Two Weddings

Any objective semi-conscious observer could have seen that I didn't want to get married the first time I got engaged.
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Any objective semi-conscious observer could have seen that I didn't want to get married the first time I got engaged. It was Christmastime during my senior year of college when my boyfriend proposed to me. I said yes, because that's the easiest thing to say when someone proposes to you. I started planning my wedding immediately. I set the date for August.

I wasn't really in a hurry to get married so much as I was in a hurry to get through it. I chose a color scheme. Or really, just a color: red. Mainly because that's the color I liked to paint my toenails. But after that, I stopped having many opinions. My mom and I met with a florist, but I had trouble forming any strong views on flowers, so I let the florist choose them. I said, "What are good wedding flowers, to you?"

When it came time for dress shopping, I had a giant entourage of female friends and family accompany me to David's Bridal. I think I picked out a wedding gown in record time. It was easy because my only criteria were: 1) white and 2) a wedding gown. I really chose my dress to avoid having to go on another torturous shopping trip.

The band we hired for the wedding had to call me repeatedly because I hadn't provided them with a "first dance" song. That's because we didn't have a song. So in the end, I told them to just pick one for us. They chose "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton, which was fine by me, in that it meant nothing to either of us, just like every other song.

For every major decision, I deferred to someone else. At the time, I thought nothing of it. In my mind, all of this was just more evidence that I was not a "girly girl." After all, I had spent my life wearing sweatpants instead of dresses. I love football and hockey and playing video games. So it made sense to me that I wouldn't feel passionately about wedding centerpieces.

But my complete lack of interest in planning the wedding was not the only sign that I should not be getting married. There was also the mysterious rash on my face that appeared a couple of months before my wedding day, and did not disappear until about a month after we said "I do." My doctor told me it was probably stress. That made sense. I assumed most people felt stressed while wedding planning, and thought nothing of it. My biggest concern about it was, "How will I cover this with makeup?" Not, "Is it possible that my body is rejecting this marriage?"

I successfully ignored all of the signs (and successfully covered the rash). And three years later we got divorced. But it took a divorce, a new relationship, and a second engagement for me to realize that you don't have to be a "girly girl" to care about your wedding.

I'm not saying that if you don't have a wedding inspiration board, you're going to end up getting divorced. But if you're planning a wedding to a person you love, you should probably care about something. I did not suffer any personality-altering injuries between my first and second marriages. There were no severe concussions or spider bites or anything. As far as I can tell, the only difference is that the second time around, I was marrying someone who I wanted to marry. And as strange as it felt, I cared about tasting cupcakes and picking music and exactly what shade of purple my maid of honor's dress would be. I cared so much about the flowers that I actually fired a florist, for god's sake.

I think it's safe to say that I was pretty stressed out in the months leading up to my second wedding. But it was a different, rash-free kind of stress. I was stressed because I was worried. Because I wanted it to go well. I think the biggest worry I had before my first wedding was, "How much rum will it take to ensure that I look happy in the pictures?" I wasn't worried about money or the weather forecast or the seating chart. I wasn't worried about things going wrong on the wedding day, because, like I said, I didn't really care. The only thing I really had to be stressed about was the decision to get married itself. The stress I felt before my second wedding was what I would describe as normal: Will the DJ play the right song when I walk down the aisle? Will he remember how much I hate the YMCA? Did the cupcake lady show up? Can someone go check please? Should I wear a necklace or not? Does it look weird?

And sure, it took two weddings for me to figure it out, but I now know the difference between not caring about wedding favors and not caring about the person you are wedding. Also, for the record: The DJ did play the right song. No one did the YMCA. The cupcakes arrived on time. And at the last minute, I did decide to wear a necklace. And I looked happy in the pictures, without the help of my old friend, rum.

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