My wedding will not be the most important day of my life. Image: Melissa Petro.
Becoming Bride is a weekly column from Melissa Petro, who will be sharing her wedding deets with us from engagement to aisle.
A recent study found that six in 10 single women have given thought to their marriage before meeting the man.
Confession: I am one of these women. I was the little girl who always dreamed of the day she’d get married. In some ways, I still am.
Blame my mother (as I do, for most things): She’s the person who dressed me in frocks and put my hair in Shirley Temple curls, the resulting golden locks worth all the pain of sleeping with a head of pink sponge curlers.
Whereas over the years the details have changed, I’ve always held close some image of being swept off my feet and wrapped in white satin, the center of everyone’s attention, enveloped in love.
To me, as for many, marriage is a celebration of love.
It signifies commitment, a promise made before all the most important people in your life.
For someone like me — someone with difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, who has struggled with commitment, and who’s got intimacy issues galore — surely, you can see the appeal. You don’t need to be Freud to figure out why, at a disturbingly young age, I looked forward to the day a man would commit to keeping me in his life (unlike my father's done).
And yes, I have other fantasies, too: Publish my book. Buy a home. Have a kid or maybe two.
But more than anything else, I’ve often imagined my wedding as an event that would signal my “happily ever-after.”
And now, this dream is coming true. I’m engaged! Cue the wedding planning in 3, 2, 1...
Sure, there are plenty of bloggers out there who downplay the day’s importance.
“I’m proud to say I probably haven’t spent more than two hours of my adult life thinking about, dreaming about, or planning my wedding day,” brags one particularly jaded-sounding blogger.
Well, congrats to you. Maybe you’re also proud to say you don’t shave your legs or wear makeup. You sound like the kind of awesome (read: horrible) “feminist” who brags about the fact that they’d never be a sex worker.
In other words, your choice feminism bores me.
Not boring? Contemplating what song I’d like to play as I walk down the aisle.
For me, there’s something almost magical about a dream coming true. It’s an almost eerie feeling of déjà vu when a fantasy plays out in real life.
When I trained for a marathon, I spent months envisioning myself crossing the finish line. When it happened, the moment felt effortless. When I first met Arran, we fantasized aloud together of taking a trip to Sri Lanka. When that fantasy became a reality this past January, it had the lovely quality of a lucid dream.
“If we tell little girls from the beginning of their lives that their most important day will come when they get married,” Jennifer Armstrong cautions, “it’s hard to resist when that day is offered to you, even if it’s with the wrong person. Making a girl’s wedding day the be-all, end-all emphasizes getting that day and making it perfect, not finding the right person with whom you may eventually want to spend your life.”
My wedding day will not be the most important day of my life.
This may be Armstrong’s truth. But my experience is the opposite. In my early twenties, I found myself engaged to my high school sweetheart. Having grown up together, we had some things in common. But we were also very different. And we were still kids.
When I found myself putting off the date and disinterestedly planning something that I thought should have elated me, I knew something was wrong. I realized there was a lot more to life that I wanted to experience, that wouldn’t happen on his watch.
This was the reason why I walked away months before the ceremony. Yes, it was crushing, but I wouldn’t say my girlhood fantasies made it more difficult.
In fact, the aversion I felt towards actualizing the very thing I’d always dreamed of was what had tipped me off.
Since that broken engagement, I’ve lived a lot of life. And yes, there have been a lot of days arguably more important than my yet-to-be-determined wedding date: There’s the day I got sober. The first article I ever published. The day I lost my job.
Although I couldn’t have planned or predicted this then, that terrible day signaled a new beginning as much as (if not more than) nuptials. In the last 10 years, I’ve experienced a host of personal and professional accomplishments. I’ve started my own business. I earned two advanced degrees.
All the while, I’ve known that I’ve wanted to get married, too... to the right person, at the right time.
This blogger argues that “you don’t have to have a brain, drive, or special skill set to get married. You just have to have a willing partner.”
Again, I disagree. I knew that in order to meet and marry the right guy, I had to first get right with myself. I had to figure out who the fuck that even was. By the time I met Arran, I had done a lot of hard work, and so I had a good idea.
And yeah, I had some idea of what I wanted our ceremony to look like, too, should he be “the one.”
My wedding will not be the most important day of my life.
It may or may not be the day I feel most beautiful. It will and won’t be the day my life changes forever.
In some sense, sure, it’s not that big a deal. Still, there’s reason to celebrate. I’m engaged, and I’m excited! I worked hard for this.
I know it rubs some the wrong way, but you can go ahead and congratulate me. I’ve earned it.
Coming up next week on Becoming Bride: “6 Things I Learned From Online Dating.”