I remember the first wedding I went to. I was 7 and had been asked to be the flower girl for my uncle's ceremony. I agreed but felt like it was a lot of pressure. When I got to the top of the aisle, I looked down at my basket and realized I did not evenly distribute the flower petals. I burst into tears and spent the rest of the wedding sobbing hysterically.
I have not been asked to be part of a wedding party since then (thankfully). I have, however, spent the past few years attending really inconvenient weddings. As wedding guests, we're frequently expected to blow our savings on gifts, dresses, tuxes, and travel. My husband and I felt uncomfortable asking the same from our friends and family. We're also an international couple, which means that at least one of our families will have to travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to attend our wedding. It's kind of a waste, if you ask me.
Weddings are categorically more exhausting than fun. So much stress and work goes into planning them, and there's a reason there are entire reality TV shows centered around wedding chaos. Chaos I can adjust to. More than that, I just hate the drawling, tacky cheesiness — the exaggeration and elevation of the couple's romance as if it is something mystical. And the obligation of feelings. Also, I am so sick of that stupid Corinthians passage. Love is not a "budding flower of joy and hope and eternal growth." Magical. Love with a capital L. The awkward first dance. Feeling obliged to "awwwww" without rolling my eyes. Then there's the waiting around for sad, forced speeches and cheers. There's pretending those speeches are incredibly meaningful. There's pretending annoying family members are suddenly not so annoying. There's the endless pretending these promises mean that this couple is different.
When my husband proposed, I figured everyone else secretly hated this routine, too. I figured my friends and family would be somewhat relieved for not having to attend mine. I genuinely thought I was doing a nice thing, or at the very least, no one would care about missing another lame wedding.
Apparently, I was wrong.
I did not expect people to feel furious or betrayed. One of my former best friends was so furious and felt so betrayed, she told all of our friends how devastated she was. We haven't really spoken since. When I heard through the grapevine how upset she was, I assumed that our mutual friends sympathized with me. I was wrong again. Instead, I received a slew of passive-aggressive, judgmental texts that went something like this:
"Oh, uhhh...congrats, I guess?"
"Be careful. Divorce is expensive."
"Your next marriage will mean less."
Some friends and family members still refer to him as my boyfriend, and not my husband. My mother has said our wedding doesn't really count because it wasn't done by a clergyman or in a church, but she's chaotically religious so I don't know what else I expected.
I was at first enraged at these reactions. Really? You are going to tell a newlywed couple how expensive divorce is? That's how you show your friends support? Furthermore, what is broken inside of you that you think a wedding that is not a huge money-suck is inherently destined to fail? Am I the only one who really doesn't believe money alone can prevent divorce, and that the frivolity and expense of a wedding is not an indication of the rest of your lives together?
But their opinions didn't matter. My husband and I have never had more love for each other. Every morning I wake up next to him, I'm overcome with joy. He showers me in kisses every night before I go to bed. Our wedding was natural, and our marriage feels just as natural. We did not elope to hurt our friends and families, even though they are still acting like we did.
What I didn't realize was that my marriage, my declaration of love for this man, our exchange of vows: None of it it is actually supposed to be about us. Weddings are for the families and friends just as much — or in some cases, maybe more — as they are for the bride and groom. My friends and family felt left out of my joy, and what I thought was selfless was actually somewhat selfish. I regret not understanding that ahead of time. We do plan to have a celebration sometime soon (when we can save up enough for it) but I worry that the damage is already done. It sucks knowing I've disappointed people that love me. I hate that people's feelings were hurt, and I hate that what we did to make us happy had to offend so many of our friends. We luckily have a few close friends who are genuinely happy for us, and their friendships have helped me reevaluate a lot of my relationships. I am trying to focus on those who could extend joy and support. As for those who can't? I am trying to learn not to care.
I am incredibly happy with my new husband. Our relationship is passionate, and we are disgustingly cute. It sucks that our decision pissed so many people off, and I'm genuinely sorry about that. But it was right for us, and I don't regret it.