This blog continues on from where we left off in Memory Lane: Wedding Edition Part 1 so head on over there before reading if you haven’t yet.
Much like the first instalment, I found myself hesitating a lot before coming here today to write this one, but I think it’s an important story to tell because so much of the world today is still so focused on the importance of marriage and pushing people into marriage, and I can now say definitively what I’ve always known and that’s that – well, it’s just not true.
This isn’t to convince anyone who’s currently having the jitters about their pending nuptials to jump ship, but I have to imagine that if I had even the slightest idea what I was really getting myself into before saying “Yes” I surely wouldn’t have gone through with my own and I really feel like not enough people talk about these types of experiences because of the backlash they get from friends and family.
That said, your own happiness isn’t worth bending to their will, so let’s talk about it.
I think it’s important to start by reflecting on what it’s like to grow up as a girl in our society – and for the sake of clarity I’ll remind any readers that I’m speaking from the perspective of someone that grew up in a southern Ontario suburb not far from Toronto in Canada.
I can remember being as young as 5 or 6 when people first started making comments about me getting married.
Now that’s weird, isn’t it?
I was even younger still when my sister started manipulating my hair to dress me up like a little doll. She was a fan of putting my hair in a little top knot like Pebbles. And that type of behaviour would follow me all through my younger years, from comments about my clothing, “wear more dresses!” to “you should put on some makeup!”
I was never the type of girl comfortable with any of those things and I began rebelling against it rather early.
I know a lot of people think that kind of thing is “cute” to do to kids which is why so many parents and their friends do it seemingly from as soon as their kid comes out of the womb.
“Back from your first day of Kindergarten? You made friends? Is that your boyfriend?”
Harmless, sure, but grating even on the simplest of young minds, I assure you.
Especially when you’re a girl like me who, for whatever reason then, always found myself largely in the company of boys and had a much harder time relating to all the girls.
All the girls who didn’t rebel so much against the clothing, the makeup, the young boyfriends.
And I couldn’t tell you entirely why that was other than I grew up with brothers who were closer in age to me than my sister and I enjoyed lots of sports from a young age which tends to attract more boys than it does girls.
Largely, I imagine, because of the backlash young girls get when they take an interest in sports but that’s a story for another post.
And it’s hard to play sports in dresses. It’s not comfortable, everything flapping around everywhere. And lots of young girls dresses are made with annoying fabrics like lacey-sleeves which I’ve never been a fan of. So I found my comfort in shorts and tees and never thought anything of it until I started to realize all my young guy-friends were slowly pairing off with the girls in lacey-sleeves and skirts.
When I was younger one of my sister’s favourite movies was (is?) My Best Friend’s Wedding, so I watched it often. Great film. My sister would always say that the wedding they have in that film is like the one she would like – pointing out all the flowers and the long driveway lined with trees and decorated beautifully. And often she’d turn to me and ask me what I think I’d like my own wedding to look like, as sisters do.
But the truth is I’d never given it much thought at all. In my years of rebelling against traditional gender norms, I had firmly affixed myself in the “I never want to get married” group of women that I didn’t know existed yet.
And as I got a little older and began working, I affixed myself firmly in the “I’d rather buy a house than have a big expensive wedding – it’s just a party, but a house becomes your home” grouping which, surprising no one I’m sure, is largely vocalized by men.
Nonetheless, I didn’t date at all and didn’t participate much in anything like school dances given how remarkably out of place I felt within my community then – the way many of my friend-group saw them, the dances were pretty much only for the affluent Italians who paired themselves off accordingly and otherwise were just a nice break from sitting in class.
That’s not to say I didn’t date at all but I certainly didn’t go on dates the way I’d seen them in movies. I was never explicitly asked out on one so you could never be too sure anyways, and when I finally was it was by someone a few years older and in retrospect, probably shouldn’t have happened at the time it did with him being 20 and I, 15 or so (he wasn’t held back or anything, okay?! We met at one of my many part-time jobs I held).
