The first and last time I wore synthetic hair was at my wedding. The makeup artist who painted my face insisted I wear fake eyelashes, so I listened. My mom insisted that if I was not going to style my hair in an up-do, I wear hair extensions. (She is typically a reasonable woman of taste, I am not sure what happened.)
Again, I listened.
When I looked in the mirror right before our ceremony, I thought I looked crazy but didn’t really care. Here I was, marrying this person I had loved unrequited for three years. It didn’t really matter what I looked like (BECAUSE I WON). At our grand reveal, he patted the floral wreath sitting on my head and said, “Cool.” I told him he had too much gel in his hair. He asked me if I was going to be comfortable, given all the gold chains that were wrapped around my neck. I asked why he had to shave today, of all days.
I don’t necessarily wish anything different about my wedding even though it was, frankly, my parents’ party (I was just invited). It looked nothing like the wedding I had seen in my head. That would have been a backyard dinner party with one long table to seat 75 people. A band would play bossanova music at the top of small hill twenty feet from the dinner table, which would be decorated by tea lights strung overhead. The floral arrangements would look DIY. We’d drink great white wine from Burgundy, or a California red, and as the sun set and it got dark, the smell of cut grass would waft on the breeze. During the silence before each speech — there would be TONS OF SPEECHES — a mass of crickets would sing as if a choir ushering in the start of summer. There would be no hair extensions or false lashes. Just self tanner, orange lipstick and probably lobsters clipped into my ears. But who really cares about the wedding anyway?
I mean that.
Who cares? As long as you are marrying your person, a wedding is simply foreplay. So these are things I’m both glad I knew and wish I knew.
I’m glad I knew: That a wedding is simply foreplay; it genuinely reveals nothing about what your marriage will look like. Had I not been eager to get the thing over with so that I could just be married, I can see how minute details like the stupid floral arrangements, which were purple roses (vomit) even though I wanted them to be white peonies (out of season in June, but whatever), and the ugly-ass feather ornaments decorating the dance floor would have torn me apart. Those feathers turned out to be decent dancing props and frankly, I didn’t even actually notice the flowers until my mom said, “the purple roses turned out fine, right?”
I wish I knew: That what I was thinking when I walked down the aisle held no real value in the grand scheme of the event. I placed so much emphasis on creating this romantic moment — first with my parents (I would thank them using the most poetic prose I could muster while crying hysterically as if my grandest gesture of appreciation) and then my husband (we’d lock eyes and smirk as if we knew we were the luckiest people alive). In reality, my dad almost didn’t make it down the aisle because he was at the sushi bar. I almost didn’t notice because I had a piece of raw salmon struck between my molars, which my mom was picking out with her pinky nail. When they handed me over to Abie, my dad said “Good luck” as if he really needed it. Abie responded, “I’ll take all the luck I can get,” as if he really needed it. That was that.
I’m glad I knew: That getting married when I was 23 meant that because I was still a shell of a human, I would have to grow up a lot. Because I was married, this growth would happen next to another person.
I wish I knew: That I’d still have to do the actual growing up myself. That my husband couldn’t grow for me, or make traversing my 20s any less harrowing.
I’m glad I knew: How to distinguish the illusion of cold feet from genuinely believing that I was not supposed to get married. Before the wedding, I asked my friend’s older sister why no one ever talks about how scary this is. How you decide you’re going to spend your life with, effectively, a stranger. To throw yourself a party to celebrate even though what you should be doing is running a background check. But she said, and this is so true, that after you marry, you forget how scared and anxious you were. It just goes away. You know it’s just the illusion of cold feet when the inner trenches of your gut still tells you to do it. Take this from someone who cried on the first night of her honeymoon because she missed her mom.
I wish I knew: After you get married, you never really get to be your parents’ kid again. You become someone’s partner. The keeper of this partner. If you like being your parents’ kid, take advantage of it. Just the same way we’re told that no matter how long you’ve been with your person, a switch just flips after you get married, that’s true of your relationship with your parents, too. It’s almost like whatever you give to your partner is taken from what you had given to your parents. Which is beautiful, but sometimes I feel like I get so caught up in accelerating to the next level that I forget to appreciate the level I’m on.
I’m glad I knew: That spending your wedding day with your people (family, friends, etc) is really the best part. I got to the hotel at which I would marry at 10 a.m. to be met by my best friend, who had iced coffee for me at 10:30. We basically ate string cheese and smoked salmon all day while my mother ran around with rollers in her hair yelling in Farsi and my dad walked up and down the halls from his hotel room to mine in just underwear and an open button-down.
I wish I knew: Not to wear so many fucking necklaces around my neck! It took Abie and me a joint 95 minutes to get them off my neck at the end of the night. By the time we were done, it was 5 a.m. We didn’t have sex until the following morning, and my wedding band kept poking him so I took it off. I left it in the hotel room by accident and never saw it again. But that’s okay, you know, because, a ring is just a ring. It doesn’t actually mean much.
Photos from Leandra and Abie’s wedding.