I knew I was working on my last wedding when at our preliminary client meeting, the bride-to-be told me over tea and paperwork that her parents had offered her either The Day, or the down payment on a house, and I wanted to scream, “Take the house!”
I did my best, type A perfectionist job on her wedding, but after this I realized clients would be better served by one of the hundreds of new, young, peppy wedding planners that flood the industry now, someone who could say without flinching, “Of course—everyone deserves the day!”
To be fair, ten years ago, I had The Day: dancing under a clear top tent to a twelve piece band, butlered sushi, and a fourteen foot veil. It was the happiest, most perfect day of my life.
What have I learned in eight years of orchestrating close to a hundred fairy tale weddings? What have I figured out about marriage, family and home as, in the last five of those years, my husband and I have gone from being renters/relative crashers to slowly building our dream house and expanding our family from three to five? The truth: the vows, the well-wishes, the champagne toast and the toss of confetti at the the end of the night is just the beginning.
This weekend, my husband and I went out for a rare date night, alone. We have been married for ten years, together for fifteen, and have gone from being a regular old four-legged couple to responsible for approximately twenty-six legs of living creatures, and I’m not even counting the fire belly toads or newts in the boys’ habitats. Over mojitos that I assured him weren’t as good as the ones he makes with the mint from our garden, I told my husband coyly, “You should romance me more.”
We had been talking as we strolled through New Hope, PA about things we’d like to do to the house, what needed to be accomplished in the garden, about the kids, about our careers.
His honest answer, without a hint of resentment or irony, while holding my hand across the table, “Every day that I get up at seven and leave you and the kids cozy in bed and drive forty miles to work in New Jersey, that’s me romancing you.”
I’ve thought about that, watching him the rest of the weekend.
When he buys and carries five eighty pound bags of water-softener salt down to the basement every six weeks, that is love. Also, hand-weeding in between the pavers of our driveway. Turning my kitchen compost pile. Building a 60x8 foot trellis for the lima beans to climb. Bringing me breakfast of tea, nectarine, plum and almonds and taking the kids out to the yard to play baseball so I can write to my deadline. Replacing, painstakingly rethreading the new safety net on the trampoline because one of the boys bounced through the old one. (For the third time.) Not blinking when I double our number of children by inviting neighbor kids over for a movie night in his home theater, the man cave he built last year to recording studio soundproof standards so that bombs can be going off in Independence Day underneath our kids’ bedrooms and they will sleep through it. Indulging me by figuring out how to hang a sixteen-paned 7x7 window I found on the curb last year as a sliding door between my office and the kids’ playroom in our soon-to-be-complete basement. Not commenting when I turned the entire loft into a red, pink, orange and cream fabric explosion for the two years it took me to finish our youngest daughter’s quilt. Ditto for every time I deconstruct one of my novels and break out the highlighters and colored Post-its all over the master bedroom. Not freaking out about the teal marker on the wooden craftsman staircase. (Came right off with Magic Eraser, hon!) Remembering to vacuum the coils for the fridge, put the HVAC filters through the dishwasher, clean the grease traps for the stove hood and rinse out the recycling bin. Wiring speakers to our bedroom so that after our date night, we can listen to the Massive Attack album that was the soundtrack to our honeymoon.
This is love. These are the everyday ways he shows his love for me. Of course I try to reciprocate in kind, in a maintenance kind of way. Keeping his kids alive and fed, trying to remember to fold the laundry as it comes out of the dryer so we can leave the ironing board buried under things to go to the thrift store. Running the dishwasher every few days. Getting up with the kids who wake before dawn after the mojito date night so he can sleep in because it's the weekend. Over the years I have discovered that these acts of service are the stones we place on a daily basis that continue to make our marriage a safe haven for our family, that make our house a home.
This is why, at the end of every wedding, no matter how much of a bridezilla she had been, whether the groom had hit on me or the mother-of-the-bride had assured me after the favor ribbons being the wrong shade of merlot, there would be no tip, I snuck up to their wedding suite. I sprinkled the newlywed bed in rose petals and left a note for them with these words: Let the joy, love and support of this wedding day be present in your marriage. Let the ways in which you love each other shine through in simple everyday acts, so that your love can grow, so that wherever you live will feel like home.