And all of these fizzled out so quickly it’s as though they didn’t happen at all when I look back on them.
But it wasn’t for lack of wanting to – hell, in my early teens I even went ahead and did the asking myself but was politely shut down by my good friend – which is to say I know what it feels like to be afraid of that rejection but for all the anti-tradition I am, I still find myself waiting to be on the receiving end of the question when it’s meant to happen.
And perhaps it’s that particular desire that led to me actually walking down that aisle when I did even though it went against everything I’ve always believed about myself and traditional marriage.
I’ve only really had two “serious” relationships in my life and one of those would be my ex-husband, so I’m probably not the best person to turn to for any sort of relationship advice.
I started dating my first real boyfriend after I graduated college. Great guy, nice guy, and the only real reason we broke up when I look back on it is because I didn’t believe I could have the life I was looking to have with the person he was then.
He was still in college, didn’t have any sort of job and was relying on his parents to fund him through school. He also didn’t have a car or licence which meant he was constantly relying on me to go to him and for me to drive us where we needed to be.
And since I’d been working since I was legally able to and driving since I was legally able to, I felt pretty far removed from him in that regard.
Plus, he’d say certain things to me that to this day I find myself thinking about – like how if he’d surprise me with something (a gift, a dinner, whatever), he didn’t like the way I said thank you.
If I laughed a certain way, he’d accuse me of not being genuine.
When I’d have to work late at the studio, he’d make comments that implied he was jealous of the people I was working with.
And once again I felt myself far removed from him in this way.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this was not the type of relationship I wanted to be in – one where my partner was so self-reliant on me and so critical of everything I say and do if it didn’t serve them they way they wanted.
So as we neared our 1-year anniversary, I told him it wasn’t working and I got myself out of there.
And again I say I’m not necessarily saying anyone should take relationship advice from me, but if you find your partner doing any of these types of things, you should take a good long hard look at why they’re doing it.
In my case, I chalked it up to his own lack of self esteem and was smart enough and strong enough then to know I deserved better. This can be really difficult to see in the moment, though, especially if they have a habit of surprising you with nice things or otherwise being generally kind and pleasant to be around.
Having gone through this I found myself being a bit more selective about people going forward, but again given my own incredible lack of experience dating I had trouble finding anyone that I could see myself with.
And eventually I found myself growing tired of it all and told myself maybe I need to just put myself out there a bit more and take a chance on people more. I was worried then I was being now too selective.
On the evening of my 24th birthday I was sitting on the stoop at my new west-end Toronto house (basement apartment, but I’d pretty much commandeered the front steps since the upstairs tenants used an alternate entrance).
I didn’t much feel like doing anything. It was a Wednesday night and although I didn’t need to be at work until the next afternoon, I hadn’t planned anything with any friends and no one was stopping in that day.
But when my roommate got home from work I told her how our friends were playing a set at the Horseshoe Tavern and maybe we should go, even if it was just for the set and then get out of there. We milled about it for a bit but eventually she convinced me it was a good idea, after all, it was my birthday and we lived downtown, so we really didn’t have an excuse.
I’d wanted for years to live downtown so I could do exactly that – hop over to whatever venue and catch local shows whenever I felt it, but we hadn’t done much venturing out of the Junction by then and we’d moved in early April, so it’d been a few months.
I went to the show feeling optimistic. At worse, I’d get to have a drink with some friends after their set finished. At best, maybe I’d meet someone!
Of course in typical fashion for myself then, we ended up missing much of the bands set that we went to see, but on the plus side, some other mutual friends had shown up for it so we had people to talk to other than ourselves.
And somewhere along the way that night I noticed someone looking at me from the bar. And somewhere along the way of what became my whisky-infused stupor of the night, I kissed him before darting out of the bar to head home and he later asked my friend, our mutual friend, for my number.
