Now that all is over, all dress fittings, food tastings, and talk of flowers. Now that I must utter the words my husband and wear a gold band, I finally feel ready to talk about a role I have felt extremely uncomfortable with: bride.
I didn’t make a good one.
People squealed a lot. They reached for my ring finger to see it sparkle, thrust endless questions upon me about dresses, hairstyles, and centerpieces. They gave me bridal magazines and cake platters and monogrammed napkins for a last name I never planned to take.
I couldn’t seem to match people’s enthusiasm, couldn’t seem to climb up to the pitch of anyone’s voice. Early on in our engagement, I sat in the back seat of my parents car, because I suddenly found myself a teenager again, being driven to possible wedding venues like being dropped off at the mall, living under their budget for this strange event, and my father asked, Well what, exactly, do you want?
I had never envisioned a wedding for myself. I was one of those girls with green-stained knees and uncombed hair trying to swing high enough to kick the leaves of a tree. Not one with visions of lace and tiered cakes. I reached as far as I could towards a fantasy I never owned. I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be fun to just get an ice cream truck? My mother motioned the sign of the cross.
Yes. I was a disappointing bride.
I don’t like the idea of people looking at me. I don’t like the thought of any kind of fuss. I don’t believe in spending thousands of dollars on one day. And I don’t think marriage is about cake fillings, flowers, the length of a train.
All throughout the planning for that day, nothing about it felt like us. People were going to look at me. A fuss would be made. Thousands of dollars had already been spent. I had chosen a cake filling, a centerpiece, a too-long dress. There was going to be a wedding, a real one, and I felt guilty, ungrateful, confused, and finally certain that I should have had nothing more than an ice cream truck.
As I discovered, weddings involve a lot of buts and have to’s, an endless amount of can’ts. People told us that these decisions were up to us, that we were the bride and groom, that it would be our day.
But it wasn’t.
It was not our day. It was a day that sat under a sky everyone hoped and prayed would be blue. It was a day when people traveled great distances and had delays and got caught in traffic and forgot that their suit pants were not on the same hanger as their jackets and were there anyway. It was a day when people I loved told me I looked beautiful and the only reason I felt that way too was because they had come. It was a day that was special not because we were there but because they were there or weren’t there but were thinking of us somewhere else.
It was not our day because it was never meant to be.
It can be shocking to discover that people love you. You think you know it and then it comes at you in a way you never thought possible and you realize you had no idea what it really meant to be loved and you wonder how you will ever return it. That’s the kind of day that is supposedly yours, the kind of day you can’t possibly claim as your own.