Just Married…is it Different?

A lot of people have been “giving us space” after the wedding. We’ll call someone up, or text them and say we miss them, and they’ll say they were giving us some space.

A part of me feels like they’re treating us like the survivors of some natural disaster—“Take your time, no need to rush into normalcy again.” As if getting married leaves you so wrecked on desolate shores that you wander around in shock for weeks afterward.

I know what they’re really doing is trying to be kind and considerate. They are trying to give us space to find a new balance, to enjoy each other. The thing is, I enjoy my husband all the time. I have been continually benefitting from his presence in my life for the past 5+ years. And for the last year and a day before our wedding, we were handfast, which to me constitutes a binding spiritual union.

Relationships take a lot of work. Husband and I were engaged a couple years into our relationship, and that ended in a painful breakup where we spent seven months apart. We weren’t ready to even really think about getting married—we were just taking the next step, as it had been outlined for us over and over again.

The reason we finally got married, five years into our relationship, is because we had already put in all the work to find a balance together. We were already living together, sharing finances, planning our futures always with the other in mind. We shared our parents, our families. We had already committed. Only then were we ready to make it “official” in the legal sense. It was already true in our hearts long before the wedding day.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved the wedding. I got to surround myself with people I love, to celebrate all the work and all the joy that I’ve experienced since hubby entered my life. The only thing that’s really changed, though, is a couple visits to the social security office and the DMV, and the blessed end to the damn wedding planning.

Some people take us more seriously now—they treat us with a little more respect after we’ve taken the very “grown up” step of getting hitched. But they tend to be the people who never gave us enough credit for just being ourselves anyway. As if being an unmarried adult is some sort of state of misfortune.

The bottom line is this: not much changed for me, now that I’m married. I live and love in the same way I did before. Am I happy? Absolutely. I feel so lucky to have such a loving, caring, strong husband. I think I felt just as lucky, though, when he was still my boyfriend.

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Wedding Nightmares

I’ve had some weird nightmares lately, which I think are a result of stress and a feeling of displacement from not being in my own apartment yet (tomorrow is moving day!).

There was a weird one a couple nights ago where I was being chased by a monster from an episode of Angel. On the one hand, major props to the show for creating something that stuck with my subconscious like that. On the other hand, nightmares suck.

Last night was another wedding-related one. I’ve had the ones where I forget my dress, where everyone shows up on the wrong day and we don’t have anything, where the vendors don’t show up, where my man of honor tells me the morning of the wedding that he’s still in Ohio and didn’t want to come to the wedding anyway (so not true, he totally wants to be there). Last night’s was more of a cautionary tale, surprisingly.

I was dreaming that I was in attendance at a wedding, but I didn’t recognize the bride or groom. The bride was pretty sloshed and got up in front of everyone and started talking about random things, like what flavor gelato was going to be released next, and why that’s important. And in my dream, I zoomed in on her appearance. Her hair was disheveled, her makeup wasn’t crisp anymore, she really looked drunk and ridiculous. And I thought about how I hoped her bridesmaids were in better shape, because they needed to clean her up before more pictures could be taken. And I thought about how I desperately didn’t want to be that bride. I want to look good on my wedding day. I want to not get so drunk that I embarrass myself, but I want to be able to drink with friends and family and have a good time. I want my hair to stay looking nice, and my makeup to still look flawless at the end of the night.

Most people who know me would probably say that I’m low-maintenance. I don’t usually wear makeup, I like to play video games and watch action movies, and my favorite outfit (and fiance’s favorite outfit for me, too) is yoga/pajama pants and a hoodie. But a wedding day is special, and I want mine to be beautiful and elegant and cheerful and fun.

I struggled with that for a while, because there are so many conflicting ideas out there about what it means to be a woman and a feminist. To some, I’m “betraying the cause” when I care too much about my appearance, or want to wear a frilly princess gown or tiara of some sort. It was a huge internal struggle, deciding whether or not to hire a professional makeup artist for the big day. And it doesn’t have to be like that. I don’t need to face shaming for wanting what is “girly” or “feminine” or “dreamy.” I grew up on Disney princesses, and I damn well want to be treated like one on my wedding day. It’s that transition from daddy’s little girl (princess) to mother of her own family unit (queen). And if I want to look like I’m going to a coronation, I damn well will.

There are other things at play, here. Why some women don’t like the word feminist. Society’s idea of gender roles in a relationship and the modern push against more traditional ones. Whether makeup is a force of great good or terrible evil.  Tradition vs. offbeat and what it means to want a mix of both. What it all boils down to, really, is what is said in this article on OffBeat Bride. No shaming, just support. And if we approached all of life like that, the way that tribe members talk to each other on OffBeat Bride’s wonderful forums, well, the world would be a much better place.