And that’s how it all began.
I’ve already mentioned some of the details as far as how our relationship was in the beginning in other posts so I’ll skip all that here, reiterating quickly that it started about as normal as anyone else’s, I imagine, with a couple key differences from my first relationship that I, only now after being out of the relationship for some time, can say I let hold too much weight throughout everything that transpired.
For starters, when we first began talking (by text) the day after meeting and I told him I lived in Toronto, he responded something to the tune of, “Oh that’s great news. I thought you lived in [mutual friends city quite a ways out of town] and was already trying to figure out when I could borrow my parents car to visit you.”
I saw this then as endearing and positive. This dude was willing to drive to me! That was a big deal.
Didn’t have a car, but had a licence. I could understand that – car’s are expensive and he lived in the city without any real need for one. (You don’t need one if you work and live in Toronto, generally speaking).
The second part of that was one of his quicker follow up texts to see if I was available that weekend. That’s right boys & girls, I was asked on a date.
Of course as fate would have it I wasn’t going to be in town, instead heading up to my family’s cottage for my normal birthday getaway with another friend of mine. And admittedly I was nervous to say so, because I figured he’d think I was blowing him off and that’d be the end of this before it ever began.
But he was understanding of that (another positive! Yes people the bar was this low) and asked me out for the following weekend instead – a Friday. A real date night.
And he upped the ante by securing really good seats to the Blue Jays game. Those aren’t cheap – something he’d remind me of often afterwards which, the more he did, the higher that red flag raised on my internal communications pole.
The following weekend I took him to a Blue Rodeo concert to see if we’d enjoy the same music and he seemed to have a good time although he wasn’t one to really listen to rock bands, so I took that as another positive – he was making an effort to enjoy what I did, and it’s amazing how rare that is.
Nights like this also fizzled out quickly, though, and those are probably the only real date night’s we ever really went on. Even birthdays I’d find disappointing, year after year wondering if he’d surprise me with reservations to a nicer place instead of at the last minute suggesting one of the same pubs we’d already been to or, waiting for me to make a reservation somewhere instead.
And because alcohol is so infused within our society as whole it took me a long time to realize how much of the time we spent together was centered around whether or not there was beer available where we were going.
But I maintained my optimistic outlook, and still very much see him as a generally good person with his own problems and his own skewed perception of what it means to be in a relationship with someone. I found myself constantly compromising my own needs to accommodate his own because, well, I’d been on the dating circuit in the years leading up to him and it wasn’t looking great out there.
And in all the times I’d find myself compromising myself financially to support the both of us, I’d always believed that once things turned around for him as well, I’d be reciprocated.
Of course, that wasn’t the way that end of things played out and again, it’d be years before I understood the level of manipulation I was facing on a daily basis while being with this person.
By now you’re probably wondering what literally any of this has to do with the actual wedding and wedding planning as was the intention of this post so, I’m trying to get there, but I really feel like all these other details are important considerations to what all transpired – I don’t consider myself a stupid person but the level of red flags that I should’ve seen through our years together is something that gives me a lot of pause as I think about re-entering the dating pool now that my divorce has been finalized – and again, I feel like not enough people talk about these types of relationships, so perhaps this story will help someone else see what’s right in front of them.
When my ex and I first got together, he was quick to comment that he felt I was the “breadwinner” of the two of us, given my job at the time. This one assessment led to years of me taking the brunt of the financial load. Every time something happened that affected the both of us, like when our apartment complex decided to bill the entire building for their parking lot renovations which was not an insignificant amount of money (thanks Greenrock Management Property Inc, you scumbags), I took it all on my own cards. And when our dog needed to go to the vet (regularly when they’re young and then annually), I’d take those, too. Groceries? Me. And so on.
“But when things turn around, I’ll pay you back” was a common phrase I’d hear.
“But I paid for the beer” was another one.
