The Truth of It (Updated)

I wasn’t completely honest in that post yesterday. I THOUGHT I was being honest, but I realized after having a little talk with some close friends that the post I wrote yesterday is what I want to be able to write. It’s what I wish I could be able to say. The truth of the matter is, the whole ordeal of me getting married is much more complicated. And ultimately, I feel really disheartened and disappointed about the whole thing. But since I don’t want to feel that way about something this important–and that is supposed to be happy and wonderful–I’m trying to look at it as positively as I can.

I never thought much about getting married when I was younger. I didn’t have some dream wedding in mind, no location I’d always hoped for color schemes I lusted after or decorations I wanted. The only thing I did assume I’d have was lots and lots of people. What I love about weddings–and I haven’t even been to that many–is the friends and family gathered around, celebrating with you, standing witness as you declare your love, devotion and commitment to each other. That is what I wanted at my wedding. And the truth is, I’m really sad not to have that.

The problem is two fold. The biggest problem is obviously money. We just don’t have any. (And we’re actually thinking about using some money my parents had been waiting to give us to work on the tenant’s unit, which makes this whole thing all the more heartbreaking.) The second problem is that once you start inviting some people, the flood gates open and suddenly your guest list is 200 people long. And the thing is, I’d WANT all those people there, it’s not just the feeling of obligation, it’s a genuine desire for them to share in the experience. But we can’t have 200 people come for our wedding, we just can’t. We can’t afford it. There is absolutely no way. And I promised Mi.Vida that I wouldn’t try to make it happen. I made a solemn oath that I wasn’t going to do that to him, or us.

The truth is, the other major aspect of this whole getting married thing was really disappointing as well. Not only was there no proposal but I’m the one who broached the subject, not just once but multiple times. The day Prop 8 was struck down officially by the Supreme Court I was elated. I asked Mi.Vida if the ruling meant we were getting married. He basically answered, “yeah, I guess so.” Actually, in the moment, he kind of seemed like he didn’t want to marry me at all. I was so taken aback by his attitude that I didn’t really bring it up again for a few days. When I finally did, he admitted that while he didn’t really think marrying me would change the way he felt about me, he did think it was a necessary and important next step, for legal reasons. The epitome of romantic, right? He also said that his perceived reluctance had to do with his fear that I’d promise to keep it small and then change my mind and decide we just had to do something bigger. He really, REALLY doesn’t want to do something bigger. Parties are very much NOT his thing, and he’s not in the least bit interested in planning a wedding with me, let alone attending one.

So the whole thing has been disappointing. I feel like I’m missing out on so much. I didn’t get proposed to, I didn’t get a ring. I didn’t get to announce it to anyone, all excited and blushing, flashing my finger for all to see. I won’t get to design invitations or send them out. I won’t be getting a special dress or my hair or make up done. I won’t get to choose bridesmaids (that one is kind of a relief actually, I imagine someone’s feelings would be hurt if I did). The whole thing will be so incredibly low-key. Just our immediate family and one mutual friend (possibly a friend of MV’s if his sister can’t make it) and our children. There will be 13 people total there, including us and our two kids. The only way it could be smaller is if we eloped.

I don’t know, the whole thing is disappointing and I keep telling myself that a party next summer will make up for it, but honestly? It probably won’t. We can’t really afford to throw something big shindig then either. I mean, where would we have it? How would we feed people and stock a bar? Who would even come all the way out to California for some weird, hey-we-got-married-six-months-ago-but-didn’t-invite-you-but-want-to-celebrate-now affair? I don’t know. I guess I’m just hoping that by then it will all be behind me and I won’t be so disappointed by the whole thing not really working out.

