Over the summer, a friend of mine asked Cadence to be the flower girl in her wedding this spring. Cadence has been so excited, asking almost every day how many days were left until the wedding. Our part in the planning has been very minimal: we showed up at the dress shop, Cadence tried on dresses till she found one she and the bride both liked, we went home. We bought some shoes at Payless last month and they've sat on a shelf since. Easy peasy. I'm hearing the usual stuff from the bride, like messes with caterers, arguments with people, dresses and tuxes and all that. I'm telling you all this because the wedding is this weekend, and today I've been thinking of my own wedding.
Vic and I were on again off again the entire time we dated. We were currently broken up when I discovered I was pregnant, and fought for almost two months over whether we should be together. Somewhere we reconciled, and I really can't even remember the details, but I moved in with him and his parents. (About the dumbest thing I ever did.) We got engaged, mostly because that's what his parents thought we should do. We applied for a marriage license. I bought a wedding dress from a second-hand store. We bought a bridal ring set. Then we decided to wait until at least after the baby was born. What if we didn't love each other at all and just wanted to get married because we "should"? I really loved him, but with all those breakups and makeups I wasn't sure marriage was a good idea. He wasn't sure either, and by the time I was 4 months pregnant, he'd signed up for the Marines and shipped off to boot camp.
Now it might have seemed like a terrible situation doomed to fail, as many stories we've all heard. Sure, he'll marry you when he comes home. Sure, you'll wait for him. Whatever, right? He DID write a letter to an ex-girlfriend while in boot camp, saying how "confused" he was. I DID have lots of fun with my friends and very much enjoyed being away from him. But I loved him, and the longer he was away, and the more letters we exchanged, the more I missed him.
Chad was due two weeks after Vic's graduation, but decided to come early - a week and a half before he left boot camp. When I met Vic in the airport with a tiny bundle of baby, he declared he wanted to get married in his two weeks of leave before shipping off to more training. I was overwhelmed, but also completely swept away with love for him and our new son. I was 19 and immature and knew nothing of the world, but I wanted to marry this man.
That afternoon, a call to the courthouse told us our previously-applied-for marriage license expired in THREE DAYS. It was Thursday. If we reapplied, we'd have to wait two weeks for a new one, and in two weeks Vic would be flying to North Carolina. We frantically called every minister we could think of, but they were all booked. Finally we found one, a kindly older pastor who had also married both my brothers-in-law to their wives. He had church service on Sunday and a funeral on Saturday he said, "But I can do it tomorrow." "Umm.." I stumbled, "Well, that will have to do." It was 6pm. Our wedding was scheduled at 5pm the following day.
The wedding dress I'd held on to since we got engaged no longer fit, since when I bought it I wasn't planning to wear it 11 days after giving birth. I borrowed a nice white dress from my (very)soon-to-be mother in law - one of those she'd kept since she was 20 for the day she's skinny enough to wear it again. It wasn't beautiful and was slightly out of style, but it did just fine. We had no caterer. No flowers. About 50 guests we'd called that night. ("Wanna come to our wedding? It's tomorrow.") We bought Vic's wedding band from a department store. My uncle made a cake and my grandmother cleaned out her basement for the reception. (Pretty good for Betty Crocker, some food coloring, and decorations from the party supply store, eh?) We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen and Vic wore his dress uniform, convenient since he didn't own even a nice suit. Isn't he dashing?My father was out of town working, so my father-in-law walked me down the little aisle. It was windy as hell, my mother got embarassingly drunk while I - nursing a newborn - drank 7up, and it rained all the way home. There was no fun wedding night sex, since we were sharing a twin bed in my mom's house and with Chad's birth and the subsequent 6 stitches, I was in no shape for it.My friends have expressed sympathy for not having a dream wedding, but I could not have asked for anything more special. My family came together for me, preparing the reception with food and cake and plenty of champagne. The wedding gifts were numerous and fantastic, despite the short notice. Our entire wedding cost $375, not several thousand. I still got married, which was the point, and it didn't have to cost a lot. Considering the length of the average marriage, I don't know why anyone would want to spend thousands of dollars anyway. Ten years later, my $375 has been a wonderful investment.