I even found myself paying for his niece’s toys when she came into the picture. “You’re better at finding gifts and I’m too tired after work to go with you” was often the excuse, there.
Seriously, if you’re in a relationship right now and hearing any of these phrases, I’m not telling you to jump ship but I am telling you to grab a life preserver because shit does not get better from here.
We pressed on, as many do in this type of situation, and one Christmas I decided that I wanted to do something really extra – I wanted to go on a trip, and we’d talked about one that was a bit more exciting than a week’s stay in Cuba, somewhere my ex went often (usually 2 weeks) prior to meeting me, that we hadn’t done. And I bit the bullet on it knowing that money was still tight, but with all the other things I’d been dealing with, there didn’t seem to be an end in sight for the debt I was taking on anyways and I was tired of it.
So that Christmas I surprised him with the trip – about 2 weeks long or just shy of, which would see us spend a few days in Iceland before driving the coast of Ireland.
I’d never done such a big trip and I really wanted to go see some live music in Ireland – Iceland just happened to have great deals on flights on the way to so it was a bit of an add-on.
He surprised me that year, too, seemingly aware that I was up to something – with 14 tickets to Blue Jays games – nosebleeds.
And don’t get me wrong, I love a good baseball game and don’t really care where I sit, especially at the Sky Dome where I can soak up some rays on a sunny afternoon – but I had to feign excitement for this one. Was this a gift for me or for him?
You can argue the same about the trip to Iceland and Ireland but I’d argue at least with a trip you’re seeing new destinations – with cheaper beer, to boot.
Nonetheless this Christmas exchange should have been one of the last of the major tells that we were in no way on the same page with our relationship, what we liked, and how we wanted to spend our time together.
Instead it ended up being the trip where he asked me to marry him and where I, after first asking him to repeat himself because I was aghast, said I would.
And we agreed to keep it to ourselves until we could tell our families in person, which by all accounts should have been enough time for me to realize we should reconsider entirely, but instead it just came with this immeasurable pressure to make everything work.
How the hell was I getting married? I’d never expected to be proposed to. I was way in over my head.
And so was he. And I could tell. But I told him it’d all be fine, we’d do it the right way.
I didn’t want a big wedding, neither did he. We were already starting it off the right way by agreeing to tell our families in person.
Personal responsibility. Everything would be fine.
The trip itself was riddled with enough reasons why I shouldn’t marry this person, but I’ll save those details.
A couple weeks later, after going to a store to purchase a ring because he’d asked without one and I knew my family would in no way take us seriously without one, we told mine first.
I talked about this in another post so let me just say here, it was obvious from the moment I told them that they weren’t into the idea.
Could’ve heard a pin drop, I swear it.
But we pressed on, and about a week later told his family.
They were more receptive – excited, even. I was stunned. That was one thing I always liked about his family. Whether they were just doing it for show or not, I at least felt like they enjoyed me being there and thought I was a good match for their son. I didn’t get that same feeling from my own family and I imagine this is part of what made me keep going with the idea.
Once we’d done all that, we made it “Facebook Official” which meant there really was no going back now.
Social media is a cancer. I digress.
And I knew the gnawing in my stomach was telling me something wasn’t quite right about the whole thing but I chalked that up to me just being anti-tradition again.
But the more I think about it, just as I find myself firmly footed in the, “I should be the one asked out” and not the askee, I’m also firmly footed in the, “if you’re going to ask me to marry you, I better feel like you mean it – and that doesn’t have to necessarily be a ring but shit if it should’ve been something more than a question muttered under your breath at dinner at a pub”.
And since I’ve always been in the “I’d rather get a house than throw an extravagant party” vibe of it all, I didn’t really know still what type of wedding we should be throwing. But I had two major wants – I’d want the ceremony to be outside, and I’d want a live band to play – no DJ’s.
But I knew there was no way we could manage any of it without some financial help, so for the first time ever I called in on my “I’m your daughter” card to my folks and asked them to speak about what, if anything, they could contribute to it.