So I guess that is really how I feel about this. The truth is I haven’t called or texted anyone to announce our impending marriage (except my parents to tell them to keep 1.4.14 free). The only thing I’ve done is changed my FB status to “engaged” and written yesterday’s post. And that is pretty much it. I guess the whole thing just feels kind of silly at this point. We have one child, we’re expecting another. We’ve bought a house. We did a little ceremony before our daughter was born. Every knows we were waiting for Prop 8. It’s just very anti-climatic. It doesn’t really seem worthy of big announcements, you know?

Anyway, I don’t mean to shit all over my own good news. And obviously I am happy to finally be getting married. But I’m also working through a lot of baggage about what I get to be a part of and what I’m missing, about what the tradition of a wedding, and all that leads up to it means in our culture and what it means to me, and how I define all of this when I’m doing it so differently.

Thank you all for your congratulations yesterday. I’m sorry to lay this on you less than 24 hours later but I didn’t want to be disingenuous about the whole thing. As you all know, I’m nothing if not honest.

ADDED: I realize I forgot to mention another BIG complication: I’m having a baby in 2.5 months and then only have 2.5 from his birth to when I get married, so there won’t be any opportunity to do much (like try on wedding dresses) when I’m either hugely pregnant or sleep deprived, and nursing a baby, all with an extra 20+ lbs hanging around. I know we could wait but doing it in January is important to us and waiting another year and a half, when we’ve already been forced (by circumstances entirely out of our control) to wait 4+ years is not something we want to do, especially since the money situation will only be worse after a year of me working part time and three months of maternity leave. So yeah, Teo’s arrival also complicated things quite a bit. I should have mentioned that.

18 responses

  1. It’s hard when you’re happy and sad about something at the same time. And it’s hard when the one person who you want and need to make it all better is the one causing the conflicting feelings to begin with. You will be able to make the ceremony and day a special memory on its own and come to peace with why it is what it is. But it will take some time to let go of expectations. And to generalize in a way that would make my husband glare, Mi.Vida is a guy and therefore bound to take forever to get why certain things matter and that there are things he can and should do to soothe your heart.

  2. I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here… Why should you have to be disappointed? It doesn’t need to be worthy of “Modern Bride” to be special. And that’s, I think, what you really want…something special…like all newly engaged women/men have. I’ve seen perfectly lovely weddings (with large guest lists) happen for less than $500. In fact, my best friend’s sister just had a stunning wedding for about $450 and the most expensive thing was the dress. Her family and friends wanted to celebrate her and her husband and their wedding presents were helping her pull off a cheap wedding.

    Do you have a friend who has a big yard? Do you have friends who like to cook/bake? Do you know someone who likes music? Do you have friends who are into crafting things? If you do…you’ve got it made-in-the-shade. And in the days of craigslist and easy, it’s really amazing what you can find out there!

    And even if you decide not to do something now, at least try to do some of the fun stuff: find a fake diamond ring, a good friend, and go cake tasting (and go to at least 5-6 places)…they are generally free! Try on wedding gowns (which was a ton of fun for me). Or have your best friend try on bridesmaid dresses (my best friend insisted that she do that…we spent 4 hours and didn’t find one that worked for us). Look at venues if you want. If you’re doing this in January…you can find some amazing deals.

    Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the aspects of a bigger wedding!!

    Anyway, just a few thoughts.

  3. I understand your feelings. Like you, I never dreamed of a huge crazy wedding, but I knew I would want certain things. We got married by a judge, then went to Mexico for the real wedding (only a few people there), and had a BBQ picnic reception 3 months later with our friends and family family to celebrate. It was just what I wanted for a few reasons – it was on our terms (no parental input) and I got to do the things that were important to me – an affordable but beautiful dress, super fun invitations designed and made by me, cupcakes, collecting and tracking RSVPs, and spreadsheets for monitoring progress (which I know sounds stupid). Had I missed out on one of those things, like invitations, I would have been sorely disappointed. I completely understand wanting some of the “minor” things so badly and being sad that you can’t have them.

    Who doesn’t want a proposal? I mean- that is a lifetime memory. I wish you could gave gotten at least that.

