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The Wedding Is Just Wrapping Paper. The Marriage Is the Gift.

·792 words·4 mins

I’ve been engaged three times. Married twice. I’ve had one broken engagement. One divorce.

And I’ve never had a big traditional, expensive wedding. Nor have I wanted to.

In fact, both times I got married I was on Team Let’s Elope. The first time, elopement was a no-go. I was, however, able to keep the guest list small and not make the wedding into a Big Expensive Thing. This meant that we could afford to go on a honeymoon, which was what I really wanted anyway (I love to travel).

The second time I got married, I got my elopement wish… sorta. Because we eloped to the courthouse at the first available opportunity and were legally married by a judge. But that was because I needed health insurance (I was going back to college at the time and would lose my benefits when I did) before a wedding could be planned and thrown.

Four months later, we held a ceremony for our family and friends. My husband really wanted one. (He’d never been married before and wanted to celebrate the occasion with everyone dear to us.) It was a wonderful event. However, we were very frugal and kept costs down. It ended up being really inexpensive for a wedding. We’ve been to a number of bigger weddings since then — as guests or part of the wedding parties (I’ve been a bridesmaid, he’s been a groomsman).

“The cost of a wedding like that,” I said to my husband the other day, “would pay for all the traveling we’ve done since then.”

I paused.

“And then some,” we both said at once, which made us both laugh.

I Wonder Why It Doesn’t Bother Me That I’ve Never Had a Big Wedding

Anyway, I sometimes wonder about why I don’t feel deprived by having never had the big fairy tale wedding. Never doing the bridezilla thing. Every day it seems like I’m learning I didn’t do things that I was “supposed to do” in order to make things romantic or more real somehow.

For example, I was talking to a friend the other day who just got engaged, who was talking about how she didn’t have professional engagement/proposal photos but had managed some pretty good ones with a selfie stick.

And it occurred to me: I have been engaged three times and don’t have any engagement photos. I frankly didn’t even know that engagement photos were a thing people did until the other day.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m like this. Why I wanted to elope. Why I don’t even know about all the storybook touches. And why even when I do know, my first instinct is to not feel disappointed or deprived but to go “huh,” shrug indifferently, and go on about my life.

It’s Worth Noting I Had Been the Center of Attention Many Times Before, as a Performer

It’s probably worth noting that I performed musically from a very early age. So I grew up doing recitals and concerts and getting lots of applause from that. I remember during my first wedding having an uneasy feeling as I walked into the venue in my white gown and complete strangers told me how beautiful I looked.

It reminded me a bit of performing. But I wasn’t really doing anything impressive.

And the feeling got stranger as friends and family watched the ceremony. I realized then that a wedding was a performance… but one in which I wasn’t really doing anything? I was making a commitment, sure. But it was one that I’d already made in private. One that was meaningful on its own.

It seemed strange to be dressing up and commanding attention for something like that. (I was used to performances being about entertaining other people — and not about my standing next to someone who was romantically interested in me.)

The Wedding Is Just Wrapping Paper. The Marriage Is the Gift.

But that’s just a strange feeling I had at my first wedding. (As well as a reason I was anxious about having another wedding ceremony when I got remarried.)

No, I think the bigger reason is something that my old friend Jon said — back after my first wedding. That it’s all about the relationship ultimately. You can’t make a bad relationship good by having a big fancy wedding. And you can’t ruin a great relationship by having a crummy wedding.

Or, as Jon so perfectly put it: “The wedding is the wrapping paper. The marriage is the gift.”

I believe this. I do.

And going by that reasoning, so long as I’m in a good relationship (and I certainly am), there’s no reason to feel deprived or disappointed because it didn’t follow a set script.


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