The following essay was written by guest contributor, Sarah Fetters. She’s pictured above on her wedding day with her new husband, Josh.
When I got married in November of 2012 I was a first-time wife, but a second-time bride. About four and a half years before I walked down the aisle towards my husband Josh, I called off my first wedding. My first fiancé at the time, Tim, and I met and fell in love almost instantly. There were some red flags, though like his parents’ emotionally abusive relationship, and Tim’s tendency to tell small lies. But despite these things we had several blissfully happy years as we moved in together, got engaged, and planned a beautiful wedding. We booked a swanky museum for our reception. I bought a gorgeous designer gown in a rose pink tint. And then about six months before our wedding, a bombshell revelation about Tim’s father changed everything.
The revelation threw Tim’s family into chaos, and Tim spiraled into a state of constant rage which he vented at me. He became cruel and distant, withdrew from the relationship, and eventually cheated on me with a coworker. I packed my bags and left. I mourned the loss of my relationship much more than the loss of my wedding day, but the fact that I was a bride made everything harder. Every time an acquaintance came squealing up to me on the street talking about “OMG, your WEDDING!” I ended up in tears as I briefly explained what had happened. Calling the vendors to cancel our wedding preparations was gut-wrenching. I avoided like the plague the plethora of wedding-related shows on television. There is this overwhelming idea that being a bride is the very best time in a woman’s life and that her wedding day is the be-all-end-all of her existence, the epitome of happiness and femininity. This is totally bogus, of course, but knowing this is society’s general opinion made me feel like a failure and, at times, a freak.
Over the next year I got a great new apartment, switched jobs, and bought a new car. I spent time with friends, dated casually, went on trips, and was again happy and fulfilled. After realizing I was ready for something serious, I asked around to see if any of my friends knew an eligible bachelor. I met Josh on a blind date and we hit it off. We got engaged after two years together, and started planning a wedding.
At first I worried about what people would say. Was I allowed to have a big wedding since I’d already planned one and called it off? Could we have an engagement party even though I’d already had one of those with someone else? Mostly, though, I was met with overwhelming support. My friends and family reminded me of how much I deserved a husband and a celebration that were as great as I was.
Being a second-time bride was not without obstacles. When my family met some of my in-laws to try on wedding gowns, the bridal salon tried to put me back in my first wedding dress. My mother and I sat there in silent mortification (who knew they kept dresses in production that long?). I felt guilty taking the money my parents generously offered to contribute to our wedding, knowing that they had helped pay my canceled wedding. I worried about what would happen if Josh and I fell apart; I couldn’t handle the humiliation of another called-off wedding.
Sharing some of my fears and feelings with Josh helped. We went to premarital counseling with a highly reputable psychologist in our area who helped me process some of my feelings, and we came out feeling stronger than ever. We purchased a home and made it “ours” over many long weekends of painting, drywall, and tilework. I adjusted my attitude and started thinking of this wedding as a completely new and joyous celebration, wholly separate and untainted by the (non) wedding that had come before. Mostly, I looked forward to the time after the wedding when we would just be regular husband and wife.
On a beautiful November day in 2012, Josh and I were married. It was an absolutely stunning wedding: white-gloved waiters passed mugs of steaming hot apple cider and mini caramel apples; thousands of fresh flowers adorned every corner of the hotel; and a string trio played Eric Clapton as my father and I walked down the aisle. Josh and I spent the rest of the month honeymooning in Hawaii. It was everything I wanted and more. And now it’s over. I am just a regular person again — not a bride and no longer the bride that wasn’t — and I am so glad. I feel peaceful knowing that my husband is by my side now and always. I may have planned two different weddings, but with Josh, I am mapping out a life completely our own. And that, I have learned, is much more gratifying.
Sarah Fetters, known to the Dear Wendy community as “Bostonpupgal,” is a mechanical engineer, amateur writer, and passionate baker. She lives with her husband and two Boston Terriers in Pittsburgh, PA where she consumes copious amounts of wine and cheers her favorite hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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