Saturday, 2 September 2017

A Great Excuse For A Party

We didn't want to call it a wedding. We avoided using that word on the invitations and, in conversation and social media posts, opted for phrases like liefdesfeestje and celebration instead.

Our motivation when planning was simple: to get all our friends and family together for a big party. Why not just do exactly that, I hear you ask. Just throw a party and not bother with the wedding stuff? It'd be easy, right? Well, for most people maybe. But not if your parents are immigrants so you don't have any relatives in the UK, and your partners best friends all live in other countries. Then, it's less easy to get people together for 'just' a party. We had to ask ourselves, what would motivate people to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles? Only a wedding, a celebration, a liefdesfeestje, would do.

Still, though we continued to avoid the W-word (although we also got annoyed when my mum and step-mum said "It wasn't really a wedding" - go figure). For reasons both political and personal - weddings, lets face it, aren't very cool or punk - both Thomas and I resisted until, a few months before the celebration, we came across a poem that ended up playing a central part of our ceremony. Read beautifully by Thomas' sister, Julia (a fellow kickass feminist), I'm going to reproduce it here because, for me, there's nothing that better explains how we came to be at peace with the W-word and, indeed, with the notion of marriage.
Why Marry At All by Marge Piercy

Why mar what has grown up between the cracks
and flourished like a weed
that discovers itself to bear rugged
spikes of magenta blossoms in August,
ironweed sturdy and bold,
a perennial that endures winters to persist?

Why register with the state?
Why enlist in the legions of the respectable?
Why risk the whole apparatus of roles
and rules, of laws and liabilities?
Why license our bed at the foot
like our Datsun truck: will the mileage improve?

Why encumber our love with patriarchal
word stones, with the old armor
of husband and the corset stays
and the chains of wife? Marriage
meant buying a breeding womb
and sole claim to enforced sexual service.

Marriage has built boxes in which women
have burst their hearts sooner
than those walls; boxes of private
slow murder and the fading of the bloom
in the blood; boxes in which secret
bruises appear like toadstools in the morning.

But we cannot invent a language
of new grunts. We start where we find
ourselves, at this time and place.

Which is always the crossing of roads
that began beyond the earth’s curve
but whose destination we can now alter.

This is a public saying to all our friends
that we want to stay together. We want
to share our lives. We mean to pledge
ourselves through times of broken stone
and seasons of rose and ripe plum;
we have found out, we know, we want to continue.

"A public saying to all our friends," isn't that beautiful? The poem brought us round to thinking about the purpose of weddings, of the ways in which they can be a positive declaration and, yes, a celebration. Ultimately, we found ourselves realising, we could call it whatever we liked but if you're both wearing fancy clothes and saying vows and there's cake and confetti, it's probably a wedding. And a really great excuse for a party.
All photographs by James Mottram Photography

My other wedding posts:

31 comments:

  1. I LOVE the photos of your public declaration. I LOVE your dress but I ADORE your shoes. Oh my... Everything I wanted to say about all the happiness and joy and laughter in those pics went right out the window when I saw those shoes. xx Sonja

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    1. Haha thank you! I saw them years and years ago in Clarks (of all places) and when I got my dress I knew exactly what shoes I wanted - luckily I found an unworn pair on eBay for about £12.

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  2. I have been a bit confused about your wedding, or not-a-wedding. Did you do the dress, the rings, the celebration but not actually the marriage bit?! I think that's a great way to do it your not that keen on the legal bit and definitely a great excuse for a bit get together.

    You have some really lovely photos, it looked like a wonderful day :)

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    1. Basically, yes! We didn't have any legal ceremony (a friend of ours officiated instead) but we still wrote vows and exchanged rings.

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    2. I was going to ask the same!!