Like I said, I really wanted to do this “right” and I didn’t want to go bankrupt over the thing, so we literally set a date to go to my parents house, sit down and talk with them about it.
I was prepared for them to say they wouldn’t help at all and I was prepared with all the notes and budgets I’d gathered through my research based on my own wants at the time if they would.
What I anticipated was we’d sit down with my mom and dad and they’d say, “We can offer $X” and then I’d proceed from there.
Instead my parents seemed distracted, not wanting to participate in this conversation at all, my dad seemed like he was told not to offer any sort of opinion which was somewhat customary in my own household (mom’s the “breadwinner” there, too – or was, at bare minimum, in charge of most major financial decisions), and my mom couldn’t seem to tear herself away from the dishes long enough to actually hear anything I was asking or provide me with something concrete.
I was looking for an actual figure, and instead when our very short conversation ended that day what I got was basically, “yeah, we’ll help as much as we can, put together some quotes and things (‘but I did alrea—‘), and we’ll talk about it another time”.
So I went into the rest of the wedding planning with no real sense of what anything should or could cost or what I was working with. And no understanding that it would be expected that I pay back every cent – which I did, without help from my then-husband, just a couple days ahead of my 30th birthday.
For the record, wedding planning is in no way difficult and I’ll laugh my ass off at anyone that says so. It’s a matter of the money that makes it stressful, so you NEED that going into planning one.
There were a lot of problems with my parents handling this conversation in this way that day:
- I in no way felt like I actually had their support
- They weren’t listening to what I was saying then so I knew they wouldn’t listen to my opinions as we rolled through each stage of planning
- Me being their first child to get married meant they had no idea what they were getting themselves into either – what they did know is they’d seen many of their friends kids get married which meant they had their own predetermined idea of what it should look like
- By not listening to me it meant they didn’t care what I wanted it to look like
- I was now not planning my wedding. It was a farce.
That’s the second stressor for wedding planning after money, by the way – the opinions of those who you ask to be involved.
Save yourself the trouble and don’t involve a soul.
When we first told my family that we had gotten engaged, one of the first comments made was “well you’re not planning to do this next year are you?” so again, it was pretty clear the support wasn’t quite there.
We’d already talked about that and had decided to wait at least 2 years, both to save up some money and just because there seemed no real need to rush into it within a year.
Honestly I don’t know why so many people do that. Is the excitement from the proposal so overwhelming that you just want to get right to it? Is it a kids thing? I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand it. Whoever made that a standard in society must have been a wedding planner.
There were a number of other instances through the year and a half of planning or so that followed that would make me stop and think once again if I should be going through with it, but I think I’d reached that whole ‘sunk-loss fallacy’ thing so early on that they didn’t matter in the grand scheme of it all.
We had the most major decisions made pretty quickly. We only visited two wedding venues before choosing one, and after some digging and catching a show, I selected the band I wanted pretty quickly, too. Finding an officiant ended up being quite easy, too. All of that was done just a few months after the engagement, and most of the other stuff you don’t need to worry about until much closer to the wedding, so again, I really struggle to see how wedding planning is in any way challenging and for the record, I firmly believe the entire industry is a massive rip off for what it is.
Throw the same type of party without ever uttering the words “wedding” for a fraction of the price is my pro-tip for any bride/grooms-to-be reading this.
When we visited the venue we ended up choosing, they happened to have a tent outside on the front lawn in preparation for an outdoor ceremony which I saw at the time as another positive sign. But when we asked the guy about doing an outdoor ceremony, he said that wouldn’t be possible.
Naturally, I asked him why not, since it was effectively just a simple tent set-up outside and clearly it was something they were already aware of how to do.
He explained that it was too difficult for the venue to set-up, or something vague like that. And really, that should’ve been enough for me to determine that this wasn’t the right place for us.
