A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were doing laundry at his parents’ house when I overheard him talking to his mom about his Christmas present for me. Neither, it seemed, realized how easily noise traveled from the kitchen through the dining room to the living room. I could only pick up a few words, like “reservations.” At a separate time, I told him how my present for him was waiting at my parents’ house to be opened on Christmas morning and he replied that it would be really awkward for him to give his gift to me in front of my parents. On top of this, he started teasing me about my present coming in the mail and forwarding me FedEx emails just to taunt me.
Naturally, I started to think he had bought an engagement ring. And in addition to being in love, I felt like I was walking on air.
Then, a few days later, the FedEx package arrived.
We both happened to come home at the same time when it was sitting in the lobby. It was medium-sized, light-weight and rattled. As I was shaking the present, he grabbed it out of my hands and said, “Don’t shake them!” Them? I thought to myself, This is not an engagement ring. Probably shoes. Or earrings? And I felt deflated just a bit.
I wasn’t always this way. In fact, the whole buying a ring/proposing/planning a wedding thing was nearly all his idea. He is the one who first told me, three weeks after we met and fell in love, “We’re going to get married.” He’s the one who said he wanted to buy a special ring. He’s the one who nixed my idea to get married at City Hall and have a small party afterward. Instead, he wanted, you might say, the wedding of his dreams.
I never really had a “wedding of my dreams” in mind, I suppose because the whole “getting married” thing was never made out to be a big deal to me. My own mom and dad had a fairly informal wedding ceremony, I think partially because my dad was a widower with three small children. My mom wore a robin’s egg blue dress, they had a small ceremony in the small chapel (not the main hall) of our church, and their honeymoon was just to drive a few hundred miles away to Boston. My parents have been married for over 30 years and it’s had a lot of ups and downs, but they’ve stayed together through it all. (My father once told me he took the “’til death do us part” vow very seriously.) As a teen, I used to think they should just divorce already and each find someone “easier” to marry. But now I’m proud they’ve been married for over three decades; especially in recent years when all their kids have moved out of the house and they’ve become grandparents four-times over; they both seem really happy. It says to me that a successful marriage is more about sticking together through good times and bad — not about how fancy or expensive your actual wedding is, which is what our culture puts all the emphasis on.
The other reason I never got caught up in the whole “getting married” flurry — beyond a sick fascination with “Platinum Weddings” — is because my BFF is a lesbian. We’ve known each other since 6th grade and I’m totally crazy about her. C dated guys in high school, but went to an all-girls college and came out of the closet during her freshman year. For the past year and a half, she’s been living with her girlfriend and they’ve exchanged “promise rings.” C’s been dating her girlfriend almost exactly as long as I’ve been dating my boyfriend. But the f**ked-up thing is that I could marry my boo anyplace in the country — even riding on the back of a llama at 2a.m. in Las Vegas — and there’s only a handful of places in the country where she can marry hers.
So, from the time we decided to marry each other, I’ve always been fairly casual about it, while my dude has been the one pushing for a more traditional wedding. For example, I would mention if I saw a pretty but inexpensive ring — like in the Sundance catalog, for instance — and he would say no. Slowly over time, I started getting more excited about the idea of a traditional wedding, even going so far as to ogle $75,000 diamond rings from Tiffany’s and Marchesa wedding dresses (which are beyond my price range, to be sure, but in line with the “fantasy wedding” our culture tells us we’re supposed to want). I have looked at rings in jewelry stores with my mom, I’ve trolled J.Crew’s bridal site many a time, and I am constantly assembling a mental playlist of wedding songs to play on our big day. I’m sure any other woman who has looked at wedding magazines can attest that the more you look at them, the more sucked into them you get!
Don’t get me wrong, I would still be cool with picking a pretty stone ring out of the Sundance catalog and doing a low-key affair at City Hall. But now that I know he wants to purchase a ring himself, plan a proposal and propose to me, it’s becoming a bigger and bigger deal in my mind. Not too big a deal, mind you, but I can see myself slowly but surely turning into one of those girls who thinks to herself, “When is he going to propose? When is he going to propose?” It’s sort of like waking up at 6 a.m. on Christmas morning and wondering when Mom and Dad will finally get up. You could kind of say it’s like waiting for the biggest Christmas morning ever.
Just maybe not this Christmas.
Image via iStockphoto.