A wedding is a start of togetherness ... of walks in the rain, basking in the sunshine, shared meals, caring for one another and sensing the love that a marriage carries.
The easiest decision my husband and I ever jointly made was to get married in the first place. It was agreeing on all the details of the wedding that almost nullified our union, before we had even properly tied the knot.
To begin with, I had always dreamed of a large and extravagant wedding, with me clad from head to toe in white lace, walking veiled and demure down the aisle on the arm of my proud papa. Nothing, but nothing was going to sway me from that vision, especially not my husband-to-be. Wasn't marriage all about compromise anyway? He on the other hand, a solid pragmatic engineer, had other thoughts on the matter.
"You know how much money we're going to have to plunk down for what is essentially a one-day party? Why not take the money we would have spent, and use it for a down payment on a house? Surely that would be a better use of our money."
The really annoying part was that in a way he was right. He still had student loans, I was paying off my car, and in a short while, we would acquire our first mortgage. Could we really afford this wedding? Still, I wasn't ready to concede defeat yet.
"My parents have volunteered to pay for the wedding, and if they don't mind, why should you? Anyway, I'm the last of their daughters to get married, so they'll be home free after this wedding."
I was to learn that if I could be tenacious, my fiancé could be equally so. "Are you really going to ask your parents to pay for an expensive wedding after they just put the five of you through private colleges?"
Okay, now I was feeling a bit on the guilty side, but not so much that I was willing to relinquish my dreams of a wedding altogether. "What about just a small wedding then with only our families and closest friends?" I sensed my advantage as he hesitated. "No wedding, no marriage," I stated firmly, "and that's my final offer."
"Fine," he conceded, "a small wedding it is then." The smile of triumph he tried unsuccessfully to hide convinced me immediately that a small wedding was what he was after the whole time. Now why oh why couldn't he have just said so in the first place?
The ensuing negotiations to hammer out all the details of the wedding felt a bit like bartering for a used car. Our next big decision was who to invite. Every decision it seemed came with its own set of complicating factors. After we settled on the number of wedding guests, it seemed only reasonable that we each be responsible for half the guest list. The problem was that my family far outnumbered his, and what with all my siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins, I would have a difficult time staying within my limit.
"Even though I have to invite them all, most of the East Coast branch of the family won't be able to attend," I quickly assured him, with much less confidence than I was feeling. As I composed my proposed list of invitees, I carefully penciled in next to their names the likelihood that they would actually attend. "There," I crowed triumphantly, when my list was finally compiled, "I predict with an 85% certainty that a maximum of two-thirds of the guests I invited will actually attend."
"And what if you're wrong," he asked suspiciously, "and we end up with double the number we expected?" No doubt he was having some second thoughts about his decision to marry a mathematician.
"Then we hock the family silver, and use the money to elope," I quickly replied. He had the good grace to laugh.
From the guest list, we proceeded to picking the date, no mean feat as all four of my siblings and my mother were tied to academic calendars, either as grad students or professors. Moreover, half were on the quarter system while the other half were on the semester system, so their vacations didn't exactly match up.
"Let's see," I mused, after making a spreadsheet of all possible wedding dates, it being Thanksgiving Day when we announced our engagement. "It looks like we can go with the last weekend in March of next year, or try to work around everyone's summer vacations." March 28th it was to be then, leaving us a mere four months to deal with selecting the facility, the photographer, the band, the flowers, the attire, the meal, the wedding party, and a whole host of other decisions. There was no shortage of details to work out apparently.
"You know," I remarked casually one day, as I was working out a complex calculation of what was the right proportion of marinated mushrooms to bacon-wrapped scallops on the hors d'oeuvres tray, "maybe we should have just eloped and saved all this trouble. Just kidding," I hastily amended, after seeing the expression on the face of my intended.
Well the big day finally arrived, and the details just kind of sorted themselves out. While there were no major crises to deal with, there were plenty of the smaller run-of-the-mill glitches: the head musician fell sick at the last minute, the top layer of cake that we had carefully set aside for our first anniversary landed icing side down on the floor, at least half a dozen guests who hadn't bothered to RSVP showed up anyway, and a family friend accidentally trod on the train of my wedding gown when we were dancing, dislodging all those tiny silk buttons that held it up so nicely. Somehow we managed to deal with those things, and when all was said and done, our wedding went about as smoothly as we could have hoped for.
The sun broke through the clouds just long enough for the photographer to take the formal pictures of the family outdoors, the food and wine were plentiful, and if I never personally got to taste one of the marinated mushroom hors d'oeuvres that were my special favorite, everyone afterwards assured me they were excellent. One of the highlights of the evening was the rousing hora at the end in which everyone partook, from the youngest five-year-old to my octogenarian aunt.
I'm not sure we fully appreciated what we were getting ourselves into that day, as we solemnly uttered our vows. We were both in our twenties, and life's greatest joys and sorrows were still ahead of us. I am firmly convinced however, that the four months of almost constant give and take as we worked through the details of our wedding was the best preparation possible for our ensuing thirty-seven years of married life. Our next major decision was deciding when to start our family, and how many children we would have, he wanting two, and me leaning towards five, but that's a whole other story!