I’m a big fan of weddings. I pretty much always have been.
Six years ago tomorrow was my wedding day. I was 24 years old, my hair was extremely long and honestly, I really needed to do a nervous pee on arrival at the church.
Looking back- 24 seems so young, but I’d been with my partner at that stage for eight and a half years and I was really not a patient woman. So at the time I felt it had been a long time coming. And bloody hell, did I love weddings.
I’ve played down that love of weddings over the last few years. I’ve had a bit of shame around the fact that (by my standards), our wedding in particular was a pretty flashy deal. Even though in many ways it did reflect us as a couple- I’ll often tell people that it didn’t need to be as elaborate as it was or that we should have spent less money on it overall.
But I think the truth is, the reason I am so attached to weddings as a concept- in whatever form they take- is that I just love Ceremony in general. I love the act of marking any Rite of Passage and the celebration and dedication that this represents. I really feel there’s a magic behind this new life and new family that two people take the time to actively, consciously step into.
The community of support for such an event means something to me too. Any chance to bring together family and friends, colleagues, elders, equals and young ones, the newly introduced and the ancient history- that gets my vote every time. There is such a richness of story there, for all those different people, who they are, where they’ve been. There they all are on one day to recognise the importance of one relationship. Magnificent.
I love the white gear thing too. Obviously not for the pretend bullshit reason that it is associated with virginity. As if that was ever really a thing, and not just a fad created by Queen Victoria because she fancied some white lace. Let’s face it, virginity or lack thereof is hardly any sort of marker for purity or lack thereof anyway. But I did wear white on my wedding day with purity in mind. NOT as a virgin… the jig was up there long ago. But as associated with the purity in my heart, my good intentions, my naivety moving into married life, my open heart, open mind and my bravery in putting that truth and love out there in earnest. And that is what I see whenever I see white at a wedding.
The other thing I love is marriage. Not that I’m saying unmarried couples don’t experience the same things or that marriage is necessarily for everyone. I also realise that contemporary westernised marriage is often a completely different kettle of fish to marriage throughout history or in many other cultures. But- for me (within the constraints of my experience and perspective)- the years of marriage that follow that pretty intense Ceremony of the wedding, are something else. Not always easy. Noooooo. Not always fun or pretty. In fact, sometimes purely difficult, frustrating, cruel, heartbreaking, soul-destroying and miserable. But other times so full of joy, connection, hilariousness, adventure, faith and achievement. To me, that’s what love really is. It’s not that fleeting fancy or the butterflies in your stomach. It’s not the heart racing or the desperation or the unbridled passion that might see you through a couple of lovely summers together. No way. It’s the shit that shatters you, one or both of you. Truly, how can you grow, how can you rise from the ashes stronger, smarter and better if you’ve never been burnt to the ground in the first place? Love is going through periods of being really quite unhappy together, being filled with rage or spite, but still coming back to the companionship, keeping the faith and honouring what you promised to the other person. It’s all the stuff that’s culturally seen as quite boring but I think has such potential for beauty- communication, pain, growth, awkwardness, change, loss and detachment. It’s all of that for the sake of knowing that despite all of it- in a healthy, loving relationship- when you do all the math, you are happier together than you could ever be apart.
In the last 6 years, there have been periods of anger, resentment, me completely shutting him out and him judging me harshly. There’s been times when I’ve felt so hard done by that I start wondering how I would sort my life out if I were to take the kids and leave. There have also been times when he knows what I’m thinking or feeling before I even get the words out. There’s been two glorious children thrown into the mix and two birth experiences where he was my very foundation. There’s been side-splitting laughter, shit-talking, late nights and generosity. Sometimes my heart feels like it is going to burst from mutual love and understanding.
I can’t help but think- who the fuck would I even be if it weren’t for all of that? If it weren’t for what this marriage is and what willingly entering into that as a pathway has meant to both of us.
Would we have experienced all the highs and lows of our own relationship if we had never gotten married? If we’d never made a fuss of the wedding? Of course we would have. But I can honestly say that I’m really glad we did anyway. Simply because our partnership has been truly one of the most significant of my life. And because it was way back at that point in our young lives that we had decided to move into that level of dedication to each other even in the face of real hardship. I think that in the scheme of things- that is so worth having a fancy wedding day for.