While my sister and mother (who attended the walk-through with my ex and I) seemed to really like this guy who was showing us around, there was something about the way he looked at us and spoke to me specifically that I couldn’t quite pin, but it didn’t seem quite right.
Again I chalked this up to me being overly analytical or something and let it slide, but I’d come to have this same thought again closer to the wedding when we went for our food and wine tasting.
The reason then? We had arranged for there to be 4 plated meals for us to taste – one for myself and the groom, and one each for my parents who wanted to make sure it was okay for our guests. There was a miscommunication between the venue coordinator and the chef and only 2 plates were brought out.
In retrospect, I believe they did this purposefully to cut their own costs marginally, because when we asked for them to bring out any more, somehow that was also an impossible task for a venue that not only hosted weddings but regular members-only dinners too, meaning they definitely had extra food on hand.
For the record I got married at The Boulevard Club in Toronto which is not exactly cheap although it was a much better deal than virtually any other venue in the city at the time. I don’t recommend it.
A big reason I chose The Boulevard Club was because that although they couldn’t accommodate the outdoor ceremony for us, they were right on the water and had a private patio for guests to be able to take in the view any time of the night, and that really appealed to me.
They also had a raised stage in the ballroom which, while normally they’d put the bride and groom and wedding party on it, I wanted for the band to have a proper stage.
And with this venue you had access to more than just a ballroom and patio – you also had the main lobby area and a separate room for the bar with floor to ceiling windows, again for that picturesque view I enjoyed so much.
I’d later come to regret that decision though and really believe the best place for the bar is within the ballroom, in retrospect. I say this because I found every time I ventured out to it, I’d get caught up talking to guests out by the bar – I think I ended up spending nearly all of my time there and next to none of it enjoying the band inside who, again, were not cheap, and that was really a big deal to me.
The menu was selected in part by my ex and I but with consult from my parents. It was fine, although I would’ve made some changes if I ever did this again.
I’m not a wine drinker and left that up to my mom who has a much better idea of what’s good in that department, so I can’t comment much on that. Mildly fun to do a tasting, though.
It’s absolutely amazing what some florists charge for flowers. Truly the biggest waste of money out of the whole thing given how quickly they die, but nonetheless. I was fortunate to find, with the help of a Facebook wedding group, a really really affordable florist who made sure you both got your moneys worth and didn’t break the bank for it. She’s been doing weddings for decades and frankly doesn’t need to overcharge for them.
And while I’m not the type of girl who is super into flowers, I do enjoy them and have my preferences. And I really did have an idea of what I would’ve liked for the wedding and in particular in my own bouquet.
Unfortunately this was one of the many situations where my mother and sister felt they knew better than me and ended up booking an appointment to go see the florists while I was at work one day, making and solidifying all of the decisions about what it should look like, including the type of lanterns and other lighting (and I have a thing for lanterns, too, so I really would’ve preferred to make that call, too).
When I brought this up to them – genuinely stunned that they’d do that behind my back at the time – they brushed it off as a “well you were at work!” as if I couldn’t have very simply asked for the day off if I’d known about it.
Who’s wedding is this again?
My sister was quick to inform me that she didn’t necessarily agree with having gone to do this either, almost boasting that the women they spoke to that day kept referring to her as the bride.
Wasn’t the only time that happened, too.
On one day I had gotten free passes to the bridal show in Toronto and invited my mom and sister along for that, too. Funny to me then and even more so now how every vendor approached my sister as though she was the bride instead of me.
I guess I don’t have ‘the look’.
Of course, I let this go, as I let so many other things go, not wanting to cause a scene about the whole thing and we pressed on while I’d wonder to myself if all of these little mishaps were the universe trying to tell me something.
I guess after the venue and the flowers, the biggest thing for the bride is usually the dress, right? Forgive me, even as I recount all this I feel like I’m missing the point of this whole party entirely.
First we’ll talk about the bridesmaids dresses.
