‘Tis the season of wedding invitations. They rain like celebratory rice (or birdseed for the eco-minded) from the mailbox, email and social media. “Save the Date” and “Please Join Us As We Celebrate … ” Let me assure you I love a party. Anything that combines dancing to Y.M.C.A and cake is fine by me.
That said, I’m not a wedding person for myself, per se. I never dreamed of being a bride. I didn’t parade around with my mother’s sheer curtains on my head. I didn’t keep stacks of bridal magazines under my bed. I’m not much for fancy and planning. I tend to obsess, worry and get mean when asked to plan “gala affairs.” My best entertaining tends to be impromptu and require you to BYOLC (Bring Your Own Lawn Chair).
It is notable, then, that my wedding story is one of the most requested in my repertoire. Although I didn’t spend a dime on caterers at the time, it would turn out to be the event I could dine out on for years after.
My wedding was a surprise — even to me.
Mr. Wonderful and I had been dating for two years and engaged for nearly another two. I was working and attending college at night. He was working and renovating houses, for little fun and less profit, in his spare time. Together we were very busy, and after four years together people were beginning to wonder if we actually intended to get married at all?
I meant to. I wanted to. What I did not want to do was plan to. We had the marriage license tucked away. We just kept putting off the booking a hall and picking out invitations part of the plan.
In a not-so-rare fit of anger I got foot stompy and declared I did NOT understand why the female was always in charge of wedding planning and all the man had to do was show up in a suit — that someone else had picked out? Mr. Wonderful, already well versed in my eruptions, just smiled and changed the subject.
Then came the day when Mr. Wonderful told me take the day off work, we had to travel to a nearby town to view some rental property. We were still in our early “how to lose money, sweat and large chunks of flesh in the landlord biz” stage of the game. It was completely within the realm of believable that we would be meeting some guy to get keys and look at some wreck of a house. This didn’t spark even the slightest doubt in me. He could have told me we were doing a key exchange in a back alley. Still believable.
We rolled up to the appointed address and ran into a public official in the parking lot. When Mr. Wonderful asked for directions the stranger blurted out “Oh are you here for the wedding?” Mr. Wonderful rolled up the window as fast as a crank handle window lever can go (because we were just that spendy) and pretended he didn’t know what the crazy man was talking about.
Entering the “real estate” offices we were greeted by the secretary for the man who would actually perform our wedding. I turned to find two dear friends — a friend and his mother actually — and ended up laughing, crying, and standing up at my own wedding, being married in the eyes of the law within minutes.
Mr. Wonderful slipped a rubber 0-ring on my finger and they pronounced us man and wife. Later we would replace the rubber O-rings with gold wedding bands. Out of sentiment I keep the O-ring tucked away in the jewelers box.
At this point in the story people always ask if our families were angry or disappointed. I am happy to say the answer is a resounding “no.” They were delighted, elated or tickled but not a one on either side seemed upset they were cheated out of the chance to eat pasta and do the Chicken Dance.
We had a picnic later and people were welcome to Hokey Pokey there, if the mood hit them. All this to say we had a surprise wedding that took little effort — and a marriage we work at every day.
This is not to malign people who like pomp, circumstance, tradition and “special.” If that is important to you then by all means — have it. I just hope as we head into the “wedding season” all involved in planning or having one remember a wedding might mean making a memory, but a marriage is making a life.