Trading in her ruby red boots for a pair of old soft cotton Mary Janes, she said goodbye to her girlhood. Today she would become someone’s wife and not even a year from now someone’s mom. But for right now she was still herself and the pathetic excuse for a mirror in the park bathroom–turned bridal dressing room for the occasion–echoed back her girlish features. Jet black hair cropped into a bob, accented by electric blue bangs, and pulled back by two sparkly butterfly clips in either side. Though the black vintage cocktail dress she wore hung a little too loosely to her frame, she hadn’t been able to afford to have it taken in. Still, she took pride in finding her dress in a shop down town for $50, leaving her $250 left to put towards the wedding decorations.
“Why don’t you just go down to the judge?” a friend had asked. “There is no shame in a court wedding”, a cousin remarked.
Because she hadn’t done anything wrong, that’s why. A court wedding felt to her like a punishment. Something you do when you’re hiding a baby-bumped and forced into a wedding. Or when you’re on your third marriage and don’t believe enough in love to invest in another dress. Her only offense was that she had fallen in love a little too young and a lot too poor.
Needing a home to live in and putting their foot down on simply shacking up, meant the wedding was moved up from a late fall event and turned into a quaint early spring get together. In two weeks time she threw together a simple wedding with her husband-to-be. It wasn’t what every girl envisions–big white dress and veil; being walked down the aisle by a cummerbunded father to meet her beloved waiting at the front, music swelling and guests rising as she walked past. There was no way to aim towards something so extravagant without falling pitifully short, and so she took pride in making it her own style. She owned it by calling it her potluck punk wedding. In lieu of gifts, friends and family were asked to bring their favourite dishes and drinks. First a wedding, and then a feast. Disposable cameras where handed out to friends who became amateur photographers on the spot. Everyone smiled, called her unique. Believed her when she said it was exactly what she wanted in a wedding and that long veils and big fancy gowns weren’t her style. They believed her so much, in fact, that she almost began to believe it herself.
So under stormy skies, and with the mountains behind them and the spring winds blowing so hard that they knocked over a candled centerpiece on one of the tables, catching it briefly on fire before someone thought to throw the punch bowl on it, she walked down to meet a baby faced guy dressed head to toe in black, tattoos decorating each arm, and eyes sparkling brightly. Right there, before a small audience of friends and several scurrying birds, she said “I do” to a life so full of hardships and so rich with love.