Did you know that the two events in life that can either break apart a family, or bring them all together, are weddings and funerals? Perhaps it is not a scientific fact, but from experience, I know it is true. My mother-in-law went into full ‘bridezilla’ mode, in a way I never thought this sweet woman could, for her wedding that took place this past Saturday.
When Henri and I got engaged, I began looking up information on the cost of a wedding: location, dress, ceremony, flowers, and tuxes. I did eight months of research when I came to the reality of the situation: weddings are expensive. And with no help from our parents, we were doing this on our own. We found out I was pregnant, and decided to make plans to visit my brother who lived in Florida at the time. It was going to be our first out-of-town vacation and we were stoked. About two weeks before we were to leave New York, we discussed getting married in Florida. My brother and sister-in-law had gotten married there the previous year on the beach, with an intimate gathering right after. I had already settled with the idea that we were getting married at our nearest City Clerk’s office. But the thought of getting married at a court house basement somewhere didn’t appeal to me. When my sister-in-law told me that getting married on the beach was free, and that she would help pay for the marriage license, we figured, why not?
I was in the beginning of my second trimester in my pregnancy, and I wasn’t showing much yet. The next day after arriving in Florida, the rings we ordered arrived; we found the perfect cocktail dress, in an apple cider color that I adored; and two days later we got the marriage license, which allowed us to get hitched immediately, if we wanted to. A day before we were to come back to New York, we decided to get married. It had rained the whole day, and we weren’t sure if it would take place outdoors. But at around 3 pm, the weather began to ease up. An hour and a half before the scheduled sunset, the sun made its appearance for the first time that day. Henri left to the beach before me with my brother, while I met them there accompanied with my sister-in-law; we figured it best to stay slightly traditional and not have him see me or my dress until we were to be wed. Perhaps because of the weather that day, the beach was empty. It was only us four and the officiant, who happened to be an acquaintance of my brother, and had also presided over their wedding. The beach was perfect; no extreme hot weather or mugginess; no birds flying or nipping at us; no people that we didn’t know staring; the sun was up but not burning; and even the ocean was at a perfect temperature, warm and pleasant. Everything worked out. Under the divine open air, in the presence of two people who truly loved each other, one person as witness to a moment in the making, and among the most natural of places, we became man and wife.
I had made my bouquet from silk flowers and these little purple plant stems. The best part is that I still have the bouquet.
I saw the love in his eyes, an attentive look of which I have never seen until that moment. I could see and feel his love emanating so bright that his eyes seemed lighter in color. It looked like he wanted to cry but he couldn’t because he was so happy. It became a moment where I couldn’t physically stand still; I was rocking on the heels of my feet, giddy and giggling like a little girl. We spoke our own vows, choosing not write anything down, and speak what was in our hearts and minds at that moment. We didn’t have a room of guests to see it; but the love was there either way. I felt a super natural power at work, and a love that was overwhelmingly explosive. That is what a wedding and a marriage should feel like; an event full of love.
While my special day was simple and cost efficient, my in-laws wedding was your typical traditional wedding. Church ceremony, 100 guest reception, and wedding photos taken alongside a castle. It was what she wanted. Since the New Year began, I have been a person on the outside looking into the stress of planning a low key and budget friendly wedding. While I love and adore my mother-in-law, I never knew how much a woman could change when she’s planning a wedding. It made me grateful to have gotten married that way I did. No stress, no inviting people I didn’t really want to invite, no running around and losing my mind or money. Our wedding was smooth, idyllic for us, and no less full of love, which always stands to be the most important thing. Even though she had lost her mind and manners for the past few months, her wedding was full of love: between her new husband and herself, her now newly extended family, and even the air around her. I’ve noticed that when there is love that pure and unfiltered in one space, time and nature change. You smell love, drink it in along with the oxygen and champagne. You see it in everyone’s eyes, of people that you know and those you’ve just met. Sadly, I am not used to open emotion like that. It is love I give and don’t usually see returned other than through my son, husband, or sister. But I felt it this weekend, especially from my husband, who gave me that same look from the day of our wedding; full of love and pride that I was his wife, from the moment I put on my burgundy and lace dress for the special occasion, until long after I took it off that night.
“I couldn’t have married anyone else, you know that? There is no one that I could think of taking to my father’s wedding, past or present, that isn’t you. You know what to say, when to say it, how to act. You’re amazing, and I’m happy you’re my wife.” He laid in bed and the haze of lime Coronas still wavered in his eyes. This was truth he was telling me; the beer just helped him say it without second guessing himself. It was an honest moment, between him and me, the ones people can’t see behind closed doors.
“I could feel all eyes on us, Scarlett. We were the perfect couple out there. Shit, we are the perfect couple.” He reached his arms out and I lay on his chest, his heart beat pounding in my ear and eventually falling in rhythm to mine. And then we made love that night, the next day, and the day after that.