This weekend the Boy and I took a trip together to attend yet another wedding. Going to weddings with the Boy is always an interesting experience. Usually, we end up dodging questions about the future of our relationship. But this weekend was different. This time I was going to meet the Boy’s family.
The Boy’s cousin was getting married in Colorado and she insisted that he bring me along. I have never met the Boy’s family before. Partly because they live in another State and partly because I have not really made an effort to meet them. But I think we both knew that it was time, and this wedding gave us a reason to get it over with.
The wedding was in the mountains about two hours outside of Denver. With all of his family staying at the Super 8, the Boy and I chose another hotel for a little privacy. From the moment we arrived in town, we were bombarded with phone calls from the family, updating us on their status. They checked into their hotel. Now they were going to dinner. Now they were finished with dinner and wanted us to come over to the hotel.
When the weekend started, I thought the most significant event would be meeting the Boy’s parents. But that turned out to be the least eventful part of the entire weekend. I met them both at the hotel that evening, along with a few of his aunts and uncles. I also got to finally meet the Boy’s sister and his five year old nephew, who can best be described as a spirited child. He was climbing on every rock, bench and garden border within sight. When he wasn’t doing that, he was rolling around in the dirt. The Boy’s sister looked exhausted from trying to contain him.
We stayed in their hotel room for about an hour just chatting with everyone and then we headed off to the bar with the Boy’s sister, his cousin (the brother of the Bride) and his cousin’s girlfriend. As everyone talked, I started to learn more about the details of the wedding.
Apparently the Bride has always been sort of a free spirit. She has been unemployed for the last few months and working as a live-in nanny for one of her friends. She was marrying a guy that she knew from college and had just re-connected with a few months ago. No one in the family had even met this guy until they arrived in town for the rehearsal dinner. In fact, they barely knew that the two of them were dating until they announced their engagement.
Her brother filled us in on the details from meeting the Groom for the first time at the rehearsal dinner. Apparently the Groom is in the Army and is stationed in Texas, which means that the Bride will be moving down there with him as soon as they are married. Once they produce a marriage license they will be able to move into the free, military-sponsored housing.
The conversation at the bar was pretty awkward. It’s like no one wanted to be the first to say that the whole wedding thing seemed a little absurd. So we politely danced around the subject with phrases like “They wouldn’t be doing this unless they were really in love,” and “I’m sure they will be very happy together.”
The next morning we all met up for breakfast with the Bride’s parents. They were pretty laid back, considering their daughter was about to marry a complete stranger. Phone calls continued to come in from various relatives arriving for the big event. Since no official wedding invitations had gone out, the directions and details were handled on a word of mouth basis. There were only about 45 guests expected for the afternoon ceremony which was about 30 minutes away at a ranch located at the top of a mountain.
After breakfast, the Boy and I separated from the group and walked around some of the shops in town. We stopped at a little coffee shop/stationary store. I was looking at some journals with these really cool inspirational phrases on the cover when the Boy tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a card with a black and white sketch of a woman wearing red lipstick. It said “Marriage is a fine institution. I just don’t care to be institutionalized.” I smiled and handed it back to him.
After getting dressed and going through another five phone calls with the family to determine who was carpooling up to the wedding ranch, we were on our way. The Boy and I were fortunate enough to drive alone in our own car. As we wove through the winding roads, I stared up at the giant boulders perched precariously along the side of the mountain and I couldn’t help thinking about the Bride.
I had never met this girl, but somehow I felt this strong affinity towards her. Had she really thought this whole thing through? Was she ready to give up her life in Colorado and move to Texas with this man she had only been re-acquainted with for a few months? I pictured this poor, sweet girl standing in front of a mirror in her wedding gown with all of these doubts racing through her mind.
After a 30 minute drive to the wedding ranch, a quick shuttle van up the mountain and a short walk across a stone path, we found ourselves in a small clearing with wooden plank benches placed in a semi-circle around a make-shift altar. In the distance, you could see the peaks of the snow capped mountains. The view was breathtaking. We watched the Groom muddle around nervously, stopping to chat with a smattering of guests from his side.
Then the Bride arrived. As she emerged from under the canopy and started up the stone path, I immediately realized that she was not the sweet, vulnerable girl I had envisioned. She was a brash, almost brazen woman who casually swaggered up to the altar to meet her groom. During the five minute ceremony, as they stumbled through their vows, I wondered if perhaps the Bride and Groom were both a little drunk.
It was the longest I have ever travelled for such as short event. After the vows, we all filed back across the path, into the shuttle vans and down to the wedding ranch for the reception. We barely saw the Bride and Groom together, except during dinner. The wedding coordinator from the ranch was a little flighty, so the guests ended up trying to project manage the evening’s activities. The cutting of the cake took place about two hours later, after the Bride and Groom had already changed into their jeans and flip flops. The music for the event was from the Groom’s i-Pod, which was connected to a pair of speakers and left unattended on the stage. Their first dance was mostly a balancing exercise as the intoxicated Bride and Groom tried to lean on each other to remain upright.
By 9:30 it was over and I was one of a select few designated drivers trying to get everyone back safely. I drove the Boy and his sister to a bar in town and then went back to the Super 8 to pick up another load of drunken guests. The Bride and Groom were supposed to meet us out at the bar, but they ended up passing out in their hotel room.
Conversation in the bar on the second night was less polite than the first. The Boy’s sister was almost in tears because she was worried that the Bride wasn’t happy. Stories started to emerge that she had changed her mind just before the wedding but she thought it was too late to walk away. Instead of wishing them happiness, the group was taking bets on how long they would last and discussing the legal ramifications of an annulment versus a divorce.
And all the while the drinks just kept on flowing. I spent quite a bit of time talking to the Boy's sister at the bar. I really wanted to get to know her better because she and the Boy are very close. He often refers to her and her boyfriend as an example of the type of relationship that he would like to have someday. They have been together for eight years. And even after they had a child, they decided just to live together and not get married.
For some reason, the Boy’s sister decided to confide in me that just before she left for this trip, her boyfriend told her that he thinks he is in love with someone else. And he wanted her to know before anything happened because he still loves her and he needs her to help him find a way to get past this and keep their family together.
I had no idea what to do with this information. Of course, I tried to be supportive and tell her it was a good thing that her boyfriend confided in her before things went too far with this other woman. But the truth is that if I were in the same situation I would tell the guy to go ahead and be with the other woman and get the hell out of my house.
To me, marriage isn't so much about what you have to gain, as what you have to lose. Maybe the Boy's cousin can afford to take a chance and merge her life with someone else on little more than a whim. But I have worked hard to get to where I am in life. And I can't see the point in risking it all for a guy who will most likely disappoint me in the end.
The only upside is that all of the drama with the Bride and Groom distracted the Boy's family from focusing on us. In fact, the entire weekend no one really asked any probing questions about how we met or what our plans are for the future.
The only person who said anything to us was the Bride. Sunday morning, after listening to her complain all through brunch about how miserable and hot it is in Texas, we walked out to the car to say our goodbyes.
"So, you've been dating for a year and a half," she said to the Boy. "When are you guys going to get married?"