Sometimes, if I’ve got nothing better to do on a Friday night, I’ll hunker down with a cup of chai latte and watch that night’s marathon of wedding-related shows on TLC. “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Four Weddings,” “Along for the Bride,” “Brides of Beverly Hills.” Y’know, Diva TV. I am not ashamed to admit that I am drawn to that garbage like a gnat to a bare bulb. TLC wedding shows are trainwreck TV to me – so captivating I can’t look away.
What’s funny about my fascination with these shows – I am SO not that girl.
See, I’ve had two weddings in my lifetime, both shared with the same man. We were together a total of seven years, and we split up for nearly the exact same reasons both times.
(Apparently, those reasons weren’t quite clear enough the first time around. Our last installment was officially over in May. More on that another time.)
One of my anniversaries is coming up this week, so between that and the wedding show marathon I watched this past weekend, I've got weddings on the brain.
Anyhoo, both ceremonies were stripped down, simple affairs. I did not want to stress about event planning, so I didn’t. I also did not take others' opinions into consideration. I feel sorry for all the brides who get steamrolled by their mothers and/or mothers-in-law into putting on a show they never would have staged on their own. I was not about to get pushed around, and I thank God no one in my life even tried.
I don’t know why I didn’t inherit the wedding gene that most women like me seem to have. When I say, “like me,” I mean women who are very feminine, enjoy all manner of “girly” accoutrements and subscribe to fairly traditional gender roles. Seems like I am a perfect candidate for Bridezilla No. 1, right?
Yeah, not so much.
The first wedding
Dec. 14, 1994, was a Wednesday. I remember this because I took the day off work from the real estate office where I worked as receptionist. But JUST that day off. I left at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and was back at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. And I think I decided to take off the 14th only about 10 days prior. My co-workers were a little blindsided but still managed to throw me an impromptu wedding shower the day before. The salt and pepper shakers they gave me sit on my stovetop to this day.
Wedding No. 1 was kind of rush job because I was five months pregnant. The (soon-to-be) Husband and I had talked about marriage early on in our dating history -- and we both wanted to do it someday -- but a certain sense of urgency sped up the process.
That Wednesday morning, I dressed in a cream and gold velvet pantsuit and rode downtown to the courthouse at Fifth and Jefferson Streets with my parents. My brother stood up for me (nope, I didn’t even have a female bridesmaid!), and The Husband’s best friend stood up for him. Both sets of parents were present and accounted for. We poised at the top of a staircase in the lobby and let the Justice of the Peace do his thing. I think my mom got me a small bouquet of flowers to carry, but I can’t remember what they looked like.
Afterward, we all went back to our -- the newlyweds -- third-floor apartment on Eastern Parkway and had a slice of generic wedding cake that my mom had picked up a bakery on the way to the courthouse.
I was happy as a jaybird. No regrets in terms of the ceremony. Ask me about the marriage another time.
Wedding No. 2
I put a little more thought into my second go-around with The Husband, but not much.
I wore a dress, for one thing. A luxurious silk number from the online J. Crew catalog. It was $300 – the most I have ever paid for a single article of clothing. I’d wear it again if I could find someone to dye it pink or black, or another “not-wedding-white” color.
It was also held on a day when normal people get married – Saturday, June 6, 2009. I asked a good friend if we could use his gorgeous home and property in Lagrange, Ky., for the backdrop. Another friend offered to provide all the food. I did not even ask her what she was planning to fix. I could’ve cared less about then menu; I trusted her to do a phenomenal job. And man, did she ever (thanks, Kate!)
I borrowed some tables and chairs from my company’s cafeteria. Someone offered us the use of a trellis for the altar. It was pretty, so I went with it.
I paid a real-live florist for flowers, but only a bridal bouquet of peonies and daisies, along with smaller ones for my three bridesmaids. I told my girls simply to wear black, their choice. They could’ve shown up in ninja costumes and I wouldn’t have cared.
My best friend, Whitney, offered to do a few decorations. I had no interest in giving any input beforehand. I trusted her, she executed, they were lovely, and I was happy. We hired a friend to take photos, and I let her have free reign, perfectly fine for her direct us instead of telling her what to shoot.
For music, The Husband made some mixed CDs. A friend of a friend played guitar during our walk down the aisle. About 50 people showed up – they all had received invitations I made on my computer and hand-addressed.
Ironically, the most money we spent was not on anything bride-related. It was the tux rentals for The Husband and our son, who (understandably) had a more active part of the ceremony this time around.
It was a lovely day. Again, I was pleased as punch with every aspect of it and never stressed for half a second.
I also don't regret marrying the same man twice. There was a lot of good stuff in with the bad, and now I can say for certain that we truly weren't meant to be.
The ‘wedding gene’
Yeah, I don’t know why the wedding gene is dormant in me. For someone who enjoys all things frou-frou and loves being center stage, I cannot explain my ambivalence. I never sat around daydreaming about my wedding day. When I was little, I dreamt about a husband and our life together, but never about the day we did the deed.
Now that I am single again at 40, it’s even more of a mystery to me why anyone would spend thousands of dollars on one “perfect” day. I’d rather have a lifetime of content over one day ensconced in cake toppers and crinoline.
Today, I can assure you that an elaborate wedding will NEVER be in my future. (The jury is still out on whether a life partner is in the cards for me, now or 20 years from now.)
I think what it boils down to for me, and this has been true since I was a little girl -- I am practical at heart, and if I were to make that kind of commitment again, I want a good marriage, not a great wedding.
If more people felt that way, the world would be a better place. Of course, then I would have to find something else to do on a Friday night.
On second thought, don’t tell anyone over at TLC I said that!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.