My sister got married last week.
She wore a soft, chiffon, empire-line gown, and her husband-to-be had an actual tear in his eye as she sashayed down some sandy steps to swap handwritten vows on a secluded beach.
Afterwards, a waiter in a linen suit served cocktails on a balcony before the newlyweds released paper lanterns into the night sky.
It was a beautiful, personal, emotional, Pinterest-perfect celebration, and I’m thrilled my sister has found a guy worthy of her.
But I’m also a little sad – because she and my now-brother-in-law eloped, and this wedding took place on the coast of Spain.
That’s about 15,000 kilometres away from both families — and from me, the sister who’s helped the bride plan her nuptials since we watched Ariel’s wedding to Prince Eric on The Little Mermaid together and — you guessed it — pledged to make one another Maid of Honour one day.
I held up my end of the deal: she held up my train as I walked down the aisle and she posed in all the goofy, blurred-around-the-edges photos now sitting in a book on my coffee table.
And now I can’t shake the thought that I should have done the same for her. I feel heartbroken and — I’ll be honest, the tiniest bit cheated — that I wasn’t given that chance.
Okay, hold your outraged “this isn’t about you” comments and hear me out — because I’m well aware marriage centres around two people, and that their preference matters most.
But do I believe that weddings are exclusively about two people?
Vogue has named the wedding trends that are over for 2017.
Hell no. They never have been, and I’m baffled when people assume they are today.
Think about it: Marriage is about the joining of families; the official forging of a partnership that — in more cases than not — will ultimately result in a new branch to the family tree (if you’ll excuse my rather hackneyed botanical analogy.)
It’s traditionally an inclusive occasion, and loved ones’ inclusion in the ceremony is deeply symbolic. That’s why choosing an MC is such a big deal, why parents put up their hand to give the first toast, and why friends vie so intensely for bridesmaid positions – everyone appreciates the honour of buttoning their oldest friend into that iconic white gown.
Another thing: Traditionally, weddings are a public declaration of commitment. Emphasis on public, as opposed to private.
After all, my sister and her other half already knew they loved, and were committed to, one another — so surely the “let’s get married” bit should have been about announcing that love to their nearest and dearest, and inviting their friends and family to bear witness to their vows?
And about giving the bride and groom’s proud parents a chance to say: “Here’s this special human I loved and nurtured all these years, and look at this wonderful choice they’ve made”?
(I suspect this is why my mother teared up when she heard my sister was eloping; I definitely wasn’t the only one to get emotional when we heard that news.)
I’ve decided I will never let on my true feelings to my sister.
I know this moment is primarily hers, and while a tiny, jealous part of my brain yells that her decision to elope is selfish — I know it’d be much more selfish to voice my complaint to the happy couple.
So when my sister and her new husband come back from their European honeymoon, I’ll give them the beariest of bear hugs, pore over the professional photographs, present them with the gift I just hand-selected from Laura Ashley and never mention the truth: that I’m heartbroken, I’m confused and deep, deep down inside, I’m annoyed.
Because my sister just celebrated one of the happiest days in her life — but the way she did it robbed me of mine.
Would you ever elope? Do you think it could ever be described as selfish?
Speaking of Pinterest-perfect weddings – what do you think of these?