In the next 30 days, I’m finishing a masters degree, launching a company, and getting married. Personally, I thrive on the excitement. I also thrive on espresso.
My fiance and I (see Bullish Life: How I Met My (Soon-to-Be) Husband On OKCupid) are not religious and do not share any close friends who might want to perform our ceremony. We also don’t like getting all warm and fuzzy in public. At various points, we discussed having a historical ceremony performed by a George Washington impersonator, getting married at sea by a crusty old sea captain according to the laws of the ocean circa 1700, and getting someone to do a secular ceremony in Latin. Maybe something from ancient Rome. These suggestions were not practical.
So we hired a professional, Jessie Blum of Eclectic Unions (good vocab word!), to tell us what to say and where to stand. We met up with her at a coffee shop in New Jersey, where I’m pretty sure I remember talking about Monty Python and Dr. Who. It went well. We hired her. I was all like, “Great, we’re done!”
But after the coffee shop interview came the homework. Wedding homework! A great big Word document prefaced with, “Please answer these individually, without sharing your answers with each other! I will use aspects of the answers to create your Love Story, as well as personalize all aspects of your ceremony.”
It was kind of harder than writing a Bullish column, and those kind of wear me out, which is one reason I drink.
Here is a small selection of what went down. At the end is my proposal for a gentle(wo)manly wedding vow.
How would you describe yourself?
Smart but off-putting. You really shouldn’t say that at my wedding, though.
Tell me your story! When did you first meet? How did you first meet? How did you feel about the other one at that time? What was your first date like?
We met on OKCupid. I had mentioned a the book Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos, about, of course, people who don’t understand numbers. Andrew said he had read it as a teenager and it had been a formative influence on him.
We met on Halloween, which neither of us care about. We’re not really costume people, and I was working, teaching an evening class. I told him I’d show up “dressed to buy and sell him.” We met at a bar near my work. We liked each other immediately. At some point, Andrew took his glasses off for seemingly no reason, and I thought, “Oh, he’s flirting! That’s how he flirts!” I liked the way his eyelashes looked when he blinked.
He confessed that he still played Dungeons and Dragons, although he had picked it back up recently and hadn’t been playing it continuously since he was a teenager.
What do you love about your partner? What qualities do you most admire in her or him?
For a guy who’s a little stuffy – he can tell you how to optimize your 401K – he’s also a bleeding-heart liberal socialist commie revolutionary at heart.
He is very kind and a lover of cats.
Andrew loves the stars/astronomy and is going to teach our children all about science.
His grin is the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
What did your family contribute to you as a person?
I credit my mom for starting me off with a good vocabulary and an open mind and my dad for my love of executive decisionmaking and rule enforcement.
At this point, I’m kind of thinking that most of the things I’m typing are not really appropriate for weddings.
Who, if anyone, is walking you down the aisle? What is special about this relationship?
We will walk down the aisle together. Maybe you could say something about our decision to do this. We’re pretty adult. I, at least, have always felt much older than I was. I have never had an inner child, even when I was a child. I have an inner dignified 60 year old matriarch. So, I’m not interested in blushing-bride stuff, or being given away. We’re adults. We live together. We’re relatively prepared to care not only for ourselves, but for others.
Maybe we could somehow relate this event in our adulthood to the idea of the adulthood of our species. We are adults who take responsibility for ourselves and expect to be responsible for our fellow humans simply because we are able. When our species grows the hell up, we will take care of our planet, and we will tear down national boundaries, and when we ask ourselves questions about the meaning of life, we will do so in the context of knowing that our planet is a tiny part of a galaxy, which itself is a tiny part of an ever-expanding universe. We cannot possibly be the point of it all. Our lives are so short in the expanse of the 13.75 billion years of the universe. Adulthood involves realizing that. I want to celebrate adulthood.
What tone would you like for the ceremony? Intimate, ceremonial, minimal, sacred, warm, solemn, lighthearted?
Dignified, important. Then there’s alcohol.
What emotion would you like guests to take away from the ceremony? What vision would you like to resonate with them?
I’d like them to feel like they just saw two fully grown-up people do something serious. Like other weddings are the Disney version and this is the original French film full of smoking and philosophy.
What do you definitely want and definitely not want for your ceremony?
I don’t like promising vague BS. “I promise to relate to you”? WTF does that mean?
We are having a ketubah even though Andrew is non-practicing. This was my idea! I’m not Jewish, but I love contracts.
Here is the most important promise I think belongs in a wedding: One of us has to die first, right? And we don’t believe in an afterlife. So I hope we spend 40 good years together, but what if it’s less? If I die first, Andrew must promise to promote my values throughout the world until his own death. This is perfectly compatible with meeting someone else someday. I could die, he could marry someone else, and he could still get my writing republished, work for feminist causes, fight racism, teach young men about consent and work to get rapists off the street, and help to create a world where educational opportunity does not depend on class background. And if he dies first, I will do the same for him, although I will have to learn a lot more about economics, astronomy, and abolishing the electoral college.