We’re headed to Cincinnati for a wedding later this month and it made me realize that my husband and I are in that phase of life in-between weddings. Most of our close friends and contemporaries sailed on the wedding ship long ago, very few have gotten divorced and re-married, and we’re too young to be heading to the weddings of our children.
We’re in-between weddings. Yes, definitely attending more funerals these days than weddings. I miss them. They are full of hope and cake and Black Eyed Peas blasting from the speakers. In the fourteen years since our own wedding, I’ve heard tale that photo booths and midnight snacks are now de rigueur.
Prepping to go to our friend’s wedding has reminded me of my love/hate relationship to these events. I even experienced that dynamic with my own wedding — a smallish affair for 80 held in an old opera hall in the quaint Galena, Illinois. I loved the actual day, being surrounded by our most cherished friends and family, but all the prep work nearly done me in.
We had an etsy-esque wedding long before etsy even existed. We made our own wedding invitations that involved needles, thread and linoleum block printing, we served pie instead of cake, and our centerpieces were stainless steel trays I found on sale at Target filled with grass grown from seeds. It was really very lovely.
But I was uncomfortable being a bride. I could not figure out the whole dress thing and ended up having one sewn for me that I sort of liked well enough. Being the focus of attention was kind of surreal and made me anxious. I was one of those little girls who, despite stereotypes, did not grow up dreaming of walking down an aisle one day with the white veil. It was all a bit overwhelming for me. I was much happier being married than getting married.
Now that its been more than a few years since I’ve been to one, I’m looking forward to celebrating the wedding of another. For the young singles in the crowd, my husband and I will be some of the invisible middle aged crowd who vaguely knows either the bride or groom, but in unknown ways that don’t really matter. You must remember those folks from going to your first round of weddings, right?
Gone is the pressure of stressing about when I would get to be the bride, wondering if my boyfriend of 2, 3, 4 years would ever pop the question (spoiler alert — he did). I will never miss those days. Gone is the financial weight of attending 5-6 weddings a year. That stuff adds up — dresses, gifts, showers, travel expenses. Gone are the days of hanging out in bars with women holding or eating penis shaped balloons, cookies, lollipops while wearing pink feather boas and cheap plastic tiaras. Whew. I never understood that nonsense.
Left instead is that sense of being able to go back to a familiar land as a tourist instead of a local. I’m looking forward to seeing the groom get the first glimpse of his bride as she walks down the aisle. We never go out dancing these days, so yes, when the Black Eyed Peas play, I will be on that dance floor, not caring how ridiculous I might look. It will be nice to sit in a straight backed chair and think about all the days ahead for this particular soon to be married couple — there is so much hope in a wedding day.
Through my lens as a grizzled, middle aged lady, I know enough to know that on the day you wed, saying “I do,” is a leap of faith, a jump into the unknown. Maybe you can imagine your days together stringing into a life, and possibly anticipate the at times crushing reality of the ordinary, but we never really know what sucker punches life will throw at us.
That person standing next to us is our chosen partner in all of it — the joys, the sorrows, the empty milk cartons, the aisles of the grocery store, the hospitals, the funeral homes, the parks on sunshiney days. There is so much hope and potential in a wedding day. It’s good to remember, even from this in-between place.
Grateful thanks to the gals (one of whom is my beloved cousin) at Studio Starling Photography who very kindly allowed the use of their images for this post. Check them out if you are getting hitched in the Chicago area!