She showed us her gorgeous wedding dress, and she and Mary got rapturous about tulle. (I’m quite pleased to say that I know what tulle is when I’m looking at it, although I have no idea what it is when you’re casually telling me you have a dress made with tulle in your closet at home.) Soon afterward, she reads us her vows. And this is what I want to tell you about writing someone’s wedding: you find yourself, more than anything else, mulling over what marriage means. Why do people do it? Why do we get married? What is it that marriage does?
Marriage doesn’t start and end at love. Plenty of people are in love and will never marry. Not only because the state or country where they live has decided they aren’t allowed to marry, but simply because they have no intention of it. Ever. Not even for piles of candy. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I didn’t believe in marriage until I met Mary. It always seemed like Disney princess bullshit to me. Why? Why would you stand up in front of a bunch of people and promise anything?
I understand now why we do it. Why it’s vital. I understand that our communities are bound together with goodwill and marriage is central to that understanding. Families have infinite shapes, and marriage means different things to each of us, but it nevertheless comes with responsibilities and our desire to marry is a demonstration of our willingness to take on those responsibilities, and, in some cases, the civic rights associated with marriage.
But it’s something else, too. It’s a love letter you write to the self you were when you met, and the self you are now, speaking your vows, and the self you’ll be when one of you is ill, when one of you is struggling, when one of you has lost her fucking mind. It’s a love letter to all the evolutions of your relationship, and there needs to be space for the ways you’ll grow and the ways you’ll fail and the ways you’ll triumph. There has to be space in your marriage for human failure. You have to love the parts of your relationship where you struggle as much as you love the rest of it. Maybe you have to love the struggle more. The way you love harder when your heart aches because you’re so much more aware of it. There. My heart. Goddamn that fucking hurts.
We marry because we have so little time. It all slips away so quickly that one day your kid has a pimple and your first thought is, But I was just carrying you in a backpack. We marry because we are joyous creatures. Celebratory. We marry because we believe, standing there with our beloved, that our pleasure must be shared. It’s communal and infectious and we have this giant cake for all of us. We’ll enjoy our lives more, you know, laughing together.