Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Wedding History

I've been thinking about my wedding history this week - a history which really doesn't match my social status at all. My marriage history, on the other hand, is rather strait-forward and basic (met my husband at 18, married at 21, 2 kids and a dog). As any woman over the age of 32 who's been married for at least four years can tell you, weddings and marriages are two entirely different things. (It takes women a bit of time to learn it, but I suspect any man of any age is aware of that fact.)

When it comes to weddings, my first exposure to a wedding (and, thus, my concept of a "normal" wedding) was my uncle's wedding. It was the summer after my first grade year, so I was 5 years old (I started first grade young) and my uncle married this absolutely wonderful, lovely woman from high Dallas society. If I told you her name, you'd recognize it because her family is that well-known - so I won't - but I will tell you that the wedding was at a very large, very nice church downtown and the reception was at the Dallas Country Club.

My cousins and I were bridesmaids, dressed in gorgeous, floor-length white dresses with flower wreaths in our hair, and the men all wore tails. The rehearsal dinner was at the very top of some building in downtown Dallas in a very nice restaurant which I did not even come close to appreciating at that age, but looking back now I suspect I'll never set foot in it again so it's a pity I spent the entire night looking out the window and marveling at how tiny everything looked from that high up.

Needless to say, the wedding was exceptional and I thought: "So this is a wedding? How lovely! I can't wait to do this myself someday!" I think my parents realized a dangerous precedent was set, but what could they do?

A few short years later (I was 9 or 10 at the time), I was up at 3 a.m. to watch Diana's wedding. I'd been following the engagement obsessively and for years afterwards, at every birthday and Christmas I asked for more coffee-table books with photographs of Diana and her wedding. I couldn't get enough of it. Clearly, I'd developed a dangerous perception of what a wedding entailed. I can honestly say that I spent hours poring over every photograph of Diana that came within arms reach of my small hands. Even my obsession with Garfield cartoon books didn't come close to my obsession with my royal wedding books.

By the time I was engaged (aged 20) there was no question in my mind that I'd be married in the evening, the men would wear tails, and I'd have a cathedral length train on my wedding dress. It seemed rather obvious to me at the time. Looking back, I'm stunned and grateful that my parents pulled it off in grand fashion without putting our family into debt. My dad was just starting his business at the time, my kid brother was about to attend college, and we were not wealthy. Not at all.

And yet, I had exactly the wedding I wanted at 21 years old - tons of roses, bridesmaids in white dresses, men in tails, and a brocade wedding dress with a train so long that it probably weighed one-third of what I weighed in my birthday suit. I had fun shopping with my mom for bargains and loved the challenge of getting exactly what I wanted at the lower-cost options in town. Who cared if the flowers came from a bright fuchsia building on the "bad" side of town if the customer service was amazing and the roses were perfect? Those snotty society florists weren't listening to what I wanted anyway. (No baby's breath. Get that stuff out of my bouquet immediately.)

So that's my wedding history. If I'd married later in life, the wedding would take place on a beach and my feet would be bare. But as I watched William and Kate tie the knot yesterday morning (at 3 a.m. with my own daughter by my side), I teared up and smiled as I remembered how I felt watching Diana and what an impact she had on me and my own wedding.

There's something to be said for celebrating the beginning of a marriage in grand style and dressing like a princess for one day in your life. I'm really glad I had that experience, but I think I appreciate it only because it was the prelude to a marriage that's been tough at times but has been 100% worth it because I'm married to someone who treats me royally on a regular basis. 

1 comment:

Megan Willome said...

My dad texted me at 4:25 a.m. to see if I was watching (I wasn't). He made homemade scones and celebrated with a mimosa. If I had known he was going to do all that, I would have joined him. Otherwise, I'm just happy I got to be in your wedding. I still have my dress because it's so beautiful.