But within the first five minutes of coming through the departure gates, two very unexpected events happened:
The first is that my partner of 6 years and friend of much longer, Dan, asked me to marry him; and the second, is that I said ’Yes’!
These were unexpected events, because I never felt I needed to mark our already very committed and long-term relationship with marriage and Dan knew this. Unlike many proposals from the love of your life, Dan’s was met with a lot of swearing whilst I grappled with an internal dialogue formed of old beliefs and thoughts: ‘Marriage is soooooo institutionalised.’ ‘But I’m a feminist!’ ‘I won’t get married until all countries legalise same-sex marriage!’ ‘Weddings are too extravagant!’
Knowing there was some trouble with the Management Committee up top (my mind), Dan refrained from going down on one knee and simply said ‘Don’t think, just feel.’ Using the tools I’d gathered on my path to wellness, I removed myself from those thoughts and got in touch with my heart. And my heart was feeling to leap in the air and shout ‘Yes!’
Whilst all the mental chatter may be subject of an interesting sociological debate, I realised I wasn’t saying Yes to an institution nor to being owned by a man nor to an extravagant wedding; I was saying Yes to Dan and to our supportive and loving relationship. In that, I was saying Yes to life and Yes to happiness.
We have been engaged for 6 months. Now, of course, the question of a Wedding has become subject of more musing and exploration.
I was lucky enough last year to attended 6 weddings (including one ‘uncivil’ partnership). All were beautiful and unique celebrations of love and union. Never thinking I would be having one myself, I observed each with great intrigue and learnt a lot about the concept and celebration of marriage.
I learnt that a Wedding is a special occasion celebrating the love and commitment of two people. I saw that a wedding (usually) lasts a day and a marriage lasts a loving lifetime. The most important thing then, is what the wedding is celebrating. Whilst we will try to find a way to involve everyone we love in the occasion we celebrate our marriage (our ‘wedding’), we acknowledge it may not be geographically or financially realistic for all to attend (wherever, whenever, whatever it may be). I would hope then that the wedding is not the only opportunity for loved ones to contribute to our lives as a married couple and individuals.
Although we don’t know how, where or what this wedding of ours will be, Dan has asked three friends to be his Best Man and Ushers, which got me thinking about my equivalent.
To B or not to B…Bridespeople
From my year of learning at very diverse celebrations of love, I observed the Bridesmaid’s role is to support the Bride in the run-up to the wedding and on the day itself. I am truly blessed and beyond lucky to have a number of individuals (female and male) who, I feel, can and will support me not just before and during the occasion we celebrate our marriage but throughout the rest of my life.
I am therefore asking all of those people (along with those I am yet to contact or even meet): To be, and/or not to be my Bridespeople. Because to me, being or not being my Bridesmaid/man is the same thing; having a title is unimportant. What is important is that we continue our mutually supportive relationship free from expectation or obligation. In simply being who they are to me, they are doing what I feel Bridesmaids do.
I may ask for their help in the run-up to the wedding or on the day, or, they may request to play a specific role. Either way, I hope we both know how much strength they give me across the seas and stars without needing official roles.