I'm not a very traditional lady. For many years, I balked at the idea of getting married. As a child, I "gave away" my wedding money to my sister so she could have a big giant wedding (she did, if fact, throw a hellofaparty, but did it on a tidy budget). In college, I talked about my wedding and even developed a wedding notebook (that's a dirty little secret I've only shared with a few people before now), but I'm not sure what my reaction would have been if I had ever been presented with the question.
While in Vermont the summer after college, I met three couples who had maintained long term unmarried relationships, and it fascinated me. Marriage started to symbolize the institution, and the church, and all the things I was trying to avoid in my early twenties.
By the time DP and I found each other, I was pretty firmly entrenched in the alternative lifestyle. We talked about marriage early in our relationship, and how (for various reasons) neither of us put much stock in it. As our relationship progressed, it became obvious that we were cultivating a long term, committed relationship, but we were never on a path to marriage. For years, we avoided and threw snark when people asked us why we weren't married. Eventually, people stopped asking, either because they assumed we were married or had given up on the idea of us ever getting married.
When I got pregnant with E, a few people asked if we would FINALLY get married, but it never really seemed important to us, so we didn't. In the last few years, I'd been known to say, "We will get married when it becomes financially or legally necessary." Our relationship was working just fine, so why change it?
Last year, when our life teetered on the edge of disaster, we realized that being unmarried no longer worked for us. In the ambulance ride to a major medical center, my heart raced. The knowledge that I had no legal power to be the person in that ambulance terrified me. For the first time, I wished I was married.
Thankfully, the staff treated me just as if I were DP's wife, and no one challenged it. We walked out of the emergency room knowing we would be changing a lot of things in our life, and our marital status would be among those things. During many of our long talks in the summer and autumn of last year, we talked again and again about our desire to get married. We knew it was finally time legally, and we knew it would be a step toward healing for us.
At Christmas time, DP hid a subtle little ring on our tree, which he slipped on my left hand just before we left for the annual Christmas Eve bash. It was a sweet little moment in our life, and very healing in and of itself. It was a mile marker on our road to recovery.
And a few weeks ago, we decided it was time to finally get married. After ten and a half years together, we stepped into the courthouse to put our relationship on paper. Then we headed up Floyd Mountain and had a lovely little service in the park. We stood inside a little twiggy shelter with our best friends and our son, and we said our vows in the presence of a wedding celebrant who respected our relationship and came armed with very beautiful words. We started a new chapter in our lives, and we turned the page on a year that nearly ruined us.
And although I'm not traditional, I do love tradition, and the "Something Old, Something New" rhyme seems so sweet to me. I worked hard in the few days before our wedding to put all these things together, and it was a little piece that I got to take care of, since DH (see how I did that? You barely noticed, huh?) did all the planning for our day.
Something Old - jewelry that my parents bought me and I wore to my sister's wedding.
Something New - my dress. my ring. my marriage.
Something Borrowed - A little triquetra charm I acquired by false pretenses. I told a dear friend of mine, "I am doing a ritual next week and I need to borrow a silver trinket from a like minded friend." Truth: I'm getting married (which is technically a ritual, yes), and I want to borrow something from you, because we respect your relationship.
Something Blue - I needed something hand knit, but April is very warm, and just three days is not enough time to knit a shawl or shrug or anything at all large. Instead, I knitted a little I-cord anklet with a Celtic heart knot.
A penny in your shoe - I went barefoot, so it was a penny around my ankle. I really wanted a penny from 2003, the year we started this journey. Apparently 2003 pennies are pretty rare (at least in this household) - this is the pile I dug through before finally finding and defacing my penny. In the end, I found it, shined it up, drilled a hole in it, and strung it to my anklet.