Monday, January 2, 2012

White Wedding

Most, if not all, of you are here because I read your wedding blogs.  I think there are some of you who probably think that in addition to being a wedding singer, I am in that edgy-reading-wedding-blogs state of pre-engagement. Maybe I am engaged already and just don’t talk about it.

But here’s the dirty little secret: I am not engaged, pre-engaged, any sort of ‘gaged. I am not married, nor have I ever been.

I am not even in a relationship. I have not been in a relationship for years, certainly not in the time that I have been reading wedding blogs.

I spend the better part of almost every Saturday at one wedding or another. I had some free advertising in various wedding magazines, thanks to brides who gave all their details and pictures as part of those ‘real weddings’ features they run. And as part of that advertising, I got quite a few free copies of said magazines, as well as a lot of work.

And I was fascinated.  

It began a process of trying to find out what brides talk about before the wedding, about what they want their wedding days to mean as the jumping off point for their marriages. And I wanted to find out if grooms ever got involved in this very chatty and opinionated world. It didn’t hurt that this was right in the middle of a 3 year period during which almost all of my close friends got married. In many cases I was an active participant in their weddings and in their navigating the murky waters of wedding planning.

I stumbled across A Practical Wedding very early on in this search, about 3 years ago. It was through this site that I found Lyn and Emma and Sarah and Anna and Drea and Nina and Britt and Becca, some of whom have moved on from wedding blogs and into marriage or ‘life after wedding’ blogs. (In Nina's case, the 'life after wedding' effort is the only blog she has written. Yeah Nina!) Initially my reading of these online diaries was because I wanted to know more about the perspective of those getting married, to see if there was anything I could learn that would make me better at my job. I stayed because I was captured by the stories these women told about a lifestyle I know nothing about and because they're smart and funny and ambitious and, in some ways, in a lot of ways, like me. I kept reading these blogs because I wanted to read stories that might help me become brave enough to start dating and maybe see if being in a relationship was something that might be for me. In other words, I wanted to read stories about relationships that have futures. I want to believe. 

I hope this doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of those of you who write these blogs. This isn’t about idealising the lives you lead or your relationships. I also promise it isn’t morbid curiosity. It's more....observing. Research, maybe.  

On Friday I attended one of those weddings that you don’t see very often. It was a very old school, very orthodox Catholic wedding with lots of clergy and music of the sort you’d hear at a Papal Mass or at a concert at the Opera House, which isn't that far fetched given some of us doing the work. It was a wedding where there was a very strong belief in the celebration of marriage as sacrament. As happy as I was for the bride and groom, both of whom I love very much, there was a hell of a lot about this wedding that was deeply troubling, most of it to do with the role of women. But that isn’t what I want to talk about.

When you spend as much time at weddings as I do, it might be easy to become jaded about what they mean, especially because many of them look and sound the same. I would be a very rich woman if I made double my money for every time I hear ‘love is patient, love is kind, love can shove it up love’s behind’ or ‘be subject to one another’, which is equal parts beautiful and sexist, if you believe in a strict interpretation of scripture. I generally rotate between the same 10 or 12 pieces of music and manage not to laugh when someone requests two different versions of ‘Ave Maria’. It’s their day, after all. And to them this is all new and exciting and up for debate with the parents and every other nosy or interested party.

But I never get tired of watching two people be brave enough to say: ‘Let’s do this. Let’s spend the rest of our lives together’. For someone like me, it is an incredible thing to be around that kind of hope and optimism so regularly. (Don’t worry, I balance it out by doing a lot of funerals, many of them for free.) I commented to Emma recently that it takes chops to dive into this thing called marriage. I wholeheartedly believe that, and on Friday night I realised something – that I want this. That I think I want to be in a relationship again one day. Not yet. I could meet the right person tomorrow and I’d fuck it up royally. But one day. It must mean I am getting better.

This was a wedding where I disagreed with the core beliefs of many people in the room, including the couple getting married. There were people I was hiding from all night. There were people I love that I haven’t seen in years and, in one case, I got to meet their kids. And there were others with whom I found common ground, surprisingly enough. It was also really nice not to be working the whole time.

It was a wedding where there could have been an argument around every corner, with every new person. My relationship with the groom is not nearly as strong as it was and we really don’t agree all that much these days, a source of sadness to me. But I watched him dance in the arms of a strong, incredible woman and I was so happy for them both. We have been through so much together and on Friday he married someone who deserves him and who will make him happy. We didn’t say much but as we clung to each other we were in understanding. ‘Be happy,’ I whispered as I held his face in my hands, just before he grabbed his new wife to run through the tunnel of well wishers’ arms to exit the building. ‘I am,’ he replied, ‘and I will be.’ His wife grabbed hold and he smiled at me, my adopted brother. ‘Now you need to be too!’ he cried, as they started to run.

Weddings are about endings, we just don’t focus on that part. They are often full of goodbyes and arguments that we just push aside for the day, usually with the help of alcohol, in the interests of being polite and caring for one another. It’s often when we realise that we can never go back.

But the beginnings? That’s why we love weddings and why, stressful as they are, they make us happy. They’re about the future.

Here’s to the future. The end is where we start from.*

*Eliot is my homeboy. 


  1. That's a beautiful story, at the ending there. I think that's what I like about weddings best, they give you moments like these.

    And on a personal note, for the longest time I did assume you were engaged. I was shocked when I found out you were single. I thought, "Why is she even reading a wedding blog? How did she even FIND me? She lives in AUSTRALIA. She sounds awesome. I wish we could MEET." Not all those thoughts in that exact order, of course. But this post explains everything!

    You're a great writer, by the way.

  2. I'm not very fond of weddings, I must say; I think partly because in my country most of them have to do with religion and partly because I always felt uneasy while in them, I still don't feel the magic...

    I believe in all that you say, but I think you don't have to have a wedding to feel all that, but that's me (and I hate being the centre of attention). Don't hate me!


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