Married VonVowsaretaken

So PROBABLY, if you’re reading this, you were at my wedding last weekend. In fact, if as I suspect, R is the only one that actually reads this, then I’m basically writing this for my new wife. But given she’s a demanding audience, I’ll write anyway… and maybe there’s one or two more sets of eyes that will enjoy me regaling about the best party of our lives.

Woke up Saturday morning, feeling fine. Got breakfast, said hello to a lot of our out-of-town guests, feeling fine. Got all the groomsmen dressed and collocated in the soon-to-be brother-in-law’s room, feeling fine. Got dressed myself, put on boutonnières with minimal trouble (and a little help from the Maid of Honor), all feeling fine. Went outside for our turn with the photog, went through all the poses we wanted and did a lot of joking around (knuckles in o-rings & everything), feeling fine (save for the knuckles).

Came back into the lobby of the hotel, and holy congregation were there a ton of people hanging out & waiting for the schindig to get underway. Lots of glad-handing, lots of hoping I remember people’s names, lots of “Are you ready?” ‘Yes I am / Put me in coach / If I see you at the reception, you’ll know I was ready’ routines.

NOT feeling fine. So much pressure. Even now, as I write on the train, I’m reliving it and feeling the tightness in my chest. Not like a fun Dolly Parton tightness either. The kind that makes you sweat. (In all fairness, I have no idea if Dolly Parton tightness induces the body’s cooling mechanism, but I also have like zero desire to find out.)

So after the 43rd handshake, and my good friend Sobotka telling me that ‘usually, the groom’s off hidden in secret somewhere but it’s really awesome that you’re out here saying hi to everyone’, I bolted. I grabbed my best man and told him I needed a minute.

We made our way out to the adjacent stairwell, and as that door to the lobby pushed back the voices and the sounds of skin on skin as hands are shaken, my head was buzzing. If you’ve ever been hit in the head in dodgeball, and the ball that hit you was thrown by the beefy surely-a-lesbian-or-Popeye-look-a-like girl in your gym class who proves her surliness at every possible opportunity, you’ve probably felt the same type of dull buzz that I was experiencing at that moment. Things were morgue quiet.

As Shorty & I talked for a while, my heart was gently coaxed into staying within my ribcage walls, but my head was buzzy. Couldn’t concentrate on anything. (If this is what kids with ADD/ADHD feel like, they should thank their deity of choice every day for Ritalin.)

Then Shorty tells me his wood-eye joke. It’s not a long joke, and it’s not a fantastic joke (relies heavily on the delivery, which Shorty of course nailed), but I was able to stop buzzing & focus on it. He hits the punch line, and I bust up. I immediately call out that it HAD to be an Ed joke (Shorty’s father), and all of a sudden am picturing Mr. Short delivering that joke in his yachting t-shirt & baseball cap. I forget where I am, and that I’ve just spent 30 minutes talking to people that obviously care about me and/or my soon-to-be wife but I still won’t remember faces & names after today is over – an example of being socially uncomfortable and feeling less-than-genuine in the worst way… and once again, comedy has saved my life.

I calmed down, I laughed it out, and I felt somewhat normal again. Shortly thereafter, the groomsmen and I are lined up in the hallway, awaiting our summons to appear in front of the same crowd (or gauntlet) I had just survived. If we hadn’t continued telling jokes in that hallway, and making fun of Seth for buying a lemon iced tea, I could’ve gone sour all over again. But the guys didn’t even give me a chance. My hands got a little sweaty, and it got slightly harder to breathe, but that was more akin to stage nerves than being something like the mother-of-all-anxiety-attacks I’d just conquered.

I was going out there, with five of the best friends anyone could ever have to back me up, and I’d walk away with the beautiful bride on my arm. Wouldn’t you be nervous?

To be continued…

Coming up next time on WYLT: will our valiant hero vow his love to his vivacious bride? Will dinner be as delicious as the dancing should be dazzling? Shall families find common foundations and finally ferment into fragrant friendships? Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.

What the Wedding Means

Y’know, I get engaged and then for a year and a half, I’m affected in some way by planning the wedding on a daily basis. Because there’s so much to do, and I’m quite decidedly someone who has a preference for not doing things, usually I would let it affect me negatively. (I’m being honest, here, not mean.) We agreed very early on that what we wanted our wedding to be, above all, is something that will create one huge day of love & friends & family & frivolous eating and drinking & memories for everyone to share, forever.

