I wasn’t a kid who endlessly dreamed about her wedding day — but when I did imagine what it would be like to be “engaged” I assumed it was going to be all butterflies and fairies, honestly.
I thought that the “true honeymoon” period of a relationship was the period in which you first become engaged (now I know it’s when you first start having good sex and are all sex-crazed and manic and high off all that orgasm-induced oxytocin). I’m talking a perpetual post-coital flush in your glow-y cheeks, un-wilted daisies resting in a freshly-watered vase, the pretty hum of a tea kettle teeming with boiling water softly purring in the background, professionally exfoliated skin, the ’90s heroin chic body of your (well, my) sick dreams, endless kisses, no need for that silly bottle of Prozac anymore (!) and overwhelming feelings of unabashed bliss, bliss, bliss.
I got engaged to my fiancée Meghan a few days after Christmas of 2017.
And truthfully the first few weeks were pretty dreamy — I mean, everyone gives you so much attention when you first get engaged, you would’ve thought that you solved a ground-breaking science equation, not simply fell in love. (Falling in love is lovely, but it takes few life skills and a shit ton of luck. Sort of like reality star fame, I suppose.) And, obviously, I basked in the newfound heaps of attention tossed my direction. I mean, have we met? I’m like a cocker spaniel puppy, constantly wagging my unfortunately docked tail with my tongue haphazardly hanging out of the corner of my mouth, jumping up on the tops of your thighs, scratching up your designer denim jeans with my scraggly paws, shamelessly begging for you to please notice me.
“Congratulations! What are you going to wear? Where are you going to get married? How do you feel? WHAT’S YOUR FABULOUS MOM GOING TO WEAR?” everyone collectively yelped the moment my finger was adorned with that vintage Edwardian diamond from 1910.
And before you and bae have had to delve into any of the annoying wedding things like discussing budgets and head-counts or have had that massive family brawl about what random, three-times-removed cousin won’t be invited, those questions are fun to answer!
“We want to get married in the Hamptons,” I smugly told anyone who would listen. “At an old estate,” I would whisper with the quiet confidence of an old-moneyed trust-fund child (I’m not, but for whatever reason, I act like Zara goddamn Vanderbilt once a few cocktails swish through my system).
My mother, also an illustrious dreamer with delusions of grandeur, thought getting married in the Hamptons was a “brilliant” idea. “Let’s say six months from now. East Hampton. Oh, how fabulous,” Mummy loudly proclaimed the night we got engaged. We were having celebratory drinks at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Florida. The moon shone so intensely it reflected perfectly back into the black body of water that sprawled out in front of our drunken eyes. It was like the moon *knew* it was so damn gorgeous, it had to stare into a mirror and relish in its own beauty. I slurped back a raw oyster, feeling pleased with myself. Meghan was into the whole Hamptons wedding idea, too. She slapped her hands against the shiny exterior of her wax-coated skinny jeans and nodded her head with a wild enthusiasm.
The next morning I did some poking around on my laptop. Venues in the Hamptons were beyond expensive. I clamped my jaw and, despite my better judgment, I still held on to my delusional Hamptons wedding fantasy with every fiber of my entitled Millennial being.
And then strict budgets were drawn up and it became blazingly apparent that we would not be able to pull off a Hamptons wedding without taking drastic measures like selling our eggs on the internet. We settled for a wedding at my mother’s gorgeous jungle abode in Florida. A truly fantastic choice.
However. The moment you’re unable to merely fantasize about your grandiose wedding and you start, like, actually budgeting flowers and garbling about color schemes and linens and whatnot — you’ll start to get into some pretty nasty fights with your partner. Your lover. Your wife-to-be. Your husband-to-be (I don’t care who you’re f*cking, honestly!).
“I want a pink and green Beverly Hills Hotel theme.”
“I hate the way green looks with pink. Ick.”
“Are you kidding me? I’m MARRYING someone who doesn’t like the color scheme of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel?” Gasp.
Scowl. “What about pink and grey?”
“I hate grey.”
“Since always!” Storm off. Smoke proverbial cigarette to calm self down. Come back inside. Huff into the distance. “I want the bridesmaids to wear a pattern.”
“Do our bridesmaids have to wear the same thing?”
Steam comes out of ears.
Repeat this scene every other night for six months.
And naturally, cuz we are lez and have a flair for melodrama, every time we bicker about a budget or a menu item or just act all crazy and high-strung because neither of us is as thin as we’d imagined we’d be right before the wedding, we have passionate, sickeningly-sweet makeups.
Coo into ear, “I’m so sorry.”
Purr into chest, “Me too.”
“I don’t want to fight with you,” throw arm around neck.
Cry dramatically, “I love you!”