I had already determined a colour scheme for the wedding that fortunately, the flowers chosen by the others didn’t throw off well enough for us to have to change that, too.
I planned a day with my two bridesmaids and sister (maid of honour) to go look at options. I had told the girls all that they could choose their own dresses and cuts to whatever made them feel the most comfortable, they just had to fit the colour scheme, which vaguely, was blue.
I had invited my mom as well of course but she declined, saying she’d give the day for us to enjoy ourselves instead.
I absolutely hate the way people in the wedding industry treat customers for dresses after the experiences I had, but this isn’t uncommon so I’m not going to waste time talking about it. Let’s just say it’s clear these people aren’t struggling to make sales and they really don’t care to create a positive environment for their potential customers.
Nonetheless the girls all tried on dresses that day and found ones they all liked, and I really liked the colours of all of them, thinking they hit the mark perfectly.
Not long after that day, I’d get photos from my sister and mom who were… out looking at bridesmaids dresses. Turns out my mom wanted to go look at some after all, just without my friends and I, and my sister wanted to check out other options.
I protested, saying I liked the other ones they’d chosen and that didn’t at all like these new options.
Long story short – the girls and I all went back another day and we went with an option chosen by my mom and sister instead. They were certain that this blue was much better suited for the venue and decor.
I wasn’t willing to protest that much further, either.
And so on another day my sister, bridesmaids and I all met up at a bridal store to find my dress.
As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’m a little particular about the types of clothing I like to wear. I do enjoy wearing dresses but I have to feel comfortable in them, so I was looking forward to trying on a few to make sure I got one I really liked.
I had invited my mom out to that one too, thinking surely she’d want to come and have this experience with her youngest daughter, but again she declined.
At this point, I can’t quite describe just how I felt other than to say we clearly did not have the same wants/needs as far as a mother/daughter relationship goes, of course that should’ve come to no surprise to me by then given our tricky history.
I felt a little as though the attendant at the bridal store was rushing us despite them not being very busy that day, and from what I’ve read about most bridal shops this is incredibly common.
But, after trying on a couple, I found one I really, truly liked. I’m really bad at describing fashion but let’s just say it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to feeling like a legitimate Disney princess and I was stoked on it – and it wasn’t even very expensive at all! I thought I’d found such a great deal and I knew I’d feel my best in it.
We took pictures to show my mom, of course, who was going to help pay for that, too.
And then somewhere along the way not long after that day I got a message from my mom who again, had her own idea about how things should look, even on me.
She had great news, she said to me on the phone after I called.
I was hesitant.
“It’s about your dress”.
You mean the one I chose… “Yeah?”
“I spoke to your Aunt and she’s agreed to make you one from scratch!”
“But I already chose a –”
“Oh I know but this will be MUCH better!”
I’ll stop here to say, I’m not so daft as to not think this was an incredibly kind gesture on my aunt’s part to agree to this. Creating any dress from scratch is no easy feat, never mind your brothers’ daughters’ wedding dress. And I know she’s a great seamstress so it’s not like I was worried about the quality of it at all, but it’s the whole… everything else about how this transpired.
“Isn’t that great news?”
I hesitated again. “Yeah.”
I had reached defeat so early in this whole process dealing with my family on this wedding planning that I no longer cared about a single part of it. And we still had months to go before the big day.
By all accounts my aunt did a great job on the dress, but the problem I ended up having was that I was losing weight so quickly leading up to my wedding (thanks to my Keto diet, the only thing keeping my remotely sane through it all – really, it does wonders for your brain health) that even though she’d revised the dress a few times leading up to the day, it kept sliding down me, so I spent most of the night trying to pull it back up and most of our pictures reflect that. Super awkward, a little annoying, but I took it in stride & besides, it’s not like those pictures really matter now anyways, right?
