In 2016, I got married to myself. It was a quick, private and symbolic ceremony, but it happened. It all started with Say Yes To The Dress, the TLC bridal TV show, that I watched with my youngest daughter, Alice. We would sit in front of the television and judge dresses – too puffy, too tacky, not white enough, not figure complimenting, not wedding material. Or: perfect! What a princess, doll, wonder woman in a white cape! I don’t know what brought us together in front of our flat screen on weekends, but it was for sure a fantasy that I had been fed by the society and the media growing up (my parents never had a ceremony or paid much attention to this kind of thing).
I would tell Alice that one day I wanted to be a bride. To have a celebration of love and – strangely – to dress all in white because it meant something. I had spent 12 years living under the same roof with their father, but it never really occurred to us to have a ceremony or go down to City Hall and file some papers. We had such a strong bond, probably stronger than most marriages around us, we never even discussed it. Then, when the relationship ended, I realized that I never had the beautiful pictures of our happy day to display to our children. Silly, right? Still, I am no longer ashamed to say: I wish we had gotten married in a beautiful and romantic ceremony, surrounded by our dear family and friends.
Girl, Stop Apologizing
When I became a single mother of two, a working single mother I might add, I chose to prioritize being there for my girls and
building my career over having another relationship. The thing is: I did not know it was possible to have it all. I thought I already had way too much and the Universe would not me allow more. So, I never even asked for more. And I never got more. Duhhh. Leading to a decade long singlehood, from 29 to 39 years old, the so called “best years”, in which I had fast relationships or casual sex.
I know for a fact that most women think the same way I used to. We are afraid to have it all – yet, deep inside, that’s what we hope for. The I read Rachel Hollis saying on Girl, Stop Apologizing: “Women are so brutal on themselves, and they often talk themselves out of their own dreams before they even attempt them.” Ouch! Rachel is 100% right. That is precisely the only reason I never got married to my ex, or to any other man in my lifetime: I didn’t think I was allowed to dream about it, because I had already experienced so much in my life, I did not even attempt to do it. So why, having conquered so many important things, I got fixated on putting on a white dress and possibly becoming Mrs. Someone?
New York Wedding
Back to my symbolic wedding. After watching Say Yes to the Dress one gloomy Saturday afternoon, Alice and I had the idea to go to Kleinfeld’s (the bridal store displayed on the TV show) and try on a wedding gown. See, here is the thing, if it had been my sole idea, I would never be able to go through with it. It sounded too silly to have such a frugal desire. But since my daughter had supported me, I had permission from my fearful self to do something crazy like this… for myself!
I had a scheduled business trip to NYC, so I booked the appointment with my credit card – there was a U$50 no-show fee, but otherwise it would be a free experience. From that moment on, I envisioned it as my wedding ceremony, or at least the only day I would dress up like a bride. I brought my family’s diamond ring and my grandma’s earrings. I did my hair, my nails, brought new high heels and wore a blue underwear. I knew that this would be my own private ceremony.
After trying on several dresses, I settled for a Pnina Tornai lace gown with long sleeves. I could not hide the emotion, it took me by surprise as I gazed at myself in that mirror: I looked like a bride! Me! The one who thought would never feel that confirmation moment. As my tears started pouring down, I had to face how much that symbolic white dress had meant up to that moment in my entire life. And that, even without a man in sight, it was extremely powerful.
Progressive or traditional?
Of course, later that ceremony led me to very important things. I got some perspective and reflected upon my past experiences to determine why missing something so symbolic, like being a bride, made me (and I am sure I am not alone) so anxious and a little bit obsessed? When did it all start? How was I shaped into a born-in-the-70s-female who does not need a man around, but still struggles with the fact that she badly wants one? How can I be a progressive yet very traditional feminine? What are the new rules for someone like me? Can we have it all or have I watched too many Sex and The City reruns?
Once my feelings calmed down, and as I walked around the luxurious store, imagining a sacred aisle, I whispered a prayer, blessing the moment. And, girl, that was it! No priest, no kiss, no ring, no cake. But wait! It still meant a lot to me. What I did was fundamental to my own humanity, to be able to release myself from the need to put on a bridal dress and feel like my soul could elevate and travel around tradition and emancipation. After this ceremony, I had fulfilled the desire - no need to get married anymore.
And that’s exactly why it may happen: because I stopped obsessing about it, and I could just let life unfold. And guess what? After this, I rekindled with my boyfriend and he proposed in a beautiful way! But because I did not find the need to rush into the wedding, I was able to see that he was not the right one for me and I didn’t need a wedding ceremony with the wrong guy. I had had it with the right person: myself! Because before loving or being loved by someone, you definitely need to love yourself.