Kate and I got married last year, on September 27.
This wasn’t our first chosen date. It wasn’t our second or third, for that matter. We had originally settled on 2016, to give ourselves plenty of time to get everything done. We spent months making plans, changing plans, scrapping plans. We were going to get married in Nova Scotia in October, then Edmonton in June, then Nova Scotia in July. It would be a big wedding, or maybe really small, or perhaps sort of medium?
We navigated dozens of websites, flipped through tourism guides, and Google-mapped venues. We scrutinized photography samples, and menus, and guest accommodations. We took notes. We made spreadsheets. And, just like every TV couple you see planning a wedding, we lost our minds in the process.
Each time we tried to make a definitive decision, a snag presented itself. Someone wasn’t happy, or couldn’t make it, or felt slighted. Kate and I are both people pleasers, and we soon discovered the truth of what my older sister had been telling us all along about weddings: no matter what you do, someone’s going to think it’s wrong.
We tried to make everyone happy. We really did. We put in more time and energy than either of us had to spare, and it got us exactly nowhere. We hit every colour on the spectrum of emotion. Eventually, our last flickering embers of excitement were doused by our overflowing bucket of discouraged tears.
That sounds melodramatic, but it really did feel that way. We were crying almost every day, both of us, from spending every waking moment trying to solve what felt like an unsolvable problem. The wedding was completely consuming our lives and neither of us could fathom a payoff at the end of the process that would be worth all the unhappiness.
We would joke back and forth about eloping, and how wonderful it would feel to have this giant wedding weight lifted off both of our chests. We would joke, but then dismiss it as something we could never actually do. People would be upset, right? And we’d probably regret it?
I don’t remember what the last nail in the “proper wedding” coffin was, but it was driven home in early September. We were staring down the barrel of another year of misery, and we both just said “enough.” With that one decision, our emotional exhaustion gave way to relief, and then excitement. We were really doing this!
We chose September 27 as a nod to our first date (two years prior). We had a lot of ground to cover in a pretty short time (three and a half weeks), but strangely enough, it didn’t feel oppressive. We now had a firm deadline and concrete, achievable tasks to check off of a small list. This was so much easier to deal with than a giant looming cloud of stuff we couldn’t start yet but had months to worry about screwing up.
Kate already had her dress and shoes, and I knew I would be renting a suit. I had a fashion-savvy friend take me to Derks Formals and we quickly found a lovely gray number with purple accents. I procured dress shoes at Goodwill and pewter cufflinks on eBay. It was mildly unsettling how easily things were coming together.
We got an Alberta marriage license after work one day (at a discount thanks to Kate’s AMA membership!) and Kate asked her Unitarian minister to perform our ceremony. We scheduled wedding day hair appointments, and made plans to build our own bouquets from grocery store flowers.
We decided we would get married in the MacKenzie Ravine, part of Edmonton’s famed River Valley. We had gone for a walk there on our second date, and we had taken engagement photos there the following year. The place had special meaning for us, plus you couldn’t argue with its natural beauty (especially in September).
Kate’s parents live in Ontario and mine live in Nova Scotia. Things were too short notice (and too low-key) to expect them to fly all the way out. Instead, we each chose one witness to be present at the ceremony (my sister, Michelle, and Kate’s best friend, Amberly) and that was that.
It was such a relief to finally strip away all the crazy-making nonsense of conventional wedding planning. The endless slog through “perfect day” quicksand had been putting considerable strain on the very relationship we were meant to be celebrating. We had to put the focus on ourselves. Maybe that’s selfish, but if the wedding industry at large has taught us anything, it’s that the bride gets to make the rules.
And if there are TWO brides? Best to just get the hell out of the way.
2 thoughts on “The Wedding That Wasn’t”
I despise the wedding industrial complex. I despise being expected to fly, get a hotel room, and then shell out for a gift. Then there is the butch outfit problem. I feel like a grinch when I decline. Elope or City Hall, then send out the announcement!
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Having grown up with a mother who considered weddings a part of the destructive force of Organized Religion and It’s Discontents, I didn’t really grow up thinking about weddings the way a lot of girls Down South do. (I had friends whose mothers made actual hope chests for them, as though we were living in Little House on the Prarie.) My mom had always told me she’d pay me big bucks to elope.
And so I never in a million years expected a traditional wedding. But when my girlfriend and I got engaged last year, I started prodding her for opinions about her desires and discovered she actually wanted a traditional(ish) to-do. She wants a party with our close friends and family, all the food and all the dancing. And so we’ve ended up with an actual traditional venue- the kind with fancy white tables and expensive draperies- and an actual guest list.
Fortunately, no one has complained yet. But we also haven’t really told anyone many details. And we get lucky that most of our family and friends live within an hour or so drive of our city.
But I love what y’all did, and I think what matters is that it felt special, and felt like something that honored your relationship.
As a side note, I have no idea what to wear. Wedding dresses scare the bejeebus out of me.