Husband and I were engaged for one year and one month. This is a really freaking long time in Mormon-land, where the engagement period commonly lasts anywhere from two to six months. It gave us plenty of time to contemplate and anticipate our life together and it also gave me lots of time to be crazy. Our engagement can be broken up into three distinct periods:
- I have no idea what I’m doing: frantically flipping through bridal magazines and Barnes & Noble, looking for wedding checklists, balking at most of the tasks on the checklists (get in shape for your wedding gown with an exercise routine six to nine months before the wedding?!), and daydreaming about eloping.
- Hey, this wedding thing might be kind of cool, oh wait, I can’t afford anything: reading about $10K “budget weddings,” realizing that a state park or botanical garden wedding entails renting tables, chairs, dishes, and canopies to an extent that negates money saved on the venue and decorations, poking around antique stores only to discover that vintage equals expensive.
- Shoot, let’s do this thing, (but let’s not pretend it’s anything fancy or important): inviting less than fifty people, hand-making unique, albeit somewhat cost-inefficient, invitations and favors, and refusing to hire a coordinator, ceremony musician, videographer, or (most controversially) florist. Generally cheaping out some things (flowers, centerpieces) so that we could go big on some other things (food, honeymoon).
If we were going to be able to pay for our own wedding, we knew we’d have to be frugal. And we learned that once you say the W word, everything quadruples in cost. So I avoided it. When inquiring into rental prices, I told various venues I just wanted the space for a party. When forced to admit it was a wedding, I quickly told people it would be small, and shabby, dashing our chosen venue’s hopes for an open bar or our bakery’s dreams of a 300 cupcake order. It felt good to be straight with people and I felt like we were planning a wedding that was authentic to us.
I also, it turns out, inadvertently brainwashed myself into believing that as the host of a small, shabby wedding, I didn’t deserve quality service or even sincere congratulations. Really. I figured if I was going to be cheap, I shouldn’t expect people to be excited about the wedding. We worried that nobody would want to come and were shocked when friends flew halfway across the country to see us get married. We worried about burdening our caterer with our nit-picky (but not really) requests for locally made tortillas and vegetarian plates and were shocked when they not only served up an incredible meal, but also gave us a coordinator all weekend who poured a ton of energy into making the evening run smoothly.
I really learned my lesson the morning after the wedding, when our families got together at a local cafe and the chef who I’d been emailing back and forth with for a few weeks realized right before we paid the check that our “family brunch” was actually a post-wedding celebration. She couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t told her. Not because she wanted to upcharge me, but because she would’ve congratulated me and made sure Husband and I got complimentary champagne right away. She rushed right over and apologized for not having realized it sooner, like it was her fault. She was even more confused when Husband told her I wouldn’t want any champagne. Instead, she brought me an enormous strawberry shortcake. And I blissfully ate every bite of it, finally realizing that I deserved to be happy, and that I didn’t need to apologize for anything, let alone for getting married.