Have I ever told you about our wedding? It was ten years ago, in fall of 1997. We got engaged, and we were married two months later. Estimated percentage of friends and relatives who expected a baby to be born within six months: 75%.
We'd been living together for two years, intending to get married but not finding any reason to do it at THIS time as opposed to THAT time. Then we decided to have kids, and that we'd prefer to be married first. Our favorite season was autumn, and we wanted to get married in autumn. We realized our autumn wedding was either two months away or a year and two months away. We opted for two months away.
Our plan was to work fast. We'd chosen a date, so we thought we'd invite people immediately, then buy nice dressy clothes, get some platters from the deli and some napkins/plates from the party store, and have a nice city hall wedding followed by a pleasant cakey-and-punchy-and-snacky reception in the large formal room available for free at our apartment complex. Get a stereo and some mix tapes and some champagne, and WHO'S a cute little married couple, WHO is?
We told our parents. Mine were happy with the plan, and started looking into plane tickets.
Paul's. Oh, Paul's. His mom said it didn't matter to HER, of course, but that OTHER people were concerned that we weren't getting married in a church, and Paul's grandmother wanted to know did we realize our marriage wouldn't be valid In The Eyes Of The Lord? His mom said she would have to stay in our apartment for two weeks after the wedding, because otherwise she couldn't afford to come. His mom said she was sure MY mom was disappointed we weren't having a bigger wedding. His dad didn't know if he'd be emotionally able to attend at that time.
Did we want to go on our planned weekend honeymoon to a nearby city, then come home to two weeks of Paul's mother in our apartment with us? No, we did not. Did we want to go to a lot of trouble and expense, only to hear how unsatisfactory our efforts were? No, we did not. Did we--now that we thought about it--even CARE if we had a wedding-wedding? No, we did not. We wanted to be married, but we were only half-interested in the party part of it.
So we made a list. What did we really want, in terms of nice-but-unnecessary wedding accessories? I wanted special outfits--ideally outfits we could then wear when we attended other people's weddings. I wanted rings. I wanted to order pretty announcements or invitations, and I wanted matching stationery for thank-you notes. I wanted studio portraits. I wanted to drive around in a decorated car so people would honk at us and be happy about marriage. That was what I wanted.
What did Paul want? (1) minimal fuss; (2) someone else to choose his outfit; (3) not to have to wear the outfit for too long; (4) no pictures of us gazing moonily into each other's eyes; (5) the rings not to be too girly.
We hired a justice of the peace, a retired minister who wanted to keep doing his favorite part of being a minister, and we paid him ten bucks extra to bring his white-haired wife and sister to be our witnesses. We got married in the parlor of the apartment complex, where we'd planned to have the reception. I wore a pretty green dress and fancy black velvety maryjanes with little heels, and Paul wore a white dress shirt and tan dress pants and a leaf-patterned tie. Then we drove to the post office and dropped off huge white heaps of beautiful white-on-white embossed wedding announcements, the square kind that require fiddling around with extra stamps. Then we drove to a studio and had our picture taken.
Afterward, we changed into jeans, decorated our own car, and drove a long way on the highway, waving at all the people who honked and waved and held up their own wedding-ringed hands. We had dinner at a steakhouse we used to go to all the time when we were first dating. We went to a large bookstore and browsed, and we each bought a few things. We drove home. We washed the car.
It was a great day. I was worried I would regret giving up the flowers, the reception--the other wedding accessories. It's been ten years and I don't regret it yet. It was a great day.
I do enjoy going to other people's weddings, though, and thinking, "What color table linens would I have chosen?" and "Ooo, I would have MY bridesmaids wearing non-matched dresses!" and "I love this yummy buffet!" and "Lots of bottles of wine, that's the key," and so on. Wedding stuff is fun.
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