You know what’s a great example of a living, breathing paradox? An introverted only child.* I love attention as much as anyone (who loves attention), just keep it single file, people, or through a digital screen of some sort, or in small bursts. I love a good balloon-filled, sparkly birthday, a heap of praise, feeling special. But I skirt around the edges of parties, I back away from the stage at concerts, and I hide out at home in much of my spare time.
Given these attributes, and the relatively small size of my family, I never thought I’d have a lavish wedding. Actually, I never really thought about weddings, period. Too much messy emoting, too much logistical hassle, and way — way — too many people to handle at once, people who know me from different angles and different time zones, who’d be mixing together like mis-matched side dishes at a last-minute picnic. Egad.
So I was surprised to find myself sitting in bed this weekend, eating cold pizza from the box, hammering out the details of a ceremony and celebration for which I’ve already sent Save The Dates so I guess there’s no backing out now, eh? And to raise the stakes a bit, we’re planning this shindig from a separate continent, to take place in a city only one of us calls home, in 83-ish days, not that I’m neurotically counting them down.
I’m leaning on a virtual wedding planner (admittedly useful), connected to a shared website (KIDS THESE DAYS), digital invitations, and a honeyfund (because who really needs a state-of-the-art cheese grater in a city without cheese?) Not using The Dreaded Knot, instead a less precious alternative. If I was the programmer/developer of my dreams, I’d rig some nifty online portal myself, but for the moment I’m reliant on passively judgmental, pre-set checklists about bridesmaids (no thanks, hierarchy unwelcome), wedding hashtags (?), tastings (worth the plane fare?), and florists (highly creative friends to the rescue!).
Have you found yourself here before? Might you find yourself here soon? Suggestions welcome. To our credit (and my great relief) we’re both low-maintenance people, and keeping this event relatively small, And, we have lovely and generous friends and family offering assistance at every turn. The challenges are mainly, you know, all those rascally details and that little bit of pressure to satisfy everyone’s expectations to the utmost. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be our day. But it’s really about family, in all its forms, isn’t it? It’s about connecting with and acknowledging the communities that shaped us separately and, if we’re lucky, will hold us together for a very long time.
I’m just not into pomp and circumstance, or grandiosity, but I do want this to be special (see above). By which I suppose I mean meaningful. Tradition, to me, is too often emptily rote, made of husks and shells, the inner seed long forgotten. You get hemmed in, it gets stuffy, and you can’t breathe. But I eat up ritual and symbolism like, well, pizza out of the box, as long as they’re genuine, humble, and reaching towards sacred.
So I hope it’s okay that I’d rather order Chinese take-out to slurp on the floor among loved ones instead of a rehearsal dinner, and a bagel, cream cheese, and perfect cup of coffee before the morning ceremony at city hall, and a hastily-planned, go-with-the-flow, joyous nighttime bacchanal** somewhere loud and full of frayed edges, friends, and family. I’m working on making meaning in the details, incorporating people into rituals, people that I haven’t seen in far too long. Readings by celebrants; Celtic ancestry knitted into a fancy sweater, replete with symbolism of fisherman’s ropes, Irish moss, and honeycomb; French braids by familiar fingers; cookies made of powdered sugar and paternal tradition; a bouquet assembled unprofessionally but, more importantly, with memories of sleepovers past, and with more than a little artistry.
Even as I wince at the potential onslaught of opinions and temperaments and expectations, at the required levels of diplomacy I’ll never have, I’m relishing a bit the chance to distill into a single day so many of the stories and personalities that have made me me, that fill my life. Just need to make sure the food is hot, the schedule is set, and the bubbly is bubbly.
Tips, suggestions, advice, and encouragement welcome. Also, more pizza.
*Or so I was, until I became a (whole-hearted) half-sister, circa age 12.
**Thanks, Dad, for the new word.