But since last February, I’ve been kinda leaning towards focusing pretty much only on the less-than-romantic aspects of what a wedding is. Meaning it’s been all of the following things to me.

  • Something for which to save lots of money.
  • Something to help R plan in great detail.
  • Something to look forward to but to use as a horizon at which to stop planning for anything else.
  • Something to use as an excuse for not doing lots of other things.
  • Something with which to fill task lists.
  • Something to fight about.
  • Something to worry about.
  • Something to create strife within (but thankfully not across) families.

But it’s now 5 days away, and over the last week or so, I’ve finally started to see it as… well, what it is.

A day in which I will have the most beautiful person I know, standing by my side, with her hand in mine, vowing to stay there forever. I can’t wait.

None of you have any idea how interesting life is with this woman. And I don’t even mean interesting in the most idealist or romantic sense – I just mean that, when I take the time to sit back and OBSERVE us, we are a fascinating entity. And on Saturday the 13th of October, we put rings on fingers, becoming one family, one whole thing, that will fascinate us for the rest of our lives. If nothing else happens that day, that will be enough.

For example, we’ve been engaged for 18 months, and I’ve leaned towards thinking about the wedding day itself as all those things above. I would be willing to bet the farm that R, if she ever painted a picture with those types of words, probably dismissed them and gave them no weight whatsoever, and moved on to making the wedding hers. Owning it. Planning it down to the tiniest detail. And not stopping to think about any of those other things that I was thinking for us. One would posit a guess that maybe that would lead us to fight a lot about sharing the efforts, about sharing the ambition to have a great wedding, about marrying someone who cares too much/too little about details. It didn’t. We fascinate each other, we balance each other, we are commited to each other. We work out the details of our life together and how to live it, sometimes through heated conversation, but always with both of us knowing that we are going to figure it out, and it will be fascinating.

I think part of the reason I might have been disposed to thinking of it the way I did is because I wasn’t terribly involved in the planning itself. I didn’t even do some of the typical head-nodding, “Yes, Dear”-ing that you would expect the typical guy to do, because I wasn’t even asked the questions. Ask me if I helped when asked, sure, I helped. Ask me if I had opinions about lots of the big things that were considered, of course I did. But ask me what kind of flowers we’re having, the name of our photographer, or what’s on the menu other than the main course, and I would have to ask R for her wedding binder.

Maybe that’s stuff that doesn’t matter to me. I think I saw R start taking this whole thing by the horns the day after I proposed, and I said there’s no way that I’m gonna be able to hop on unless she actually makes room for me to hop on. (The wedding is a bull? Analogy-maker still feet-to-Jesus, I guess.)

As much strife or anxiety or work as my inactivity may have caused R & us as a couple since we got engaged, I guess I don’t apologize for it, because to me, the only thing that really matters is putting rings on fingers. What really matters is saying words to each other that declare us as a husband and wife ’til death do us part in front of 132 of our closest friends & family. Doesn’t matter what’s in the centerpieces or whether the programs match the bridesmaid dress colors perfectly or whether my family members were peeved over not being allowed to bring children. Everything else… well, had we been so inclined, or had we been ten years older and ten times more financially secure, we could have paid someone else to do. But we chose, R chose, to do it all herself, to make it hers/ours, in lots of ways beyond just the ceremony.

I guess the whole point is that, now when I sit back and think about our wedding, as it approaches in five days, I’m NOT thinking about it the same way. I see it as
something that will, without a doubt, be one huge day of love & friends & family & frivolous eating and drinking & memories for everyone to share, forever. That’s all it will be, and that’s all that we wanted. If the cake melts, if the clouds open up & dump rain all over northern Jersey, or even if I’m stuck in a powder blue ruffle-tux from the Liberace House of Crap, it doesn’t matter. At noon on Saturday, I will be R’s husband, and I will continue to lead a fascinating life, with her by my side.

And then there will be lots of drinking. Lots of eating. Lots of great music. And lots of memories for us all to share, forever. Can’t wait.