As we stood under the gazebo at a tranquil Ohio inn, staring into each others’ eyes as we recited our vows, all I could think was, “This is PEFECT!” Only a local minister, the innkeepers and the natural sounds of the countryside joined us. After saying our “I dos,” exchanging rings, and sealing the deal with a kiss, only three tasks remained: pose for a few simple pictures, eat our luscious cake prepared by the innkeepers, then retire to our glorious cottage for an evening of maternal bliss and togetherness.
No people to entertain, no drama to address, no schedule to keep. Just my husband David and I, together…as it ought to be.
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Reflecting on my elopement experience with David, my second husband, I feel only delight about the choice we made on how to celebrate our special day…especially compared to the extravagance of my first wedding. The comparisons are salient, and I share them freely as a two-time bride and a therapist, especially if they can be of help to those who currently struggle with decisions about how to say “I do.” When my first husband proposed to me, my initial desire was to have a small wedding—eloping to Costa Rica even crossed my mind. However, I quickly found myself aiming to make my family happy (even though I had been a therapist for many years and I long thought I had worked through my own people-pleasing issues).
My first husband was divorced and I began the process of convincing him to jump through the paperwork hoops of allowing him, a divorced Jew, to marry in the Catholic Church. If I’m honest about it now, this exercise was about keeping everyone happy in my family. Then, as we began planning our reception, his desires for an opulent reception clouded my judgment and I soon found this prompting a desire in me to show off a bit. Before I knew it we were spending tens of thousands of dollars to throw a reception at one of the nicest places in town, to hire a ten-piece wedding band, and yes, I even bought two dresses—one for the church and one for the reception. I didn’t know where to draw a line at the guest list, weighed down by quandaries like “Which of my mothers’ friends would I offend by not inviting?, and “But if I invite the so-and-sos, I must invite these other so-and-sos!”
Our church service was nothing short of a pageant—we literally had a priest, a rabbi, and a minister (my friend) preside at our wedding. Yet the summer leading up to our wedding there were unavoidable warning signs that we ought not get married, and I remember dismissing these one day by telling myself, “If you call off the wedding now, you’ll be obliged to refund all of these people their travel! What about your cousin whose dropping everything to fly in from San Francisco!”
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