I hide the fact that we’re fighting more than ever to my friends because I’m British and like to pretend everything is FINE all the time, darling. My prim, stiff upper lip lasted until I got wasted at my bachelorette party night number two. I was wearing an actual mermaid tail and was manically swimming laps in the pool.
We were in Fire Island’s Cherry Grove, and had been drinking in the sun which we all know is a recipe for honesty. Want to know the real tea? Get her drunk in the East Coast sun and she’ll start spilling drinks, secrets, and mascara tears out of her sun-poisoned eyeballs.
“Did you and Matty fight before your wedding?” I asked my friend Brian as he handed me another glass of cold champagne.
He soulfully stared at me with his big, electric blue, mesmerizing eyes. “Of course,” he said as his husband Matty frolicked outside. “Matty. Did we or did we not bicker a ton about the wedding?”
“Of course!” Matty sing-songed, his equally electric blue eyes as shiny as an untouched dance floor. “It’s normal. You’re basically doing business together.”
You’re basically doing business together. I mulled over that for awhile. I realized the boys were right. It’s true: you’re dealing with budgets. You’re hiring people. You have to keep your staff happy (aka your family). You’re creating a wedding “brand” of sorts together, and that’s not an easy thing to do with anyone, especially the person whom you’re used to appearing as a harmless angel to. You’re used to going home after a long, arduous day of work to your partner and bitching to them about your coworkers, as your dutiful bae strokes your trembling back and assures you that, “you’re right, you’re a genius and Peggy down the hall is a just a jealous bitch.” You sort of lose the fantasy of who you pretend to be in the workplace when you get married because you suddenly work together. You suddenly see the darkest, most micro-managing, hyper-intense, business-oriented parts of one another.
Not only that, but it’s tremendous pressure. Especially when the two people getting hitched have full-time, high-stress careers they slave over. And weddings will bring to the surface any mild issue that either one of your families has been dutifully burying into the dirt for the past three decades. This sister is pissed she’s not in the bridal party. Beautiful Sarah won’t go if her asshole husband Mark’s not invited. Everyone’s passive-aggressively pressing you if they’re invited. Throw in the expectation to be rail-thin and have endless money to blow on Botox and hair extensions and it’s a true wonder anyone makes it out alive!
When you’re used to your relationship just being the two of you sailing through life without the shackles of outside pressures adhered to your frail wrists, the intensity of a wedding can make the strongest couple crack.
And you’re going to fight. You just are, babe. And that’s totally OK. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other insanely. In fact, it simply means you f*cking care. You f*cking care about this bizarre ceremony because it represents the most profound part of your life: your love. And you want to it be as magical as possible because your heart explodes when you think about it and anything that makes your heart explode is consuming as hell. You care so much about this partnership that being apathetic and blindly agreeable simply isn’t an option. You will fight for perfection. You will fight for each other’s approval. You will fight because you’re both dieting and hungry and quitting carbohydrates cold turkey is almost as hard as quitting Adderall or cigarettes. Give yourself a break, sweet kitten.
Real life is never as smooth as it looks on The CW. It’s more like a dark Death Cab For Cutie song that rawly examines the complicated nuances one feels when good things actually happen. If something *truly good* is happening to you in your life, it’s going to come with a side-dish of epic anxiety and sadness. You get your dream job and suddenly feel an acute, heavy weight of pressure to succeed in that dream job. You’re going to feel really proud that you scored the gig, but you’re going to grapple with constant imposter syndrome.
Feeling the dark feels is a testament to how deeply you truly love something. I love Meghan. I love her so wildly that I want her family to be blissfully happy with our wedding and I want it all to go so BEAUTIFULLY that sometimes I get overwhelmed and act like a deranged mega-bitch. And she loves me so fiercely that she just wants “the run of the show” to be glorious and seamless like one of the events she produces for a living, and sometimes that makes her act like a neurotic freak because she wants the day she marries me to be the most fabulous day to ever exist. When I’m not even remotely anxious or testy with the person I love the most, that’s when things get dangerous for me. Apathy is death to the creative soul.
Beauty is emotional. Beauty has elements of sadness and happiness; terrifying darkness and stunning beams of light. Beauty is complicated. Pretty — pretty is simple. And boring. So strive for a beautiful, messy, passionate love life and be proud that you found someone who has the wherewithal to challenge you. Because you and I both know we can act like spoiled nightmare brats when we don’t get our way. And we’ll turn into giant, horrible grown-up monsters if we marry someone who lets us get away with being such vile assholes! We need a bitch strong enough to stick up to us, especially if we want to keep the sex life alive in the long-term.
So, girls, fighting before your wedding is all good. Trust me. It’s all part of god’s (otherwise known as Lana Del Rey) plan, you know.