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  3. I am the same about the whole wedding and marriage thing. I am still not sure why I did it, but was important to Rob, so I did the marriage bit without the wedding. I still hate the old fashioned religious undertones of the concept of marriage though. I call Rob my partner, have not changed my name, don't wear a ring and woe betide anyone who calls me his wife!!! But I have made my peace with things now more or less. Like you, I did something traditional, that I never thought I would do, on my terms. I love the "public saying to all our friends" thats a great way of putting it. Now that the dust has settled everyone has forgotten that we are married anyway which suits me fine (except the oldies in the fam)!!! Looks like you had a lovely day, keep the posts coming! Congrats to you both xxx

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    1. I cannot ever imagine referring to Thomas as my husband, nor he calling me his wife - we still use partner, too. But I think doing something as traditional and loaded with cultural baggage as marriage on your own terms and making it work for you as a couple is actually quite lovely and, I'd suggest, more meaningful than just doing everything the way it's 'supposed' to be done.

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  4. What a fantastic poem, I love it! I think that whatever your day entailed and whatever the reasons behind it, you both look bloody happy and that's the main thing. Oh and I ADORE your shoes!

    C x
    http://happygoluckycat.blogspot.co.uk/

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  5. Ah this is so interesting as I feel really similar about weddings - I don't really want one but then as so much of my family and friends are scattered around the globe, I worry they won't come over for a party, but would come over for a wedding. I love the reading - totally encapsulates the whole thing! x

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    1. With hindsight I am so so glad we decided to have a wedding - and especially so that we did it this way. It was just the best opportunity to see everyone!

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  6. That poem is fab! I'm also loving the bright shoes, they're such a lovely colour!

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    1. Aren't they fab? From Clarks of all places!

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  7. I genuinely never thought I would get married, the idea didn't appeal at all - but then I met David, and I loved him, and we kind of had to by law for us to be together, the perils of a U.S./Brit relationship! There are still aspects of being a "wife" 16 years later that don't gel - not in my actual life with my o.h., but as in sometimes when people speak about marital life stereotypes, it's not relevant to most of my experience of it, thankfully!

    So happy for you both that you got to declare your love to those who matter to you in a way that made you happy. It looks like it was such a happy day, you both looked amazing and as commented above, also love the blue shoes!

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    1. I can't imagine ever seeing myself as, or using the term, "wife". It's such an alien concept to me.

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  8. Your photos are wonderful! I know you weren't entirely happy with the dress in the end, but you look amazing.

    And the poem is absolutely perfect - what a wonderful way to encapsulate your reason for celebrating.

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    1. Honestly the dress looks so good in the photos, I wish I'd been a bit more relaxed about it on the day!

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  9. A perfect poem for you guys! At the end of the day no marriage is the same and it is what you make it, what you want it to be. It's different for everyone. Yes, it was a wedding but it was done your way - which is exactly how it should be. Bravo!
    Lovely photos, you both look so happy :)

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  10. What a lovely liefdesfeestje!

    I like the idea of a "public saying to all of our friends" - for my husband and I it was more for us, but it was the same sentiment. It wasn't so much about the marriage than it was about the gesture. To be fair, you'd hardly know we were married since we don't share the same last names, we don't wear wedding rings and we often forget to introduce each other like that.

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    1. Oh gosh I can't ever imagine introducing Thomas as my husband, it's such a weird concept to me! We do both wear rings but don't share a last name and still refer to each other as partners.

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  11. "But we cannot invent a language of new grunts..." Yes, yes, this is perfect. Marriage is a promise, and all we have is the imperfect language that already exists with which to describe it.

    I hope your day was as perfect as it looked :)

    Lis / last year's girl x

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  12. Marge Piercy is so wonderful, her poem Bonsai is one of my absolute favourites. Also the photographs are so lovely and you look absolutely gorgeous!

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    1. I'll have to go and read that - shamefully I didn't even know she wrote poetry as well as prose until I found this one.

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  13. Love love love this! Your photos are beautiful and you both look stunning. Will there be any more wedding/celebration-themed posts?

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  14. That poem is lovely! The way it ends is so beautiful!

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    1. Isn't it beautiful? So well suited to me and Thomas.

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  15. I am happy you shared your rationale. Rom and I didn't experience any "calling" to get married and would have been happy without a wedding, but like SteffR above, it made immigration much easier. We both still say we are in a relationship that will last as long as we both want it to. We have just committed to there being no foreseeable endpoint! We refer to each other as spouse or partner and I am always taken aback when someone else says husband or wife. Yet, all in all, we liked having our partnership "go public."

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    1. Yes I find the terms husband and wife very strange, I can't see us ever using them.

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