So maybe it’s silly for me to have cautionary nightmares about problems with my appearance on my wedding day. But I’m allowed to care about whatever I want to care about. And at least I can relax, knowing that most of my exposure to wedding culture has been filtered through OffBeat Bride‘s wonderful policy of acceptance and support. They’re the reason I’m not really worried about how much I weigh on wedding day. They’re the reason I’m going to feel beautiful and glowing and happy in my own skin, trusting that the makeup is enhancing what is already there, not turning me into something else.

Something Old, Something New

My coming wedding wakes this dormant sentimentalism in me.

That is, I am normally a fairly sentimental person, more F than T, crying at the movies, that sort of thing. But there are some things I don’t normally go in for when it comes to the sap-factor.

In my head, there are different kinds of family. There’s the blood family, the ones who can let you down or lift you up, depending on what they feel like that day. We often have ridiculous expectations of them, forgetting that they are individuals with lives of their own. And there’s pack, that small group of spiritually connected people who don’t have to exercise conscious thought to know that they will always do what is in the best interest of their fellow pack member. I’m blessed enough that one of my pack is actually officiating at our wedding, Thor’s hammer and all.

So it came as a little bit of a surprise to me when, during all this wedding planning, I decided to wear something of my mother’s on my wedding day.

I had a really tough time during my teenage years (and a little beyond them, to be honest) separating my expectations from my feelings about my mom and my sister. Somehow, we all got rather enmeshed. I was angry at them for not seeming to see me, a distinct and unique individual, while at the same time denying them the very thing I asked of them. Nowadays, if something happens that feels a little off between any of us, I’m better able to chalk it up to everyone’s little quirks, and how we don’t always fit neatly into the expectations people have of us. And it’s all okay.

Still, I’m big enough on being independent that I didn’t want to match any traditions in the family, didn’t want to wear someone else’s dress or veil or match the readings they had at their own wedding. Mostly I think our wedding will be very unique–I can guarantee that no one in the family has had a Pagan wedding, at least not since the Scots and Irish converted en masse to Christianity. But some small sentimental bone still exists in me, because when my mom lent me her wedding veil to see if I wanted anything from it, I actually took her up on it. I left the majority of the veil alone, but cut three little pearl strands that dangled from the ends. Nothing too fancy, just little bits of flair that spiced up her ensemble.

And last night, I made them into a bracelet that I will wear on my wedding day.

I’m not sure what I’ve learned from my parents’ marriage, what values they taught me, where my ideals come from. My sister and I are very different people–still basically good and kind, but very different. So it’s near impossible to pinpoint anything we have in common that we definitely got from our parents. Even when I think about how my parents have never gotten close to divorce in their 30 years of marriage, I don’t know that the way I approach my impending marriage is at all the same.

I suppose it would be safer to say that I learned about myself and how I wanted to approach my life from books. I don’t know the actual ratio, but it feels like I’ve lived ten times more experiences than those that have actually happened to me. I owe that to books, to the authors who have made me think, helped me shape myself into a strong individual.

And yet…some part of me wants to give a little nod of acknowledgment to that ephemeral something that must have been passed down from my parents. I can’t define it, or isolate it, but it’s there in some form. And maybe by wearing something that helped bless my parents’ marriage, a little of that positive energy will infuse itself into mine.

I'm a big fan of needle-nose pliers when it comes to jewelry making.

I’m a big fan of needle-nose pliers when it comes to jewelry making.

Nothing too fancy, simple gets the job done.

Nothing too fancy, simple gets the job done.

And with a few twists: a simple, elegant bracelet, made from something from my mom's veil.

And with a few twists: a simple, elegant bracelet, made from something from my mom’s veil.

Logo Board – Wedding Project

Fiance and I have hit panic mode with the wedding only two and a half months away. He’s had some time off work for the holidays so he came up to spend it with me. We’ve had some fun, saw Into the Woods, hung out with friends and watched a lot of Gilmore Girls. Tonight we’re even going to the Irish pub in town, and tomorrow we’re doing a board game day with friends. But every other spare minute has been about wedding projects.

I organized a pretty cool system, complete with shared Google Keep lists (thank you, Google, for adding that feature!), a master project list, individual project lists with ordered to-dos, etc. And it just might be working. Last night I finished a project that we only started a few days ago! Check it out:

Got the inspiration for the project from this photo.

Got the inspiration for the project from this photo.

Planned it out using our wedding logo that M created, instead of the heart.

Planned it out using our wedding logo that fiance created, instead of the heart.

Spray-painted the gypsum board square with a wedding color.

Spray-painted the gypsum board square with a wedding color.

Spent tedious hours nailing the design while watching Braveheart.

Spent tedious hours nailing the design while watching Braveheart.

Removed the guide sheet, revealing a really cool nail design.

Removed the guide sheet, revealing a really cool nail design.

Strung half the string, after hours of nailing with a heavy hammer--my arms were sore!

Strung half the string, after hours of nailing with a heavy hammer–my arms were sore!

Ta-da!

Ta-da!