  4. I’m going to liken this to infertility here for a second because we can all understand those terms. Maybe it can turn out to be nice and fondly remembered even though it’s not how you assumed it would be. I imagined my blue-eyed baby, the hospital, surprising the family with the announcement that we were pregnant, with the sex, with the name we picked, etc. etc. None of that got to happen the way I expected it to, and I still feel wistful about it sometimes even though what I ended up with was amazing in a different way. Maybe your wedding can be the same? Accepting and grieving that it won’t be exactly what you’d hoped or assumed it would be like, but enjoying its differences? Just food for thought. I think it’s natural to have these feelings, especially for an event so hyped in our culture.

  5. I agree that it’s tough when you want something and aren’t super pleased with exactly how it panned out.

    I agree with Rain that you can have a nice wedding on the less expensive side; another idea I *LOVE* is the idea of having a family/friend potluck for an event (New Years, perhaps?) and surprise– during the festivities, suddenly there’s a celebrant and a super quick wedding (most wedding are 15-20 min. in my experience). People are totally used to having to bring things for parties– you can send invitations if that’s something that you’d love to do… in some ways I wish that we’d done that– I still sometimes dream that a friend of mine who hasn’t tied the knot yet will consider the option.

    Also, have you considered letting Mi Vida know how much you’d like a proposal? Some might say that the toothpaste is out of the tube, but I’d say that if you want that memory, you can create it. Also, there’s lots of fun unique and cool jewelry out there that can indicate your commitment without being a diamond and costing a fortune.

    It is an exciting time, and you can make it what you want it. I’m not sure what to do with the part where Mi Vida doesn’t want a lot of people… Maybe you could invite a few of his best friends and let him hang out with them for most of the time (going with the New Year’s Party idea) and then just show up for the ceremony at the last second so he doesn’t have to spend much time mingling? (I found this article on ‘surprise’ weddings- while it’s based in Australia, several of the points she brings up are worth thinking about:

    In whatever case, it will be a wonderful day set to celebrate something magic. If it’s small, it will be delightful– my parents wedding was also 12 or 13 people and it’s still something that my Dad and I remember together. So no matter what, your wedding will be lovely.

  6. I’m sorry this isn’t turning out the way you want it to. It’s tough when you’ve wanted something for so long

    That being said, my wedding cost $600. Three hundred dollars of that was my dress. We had 37 people there and we all went to dinner at a restaurant afterwards. It was relaxed and laid back and perfect. It’s not what I envisioned when I thought of my wedding but it was perfect. One of my friends did a surprise wedding. She and her fiance had a backyard barbeque/cookout. Once everyone arrived, she announced that today was their wedding day and the officiant came out and did it right there. It was great! Weddings can be done on a budget well.

  7. Oh sweetie—I’m sorry this isn’t what you imagined or dreamed of…but I agree with others above…if you really really want something different, can you try to pull it off on the cheap? Have friends offer their services in lieu of gifts—food, drink, cake and have it somewhere outdoors (backyard of a friend? park?) Find a cheap but cute dress. And if you can’t put in that kind of effort with the pregnancy/newborn…plan it for the summer. Have the wedding in January and do the reception for everyone in 6 months. I’ve seen people do this (i.e. go home to China, get married, come home & have huge party or go to court, get married, and when their lives could handle, threw a “wedding”) and YES your loved ones WILL come (if you give them enough notice). If you want to do invites, do it for this…you can design and create them yourself. I hope no matter what you choose, that it ends up being meaningful and fulfilling.

  8. I am glad you are expressing your feelings. I had a big-ish wedding and immediately wished I hadn’t spent the money. It was nothing like I had built up in my head. I realize it is easy for me to say since I had mine already but the big wedding isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. That being said, I found my dress at one of the big dress chains (David’s) and picked a dress I LOVED and was a last season clearance. I paid like $300. So, don’t give up on the dress because you could be surprised at what you might find. There is no wedding venue that you can’t wear a nice dress in my opinion. 🙂

  9. I love all of the ideas above. A surprise wedding at a BBQ or potluck could be so inexpensive. Remember that the most important part of a wedding is the marriage afterwards. A lot people focus on having an expensive and extravagant day, but forget about what comes afterwards.

