If I had to do it all over again…

I don’t know about you, but June makes me think of weddings, although I was actually married in August. And what I really end up thinking is: why do we bother. How many movies have we all seen about the craziness of weddings? Yes I know they are movies but the writing usually has actual inspiration somewhere. So why do we do it?

In my case I didn’t want to call it a wedding. I called it a celebration of a good thing or as my invitation stated, a celebration of love and friendship. It was the one day in my life that was supposed to be for me. I wanted to tell everyone that I was happy. I also wanted, just once, to dress up and have my hair done. I had not attended my prom, which is a story for another day.

The Doc and I had been living together for two years before we discussed marriage. I was past thirty and he was hitting forty, meaning we were both adults and knew what we wanted. Mind you, this was his second time round and he just wanted me to be happy. Plus we were paying for it ourselves.

At the time, we were living in Ontario so we made a trip to Nova Scotia to officially announce our engagement to east-coast friends and family. All we did was tell them that we were getting married sometime in August the following summer. Everyone seemed perfectly fine with this. It wasn’t until after we returned to Ontario that things began to get messy. It started with a single phone call.

“I was thinking,” my mother said. Words that triggered my oft-used flight response. “We could have The Doc’s parents and his boys fly down with you two, and you could get married here in the backyard.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhh shit. Although married twice, my mother had never planned a wedding. My wedding was to be her dream wedding. Actually my dream wedding, if I was ever to get married in Nova Scotia, was to have the ceremony on Lawrencetown Beach at sunrise, which made The Doc laugh and tease me about missing it because I was not a morning person and, in reality, couldn’t get up that early if I tried. I would have had to stay up all night in order to make that happen, and that wouldn’t be pretty. Besides, it was just a dream.

When I explained to my mother that planning a wedding in Nova Scotia wouldn’t work for me as it would be difficult to oversee the details, all I heard was silence.

And then more silence. My mother called me weekly like clockwork, but I didn’t hear from her for weeks, at least a couple of months, and then it was because I called her. I decided to try to get her involved by asking her a wedding-related question. I can’t remember my exact question but her response was unforgettable.

“I haven’t decided if I’m coming yet,” she said.

My mother and I are both very strong-willed women and I give her credit for a lot of my positive and many of my negative traits. But there is a big difference between us. I, fortunately, did not receive that particular narcissistic gene that thought it was ok to ruin her own daughter’s milestone.

I knew she would come, but she wasn’t going to make it easy for me. They were only words. She just needed to say those words. And in saying them, she tainted all the months leading up to the event, all the plans and decisions, all the joy I had wanted to feel, all the anticipation for the arrival of family and friends and the actual day itself. . 

We were having a pretty small, within-our-budget, wedding of about seventy-five people. However, my family can be considered large and a bit confusing. My parents separated on New Year’s Eve, 1957. I was 16 days old. By the time I, kid number three, arrived, they realized that babies could not fix their broken marriage. They went their separate ways and both remarried. The man my mother wed when I was two was the man who became my dad. Once all the dust settled, I ended up with a mother and stepfather, a father and stepmother, two brothers, one half brother, two half sisters and a stepbrother and stepsister. Plus oodles and oodles of uncles, aunts and cousins, some of them step and some of them not. In general we are not close. The core of my family, those I lived with growing up, and a few other very special relatives were the only family members I wanted to share my wedding day with.

To be honest I didn’t feel the need to extend invitations to multitudes of uncles and aunts and cousins I may have met three times or less in over thirty years. I didn’t feel the need to extend invitations to a lot of my family members. Some, however, felt as if they should have been invited. One uncle, who I had rarely seen, actually tracked down our phone number and called the house a couple of nights before the wedding when he found out he wasn’t. I repeat, we were paying for it, and it was not going to be a large affair.

After months of ups and downs, the big day arrived. My family, who normally loved a family gathering and a good party, did not really show up. What arrived in the guise of my family was a mopey bunch who made it known that they would rather be somewhere else. Other than my sister / Maid of Honour, who danced and had a great time all night, and never complained about the dress my mother, an excellent seamstress, made even though it appeared to not fit well, the rest of them sat around looking like their puppy died. My mother made it clear to anyone who would listen (and yes these people made a point to tell me) that she could hardly wait to leave. Ahhhh the memories.

There are other reasons why I am not fond of weddings. There is the fact that many still perform the embarrassing spectacle of having all the single women stand up and chase a bouquet as if they are desperate. There are all the whiney bridesmaids that I have made dresses for over the years. There are the people who are still pissed off at me because I couldn’t make it to their, or their precious child’s, wedding. There are the people who make weddings all about name brands and status, and one-up-man-ship. There are the people who spend so much money on weddings that they could feed a family of five for three to seven years or longer. And there is the is the fact that the wedding industry is now big and pretentious and somewhat sickening.  

