My wedding was one of the happiest days of my life. Seriously, I remember riding in the party bus and thinking: “This is everything!” And it really was! It was everything I’d dreamt it would be, and I’d dreamt of it a lot! I dreamt of finding the perfect man (in my dreams, he looked like Jordan Knight from NKOTB, By the way…). I dreamt of going on whimsical dates with this man that carefully crescendoed into a devastatingly romantic marriage proposal. I dreamt of being a fun, flirty fiancee planning the perfect wedding. I dreamt of red roses, satin dresses, beads and bows galore. I dreamt of handmade centerpieces and lots of up-lighting. So. Much. Up-lighting.
I dreamt that I would look so stunning in my wedding dress that guests would faint as I entered the ceremony and that my groom would weep as soon as he caught a glance of my wedding-Barbie perfection. I dreamt that the crowd would part (a la Cinderella and Prince Charming) when my husband and I waltzed to our first dance. I dreamt that the DJ would play every early 2000’s hip hop song I Ioved from the list of 100 songs I gave him as “must plays” and we’d dance the night away.
And guess what? My dreams came true! All of them. Even the fainting and weeping (prove it didn’t happen…). So, it’s no wonder I look so damn happy in this picture. I was the luckiest.
Unfortunately, this picture was *not* taken on my wedding day. It was taken approximately one week later when, at my photographer’s request, Joel and I got dolled up again to take some additional daylight pictures. This day was *not* the happiest day of my life.
You see, I vividly dreamt of falling in love, planning a wedding, being a bride… But what I never once considered was… being a wife. The afterglow of my perfect day lasted a couple days more days before I crashed hard. Suddenly I had no idea what to do next, no idea how to make being someone’s “wife” as fun as everything that led up to it, no idea how to make a marriage work when things were, unavoidably, not fun.
By the time this picture was taken a week after one of the best days of my life, I wasn’t even speaking to my new husband because we had gotten into a fight about #idontevenrememberwhat. We made the forty-five minute drive up to Milwaukee without saying a single word to each other. Then I changed into my wedding dress, he changed into the tux we’d re-rented for the pictures, and we proceeded to smile lovingly at each other while our photographer snapped this picture through the antique elevator window at the Ambassador hotel.
I’d be lying if I told you that this was a fluke – that my husband and I don’t fake pictures, social situations, and entire conversations for show. This was not the first nor the last time we’d do this. I have this picture framed in our bedroom where we share both love and sullen silence on a regular basis. To me, this picture perfectly represents the juxtaposition love presents. It represents the complexity of human relationships and the duplicity present in every single one of life’s snapshots.
I’m a sucker for perfection, but the older I get the more I value the imperfections of reality. This picture is, seemingly, perfect. But its true value to me is in its imperfections. Its true value is that on this day, and many others after it, in a moment when I wasn’t even speaking to the person I vowed to love forever, both of us showed up, held fast, and chose to love each other through each inevitably imperfectly real moment.