I don’t know what it is about weddings but they bring out the crazy in us. I have not been to a lot of weddings in my life. Mine was the generation that rejected big weddings and marriage in our rebellion against patriarchal convention.
After living together for 8 years, Dan and I threw our wedding together in a matter of four weeks. We had just gone through a year long custody battle that left us broke and exhausted but excited to have Dan’s daughter, Rebecca, back in our lives. We wanted to get married to demonstrate to her that we intended to stay together; to be a family for a long time. So, I bought a white dress that was on sale for $40, we borrowed the community room in a friend’s housing co-op, we borrowed tables from the union I worked for, we put a few music tapes together, we invited a small number of family and friends with invites that we photocopied ourselves, and we threw our own little wedding for less than $1000. It was all we could afford financially after blowing $100,000 on legal fees, and after the year we had been through, it was all we could manage emotionally. We had a Minister from a Unitarian Church do a ceremony for us with passages that we wrote our selves.
But still, this tiny wedding brought out the crazy in people. Dan had an Aunt who refused to come because she felt that we had not made enough of an effort to visit her over the last year. The fact that we were fighting a custody battle to protect Dan’s daughter from sexual abuse seemed to be lost on her. One relative was upset that I did not invite our cousins. We drew the line at Aunts and Uncles to keep the numbers below 50; extending an invite to cousins would expand the numbers much closer to 100. My Italian grandmother was upset that we were not getting married in a church; that the wedding was so small; and that we were not having a proper wedding with bridesmaids and all of the other trappings. But I remember Dan’s sister saying to me quietly that it was the most beautiful wedding she had ever been to.
This is all coming back to me now as we prepare to head south for Rebecca’s wedding. It has been a stressful week for the entire family. My son and daughter are going crazy; wrapping up papers and assignments for their final and first years in university. The wedding will fall in the last week of their school terms just before their exams start. The timing could not be worse for them.
Dan and I have been scrambling to take care of all the little details; plane tickets and accommodation, wedding gifts and cards, suits and dresses, high heals and pedicures. We have each taken turns having melt-down about suits that look worn and dresses that don’t fit well. It seems that weddings evoke all of our worse fears; strip back the years; melt all of our armour. They force us to face the passage of time; to re-examine the years; to re-evaluate our lives.
As we flipped through our family albums, selecting photos for Rebecca, we saw our youth pass before our eyes; we remembered friends who have drifted out of our lives, family members who have passed on, and wonderful times that we have spent with our children. When we were done, I said to Dan, “We have had a really good life together”. Dan laughed and replied, “You make it sound like it is over.” And it isn’t, but a child’s wedding, which marks a new beginning for them, also marks an ending for us. And maybe that is the source of all the crazy?