When I married my stuffed bear in the kitchen circa 1990, I had set the bar pretty high for any future nuptial event. I wanted Billy Idol there, it was going to be televised, and all my friends were going to be present. Fast forward twenty-six years later to a much different day…I’m pretty sure no little girl dreams of standing in a field, already ten weeks pregnant, marrying her ex-boss who introduced her to her ex-husband.
But if there’s a little girl out there with that same hope and dream, never fear! I’m here to let her know it’s possible…because that’s exactly what I did.
To understand my wedding day, I first have to shed some light on how my husband and I got there in the first place. I met my now husband when I was barely 24-years-old and he was my boss. We were alone a lot on Sunday shifts at his furniture store, so we got to know each other well. We clicked pretty much instantly and talked about everything under the sun, from the Jim Jones massacre (I never said we were normal — I just said we got along), to relationships and kids. One night, we were alone as usual, and I had to climb on a ladder to get something off a shelf. I got a little stuck, and Nathan came to get me down. He reached up and sort of held me close to his face and no one moved…he wasn’t putting me down and I wasn’t really hating it, and we were all alone. Months of flirtations were about to come to a head, I thought; one of us could have made a move, but no one did, and a short time after that, Nathan introduced me to my now ex-husband.
Yes. Read that again. My husband introduced me to my now ex-husband.
While my ex and I dated, got engaged, and got married, Nathan and I somewhat stayed in touch. Invites to grab a drink or meet for lunch never came to be, but about four years later, after I was divorced, we went to a Christmas party and were living together a few months later.
Back to the wedding day…
We had lived together for a few years by the time August 2016 rolled around. We had survived a miscarriage and the death of my grandfather a few months before the wedding was supposed to take place. I had wanted to have a fairly big wedding, since my first wedding happened at a courthouse and his happened while my 8th grade self worried about Y2K, but planning a wedding during so much loss just felt frivolous. Not to mention, about a month before the wedding, Nathan was in a motorcycle accident that could have been fatal, and by that point I was done with external stressors. I wanted a break and I wanted to just go get married. We cancelled our big wedding, rented a house in Charleston for almost two weeks, and paid our photographers to come with us.
The week before the wedding, I picked up my dress from alterations, made my veil, and oh yeah, (surprise!) got pregnant.
The day of our wedding, we ate in downtown Charleston, then headed to neighboring John’s Island to our house. As I got ready, Nathan went down the street to get me a cheeseburger (pregnant here, people) and it poured rain. One of the photographers struggled to get me into my dress (again, see above…pregnant) and in the end some of the hooks had to be left unbuttoned. After bridal pictures and the first look, we hiked to an open field through the woods, where a college friend’s sister married us. I didn’t have a bouquet and we both wore flip-flops. Nathan refused to write his own vows (apparently it’s intimidating to write vows when you’re marrying a writer…who knew?), but our officiant managed to get him to answer detailed questions the night before, and I was moved and surprised by the outcome. There was no announcement from a DJ, no bridal party coming in dancing, no reception, and no cake.
If you had asked me at 16 what my wedding day would look like, I can assure you it would have been a far cry from what actually took place that day. I believe in symbolism, and look for meaning in nearly every circumstance, and looking back I feel like my wedding day was very symbolic of the life ahead.
Marriage can, and will, flat out stink sometimes. In nearly two years of marriage, I have become acutely aware of why during a homicide investigation, the spouse is usually the first suspect. So much time is spent managing expectations and in this stage — with young kids in the house — just trying to survive. As children, we’re sold the Disney fairy tale of “happily ever after,” only to grow up and find that most times, life with another person is actually more akin to the Grimm fairy tales…you know, the ones where monsters come out and eat your face off.
However, I also see the absolute perfection in that day.
I was tired. So, so, so tired. Emotionally and physically exhausted. I couldn’t have handled a huge wedding day; I was still reeling from my miscarriage and from my grandpa’s death, only to have the one thing that we had tried and tired for — a baby — finally happen for us. I didn’t really feel like I needed a whole lot more. There was no one to worry about that day besides my husband and me. We did exactly what we wanted (there was a dog there — eeeeeeee!), and no one felt pulled in a million different directions trying to please everyone else. As cynical as I can sound, I am married to the love of my life. There is no one else I’d fight this hard for and choose this many times every day. Our wedding day isn’t the norm, but I wouldn’t do anything about that day differently.