"Can I talk to you two for a moment?" Marvin asked, pulling Cayden and I aside into my parents's dining room.
"OK, I know you don't want to make this a big deal because you want it to be special for your wedding next month," he started. The sparkle of his diamond earrings matched the sparkle of his smile and the excitement in his eyes. "But this is a big deal. Today you're getting married, and that's something to treasure. Cayden, SHE is something to treasure."
We nodded in agreement and Cayden gave me a sideways smile. We'd hoped to have Marvin come over to hear us say "I do" and then sign our papers and that was it. He was right, I wanted to save the emotional part for our wedding day.
Marvin turned his attention to Cayden.
"You are marrying into the most wonderful family. They are something special. Today is special," he said. "So I'm going to say those things out there in front of her family, and then we'll have cake and punch and we'll celebrate."
I squeezed Cayden's hand.
"Sounds like a plan," I said.
"Let's do this," Cayden chimed in.
With that, Marvin gathered my family and our five dogs outside. Cayden and I stood facing each other in front of the flowering bushes next to the pool, wearing the same outfits we were wearing the night we met. I wanted to save my wedding dress for the actual wedding, but I still wanted my "marriage" dress to mean something.
It was almost like the outdoor wedding I'd planned originally for June, except it was 75 degrees instead of 105. A perfect day to get married.
Marvin’s voice rose over the sound of the breeze through the trees and the trickle of the water from the hot tub’s stone edge. No matter what song he’s singing, his voice always gave me goosebumps.
As much as I love hearing people sing, I hate being sung to. When people sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me it takes everything I have not to crawl under the table and stab them all in the shins with my fork. What are you supposed to do? Sing along? Dance? Who do you look at? Everyone? No one? The candles burning on the cake? It’s awkward. And that ‘Happy Birthday’ song is about 10 versus too long.
But Marvin wasn’t singing happy birthday. There wasn’t a table to crawl under and I didn’t want to stab Marvin with a fork because I didn’t want his yelp to interrupt the magic that was coming from his vocal cords. There were no candles to look at. So instead, I focused my gaze on Cayden. My candle. And for the first time, I didn’t mind being sung to. I let his lyrics wrap around me while I took in my soon-to-be husband’s eyes, his lips, the slight gap in his teeth.
Cayden, on the other hand, never tore his gaze from Marvin. Either he felt awkward, too, and decided to just stare at one person, or he was hypnotized by Marvin’s love song, but I could have been floating face down in the pool and he wouldn’t have noticed.
I heard mom sniffle behind me and I was momentarily distracted when my dog Joey came up to sniff around our feet. Before Marvin started his speech, I thought I wasn’t going to cry. I thought this would just be a quick exchange of ‘I dos’ followed by a signature on the marriage license. I thought I’d save all of my emotions for our wedding next month.
But then I remembered what I’d been preaching all along. It’s not about the wedding or the dress or the three-tiered cake. It’s not about the perfectly matched bouquets or the music or the first dance. It’s about the marriage. It’s about love. It’s about me and Cayden, and the promise that we’ll always be there for each other. It’s about family. My mom and dad and sisters and brother behind me, they were my family, but now Cayden would be my family. My husband. My everything.
And somewhere between “we are gathered here today” and “lawfully wedded wife,” I let myself feel it. THIS is how brides feel on their wedding day. This is our big day. Tears spilled over my eyes and ran down my cheeks and I didn’t care. Cayden’s voice wavered and I could tell he was letting himself feel it, too. The sniffles from my mom and sisters grew more frequent.
The stress and the struggle and the heartache of the last three years washed away with those tears.
“And by the power vested in me by the State of Texas, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride.”
I closed my eyes as his lips touched mine and I was brought back to that night we met. The night we kissed at the bar. Before we even knew each other. Before we’d understood the power of love and the crazy shit it can make you do. Before we knew what our hearts and minds could and couldn’t withstand. Before the missed flights and lonely nights. Before airport goodbyes and hellos. Before visa refusals and government paperwork.
Before we believed in fairytales.
“This will all be worth it one day,” we used to say to each other when things were particularly shitty.
This was that day.
It would be way too cheesy and cliché to end this post with “and they lived happily every after” or “and that’s how I got my fairytale ending,” so I won’t. Besides, I still don’t buy into that whole “happily ever after” thing by Disney’s standards. I’m sure there will be unhappy days and days I’ll want to be as far away from him as physically possible. And there will be days he’ll want to send me away on a trip with my girlfriends so he can have three days of peace and quiet. And days where I’ll throw shoes at him and blame him for all the world’s problems.
And then there will be a days that we fall asleep in each other's arms after a long night over good wine. There will be days we celebrate birthday and holidays and job promotions together. And there will be a day that we’ll look into our baby’s eyes for the first time, and all of those days I wanted to strangle him will wash away in my tears yet again.
I don’t think marriage is going to be any easier than our three-year long-distance relationship, because marriage isn’t easy no matter how you look at it. Hell, life isn’t easy, but having someone to live it with makes it taste oh, so much better.
But if our marriage is filled with even half of the love, passion and understanding the past three years have been defined by, it will be happily ever after indeed. So I don’t see marriage as my “fairytale ending” but more as a new beginning. Call it another fairytale beginning if you’d like.
Once upon a time I married the man of my dreams and then went straight to a beer festival where I couldn’t drink much because I was on painkillers and couldn’t even have sex that night because I’d just had an ovarian cyst removed.
That's how all good fairytales start, right?