The Rehearsal Dinner
One of the sort of funny things that happened (yeah I use the word funny really loosely a lot of the time if you can’t tell that yet) a little after my ex and I got engaged that changed the scope of a lot of things was that his brother decided he wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him, too.
And she said yes, so of course they dove right into that wedding planning right away as most couples do. They were a couple years older than my ex and I and she in particular, quite eager to start a family the traditional way, with nuptials first.
So one day my ex’s brother asked him plainly, “so, since you and Jaimee are waiting the extra year, do you mind if we throw our wedding first?”
Which is not I suppose all that terrible a question to ask if it didn’t come with some strings that put additional stress on my ex and I.
The short burst of excitement my ex’s family had for our engagement quickly fell to the wayside as we moved on to discuss the planning of his brothers wedding instead. And while I’m not the type of person that needs all sorts of attention on me and my life, it’s a very odd situation to be part of, with now every single family get-together centring around this topic and by the time it being over, his parents exhausted from the ordeal.
And really the only true bad part of them doing this was that, a number of people who were otherwise very excited to attend me ex’s and I’s wedding were now unable to make both work in such a short time-span, and so members of the family were forced to choose one over the other.
Nonetheless, we carried on with things as they were not making a fuss of any of it.
When it got close to my own wedding, I had to remind my ex to ask his family about the Rehearsal dinner. See, at this point, my family had put a lot of money and time into planning ours, and really the only expectation they had from his side of the family was that they plan a dinner for all of us – it didn’t even have to be the night before, in fact, we wanted it earlier than that as to not overload the main weekend.
When he brought this to their attention, they were surprised.
They had no intention of throwing a dinner for our families to mingle ahead of the wedding.
This was apparently, a massive cost in time, energy and money alike. There were too many people in my family (6). I won’t get into the type of soiree that was held for his brother and fiance the summer before.
I even found myself having to express to them at a different dinner one night that, “it doesn’t have to be anything fancy” quite literally, finger foods would’ve done just fine.
It felt stupid as hell that I had to bargain for such a thing that at this point I didn’t even want at all. My ex’s family had made their true selves known through this process and I no longer believed they ever really supported it as they had made it appear when we announced our engagement now 2-years prior.
They ended up reluctantly agreeing to host a BBQ.
And then just ahead of the rehearsal dinner I got some uplifting news. I had won a pair of wedding planners to help out on our wedding day – they’d hosted a little contest for newlyweds-to-be as they ramped up their business. It meant we’d have someone to act as liaison between us and the boulevard club and assist with set-up, free of charge. Great news.
They also said they’d come to the rehearsal dinner and help walk us all through the ceremony so that everyone would know how that would go.
When we told this to my ex’s family, first about what they’d be helping with on the day-of, they were thrilled for us. What luck to win such a contest!
And then I told them about the addition to the rehearsal dinner.
“Oh I don’t think so. That’s 2 more mouths to feed.”
Yes, this is what I was dealing with. 2 more mouths to feed out of a whopping 10 at a summer backyard BBQ making the total 12. Brutal ask, I know.
The eventually complied but I was now looking even less forward to this momentous occasion.
What About The Wedding Itself, CF?
There’s not much to say. I was both seemingly too drunk and not drunk enough to enjoy it, remembering every moment of it in great detail. My new husband spent most of his time… I’m not sure where, I hardly got to enjoy the very cool band I’d found, and I got to the late night grilled cheese station too late to get a good slice.
On the other hand it was really great to see so many people come out to support us then – many of whom I hadn’t seen since I was a kid, and some of which who came from out of town to enjoy it.
So it wasn’t all bad, but in retrospect, I really could’ve done without it.
Part of the debt I’m still paying off today can definitely be attributed to the costs associated with the wedding from June 2018.
There are definitely some more stories I could tell about the planning of this whole ordeal but I think you get the gist of the experience.
Think twice before heading down that aisle, I’m still not sure why I ever did other than for some reason, I felt like I had to.