for tradition’s sake, but it got to the point that I asked a coworker – who edits a bridal magazine – for ideas. She had some great ideas for alternatives, but assured me I didn’t have to carry anything if I didn’t want to.
In the end, I did the flower thing, though ended up ditching my bouquet over a bridge toward the end of our couples photos. Speaking of which, I’m hoping there were a handful of good ones. This face was not made to smile. I reserve the right to exercise bitchface for the rest of the month to make up for it.
Our proposal story isn’t anything incredible. There is no grand gesture here – no tale of an elaborate operation designed to broadcast a proposal upon descent from a skydive. Just us, doing something we love (travelling for a music festival), in the privacy of the bathroom of a Wellington B&B. It’s a story we are both more than happy with, but there was definitely a slight twinge flavoured with a hint of envy whenever I heard about other people’s epic proposals, despite knowing how embarrassed I would be in such a situation.
And despite being one of the first couples we know to get engaged, we were beaten to the altar by a few others. I wanted a long engagement, but yeah, I felt a little usurped at times. On one hand, I was glad to NOT be the first to actually tie the knot. On the other, I worried that those other weddings set a standard that we wouldn’t measure up to.
The most heart-stopping part of all came less than two months before the big day.
There’s nothing harder than hearing someone you love voice soul-shattering doubts about the way forward. It cuts to the bone.
It’s doubly hard when that person has always been the one who loved more, the one who pursued you, the one who pushed for marriage, the one who patiently waited for you to catch up. When, after several years, you’ve finally reached the stage where you feel ready to take the leap, to hear that person retreating. To watch the tissues pile up in the middle of the bed, to put aside your own feelings, to try to determine whether that fear is simply cold feet or stemming from a much deeper problem that you didn’t realise existed. To envision a million alternate paths for your life in the silent spaces between words.
No matter how busy you are and how happy you think you might be, pre-marital counselling is probably a damn good idea.
With all that said …
I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a cracking time overall on Sunday.
I mean, I did not have high hopes to start with. Saturday dawned bright and clear, then dissolved into some serious rainstorms by mid-morning, with forecasts for more of the same until Monday. Things looked amazing on Sunday morning – I was overheating on the way to the venue – but by the time we arrived, a sullen grey drizzle set in. Yet, unbelievably, it more or less cleared by the time we started, stayed sunny throughout photos, and didn’t return to hardcore rain until later on (it hailed at one point after we left).
Nothing went too badly wrong: everyone managed to find the place; I got to see a few people I hadn’t seen in months; friends mended a rift in the course of the afternoon; nobody got out of control; I didn’t cry or suffer dire hayfever symptoms; I only caught my feet in my dress a handful of times (another one of those things I gave in on – having a little bit of a tail on it).
It was by no means perfect, but I didn’t expect it to be. As everyone told me: “Enjoy it while you can – it goes so fast.”
Most of all, I’ve been so surprised – and so touched – by the support and generosity of others. I’m so grateful to everyone I know, from those who helped pull things together to those who sent messages from afar and yes, even you, internet friends, who liked my Instagram pics/favourited my tweets/sent good wishes.
There might even be a tear in my eye as I write this. What a sap.