I haven’t been engaged to be married for very long, but in that time, I’ve come to realize — especially when it comes to weddings — not only is everybody opinionated, everybody is an uninformed expert about everything.
On Day 1 of the engagement, I spent the morning sifting through emails in which friends and relatives have given me dates over the next 18 months that simply — and I quote: “won’t work for them.” These emails usually start with something like, “So excited for you guys! Having said that, don’t get married on August 4th, 17th, 23rd, or 30th.”
On Day 2 of the engagement, I received an email from an aunt that went as such: “Dear Ben, Congratulations on your engagement! I hope you know that your cousin Margaret has finals on May 4th, so please consider an alternative date for your wedding. Additionally, it’s Julie’s birthday on the 11th of that month, and on the 18th we are considering a trip to Maui — nothing is booked or confirmed yet, but we’re tossing a few ideas around, so if you were considering May 18th for your wedding, reconsider.”
On Day 3 of the engagement, I received a call from my Uncle Gordon.
“Just so you know, your Aunt Grace and I are selling the house.”
“Is that right?”
“Well, we’re thinking about putting it up for sale.”
“Not right away or anything. And certainly not during the winter — damn hard to sell a house in Minnesota in the winter, you know — so we were thinking about June of next year. So, if you were thinking about June for the wedding, it’d be better for us if…you know…you didn’t.”
By Day 6 of the engagement, the entire summer had been unofficially blocked out by the unofficial plans of my family and friends.
On Day 8 of the engagement, my work friend Allison came over for dinner with her fiancé of five years, Phillip. They brought a bottle of champagne and the four of us toasted with dusty pink flutes that had been in my cupboard since I’d moved in.
“Sooooooooo, when’s the wedding?” Allison asked.
“Well…” my fiancée began.
“You absolutely must get married in April. Soooooooo romantic. Spring is underway. Birds are chirping. Isn’t that gleeful? Phillip, tell them how gleeful April is.”
“April is gleeful,” Phillip said in a way that made me feel sorry for him.
“Who’s doing your dress?”
“I’m not sure, I think…” my fiancée started to say before…
“You absolutely need to use my friend Veronica. She does the most amazing dresses. And she’ll probably give you a deal. I mean, I haven’t spoken to her since college, but I saw on Facebook she’s doing dresses now and they look soooooooo amazing! Phillip, tell them how amazing Veronica’s dresses look.”
“Veronica’s dresses look amazing,” Phillip said.
On Day 9 of the engagement, I was sitting at work when my co-worker Bernie approached. “Hey, I heard you were getting married,” he said.
“Why’d I have to read about it on Facebook, man?”
“I thought at the very least you’d let me know you were thinking about it. We have lunch together, man.”
“I thought we were friends.”
“I mean, we work together.”
“It just would have been nice to get a call. You know, when I got engaged, I called everybody I knew. You should really do that, you know.”
“Can I tell you the secret to a successful marriage?” he said. “A happy wife means a happy life.”
“I thought you were divorced.”
“Erroneous!” he said, and sauntered off.
On Day 12 of the engagement, I was sitting with my fiancée at an upscale cocktail bar a block south of the train station when a stranger approached us. The woman, in her late 60s; a mink shawl wrapped around her shoulders; her greying hair dyed a cheap orange; said, “Are you two engaged?” She pointed at the engagement ring with an expression that looked like she’d just tasted something sour.
“Is that a princess cut?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “It was my grandmother’s.”
“You should really think about getting a princess cut,” the woman said, and then motioned to my fiancée. “It can be very slimming.”
On Day 14, my fiancée and I were told by eleven different people to use eleven different colored wedding invitations. “You should use eggshell. You should use cream. You should use bone. Taupe. Lavender. Snow. Vanilla. Powder. Ivory. Smoke. And Lace.”
“All right,” I said each time.
“You know where you should go on your honeymoon?” my next-door neighbor said on Day 15. “You should go to Greece. I went to Greece the summer after I graduated college. My father paid for me to go; it was the best. Or Croatia? Have you been to Croatia? It’s absolutely magical. I hear the Maldives are nice. I’ve never been, but I think it would be absolutely magical. Bora Bora is nice. Again, I’ve never been, but wouldn’t that be absolutely magical for your honeymoon. For me, though, it doesn’t get more romantic than…”
And then my neighbor proceeded to list half a dozen countries in Europe, a dozen more in the South Pacific, and even work in a quaint B&B in Siberia she’d once seen on the Travel Channel.
“I was thinking of Casablanca for the honeymoon,” I said.
“Oh gawwwd! You don’t want to honeymoon there!”
“No,” the woman said, almost appalled by the question.
After the first few weeks of being engaged, wedding conversations resulted in something closer to turmoil than joy. I dreaded whenever somebody pointed out my fiancée’s ring or even sent me a text.
Don’t get married in Napa, it’s too touristy.
Don’t get married in Half Moon Bay, it’s too quiet.
Don’t get married at the courthouse, too many degenerates.
After work, I have a standing invitation with the fleece throw pillow on the edge of my bed to launch my face into and scream. And I scream knowing full well when we inevitably decide on the eggshell invitations with American gothic calligraphy inviting family and friends to an October wedding for which they will eat whole roasted filet and mashed sweet potatoes with carrot top chimichurri and sip 16 year old Lagavulin and slurp down $60 bottles of Iron Horse champagne and watch us drive off in a restored Volkswagen Beatle with environmentally safe, biodegradable soda cans tied to the bumper which will take us to the Kenwood Inn where we will stay in the Tuscan Suite before we jaunt off to Palermo for an eight day tour of southern Italy somebody will undoubtedly call, or post, or text, or tweet that they were the one that suggested the fucking eggshell invitations.
(Originally published on Medium on September 17, 2017 under the title “An Engagement Story”)