We wanted the same things in life: to see the world, to make art (money was optional), and to have a rugrat or two. Not being married didn't make us any less of a family; being a Mr. and Mrs. wouldn't make us any more.
My parents knew we didn't want to get married, but this didn't stop them from hoping. "Can I tell everyone he's your fiancé?" my mother asked. The Frisky: Are Women Programmed To Fight With Their Mothers In Law?
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"We're not getting married, Mom."
She sighed. "I know, but I'm old-fashioned."
I dreaded telling my mother we still wanted to have children, but she surprisingly loved this idea. A marriage might not last, but children were forever. "You can get married later, if you want," she said.
"That's how they do it on the soap operas."
I knew then it was precisely because I believed in love that I didn't want to get married again. What Alex and I had was at once too precious to foul up with marriage, and strong enough without. I loved knowing he stuck around because he wanted to, not because he had to. That he included me in his big decisions because he cared about my feelings, not because I was the old ball and chain. That my dreams were as important as his.
So what is it about wedding trappings that make my heart go pitter-patter? Why do I make Alex squirm by pointing out every beautiful dress and ring, by saying over and over, "It's someone's wedding!" as we have a dumpling dinner next to a whooping room of Chinese people feting a chipao-clad bride and blushing groom?
Because every gown is the one I could have worn, still perfect, not altered badly or stepped on. Every ring is the one I'd have picked out, not foisted on me by someone else's taste. Each raucous Chinese banquet is the one I could have had, instead of my cookie-cutter American reception.
And because they'll remain in my mind, they'll remain perfect. They won't cost too much. There will be no fights with mothers about whether or not to serve pâté, no screaming matches with fiancés over parents' dueling demands, no random guests asking for a ride the morning of the ceremony. My dream wedding will remain a dream, as it should, since no reality can match it, and my relationship will remain real.
Written by Angela Chung for The Frisky