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