To Each Their Own


“I wanted the traditional architecture for my wedding, but I didn’t want the invisible ceiling that had been pressured on me.”

I twisted the ring on my finger a few times. I twisted it around so the raw stone that was encased in the ring faced away from me. It looked like I had a plain gold band on my finger. It looked much like I was already married. Hmmm. I wondered if other people thought that I was? I squeezed my hand into a fist. Ouch. I felt the point of the diamond press into my palm. How many times was this going to happen, this ring twisting around, causing me a prick of pain? It felt so heavy and so constricting—was that normal? It also felt like I had a story wrapped around my finger, like words were whispered about my love into a gold thread, spun into a perfectly, perfect ring symbol.

Engaged for twenty-four hours. “Click”. The petrol pump clicked, signalling my tank was full. I walked into the service station to pay for my fuel. The 20 steps to the door felt like 1,000. Was my inner ear balance off? I felt like the weight of this ring had me veering to the left. I looked down. ‘Whoops don’t look down’, I self-consciously thought. ‘People will know you are an amateur. Don’t make a fuss, be cool girl …’ My brain rambled.

“Are you paying by card?” said a man with a heavy Sri Lankan accent. “Ah yes.” I replied like a dope. “Oh, you getting married now?” he quizzically asked me, staring at my ring finger. I looked down too. I must have been making my rookie engaged-status a big rookie deal. Maybe I actually was veering left on my way in like a drugged zoo animal. “Yes, I just got proposed, engaged … I’m now engaged. I got engaged yesterday …” I waffled. He rudely interjected, “They tell me marriage is not worth the paper it’s written on. Might as well be toilet paper!” I was shocked. Did he intend to hover a needle threateningly over my engagement bubble? What should I say in response? Maybe this overworked employee just needed some faith instilled back into him. Divorce rates are up there, but at least those couples gave it a good go …

“I love toilet paper,” I replied with cognitive dissonance. “It’s a necessity. Like all paper. We need it every day.” The person in line behind me laughed. The attendant looked at me like I was a complete idiot. “No receipt thanks.” I made my way out of there posthaste. I walked out of there so swiftly that I got a little electric shock between my thighs from the friction on my stockings. With that, it bookmarked a moment in time. I felt so overwhelmed.

Even though I had positively known this engagement was coming, it was much more tangible than I anticipated.

There was a seismic shift inside of my spirit, as if a river had stopped and suddenly changed course. It felt like water gushing up a waterfall and travelling impossibly uphill.

Like many young women, I’d been so terribly bruised and wounded from love found, and love lost. I was wildly in love with being single, and so predictably averse to wanting to meet any man. I loathed the chat with girlfriends about their boyfriends. I would fade away, gazing into the middle distance wondering what else I could have done with that lost time. Why couldn’t they just exist in a more independent paradigm, where they made liberated decisions? There I was. Feminist at heart, happy in my autonomous world, dreaming and doing what I wanted to. Out of that content place my husband found a way in.

He was the moon to my sun, the peace to my storm, the predictability to my spontaneity, the suits to my nudity … my opposite and my balance. He took me by surprise. For the first time in my life I knew I was with someone who would hold my hand for as long as he was able. Our engagement wasn’t a long one. Tout de suite at only six weeks. All the swirling waters of anticipation and excitement never had time to settle while I found my footing. Being a bride is meant to be, for most, the cornerstone of our family journey. Yet, we marry this chaotic mix of collective expectations and traditions, with deeply personal beliefs and desires. Kate O’Shea, founder of The Wedding Series says, “We have noticed even the most non-traditional bride will become focused on more traditionally sentimental elements of a wedding”.

Evidently being a bride means more to us when it has meant so much to everyone else. I wanted to be part of the collective experience that brides navigate. From collective ideas and community we beget traditions and social mores. From traditions and social mores we create the architecture for our own experiences. I wanted the traditional architecture for my wedding, but I didn’t want the invisible ceiling that had been pressured upon me. I wanted to marry my way, or more correctly, our way. Fortunately my betrothed was on the same page as I. At the time I didn’t realise how important that was.

I soon found out the engagement of your relationship is symbolic for your entire life journey together.

Let me illustrate this for you. Announcing your engagement. How did that feel? From farther down the road I can look back and tell you it’s like announcing a pregnancy. It takes two people to do both and it’s a sweet, powerful moment you want to remember forever. Budgeting and planning your wedding day is much akin to planning your budget and your life together. Our money is where our hearts are. In the process of planning and spending you will find out what you deem important. Is it to make guests happy? Is it to impress? Our spending might look the same as another bride, but take ownership of your motives. It’s a discovery of who you are.

The many wedding details: the dress, the hair, the makeup, the location, the food, and the style. While the internet and magazines give us ideas, family and friends give us opinions. It may be a simple remark about a budget, or noticing a manner of styles. It could be a denial of a request. All of these experiences affect us. At some points in my engagement I felt as if I was running a race for my personal best. I knew that I was keeping busy in order to distract myself from my fears. Don’t do that. Be brave and talk about them. If you’re lucky like me and have a super sensitive partner, he will take you by the hand and ask you.

Being a bride is a lot like wearing a ring. It can sometimes feel like a restricting shackle, pricking us when we have it in the wrong position. Often times it feels like a desire for our love, symbolised in sparkling stone. A treasure or tradition that looks like so many that have gone before us, but invisibly
inscribed with the love we chose to give.


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