I drove home through the storm, the rain pelting my windshield. Great. Another conversation about marriage ending in tears (mine) and stubborn silence (his). How sad that the topic of spending our lives together would generate such frustration.
Maybe my boyfriend and I will never get married. I felt the car accelerate as I shook my head, trying to rattle that terrifying thought from my head, leaving it behind me on the rain-soaked street. Differing opinions on when we should get married, largely based on our financial situation, mean we often disagree on how to move forward. I felt the pressure to have a beautiful, elegant wedding and yet nodded my head in agreement when my boyfriend insisted we not go into debt just to throw a wedding party. I let the peaceful hum of the engine and the repetitive swish of the wipers quiet my mind. I resolved to put the topic behind me. No amount of tears would solve the problem of not having enough money.
After three years of dating, my boyfriend and I are ready to be husband and wife, ready to wake up together every morning, ready to spend our evenings cooking and catching up on “The Bachelor” without having to say goodbye for bedtime. Having decided not to live together before marriage, we feel the urgency to get married so we can finally start our lives (and our mornings) together.
We want the conjoined bank accounts, the shared pet and the queen-size bed. However, we’ve learned that our desire to get married isn’t enough. As I continued to drive the twisty roads back home, I felt myself inwardly panicking at the prospect of how long it might take to save for a wedding while paying off student debt.
I’m not sure who — or even what — to be angry at the most. Swamped with student loans and credit card debt, my boyfriend and I feel like baby ducks swimming in a sea of money issues.
Paying for a wedding is expensive, but I feel the added pressures of hosting a one-of-a-kind event that astounds our guests and makes its way into magazines. Meanwhile, my boyfriend would happily get married in a small venue with about 10 people.
No matter what happens, we will be left with debt hanging over our heads, wondering how to afford health insurance and save for retirement.
I watched my two best friends get married this summer. These were lovely events. They left me wanting to get married tomorrow. But I confess, another part of me wanted to run away and elope.
I received emotional texts about difficult in-laws. I shuddered as my friends talked about making a $2,000 deposit or spending $8,000 on catering. I watched them spend hundreds of hours working on decorations and favors.
And I learned it’s considered rude if you don’t have an open bar at your reception.
Like my friends, I feel the pressure to have a wedding as beautiful as the ones designed by professional planners. Then again, I’ve learned not to tell my parents. This is sure to inspire a stern lecture about the slippery slope of debt. There’s a certain double standard surrounding the modern wedding.
I didn’t anticipate arguing over money just to plan a wedding. I didn’t anticipate feeling such pressure to create a wedding that leaves every guest inspired.
Arriving home that rainy night, I washed my face, scrubbing away the leftover tears. Climbing into bed, I closed my eyes only to see dollar signs dancing in my head. As I pulled up the covers, I feared my dreams would be filled with the same recurring nightmare of the past few months: I’m standing in the middle of the dance floor, guests collapsing into laughter as they talk about my horrible wedding with the horrible decorations and the horrible cash bar and the horrible cheap food.
You know the truth, I told myself. I nodded my head, thinking over the many reasons our wedding will be wonderful, no matter how small. We will stand up in front of our most beloved friends and family to declare that we choose each other.
But I can’t deny it: Creating a small wedding is a little embarrassing. And the nights spent in tears only intensify the stress. I’ve come to accept that our wedding won’t be a Pinterest-worthy affair. Instead we’ll host a small-budget reception with a one-course meal. My childhood dreams of a princess dress and a horse-drawn carriage won’t come true.
Sometimes, once the rain clouds have cleared and I can stand outside under the big, pearly moon, I shake my fist at all the forces working against our happily ever after. Other nights I feel content, realizing I’ll soon get to sign a new last name and cuddle up against a warm body on cold mornings. These are the nights I smile at the moon, shining from the sky, and think how she looks like a round, plump bride in her white wedding dress.
Reeve Currie is a 20-something writer who is passionate about women, daily life and cats. A lover of books, yoga and coffee, Currie may be found writing on her personal blog or her second obsession, Instagram. Currently interning with Tiger Oak Media as well as Belong Magazine, Currie lives in Minneapolis.
ABOUT 10,000 TAKES: 10,000 Takes is a digital section featuring first-person essays about life in the North Star State. We publish narratives about love, family, work, community and culture in Minnesota.