I'm 34 and I've been married twice, to the same man. Wedding number one was a largish traditional Catholic wedding here in Kansas City. I say largish in that we had 70 people which felt like 500 to us. We paid for everything but the food and my wedding dress which were gifts from my parents. I was one of those traditional brides who held dreams of an elegant event, a big challenge for a gal who only brought home $900 a month. For months I dove into each detail using my creativity to make up for the lack of budget. I was determined to make our wedding day the one I had always imagined. The wedding day came, but it did not feel like the blissful day in my imagination. The hours slipped away with each "day of to do" crossed off the list. Before I knew it, I was at the altar and in the middle of the ceremony. Each detail of the day swirled in my head as I took inventory of what I had accomplished and what got missed. To this day I don't remember what Father said and I have a vauge fuzzy memory of actually saying my vows! It was all so overwhelming, but most dissapointing was it lacked the emotion that I was supposed to share with my new husband.
Fast forward ten years. Wedding number two, the renewal of our vows after ten years of being married to my best friend. For the past ten years I'd lived with the nagging feeling that I had missed something fundamental at our wedding, the emotion. Every year about 6 months before our anniversary, I would toy with the idea of planning a renewal of our vows. Every year seemed like a good enough reason to try to relive it again. In fact, we had our wedding pictures retaken at year 5 since our wedding day photographer flaked on delivering the final prints to us. Even after rewearing my lovely dress, which still fit, I struggled to feel the bridal bliss. Eventually around year 7 or 8 I decided I would give up the ghost. Then at the beginning of year 9 I stumbled upon a photo of a friend on Facebook who recently got married in Las Vegas. I was moved by the picture of she and her new husband kissing infront of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I was moved by the simplicity, she in a black cocktail dress. No lace. No white tulle. Just a simple and genuine kiss that I could tell wasn't clouded by infinite details of the wedding day. It was just the two of them in the photo, plus a handfull of friends watching on. They couldn't have looked happier. I was inspired again to renew our vows, but this time I would forgo the big fancy party. There would be no guests (or a very few good friends). It would be a weekend just for the two of us. We would go back to the city we honeymooned in which happened to be, Vegas!
Excited by the idea of spontaneity, I decided to book a wedding chapel ceremony. SO many chapels in varying degrees of cheese and chintz. I knew that would be part of the Vegas wedding experience but the fake ivy and white grecian columns were just a little much for me. The classier chapels located at the hotels were more expensive and didn't offer much more in their packages than the cheesy chapels. In the end I decided if you can't beat 'em join 'em. So in classic Vegas fashion, I booked a package that would re-marry us under that same famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign. The weeks leading up to our celebration were fun. I needed only to focus on buying the perfect little white cocktail dress. I purchased a cute head piece with a bronze colored bird cage veil perfect for a winter wedding. I LOVED my simplified bridal ensemble. I felt beautiful AND relaxed. The night of our ceremony, we met my cousin and his wife (who had recently just moved to Vegas) for cocktails at The Vesper lounge in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. From there the limo, provided in our package, picked us up and took us to the famous sign which lit the area with an electric glow. The driver handed me the bouquet included in the package as the photographer (you guessed it) included in the package photographed me pinning the bouteniere on my husband. We then met our officiant, the Reverend, who had officiated over 25,000 weddings including a few celebrity nuptials. He was kind and genuinely happy for us. We could tell he loved his job. So the ceremony began. This time Mel and I wrote our own vows. I took mine out of my new beaded clutch and began to read. Then it happened, tears of joy and emotion. I was overwhelmed by how much I meant those words and how happy I was to be there with him. Practically sobbing, I finished so he could share his. I was SO overwhelmed with emotion during our quick little 10 min ceremony. I had never felt so close and so in love with my husband. We took several pictures infront of the sign and off we went to our dinner for two on the top floor of Mandalay Bay. We wrapped up our evening back at our Bellagio suite (a well worth it splurge), and woke up the next day to order breakfast in our room. We felt like newly weds again, still after 10 years.
I look back at my two weddings and thank my lucky stars I am fortunate to have Mel in my life, and fortunate to have enjoyed two lovely celebrations of our love and commitment. And although our "real" wedding was the elegant affair I had always dreamed of, I was suprised and humbled by the amount of emotion behind our simple little Vegas ceremony. I was reminded of the reading 1 Corinthians recited at our wedding. Our marriage is backed by real love. Once all the ceremony was removed, that which was and is genuine rang true.