    That being said, I totally get feeling like you missed out on a lot of the usual engagement things. I would ask MV to actually propose. It doesn’t have to be at an expensive dinner, but tell him that him planning something special is important to you (my husband made dinner and proposed by putting my ring in a mussel!). I honestly think back to my husband proposing and think that it was the cutest, most romantic thing that he has ever done. I love that memory.

    Maybe even a silver ring? Something that you could put on your ring finger.

    Even if you just invite the 13 people to your wedding you could still design invitations. Etsy has lots of great graphic designers.

    Oh and my cousin totally had a really small 10 person wedding in CO with just family in February a few years ago. Then that August she had a party on the beach in ME- a very casual BBQ to celebrate her wedding. It wasn’t weird that it was months later.

  10. This is hard – I feel like the big/small issue isn’t easy to compromise on. But I do agree with the others that big weddings can be done cheaply. My parents paid for mine, so I don’t know the total, but my dress was $325 (I paid), my cake was made by a friend, we didn’t have to pay for a location (we used their backyard). I really like the idea of just having a party and then the officiant shows up.

    In general, though, there is probably a reason people usually plan these things at the beginnings of their relationship, when they’ve got all this romantic energy to make it work. Trying to do it when you’re already embroiled in the day-to-day of having a life together, while still making it the kind of thing you’ll look back on fondly for years, has got to be hard.

  11. One of the things I’d add is how fun a potluck wedding can be. Awesome time. Also, when we got engaged by mutual agreement, we decided we’d both propose to each other. It was pretty awesome and our proposals were pretty different from each other but memorable and fun. If it matters to you, speak up and ask about it. Or you could propose to him. Our wedding was on the cheap and a good time. Even if you keep the ceremony small and a reception party at some other time, it can be awesome. Could a friend be your volunteer reception planner so you aren’t burdened with the things you don’t want to do?

  12. I third (or fourth?) the idea of talking to MV about how important an actual proposal would be. I hate the idea of your feeling like you are settling in any way. You deserve to have special touches on your day no matter how small it is.

    Also, if it is absolutely impossible to pull off a larger celebration next year, you can always have a celebration later. At one year, 5 years, etc.

  13. I’m glad you’re being honest about this, with yourself and with us. Maybe what this means is that you get to define what makes something feel special, rather than accepting what everyone else’s definition of special is. We didn’t have a lot of people at our wedding. We wrote our own vows. I wore a dress, but it wasn’t like a Vera. I had wildflowers for our bouquets. The ceremony was very much our own, as was the cake, and everything else. If I could have had a potluck, I would … because that would have made it special, too. The day is about the two of you, not about the trappings of culture … and that became more evident to me the longer I planned for it. I hope that you’re able to find joy in un-planned planning. 🙂

  14. This sounds really hard. And it makes sense that there would be disappointment at not having the wedding you had envisioned. Maybe you and MV could talk more about what each of your priorities are for the wedding? If there are pieces of it that are particularly important to either of you there may be ways (like the suggestions above) that you can work around issues like the money and the pregnancy and such. And if you each know what’s really important to the other you may be able to find some compromises. It totally makes sense that an actual proposal would be on your list of priorities (and that’s something that doesn’t cost any money!). But maybe there’s other wedding traditions that feel important to you that you could find a way to make work (and that MV would be willing to do). Oh, and I think that lots of friends/family would definitely come for a wedding reception (even if the wedding itself had happened 6 months before).

  15. I read this post when you first wrote it but didn’t get a chance to comment til now. I SO appreciate your honesty about this. I am writing a post about marriage now and your post here really inspired me to be honest about the tough parts of it too. Thanks.

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