March 15, 1997
It was a chilly day and outrageously sunny. Also windy. The kind of windy that makes a person’s tiara fly off their head.
I know this, because I was trying to look good in one as I scooted from house to limo to church to reception hall on my wedding day. I know this, because “it’s windy” is about the only thought I can remember having on that day, other than, “I don’t care how late the next mass is going to be, I’m not walking down the aisle until my Aunt Rosie gets here.”
Aunt Rosie was driving in from three hours away and had hit a lot of traffic. Aunt Rosie was one of the Important People in my family who one did NOT have an event without, let alone a wedding event. I compromised on a lot of things for that wedding, but walking down the aisle without Aunt Rosie to see it was not one of them.
The priests were annoyed. People were pressuring me. But I didn’t take a single step until Aunt Rosie arrived.
The rest was a blur of white noise and photos. Oh my God, the photos. We were asked to take such a ridiculous number of photos that by the time the day was over, it took us another three years before we asked the photographer to put together our album. We were that sick of them.
It was only our parents begging us for photos who eventually made us feel guilty enough to get those albums. I think if it hadn’t been for them, we may have paid for some expensive photos and never asked to see a single one.
Other things I remember from that day:
Not eating a single bite of my dinner because I was being swept into photos every time I got close enough to glance longingly at a fork.
Never having a single drink because someone was always taking the glass out of my hand so we could take another photo.
Getting a mere few seconds to converse with Aunt Rosie because someone thought it was more important to take photos with her.
Nineteen years later, neither Ralph nor I have looked at our wedding album once. I’m not complaining, even though it probably sounds very much like complaining. It’s kind of funny now, from nearly two decades removed. And back then I think I was probably more concerned about getting to Jamaica with Ralph than how well the Chicken Florentine was prepared.
I’m kidding, of course. I have no idea if they served Chicken Florentine.
Some people say that living together before you get married will help you decide if you’re really meant to be together. I say that if you can survive wedding planning, you can survive anything.
Ralph and I had our share of… let’s call them misunderstandings… during the process. But we mostly had similar ideas about what we wanted for our wedding. Other people mostly didn’t have similar ideas about what they wanted for our wedding.
We wanted to get married on October 6th. That’s the day we count as our “real” anniversary because it’s the day we sat in a dorm room watching The Princess Bride on our first date.
But October 6th was on a Friday and how could we expect people to drive all the way to a wedding on a Friday? People had to work. That was unfair. Inconvenient. Poor people!
So we changed the date.
We wanted a specific invitation that said something about “marrying my best friend.” But that invitation lacked the tradition of “The parents of blah blah invite you to the wedding of their daughter…” and my grandmother, bless her amazing soul, was having none of it.
So we got the traditional invitation.
We wanted a certain band. They were unavailable so we got a DJ instead.
We wanted a certain reception hall but it was too far out of the way for Everyone Else so we picked one closer instead.
We wanted to invite certain people but mom was invited to Cousin Jim’s wedding so we had to invite Cousin Jim’s mom to ours even though we had no idea who the hell Cousin Jim was. So we invited Cousin Jim’s mom, along with about a hundred other people we hadn’t planned on inviting but who we took some amazing photos with.
Gut check… nope, still not complaining. Besides, as we’re wont to say around here, “What else would we have to talk about?”
Other things I remember from that day:
Loving my dress. It was gigantically poufy and white and bejeweled. It was exactly what I wanted.
Loving the cake. It was beautiful and covered in sugar flowers and we both got to eat it because people were waiting for us to cut it and shove it in each other’s faces, so they all stopped to watch. But we just cut and ate it because it was the only way to get anything into our mouths before anyone noticed we weren’t taking photos.
Loving the bride and groom teddy bears Aunt Rosie made for us, completely decked out in wedding attire she crafted herself. That woman was a force.
Oh yeah, he was there, too!
I’m not sure we spoke much to each other, other than, “What do you mean they lost the CD with our first dance song on it?”
I’m not sure we hung out much together, other than, “Now, you stand behind Ralph and put your head on his shoulder…. Hold it…. Smile…”
But he was there at the other end of the aisle when I finally made my way down it. And he was there as we danced to Some Random Song That Someone Else Picked and when the wait staff unexpectedly showed up with these weird plates of flambé to parade around us.
And he’s still there, nineteen years later, and we still watch The Princess Bride and we still don’t leaf through our wedding album and we still celebrate our October 6th anniversary.
So it’s kind of funny that I’m even writing this, a bit of reminiscing triggered by our wedding anniversary this month. Ok, maybe we celebrate it a little. After all, it comes with presents from people who remember it better than we do. And any excuse to have a nice dinner and maybe a mojito is a good one.
And maybe it’s fun to think about this stuff, even the annoying stuff, and feel older and wiser and be able to say things like, “If I knew then what I know now…”
Maybe it reminds me that who and how we were isn’t who and how we are but that all of the whos and hows along the way are ok because every moment in our lives makes a difference, even the shitty ones, even the great ones, even the ones we never notice.
Maybe it reminds me that even though some of my choices have been stupid and some have been wrong, others have led me to be able to say that I’m spending every day of my life with my best friend, no matter what the invitations did or didn’t say.
We don’t always get along. Then one of us has to storm upstairs and sulk awhile and the other has to storm around the kitchen and slam pots awhile until someone gets over it and offers tea.
We don’t always agree. Then one of us has to get loud and one of us has to get louder and someone has to yell about why are we yelling until someone says, “Fine,” and someone else says, “Fine.”
We don’t always “get” each other. Then one of us has to roll our eyes and let it go or quite possibly not let it go and complain about it for a very long time until maybe there is some storming and slamming of pots.
But one thing we always do is like each other.
Love? Yeah. We love each other.
But to me that’s not nearly as important as the fact that we like each other. We like talking. We like hanging out. We like working together. We like remembering together. We like eating together and sitting on the couch together.
It’s a weird thing to think that other people don’t, but I’ve seen it many times in our nineteen years, couples who are in love, but who don’t really like each other. At least not enough to hang out together on a Friday night or invite the other to a golf game.
Love is about frilly Valentine’s Day cards and always remembering an anniversary.
Like is about not caring about Valentine’s Day or anniversaries because you’re just going to sit on the couch together and watch another episode of House of Cards anyway, because that’s exactly what makes you happy in that moment. And then maybe next month you’ll go out and have a nice dinner and a mojito and call it an anniversary.
Nineteen years. Or twenty-seven, if you count that from a dorm room and The Princess Bride. It doesn’t really matter. Remembering has been fun, but I have to go now. There’s a book I want to read and someone waiting for me on the couch with a cup of tea.