In praise of my unspectacular, pre-Pinterest wedding

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Once upon a time, before “friend” was a verb, Liz Lemon was a saint, and mustaches on sticks were a thing, we girls had to plan our weddings without Pinterest. 

I know, right? 

How we managed to coordinate our colors and pick out our bridesmaid’s gifts without the illegal distribution of online images is simply beyond me.  And yet somehow we did it—blissfully unaware of how totally lame our wedding albums would look a mere eight years later when they failed to include the now-obligatory monogrammed dance floor, custom-made cake topper, 1,000 homemade paper cranes, old typewriter guest book, vintage photo booth, designer gown, Star Wars groom’s cake, and sparkler send-off. 

Back in those days, most wedding photographers had yet to embrace the photojournalist style, so they just lined everybody up at the front of the church sanctuary like we were at a firing range, and took the picture.We didn’t even think to pose inside a vintage frame or sit on a rusty pickup truck. 

(Yes, the carpet is orange...)

(Yes, the carpet is orange...)

My friends and I were lamenting our dated nuptials at a baby shower the other day, joking that Pinterest may become the leading cause of divorce among women desperate enough for a do-over. 

“I got married six years ago, but I still have a wedding board on Pinterest,” one sighed. “Our marriage is great. I just wish we could do the wedding again. We could make it so much time around.” 

I quietly agreed. I don’t have a wedding board, but I confess that when I’m not busy changing the world through blogging, I like to scroll through the wedding images on Pinterest and daydream about doing it all over again, this time with a peacock feather in my hair and grilled cheese sandwich bites on the menu. (Damn it, I KNEW that would be cool one day!) 

But here’s the thing: Like crafting, planning a wedding is never as much fun as it looks, and I’m guessing that the pressure among Pinterest-era brides to create the Pinterest-perfect wedding is straining more than a few bank accounts and relationships these days. 

A spectacular wedding doesn’t guarantee a spectacular marriage.  And, truth be told, I wouldn’t trade my ordinarily happy wedding day, and the 3,099 ordinarily happy days that have followed it, for all the mustache sticks in the world. 

Sure, we used the cheapest guestbook we could find at Wal Mart. 

Sure, my eyebrows looked like angry caterpillars fighting on my forehead. 

Sure, we had to hurry through the last few musical numbers so people could get home in time to see the Alabama/Tennessee game. 

But, despite what they said in the bridal magazines, it was never really our day anyway. God did not see fit to remove all other life forms from planet earth on October 25, 2003, and so we shared that day with our parents, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, our friends, our church, our neighbors, the church custodian, the band, the caterers, the photographer, the nursery staff,  the people who honked their horns when they saw “Just Married” sprayed in shaving cream on our car windows, and the people who didn’t. 

It was their day too. 

And when you share life with other people, compromises have to be made. Things get messy. Plans go awry. And just like in marriage, you kinda have to get over yourself in order to survive. 

What was true before Pinterest will be true long after Pinterest gets destroyed by a tsunami cease and desist orders: The myth of the perfect wedding day is just one more story we tell ourselves to maintain the illusion of control. No amount of pinning or planning will guarantee the perfect wedding, the perfect body, the perfect baby, the perfect home, the perfect life. If I could do it all over again, my wedding would be just as imperfect the second time around...even if, by the grace of God, it included melted cheese. 

Try as we may, we don’t get to custom-build our happiest moments. Instead, they sneak up on us. They show up, ready or not, in everyday acts of love and grace—a lazy summer night with all the windows open and the fans blowing, a love note on a post-it stuck to the mirror, an unloaded dishwasher, the smell of home after a long road trip, forgiveness, perseverance, chocolate-chip pancakes, a finished project, a shared history, laughing until you pee in your pants a little, that hug that feels like the safest place in the world. 

It is in these unplanned moments that my boring, traditional wedding and my boring, traditional wedding vows don’t seem so boring after all. 

For better or worse...

For richer or poorer....

In sickness and in health...

Is there anything more spectacular than that?

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