There are two posts on this blog that get viewed almost on a daily basis even though they were published months and months ago: Dana’s Soup in A Jar and this one. And this one got so much play around Valentine’s Day that Shea and I were interviewed to be on an upcoming TV show about disastrous wedding days that turned into happy marriages! Although since we don’t see this story as a disaster, and we like to laugh about it, we didn’t make the cut.
It’s June, which means wedding season is here. And this week we’re going with a wedding theme. First the replay of my wedding day and then my mom is stopping by Friday with some words of wisdom about marriage for all of us.
The story starts like this: I opened my eyes to the sound of my mom calling my name. I saw my dad’s face and realized I was looking up at him. He’s not supposed to be on the altar, I thought.
“Did I just faint at my wedding?” I asked. Then “I’m going to puke.”
Moments earlier, I felt it coming. I leaned over to my cousin and whispered “I think I’m going to faint.”
“No, you aren’t,” she said with a sunny smile, and turned her face back towards the priest.
So I leaned over to my husband. “I’m think I’m going to faint”, I told him. “Ok” he said. That was it. Next thing, I’m looking up at my dad.
I was not drunk. I was not pregnant. And I was not scared.
I was hot. And kneeling. And trussed into my dress like a dang rump roast on Christmas Eve.
I enjoy telling this story to people. The reactions are fun. Some people laugh with me. Some shake their heads. But it’s the ones, usually single women, whose faces collapse in horror and pity that are my favorite.
It becomes a learning moment.
I fainted on the altar at my wedding. So?
“What do you mean so?!” one of my students asked me once. “All that money! All that planning! Ruined! I would be humiliated!”
I’ll admit that I had to do a magnificent job of shaking it off, a la Scarlett O’Hara: I’ll think about this tomorrow. I could have let it ruin my day.
But I didn’t. Look at the pictures. If you didn’t know I fainted, you wouldn’t know it from the pictures.
Beautiful, happy bride. Beautiful, happy day.
But most important of all: Almost nine years, three kids and two dogs later, beautiful, happy marriage.
That’s what a wedding does—it begins a marriage. Despite the wedding industry’s best efforts, we don’t say “We’re having a wedding!” We say “We’re getting married!”
Besides, a wedding is just one day. Not even the whole day. I waited eleven months for my wedding day and spent too much money on the details of making it lovely. For what? A blur. One moment I was fainting on the altar and the next I was lying on a beach in Mexico.
And I’m not saying that weddings shouldn’t be big and sparkly and fun. All of the weddings in our family have been big and sparkly and fun. We love weddings!
But that day, when you wear the crazy expensive dress and feed people food they will not remember, pales in comparison to the day you hold your baby in your arms.
The love you feel for your fiancé at your wedding is nothing to what you will feel when your spouse gets up with that baby at 3 am.
You think it’s the best day of the rest of your life? It’s not. It’s just the first best day.
We learned lesson #1 about marriage at our wedding: It wasn’t perfect. It was human and loving and beautiful. There was a moment it went a bit left, and then the moment passed, with the help and concern of our family and friends. Which is exactly what happens in a marriage.
When I look back, I regret nothing. Especially not the fainting. Because when we got home from our honeymoon and watched the video, we saw a church hushed with concern. My mom’s good friend Lu, a doctor, walked up the aisle to see if she could help. My bridesmaids held hands and prayed for me. Except for my sister in law, who crawled underneath my veil, hairdo be damned, and loosened my dress so I could breathe. When I finally was up and seated on a chair, wobbly, teary, embarrassed, everyone applauded.
I fainted on the altar at my wedding. So?
Brides and Bridezillas, don’t plan a wedding. Celebrate a marriage. It’s a very different thing.
The first lasts a day. The second lasts a lifetime.