I was breathing in and out of a brown bag. You know, the kind of thing you see in movies. Literally a brown lunch bag — I have no idea where it came from. I was sweating and panicking.
It was THE day that I had been planning for well over a year. I stood in the bridal suite — attempting to get my wedding dress on. It was divine … I had cried when I tried it on — that “bridal moment” everyone talks about. This wedding was going to be perfect. My favorite and most beautiful resort. A roof deck ceremony overlooking the mountains and the spectacular changing leaves. Gorgeous flowers. Exquisite dining and decor. The perfect band.
Except it wasn’t.
The night before, the shuttle bus to the rehearsal dinner location had a window shatter. Glass landed all over one of my bridesmaids. Guests had wandered off into the woods after the dinner drunk, high, or both. Today, the wedding day, it was raining. My sister-in-law showed up at the spa that morning for her hair appointment hungover. There she sat with cucumber slices on her eyes. My sister had gotten sick on the turnpike on the way the day prior. An awful experience she was still recovering from. My parents were mad — my mother was angry at me for having the wedding in this location. (and now tells me for even marrying him). Upset I wasn’t getting married in my “hometown.”
I mean. What else could go wrong?
A panic attack could happen. My first ever. Although I didn’t know what it was then, 17 years later, I’m experienced at having panic attacks. As my sister was attempting to zip up my gown, it felt tight and overwhelming. I couldn’t breathe. She looked at me and pulled it down. My bridesmaids were all standing there not exactly sure what to do — although one did find the brown bag. The photographer cowered in the corner. I can still picture him — trying to blend into the wallpaper. Not wanting to be a part of this moment, and not about to photograph it.
Our romance leading to the alter had been a 5-year long road. I fell head over heels for him. He was handsome, charming, smart, articulate, well-educated. He had all the right answers. Said all the right things. We had broken up at one point, then got back together. I realize now there were so many red flags — why I ignored them is beyond me. Blinded by my own love, I thought it was going to be the most amazing life.
The Universe was screaming at me that day and the day before. Had been screaming at me for years leading up to this day. Begging me not to do it. And now I was standing there breathing in and out of a bag, calming myself down. I got the dress on and walked to the ceremony location. I saw him standing there, waiting. I was late. I watched as my mothers-in-law’s dress caught fire on a candle on her way down the aisle (hello Universe?). Bless her heart, my wedding planner had tried to make the stale conference room look prettier. Her dress was saved — the flames extinguished — perhaps a sign of how my love for him would extinguish. It was my turn to walk down the aisle.
I stood before him and I said “I-do.”
Almost 2 decades later, after 3 children, 2 homes, 1 vow renewal, and countless red flags, I finally said “I don’t.”
The Universe is smiling at me now.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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