It’s a fact. Family + Weddings = Exhaustion. While our nuclear family consists of the two of us and our dog, our civil marriage brought together two large families. They don’t live near us so we don’t get to see each other that often, but when we said we’d take our union before God, the excitement was real and travel plans were quickly made.
Twelve years ago my husband and I took a leap of faith. We barely knew each other when we signed the papers. In spite of having many relatives there were only a handful of people who thought we’d make it past the first year. So our plans to make our union official, with God and the church as witnesses, gave me the idea to make the sacrament of matrimony all about us, and to offer an intimate but beautiful reception for our loved ones. We scheduled the date back in January, attended the couple’s course in July, and on August 3rd we were picking up a group of ten from the airport. My sisters and cousins live in Florida and had already booked rooms at nearby hotels. Everyone wanted to hang out during the days prior to our ceremony, but of course, I had no time. I had planned a DIY wedding which kept me busy until the very last second.
You bet there was a crisis! Luckily, I didn’t turn into a bridezilla. It began a week before our event, when the hotel we’d reserved for our reception was shut down by the city due to an electrical fire that left it without power. This gave us very little time to find another venue and make plans with the new vendors. The night before the ceremony my sister and I stayed until three in the morning preparing the flower arrangements for the altar and the reception, and because the new venue did not allow me to prepare the hall the night before, I had to leave props and decorations with the event coordinator (and now good friend) after ten in the morning. I had to do two trips with the car packed with boxes, and sure enough, I was late to my hair and makeup appointment and, in turn, forty minutes late to my own wedding. I almost lost my mother-in-law from the nerves! Still, it was the most special moment of my adult life.
The church choir gave us the best gift of them all. They offered and performed during the ceremony—John Rutter’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. It’s what happens when you let a classical musician pick her own wedding music. Between the ceremony and the reception we had an amazing photo session which came at a great family discount. Even the wedding ceremony was a gift from the church family and our beloved priest. What a blessing! I couldn’t have asked for more. The reception was exceptional as well, with a gorgeous desert table that was baked and set up by my little cousin who is an amazing baker. We also had a great live pop-rock band, and a DJ to satisfy the needs of the Cuban family. Needless to say we had a blast!
Some of our oldest friends (the ones who supported us through our rocky start) were unable to come. And I take comfort thinking that some of our dearest relatives got to see our celebration from heaven. Of course, we had a few cancellations and additions last minute, but in the end we had a great time. Everyone who was present came for the right reasons—to celebrate our love.
The days following the wedding were stressful as well. Mainly because the family that came from Spain stayed for another twelve days and we had to play chauffeur and host. Thank goodness my parents-in-law took over the kitchen! Most days our one-bedroom apartment was packed from siesta to bedtime. At times I didn’t know what to do with myself. It’s always been the two of us and the dog, and suddenly there were another seven adults, a teenager, a kid, and a toddler. (I have intentionally left out the adjectives, but feel free to use your imagination.)
Yet, today I came back from work and found myself out of place in my own home. All because last night we drove took one final trip to the airport. The moment they crossed the sliding doors to Concourse D I got in the car with teary eyes and drove home. I was waiting for that sigh of relief to come, but it never came. They might be my husband’s family and… yes, it’s true that at times they can be too much to handle. But they’re a precious part of our life, a part of who we are as a couple. And there’s this little problem I have, you see… when I love someone, they can do no wrong. And if distance keeps us from taking each other in small doses, then it’s better to take the concentrate version in one gulp than not have it at all. And that’s true for all loved ones, no matter how impossible they seem to be. Twelve years ago they might not have trusted us to care for each other until death do us apart. My hope is that our convalidation of marriage allows them to understand how committed we are not only to our marriage, but to our one-of-a-kind Spanish-Cuban family.