NCR: International Affairs > There Is No Such Thing As A Marriage Of Convenience.
THE ANATOMY OF A WEDDING:
There’s nothing quite like deciding to marry and have a wedding (two very different yet obviously related decisions in my opinion) to test your personal strength and challenge how to uphold yourself while negotiating a lot of other people and various challenges, some of which you only find out along the way.
When my husband, The Italian, proposed - I was not expecting it. In that moment I found out that my armpits and upper lip can produce sweat instantly. This was the third time in 16 years he had approached the subject. Twice before let’s just say the timing wasn’t right - for either of us. What was different this time? For me - I was ready. It’s the classic case of be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. After two weeks of intense discussion with Swami Santhi about marriage & spirituality & growth and the overwhelming responsibility of intertwining my life with another person - especially one who had in some way reserved a spot in his heart for me for sixteen years - I said yes!
Then I got busy planning a wedding. I knew two things - I didn’t want to have a long distance relationship - been there done that - ended in disaster - multiple times. I also didn’t see the point of two people who are let’s just say "Old and Older" to be engaged. What were we going to be “waiting” for? The Italian has been married before & I knew I was ready to get married now. So the Italian and I skipped the engagement and decided to get married. Unconventional? Yes. Abnormal - not for me. I first shared with Mummyji & then everyone else who attended, then some family members & friends. I created my wedding & reception invitations while watching tv on my iPhone using Paperless Post. In classic me style, I worked right up until the friday before my monday wedding day and wrapped my job the day after. The night before I married I had a sleepover - my last one as a single girl - with my nieces. We frolicked in the hotel pool until half ten at night and made place cards & their bouquets well after midnight.
Swamiji consulted a Vedic astrologer in India with our birth dates, times and places & came back with some options of dates & time of day best for us to take the leap of faith called marriage. Once the date was decided it came down to pegging dreams against logistics. I would wake up some mornings panicked thinking “OMG! I’m getting married in 2 months, 1 month, 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 2 days!” while The Italian would whinge saying “Ugh, it feels like forever until we’re getting married!”
The first thing I decided to do was NOT announce my decision to marry. The second thing I did was NOT invite almost everyone. Family & friends included. I was never the girl who cut out pictures of wedding dresses, looked at bridal magazines or held on to a wedding as the big dream of my life. I always imagined it a very private & intimate event. The next thing I decided was to NOT get carried away. This must be a conscious decision because getting carried away is easy to do. I wore shoes from a job I did that were worn for 5 hours. I found my dress while pulling wardrobe for a photo shoot. I picked my own wedding ring because I’m the one who has to wear it and like it - everyday. My wedding planner & partner in crime was Mummyji. That was it. I told everyone who was invited they could wear whatever they liked. I asked Darian to take the photos because I felt comfortable with him witnessing something very intimate & he was open to collaborating on my idea for wedding photos. I had a friend of a friend bake my cake. Madeleine, a long time friend of mine & my family organized the venue. I found out as soon as you say the word “wedding” in front of a cake request you should add one more digit. I didn’t and paid $45 dollars for a cake so delicious I still dream about it and want to order it again so I can have another piece! I was gifted my bouquet from a former neighbour in the last building I lived in Vancouver & let my nieces’ pick flowers they liked for their bouquets and wanted to carry. Two dear friends, Angela & Zabrina were my beauty brigade. My make up inspiration was focussed on a dramatic eyeliner lick that was reminiscent of a young Sophia Loren and the hair brief was “the morning after the night before.” I married wearing sky high heels, extra long & rounded aubergine nails and a light pink lace dress while my friend Marnie Herald sang acapella a song called Sweet Baby. (I’ve included a You Tube link to her performing it with Buck 65 below).
It was all very…easy.
My first wish was to get married in London at The Marylebone registry office in Westminster. It’s been the home of some famous rock n’ roll couplings and I’m a bit of a seasoned rock widow so it appealed to me. It also matched my Sex and the City “Big & Carrie” understated wedding dream. Low key & grown up. We would have to give a notice of intention and leave it up for display for 15-21 days. I would have to pay £601 for a fiancé visa and fly to London. It was the cost of the fiancé visa that dissuaded me from this option. It was a lot of money to spend on a visa that would last a short amount of time and restricted me from any kind of employment. The practical side of it was I had work booked in North America and the dates & location would be conflicting. London was out.
We looked into getting married in Italy.This meant The Italian taking out a notice (read: Billboard) in his village and leaving it up for a min. of 30 days in a visible spot so anyone who took issue with the marriage could contest it. I found myself imagining a bitter & burned crush from when The Italian was 5 years old turning up and thwarting the whole thing. No way. He is Italian after all. Too risky. Italy was out.
I briefly considered Paris only to find out we would have to stay in France for 40 days prior to our wedding to establish residency before any kind of marriage would be recognized as legal. Neither of us had time for that and I would be one tubby bride after all that bread, cheese & pastries. Paris was out.
The Italian suggested Vegas - too tacky. Not even an option. Vegas was never in to be out.
This brought me back home - to Vancouver. We had decided that I would be the one to move to the UK because I’m a freelancer whereas The Italian is employed full-time and he would never have the same kind of opportunity for work in Canada. It made sense if I was the one to move away then I would like my family to be present and it was unrealistic for them to fly abroad. They were the most important factor at this point. Also, my nieces had waited for years to be bridesmaids. I made my elder niece Yasmeen my maid of honour and younger niece, Aaliyah a bridesmaid. That was the extent of my wedding party. The Italian booked his flight and I booked everything else and & the ball was rolling.
I held on to the Big & Carrie dream and went to Vancouver City Hall with Mummyji to query booking my wedding only to find out there is no room allocated for weddings there. Who knew? My second dream wedding was the romantic & rustic chapel wedding of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette (above). So I looked into The Minoru Chapel in Richmond (pictured above). Tucked away from the hustle & bustle of a mini Hong Kong it seemed perfect. I explored it a couple of years earlier on a staycation with Mummyji. To my disappointment it was only available via The Chapel Group and I had to choose a package. I don’t take package vacations so there was no way I was opting for a package wedding.
In the end, I married at a venue I’m both very familiar & have a lot of history with. The same went for where we had our reception luncheon. I married on a Monday morning. The date & time options set in India. I opted for monday thinking most people I knew were going to work meetings - I too was going to a very important work meeting. A meeting that would change the rest of my life. I walked myself down a non-existent aisle and presented myself to The Italian. I don’t believe I belong to anyone so I chose not to be given away. Both my parents spoke before the ceremony started & each lit a candle held up by weary angels covered in gold leaf with the intention to give their blessing for our union & set it alight with a flame that would burn eternally. No family is perfect, including mine. But I felt it important to honour both my parents equally in some way - not as a dreamy young bride - which I am not. But as a mature, grounded well storied woman. They did, after all create me. My father chose (unbeknownst to me) to read one of my favourite writings on marriage by Khalil Gibran which I’ve included in this post.
The photo above shows me right after our lively officiant pronounced us married. I feigned fainting and declared to our guests that I needed to take a nap to recover from the shock of what I had just done. Those who know me well know that taking a nap is my way of dealing with life when reality overwhelms me. Needless to say … I didn’t take a nap. I proceeded to creative direct my wedding photos before heading to lunch with my family & a group of close friends. We ate, we laughed, we cried. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping. It was a beautiful day.
Best of all - Yasmeen & Aaliyah have decided that even though I’m now married, I can still sit with them! ~ Sima
Wedding Photos (b&w + colour) : by Darian Wong creative direction: me
All other images: Found via the interweb