I have just Googled WeddingChannel plus my name and, stupifyingly, it is still there, more than two and a half years after we called off the wedding.
According to the website, I was married on March 28, 2009, or “723 DAYS AGO!,” as it chirpily points out, all caps, under a heinous graphic of pink roses and my first name linked by ampersand to my ex’s. (Did I choose those roses, back in 2007 when the page was created? I was admittedly in a weird place in those days but I have to believe that’s a default motif.)
You might wonder, as I have, why you can still find the page if you look for it, especially since I have written several sternly phrased emails — the first in November 2009 — to Customer Service asking to have it deleted and followed their every instruction. I have supplied the account address, our full names, the wedding date, and the password. I have gone into My Tools, then Wedding Website, then Settings and turned off all pages associated with our website. I have contacted every store where we were registered and asked them individually to delete our registries. I have done all this, twice. Both times, the immediate, presumably automated response assured me it would be taken down “within 24 to 48 hours,” with the caveat that it “could take up to 30 days for the process to be completed.”
But here I am, 773 days later — and by the way, thanks for the accuracy, WeddingChannel, I wasn’t keeping track myself — staring at a page dedicated to my dead relationship. It kinda makes me want to spoon my eyes out.
Even when it’s clearly the right move, as this was, breaking off an engagement is a fucking bummer. It’s sad, public, expensive and explosive. And thanks to WeddingChannel and the cruelly eternal memory of Google, it’s now public domain to any potential lover, employer, or stranger who looks me up, forever.
But the main reason the page’s lingering bugs me is on principle: as if the experience of calling off a wedding itself was somehow lacking in gruesomeness, I apparently now have to lug around this invisible anchor shackled to my leg for the rest of my life too. Not to sound victim-y, but seriously? Is that fair?
Long after we broke up, the wedding page remained one of the top results for a Google search of my name. According to the Internet, as opposed to real life, that broken engagement defined me. Which was enraging. That, and the fact that my new boyfriend’s mother might possibly see it. I can’t imagine she would find it reassuring.
It took me eight months after we were supposed to be married to write to WeddingChannel asking them to take down the page. Canceling a wedding involves tons of far more urgent phone calls and emails and strategy sessions, not to mention the number of afternoons spent sunbathing on the porch drinking Albarino out of the bottle while listening to Black Sabbath.
There are a fair amount of emotionally grotesque duties to be carried out, like writing goodbye letters to your almost in-laws, filling out Change of Address forms at the post office, and sending last-minute regrets to an upcoming wedding you were scheduled to attend to together (oh, the irony).
By the time I had finished all that months later, I’d forgotten all about the stupid WeddingChannel page. And then I started hanging out with someone new. It occurred to me that the digital relic must still be out there. By November, I knew I liked him enough to want to erase that shrine to my former intimacy with someone else. It wasn’t just for him, though, it was above all for me. That old relationship had begun to drift into the past, like a big empty boat sliding off to sea. The record needed to reflect that.
It’s not the relationship I wanted to erase. I don’t want to rewrite history. I’m just saying it would be nice if the Internet would allow that episode to actually become historical.
Happily, since I took action the second time, the page has plummeted in a Google search, though you can still find it if you look hard enough, which I can’t imagine anybody would (I didn’t until I wrote this). If I ever happen to find myself once again engaged to be married, I’ll think long and hard before commemorating the occasion on WeddingChannel.
Lesson learned: no matter how brainbendingly complex, the mercenary algorithms of the Internet will never mimic the private algorithms of a busted human heart. And however prominently that experience figures into who I am — yeah, I figure that should be up to me.