But I soldiered on. Now that I’d promised, I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to speak heartfelt vows in a long white dress. I flew to France to see family and friends, and took the opportunity to visit the ideal venue we’d found online. My mother refused to drive me, but rushed over when she heard I was going with my dad instead. She made a scene in front of the owner, claimed my wedding would be no fun, and insulted my dad’s family — because any opportunity to make it all about her divorce is always joyfully embraced.
Heartbroken, I called S to say I couldn’t go through with our wedding. Planning it was slowly but surely sucking my soul dry. I returned to Australia, deleted the “Wedding” folder on my computer, and focused on preparing for our move to France, trying to forget that I didn’t want to be in my own country anymore.
It was months before the subject was reopened. Maybe a small affair in Paris would work? I reluctantly agreed to have another go at planning, increasingly feeling the burden of putting his happiness over mine. By the time we picked new potential venues and caterers, our move came into question when my fiancé's boss made him an offer I could never refuse: a transfer to the company’s New York office instead of Paris. After feeling so low for so long, I was smiling again as we tossed our Parisian wedding and larger life plans right out the window.
We started our third bout of wedding planning in New York. We learned to shrug at my mother’s threats not to attend, and tried hard to shake off déjà-vu as we met with celebrants and cake makers. Soon, invitations were in the mail, and shortly after, another disappointment: The friends who’d sworn they couldn’t wait to jump on a plane for the occasion declined with one-line emails and half-baked excuses. Within a few weeks, each of my five closest friends informed me they wouldn’t be there after all. “But have a nice wedding!” they said, seemingly oblivious to the pain their absence would inflict. When I expressed my hurt, two of them fired back with detailed lists of everything that was wrong with me.
As the already-small guest list dwindled to a ridiculously low number, taking my sanity with it, we contemplated canceling our wedding, again, this time for lack of friends and will to live. As I lay in bed, numb with pain, unable to take another step on the road to the special day I never wanted in the first place, I wondered if, by trying to get married, we had ruined our love irrevocably. Would we make it as husband and wife if we ever walked down that stupid aisle?
We did. And we had the perfect day. The pictures turned out beautifully; you can’t even see the bags under my eyes. And yes — my mother was there. Now, whenever I look at my husband, my heart fills with joy as I think, I would cut off my right arm for you. But, if I had the chance to do it over again, would I be a bride? Not in a million years.