“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and the two will become one flesh.”
— Ephesians 5:31
Husband and I met in October of 2005 on a blind date. Unimpressed with one another, neither one of us could remember how we ended up on a second date. But we did. Chalk it up to a guiding hand.
Over the past seven years and 11 months, we have been tested by fire. We’ve faced trials of unemployment, extreme financial stress, new jobs, relocations, health scares, deaths in our families and three breakups. We know how blessed we are, we know we could have faced much, much worse.
Husband was there, rubbing my shoulders, comforting me when I felt completely alone and it all piled up and I collapsed underneath a real deal nervous breakdown. When you are weighed down by so much grief and anxiety, your body forgets how to act normally and I felt I had lost all control. The only times when I felt I could breathe easier were when he was holding me or I was in prayer. These tests we have been through together have made us stronger, brought us closer, and have also stripped away our desires for anything other than a life together. Just having each other has proven enough to get us through so far.
We were married by our family pastor. He has meant so much to our family, as he baptized me and my father, has been a spiritual guide, and even married Husband’s parents 34 years ago. He has comforted us in grief and loss and taught us to always “Go to the Lord in prayer.” His wife was in attendance as well as our parents. That was it. No wedding party. No guests. No big dress. No cake. No band. Just us. Our parents were present to give us away as we started a new family.
I have absolutely nothing against weddings. I think it is beautiful to declare your love in front of your family and friends! We didn’t have a wedding for a few reasons. First and foremost, we wanted it to be about the two of us, entering a sacred contract. We wanted to focus on that, without being distracted by seating charts, timing the food, my hair, etc. (I’ve planned and managed events. I know I would have been distracted.) I had that big wedding planned in my head for years, but after all this time, it slowly melted away, leaving me with one desire – to begin my marriage.
Second, weddings are expensive. Husband and I want financial security and independence. We want to live in our own house! We want a savings account! We have a lot of work and penny pinching ahead of us. We know lean. We’re tired of the stress. So, even if we had a small wedding, and we started inviting close family, we would inevitably hurt even more feelings of those we love but did not receive an invitation. I have been in those uninvited shoes. Not fun. So, for those who wrote me and addressed their missing invitation – Sorry! We love you, we give praise because you are part of our lives, but we did not have an event to invite you to! I got some nasty comments about not being invited. I’ve also gotten so many well-wishes, that I feel overwhelmed with how many people are happy for us. We are not letting people cloud our memories of what was a beautiful and meaningful moment between the two of us with a shadow of guilt. We did not mean to hurt anyone! Hey, my dress was $25 and my bouquet was donated. I hope those that are hurt understand that we have been together enough time that we felt already married. We have felt that way for quite some time now, we just needed to legalize it.
I sympathize with brides who have worked to make everyone happy, because it is an impossible task. I have a small handful of people who are upset with us. Over the years with my friends, I have witnessed so much stress and hurt feelings during the wedding planning process and the wedding itself. If we had been married years ago, if we had a wedding budget and we actually planned a wedding, I would have been on Faux Pas #5692 before the time we exchanged vows. I salute the women who plan their weddings, because I feel the added stress would have propelled me to Vegas to elope, which would have really made people upset!
Weddings with guests are about declaring your love and commitment in front of your loved ones. Lee and I have declared such love and shown such commitment for almost eight years. We’re pretty much old news. That is the last reason we voted against a wedding. God knows our love for each other and we know it. That has proven enough. For that formal declaration not made in front of a full church….I write this – My friends and family know that I dragged my feet for years, and while I was doing all that foot dragging, God was removing every opportunity that would pull me from Husband and adding lots of obstacles and experiences that would show how much I loved Husband and how much better I was when he was with me. When the time finally came to say our vows, I felt no reservations, and I have never been more sure of anything. He’s my best friend and partner in life. I’m incredibly fulfilled and completely taken care of each day I get to spend with him. I praise God for him, for I feel undeserving of such a committed and faithful man.
Our “non-wedding” nuptials were not due to selfishness, but honestly they were a reflection of our experiences during those tough times when it felt the world was collapsing around us. Just having each other to hold as we prayed was enough.