I remember when I used to watch The Real World (circa late 90s Real World, when it was arguably half decent), and I’d wonder why the people on the show had to make everything so complicated. I mean, they were living in these ridiculously awesome houses, had cool jobs handed to them, and they got to be on TV. What did they have to complain about? I used to think there was no need for all the drama, why couldn’t they just live and have fun?
(Ok, this is the part where I’m about to compare my wedding experience with a MTV reality show, bear with me)
When Joey proposed I was on Cloud 9. It was such a happy and thrilling time, there was an outpouring of love and excitement from all our family and friends, and I tried so hard just to soak it all in. When I think back to that day in Central Park, my heart literally sings. It was a defining moment. I talk a lot about Little Big Moments, but that was a Big Big Moment. The feeling of pure elation lasted about, oh, give or take two weeks. Then reality started to set in. What were we going to do about a wedding?
I’m not the girl who had been picturing her wedding day her entire life. In fact, it took Joey and I a long time to decide that we even wanted to get married, and it wasn’t because we weren’t completely committed to one another, but rather we questioned the entire institution. So now that we made the huge decision to get married, was I really supposed to be freaking out about color schemes and place cards? I should preface this all by saying I truly believe that weddings are an amazing experience. I cried when this girl walked down the aisle, and I would have walked through fire for any of the brides I was honored to stand with on their wedding days last year. But when it came to myself, I didn’t want all the pomp and circumstance. Even the thought of a bridal shower made me want to crawl into a hole.
But I’m nothing if not a person who cares deeply about the thoughts and opinions of those around me (for better or for worse, no pun intended) and anything less than a traditional wedding where everyone was invited felt, to me, like I was disappointing our loved ones. As if our wedding was a direct reflection of how much we appreciated them. So we kinda, sorta, heart-was-never-in-it planned for a June 2012 waterfront wedding. That wedding would have been beautiful. I hope one of my brothers will get married some day to a girl who wants that wedding, because I’d be thrilled to help plan it. But that’s the thing, as much as I wanted to fit the mold, to make everyone happy, that wedding wasn’t our wedding. Sure we could have gone through the motions, and we would have survived it, but I think everyone deserves more than to ‘just survive’ their wedding.
In October, we finally had the “what the heck are we doing” moment, followed by “how do we get back to doing us?” And a December wedding was born! When someone asked me, “Why December?” my answer was “November is too soon and January is too far away.” And that was the absolute truth. We had about 6ish weeks to plan our wedding, and instead of that freaking me out, it was completely freeing. I finally felt like we were on the path we were always meant to travel.
When I look back at our wedding photos, the undeniable theme is happiness. Every scene is just swimming in happiness. And me, I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire day! I have
chins dimples I didn’t even know existed. We didn’t do save the dates, we didn’t do formal invitations, I didn’t pick linens and I certainly didn’t pick the court house chapel decor, but my gosh we had a wedding. It was a little different, but it was ours, and it was great. Would I want to do it again? Absolutely not. But will I cherish every last photo for the rest of my life? Yes.
To bring this thing full circle, the reason my mind wonders to The Real World is that this whole wedding experience made me realize that the journeys in life that look glamorous, easy and fun are sometimes the ones that cause us to look deep inside, and force us to get to know ourselves a little better. They teach us not only to listen to our heart, but to follow it too. I think these lessons are learned in the struggle. And it’s all worth it because in the end you discover the truth that you’re the only one who can write Your Story, and so you better make sure you work to make it a good one.
PS: I wanted to try to pick my top 10 pictures, but it’s impossible.
PSS: Hilary, if you’re reading this, I miss the crap out of you. If there was one thing missing from our wedding day, it was certainly you. Can’t wait to celebrate the hell out of life when you get back!