So if I had to do it all over again, I would still get married. I just wouldn’t bother with the wedding. I would take the money, the little bit of money that we spent in 1989, and do something fun.

Thanks you for reading.

Photos:  Ben Rosett, Unsplash

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23 thoughts on “If I had to do it all over again…

  1. We half-heartedly started planning a wedding even though I knew instinctively I did not want to get married. Traditionally or otherwise. In fact, I kind of think I suck at relationships and why would I want to celebrate something I wasn’t good at?

    We’re common-law. I forwent the whole spectacle. No traditional wedding and no backyard wedding and no visiting of city hall. He mentioned Vegas – I said no.

    After a while people stopped insinuating that it would be better for the children la di da and here we are, common-law-ish.

    I have no regrets (about that topic).

    I always, ALWAYS, felt uncomfortable at weddings, especially the lavish affairs that cost an arm and a leg and a kidney. It felt so staged and unreasonable to me. And that bouquet throwing? So ridiculous.

    Anyway, it sounds like you focused on what mattered – marrying the man you love. I don’t know what to think about the behaviour of your mother – my own mother isn’t like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually never planned on getting married when I was young. It just seemed to be right at that time. The relationship is now much older, and we have our moments because perfect doesn’t exist, but he is probably the only person I would have lasted this long with. As far as my mother goes, she is one of a kind and I could tell a lot more stories.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thirty one years ago we went to the JP in Orangeville Ontario. Best money never spent on a wedding ever. No regrets about dresses, or family, or locations. Seriously, no family member whined, cried, or uttered single negative word of complaint. Large weddings used to be the way couples got many of the things they needed to begin their families. Those days are gone. And I for one, do not miss them. Happy anniversary instead!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your mother’s words made my blood curdle…
    By coincidence, today is the eve of our wedding anniversary. Forty one years ago, Tony and I caught a slow boat to Cyprus stayed there for a week (to establish residency as was the law there, and also as our pre-wedding honeymoon) and were married before a judge. It was just the two of us. We were young. We were happy. We didn’t really know what we were doing…

    When we got back home, we allowed Tony’s deprived mother to force one of her rings on my ringless finger, and after some pleading, she had a small party at her house for close family and friends. my parents were both dead and I don’t know if it would have been any different if they were alive.

    I never liked weddings. That is until my youngest daughter got married and it was a fun and happy wedding with lots of happy maritimers all celebrating everyone’s happiness (and nerdy Star Trek things).

    I’ll think about you tomorrow when we won’t do anything special for our anniversary because we don’t need to. Maybe your wedding day wasn’t great, but it sounds like Doc is!


  4. Oh boy. So many mother/wedding connections here… I’m not even going to get into them because, frankly, I don’t have the energy right now. I also got married in 1989, against my better judgment. It didn’t last, but I have my son as a result so I am infinitely grateful for that.
    Great, memory-invoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Weddings are one of those social gatherings that inevitably lead to some people feeling obligated to come when they don’t want to and others who hold it against you when they aren’t invited. For what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, some people often turn it into something that isn’t even a good time. Words such as what your mom said are never forgotten. My wife wanted a big wedding, and it turned out fine, but I was relieved when it was over.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My thoughts on weddings, of course, have an additional layer, since I was not allowed to legally marry for most of my adult life. (Well, not to another man.) So, not only did I think it a bit wasteful to spend so much money on a single (though obviously important) event, I was annoyed at the big production numbers when I couldn’t even have a low-budget ceremony. It felt like a slap, even though that was most likely not the intention of the hitching couple.

    On the flip side, now that we CAN get married, Partner and I are not interested at all in pursuing that option. We’ve been together 21 years, we have the paperwork in place so that the other is protected should something happen to one of us, and we’re content with that arrangement. To each his own.

    By the way, I know all about extended families where you don’t really “know” a lot of people in those extensions. My father has been married four times, and at one point I legally had 11 brothers and sisters, step, half and otherwise. Yet I only consider 4 of them my actual siblings.

    And as for parents saying things to you they shouldn’t and ruining special days because everything is a challenge with them? Well, how much time have you got?… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Weddings, extended families and narcissistic parents… a recipe for therapy sessions for sure. Writing helps us to get some of it out of our systems. Finding the right partner puts it all into perspective. Kudos to both of us. Personally I know I’ve saved a ton of money thanks to both these things. Oh the stories!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My wedding was not the highlight of my life. Wish I could have warned you since you got married the year after my nutty nuptial. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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