And in which, our little cupids plan the entire thing.
This Saturday, between soccer games and a birthday party for the boys, the kids asked us the same question they ask us every day, “When are you guys going to get married?”
Seth, Lily and Cohen moved in one month ago. It felt right. It is right. And there’s no question that this is where all five us are supposed to be–with each other.
“September,” Seth and I answered.
We had it all planned out. A Court House wedding, then a ride on Seth’s bike to Athens for a party at Jackie O’s or Smiling Skull. Jackie O’s for the fresh, brewed beer and Smiling Skull its perfect imperfections.
“Why do we have to wait that long?” One of them asked quietly. I turn my head and look into the back seat where I see three pairs of eyes staring at me quizzically. They don’t understand and why should they? Us adults make no sense most of the time. We love each other, we want to be married – so why aren’t we? The children had all, in their own ways, expressed fears that Seth and I would break up. Like he and their mother did. Like John and I did. Children, as it turns out, have baggage, too. So, to rid them of their baggage, I proposed an idea.
“Let’s have a pretend wedding this weekend! We can do it in the backyard. And then we’ll be married!”
“But you won’t really be married, will you?” They asked.
“Well, why not? If we say we’re married then that’s all that matters.”
Seth loved the idea. The kids agreed and started clapping and bouncing out of their seats. Seth and I exchanged smiles and he squeezed my hand. Feeling like we’ve been married since the moment we met, knowing with everything that we are meant to be, the wedding itself – whenever it happened- would be a mere formality.
On Sunday the kids woke up with the pretend (but to them real) wedding on their minds. Lily’s cousin has spent the night and the two girls were antsy to start planning. The girls and the boys had crowded around me, demanding to know what their roles would be.
And so it began…
“Can we be the flower girls?” asked the girls.
“Yes! Of course,” I said.
“Can we be the ring boys?” asked Benjamin and Cohen.
“Who will marry you though?” asked Lily. Far from the average seven-year-old she is the smartest most beautiful little girl I’ve ever known. Her spirit is uncrushable and her determination, in this case to have a wedding, is equally so.
“Benjamin could marry us,” I suggested. And then, cued by his clear ‘no’ face, “Or, Lily, you could because you can read. We can write the lines out.”
Lily was also completely disinterested.
“My Mom could do it,” Seth chimed in with a smile. His mother is a pastor and an officiant of the state or whatever. “But,” he paused, “If she does it, it will be real.”
We both shrug. When there are four children around it’s hard to think or plan anything, and we typically survive by planning out a big activity for the day. In this case, a wedding.
“I’ll text her.”
“Does this mean it will be real or fake?” The children asked again.
“Well, we’re not sure. I guess we’ll just have to see.”
I gave the girls some streamers, some baskets and pointed them to the art room. Then Seth and I headed upstairs to clean our room. We’d been putting it off, getting the rest of the house in order after the move. But today while the kids were busy we decided to tackle my mountain of misplaced clothes and a monstrous basket of unmatched socks.
Sometime in the afternoon Seth’s Mom texted that, yes, she would love to come for our imaginary wedding and would be there at 5:30 PM.
By 5:00 PM, Lily was all dressed up in a beautiful Easter dress and I was still in my scrubby cleaning clothes. Deciding I better get dressed, Lilly and I start hunting through the closet. She picked a short white t-shirt dress first, which I quickly vetoed based on the length. Too short. Instead I proposed a fluffy purple skirt and a white top. She shook her head, “Nope, that’s not it.”
Then we spotted my red dress. I’ve had it for at least 10 years, but I’ve never worn it. Instead, because it’s so beautiful, I’ve had it hanging in my room. It’s just the perfect red, the most beautiful raw silk and it looks so cool on a hanger. I had tried to wear it out several times. But each time it just didn’t fit quite right. I dress with my mood and the dress had never made the cut. But today, with Lily there beside me, it fits. Perfectly.
“Rings, Alaina, we need rings!” Lily dutifully points out. It’s now 5:15.
Oh yeah, shoot. Rings. I hand her one I had found in a jewelry box while cleaning the day before. I had no idea where it came from, but it was a tiny, little gold band. After Lily ran downstairs to deliver the goods and make her final preparations to the decorations, I decided it might be a good idea to do my make up. Downstairs Seth was waiting and had picked out a ring of his own, a ring he bought when he was 17 from a street vendor during a trip to Jerusalem.
At some point around this time, maybe as I put on the dress, it turned into a real wedding. We didn’t discuss it. It just happened and it was magical.
When Seth’s mother, Dale Ann arrived I could hear the excitement in her voice. This was definitely a much better option than the Court House. She, Seth and his Dad started calling in the troops–all of Seth’s brothers and sisters. I texted my friend, Monica, who had promised me months ago she would be a bridesmaid,”I think Seth and I are getting married in the back yard in 20 minutes. Can you get here?”
Twenty minutes later they were all there. Seth’s brother Ben, who had received his text while mowing the lawn, had managed to get some champagne on the way
and their brother, Nathanael with his beautiful wife Sara and their beautiful sweet peas.
Monica had miraculously checked her cell phone while riding her scooter on High Street and also made it just in time. Seth’s siblings from Chicago and California were online via a Google Hangout. Dale Ann entertained them with a virtual tour of the house. It was literally a surprise real wedding for everyone involved, even us.
Note the plucked flowers. We’ll get to that.
Dale Ann had brought a not-so-pretend wedding cake, gluten-free (for me) and sugar-free (for Benjamin). Our little wedding planners helped her find a topper. And yes, that’s toilet paper on the bride.
The flowers on the cake are from a bunch of wild flowers we had picked up at the grocery that week.
The flower girl petals came from the rest of them.
Lily, of course, had the bouquet covered.
The boys were waiting patiently.
And with all of those pieces and parts in place, the ceremony began. That’s Lily’s cousin leading and Lily behind.
I just want to pause for a second to point out my nasty, nasty yard. Had I even thought I would have guests and a real wedding I would have perhaps cleaned up the pile of sticks or shut the shed door. Or, weeded the bricks. And another side note, the reason my yard looks like that is because I spend every weekend cleaning the inside of the house.
Okay. Back to my unkempt yard and my perfectly perfect wedding.
My bridesmaids went first. La dee da.
And then moi.
We’re not religious so Dale Ann delivered a non-denominational ceremony with prayers from various religions – Buddhism, Christianity and she even added a Native American prayer. And then we went ahead with our incredibly enjoyable formality.
Ben manned the video camera and fist pumps with some “Hell, yeahs!” at all of the right times.
Nathaneal took all of these amazing pictures.
Then the vows…
Then the candles…
Then the rings… or did they come before the candles? I can’t remember.
Then the kiss…
And finally the send off…
and more kisses
Then a toast.
A post party light saber, flower war.
And a very, very happy group of guests.
I’ll post more pictures when I can to the photo album.
Wish you all could have been there, too. You were in my heart.
P.S. Our total wedding cost was $40 for the pizza we ordered after… hell, yeah! We’re still planning on a party in Athens in the Fall, but until then the children can sleep easy.