Contemplation: On Marriage

As I mentioned in my previous post, the next time I wrote here I would be a married man.  That was true.  This past Saturday, October 8th 2011, Eliza and I wed.  It was wonderful.  So now I am back, and writing again, and I thought that I’d share some of my thoughts about the whole marriage thing with y’all.

Much of our lives go by in rather uneventful daily occurrences.  This isn’t a bad thing, it is just that a lot of the mundane is stuff we don’t pay all that much attention to at any given time.  However, on occasion, there are events that will stay in our memory for years to come; graduating from high school, buying your first car, getting your first job, etc.  Marriage, fall very much in the latter category.  I doubt I will ever forget the thing.

I first proposed to Eliza back in March.  We are not the kind of people who had never talked about marriage prior to my proposal, and so while the exact moment may have been a surprise, I think that it was known by the both of us that we would eventually wed.  After the proposal came the “what’s next” moments.  We knew we were going to get married, but the when and where were far from finalized yet.  A big factor in setting a date for the wedding was the availability of my parents, who still live in Vermont.  The idea of a fall wedding on a farm, sounded lovely to me and Eliza, and so we set our date in October at our friends’ place, Greenbrier Farms.

Much of the following months were spent with rough planning and the two of us realizing we knew very little about the whole marriage thing.  We were shocked by the overall expense of a lot of the weddings we read about, and vowed that ours would be more affordable, and also more organic and laid back (neither of us are ritzy individuals, we like simple things, where we, and our friends and family can be at ease).  We settled on having a potluck wedding, where we’d supplement some of the food brought by having a Greenbrier pig smoked for the event and a lot of my own home brewed beer for beverages.  The plan for our decorating scheme was simple, using  flowers, leaves and fall vegetables.  The set up for the event space was kept rustic and easy.

The closer we got to wedding time the more hectic things got.  Both of us (but Eliza more so) spent much of our free time on planning and preparation.    We are so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family around who were willing to help on the process.  I honestly do not know what we’d do without Eliza’s mother, step-father, and sister, throughout this whole thing.  We’ll both be forever grateful for all their help and hard work.  There were times where we both felt entirely overwhelmed and like there was no way that we could ever get all the things needed to be done, done in time for the wedding.  We kept plugging along, and somehow, it all worked out beautifully.

Our first official wedding event took place at my work two weeks ahead of the wedding.  It was lovely.  My two wonderful co-workers planned a great wedding shower for me and Eliza.  All of fellow staff members showed up, offering us kind wishes and lovely gifts.  It did a lot to really make us feel like “this is happening.”  We both enjoyed the gathering immensely.

The final week leading up to the wedding was a blur (partially due to copious amount of imbibing that I partook in during my bachelor party.  Oops and a thanks to those who took care of my sobering up).  So much went on so fast that it is hard to remember everything.  We finalized all of the stuff we needed, our friends and families from out-of-town arrived, we had gatherings, a wedding rehearsal, and what felt like a million tasks to complete.  There was not a moment where either of us were not doing anything.  By the end of the day on Friday we both felt exceptionally sleep deprived but also terribly excited.

And then it was Saturday.  Wedding Day.

After the fact, I commented to Eliza, that I felt like the day had simultaneously been both the longest and yet quickest day of my entire life.  We had so much to do, and somehow did it all, and yet somehow it was all done and gone.  The morning hours were spent running around, getting together final things, and making sure everybody had a ride to the farm.  Then we were there, getting dressed, taking care of last-minute details, and watching as all our guests arrived.  Then came the ceremony.

Even knowing ahead of time who all was attending, it was impressive to walk out to where the ceremony would take place and see the mass of familiar faces of friends and family.  All those eyes, watching, full of love and admiration.  And then Eliza, walking down the slight hill, looking more lovely than anything else in the world.  And then we’re standing there, and our friend Adam (Bear to us) is officiating the ceremony.  There are laughs from the audiences, there is a slightly fumbled moment with rings, and then Adam pronounces us man and wife and we share our first kiss as a married couple.

The ceremony is done and gone in a blur, but never forgotten or lost.  Eliza and I met there as two people unwed and left as husband and wife.  We made our way back to the reception hall where we stood in a receiving line, shaking hands and hugging the masses of people who had showed up for our wedding.  There were so many faces.  So many “congratulations.” So many “We’re so happy for you.”  So many people.  It felt like a blur, but an entirely necessary blur so that Eliza and I could acknowledge and thank each and every person who took the time to make the day so special for us.

After the receiving line ended Eliza and I snuck off to the back with Bear and our photographer and my best man Nate for the signing of the marriage license, the thing that made it all official.  Signing our names three times we made our nuptials an official thing in the State of South Carolina.  Then it was time to party.

Our reception was a whirlwind of an event.  Live music, dancing, laughing, crying, eating, and drinking.  There were thousands of camera flashes and posed photos.  I remember eating food and having some drinks at a few times.  I remember having a lovely first dance with my new wife.  I remember hundreds of hugs and pats on the back.  I remember it all and yet I feel like a remember so little.  It was a glorious time.

And then it was all done and Eliza and I had been whisked away to spend a restful night at the Westin Poinsett hotel in downtown Greenville.  We slept then, feeling like we hadn’t slept for months.

And the next morning we awoke as husband and wife, filled with joy and happiness.

We are not the first nor the last people to get married (in fact we’re attending the wedding of two of our guests this coming weekend).  Marriage has a long history and a mass of traditions.  They are events steeped deeply in tradition to the point where simple semantics become anything but simple and the details can be some of the most contested points.  Certainly, just as there is much of other wedding that we’ve seen that we didn’t want to do at ours, there are aspects of our wedding that some of our guests would never do at theirs.  Weddings a strange things that are at once entirely about two individuals getting wed and at the same time about the whole social gathering that surrounds them.  I suspect, that if an extraterrestrial life form ever wanted to examine a good cross-section of the human experience, that a wedding would be a great place for them to see what it was all about.

I don’t know that I can ever thank all the people who helped us make this day happen enough.  I feel so eternally grateful to all the friends and family who worked tirelessly to create the beautiful day and the fantastic memories.  Each and every one of you are so terribly special to both Eliza and I, and we’d both gladly return the favor in like form.  We felt so full of love and admiration all through our wedding day and we hope that our love and admiration is reciprocated outward to all of you.

I am not a religious person, I’ve not been so for a very long time, however, this whole wedding things was one event that I felt had a very sacred feel to it.  Certainly this is the ceremonial and cultural history playing a big role.  But I think it is more than that.  I think that it is the way so many people can, for a few wonderful hours, forget about all else to just join in absolutely joyful celebration.  It is a lovely lovely thing and for all those people yet unwed, I wish the wonderful opportunity on you all someday.

Thank you to my friends.  Thank you to my family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to my lovely wife and wonderful step-daughter.  I love you both more than anything else in the world.  I feel like a truly lucky man to have you in my life.  I am a truly lucky man.  Thank you all again and again forever.

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~ by Nathaniel on October 10, 2011.

2 Responses to “Contemplation: On Marriage”

  1. Beautiful words! I’m so happy I have a husband who took the time to write this down.

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