I spent yesterday searching for potential wedding venues that were similar to, but closer to home and theoretically less expensive than, the one we’d visited over the weekend (Too Good to Be True). I found a handful that I really liked and contacted them.
One got back to me today; I learned that their minimum number of guests was much higher than the number of people we would want to invite. The per-person cost was so high we couldn’t afford it even if we only invited the number of people we’re prepared to. I emailed back, asking if there was any room for negotiation. No. They need to “make the most of their time” – which apparently means turning up their noses at my (sane) budget. To put things into perspective, for about the same amount of money we could either a) have the wedding at the venue we visited over the weekend – including clothes, gifts for key people, a photographer, flowers, a website, save-the-date magnets, invitations, and a short honeymoon – or b) have the wedding at this new venue, naked and with no guests, because we couldn’t afford invitations.
I didn’t even get to finish telling Fox the disappointing news; he finished my sentence for me with a cutting finality. They’re off the list. They have to be, I know that, but I would like to finish my sentence, thanks. (And express my indecision about whether to respectfully decline, or just never respond to the most recent email.)
Fox’s mom supports us in our decision to get legally married at the courthouse within the next few months (with the intention of throwing a big party later) – but wants to invite her many siblings. A sort of reasonable request, I suppose – except that some of her siblings are close enough to just pop down for dinner, but none of my mother’s are. It kind of sends the message that my family is less important in this whole affair than Fox’s family is, and that just kills me. She wouldn’t listen to me – to either of us – when we said we just want to bring our witnesses and immediate families, no more than 10 people total. And then Fox’s sister took it upon herself to tell me how to think!
My mom thinks we should wait 1 year to get legally married (2014) and 2 years to throw the big party (2015). I’m not really crazy about that idea. Either we wait a year to get legally married so we can realistically invite everyone, or we go to the courthouse now (we could just go with our witnesses, but we’re being nice and inviting our parents) and throw the big party when we can afford it (and give people enough time to make travel arrangements). I’d prefer to have the party next year, but I’m willing to wait 2 years if that’s what it takes to get what we really want.
Fox and I decided over 2 years ago that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We’re eager to acquire the legal and other benefits that come with being recognized as a married couple. I plan to change my surname; I’d like to be able to begin using my new name within the next few months. Especially as we’re hit over and over again by the insane prices of the bridal industry, we find it more and more tempting to enter legal marriage sooner. It’s a choice we can make – and act on! – without spending tens of thousands of dollars … as long as we’re willing to do so without our giant family physically present.
Though, to be honest, I’m torn. I feel like I’m giving up my identity. The new identity I’d be taking on is my choice, but I guess I’m starting to question it a little bit. I’m happy to join Fox’s family and I see taking their name as a symbol of that affinity. But I don’t want to be eaten up by them, given no say in my own life and told how to think. We’re a family, not the Borg. I need them to respect my boundaries.
I need everyone to respect my boundaries. They all seem to think I’m a doormat. Telling me what to do, what to think, finishing my sentences for me. You say the word “wedding” and the vultures all swoop in. You have to do these things in this order. You have to pay thousands of dollars for this and that – never mind whether you want or need it. You have to drown all your guests in insanely expensive food and booze. You have to invite everyone I want to have a party with; if you don’t I’m going to guilt trip you. By the time we’re done talking you’ll fear that if you don’t to what I say, no one in either of our families will ever want to speak to you again, because “they’ll be hurt.” Suddenly it’s not our wedding anymore. It’s the industry’s wedding first, our parents’ second, and if we’re lucky then maybe we’ll get to make our own decisions about what to wear.
(To be fair, something just came up for Fox’s family that would stress anyone out; as my mom said, Fox’s mom usually isn’t like this. She’ll probably be more reasonable once she’s had some time to breathe.)
It got to the point today where I felt like I couldn’t do anything – not because I’m incompetent (I’m perfectly competent, thank you), but because it’s not allowed. Fox is here, so he became the embodiment of some hostile authority. If I left the bedroom to get something, if I became visible to him, if I even made a sound, he would be there. Questioning me. Judging me. Making me question myself and feel guilty. I felt like I had no privacy. I was under a microscope. And all I wanted was permission to live.
But if I wanted to live, I’d have to do so on his terms. And whatever they were (I didn’t know) they didn’t leave much room for me to express myself. I was lucky they allowed me to breathe!
All I could do was sit on the bed and cry. (“The” bed. It used to be my bed! But now I don’t even have that to myself!) I texted Banji; she did her best to assure me that I’m loved and that she’s here for me, but I couldn’t internalize her kind words. I had an overwhelming urge to hurt myself; finally I gave in by scratching my arm with my fingernails. All it does is leave a slight mark that fades within a few hours; it doesn’t even break the skin. The pain rushed up and calmed me down to an almost alarming degree. While I was crying it felt like I was struggling against something, fighting for my right to live. But the pain, the calm, it subdued me. It suppressed me. It told me I didn’t need to fight, there was no point to fighting, I should just accept my fate. And then I fell asleep.
The real Fox came in, put a blanket over me, kissed my hand, and left so I could rest. When we talked later he expressed that he’d wanted to come in and comfort me while I was crying. But I had said I wanted to be alone.
He respected my boundaries.
I don’t know what to do. I want to keep planning the wedding but I’m afraid that, the way my mind has been working and with the horribleness it’s bringing out in people, it just isn’t safe right now.