I have noticed that the ideal, the pinnacle, of romance is supposed to culminate in a “fairy-tale wedding.” Googling that phrase produces a head-spinning amount of results. Ask any wedding planner, and they know the phrase well. That idyllic scene isn’t always achieved, of course. But it’s the stereotypical dream of every young girl, right? She finds her prince charming and then, at the perfect time, it all comes together for this so-called “fairy-tale wedding.” I suppose we use that term because many fairy-tales end with “happily ever after.” One of my favourite fairy-tales is a Cinderella-type story by the Brothers Grimm entitled The True Bride. There’s a garden, and long walks, and a lime tree, and abandonment, and disguise, and mystique, and deception. Another interesting one is Rapunzel, which features theft, parental abuse, illicit sex (leading to an illegitimate pregnancy), a violent maiming, lots of wandering in the wilderness, and a tearful, miraculous reunion. Other fairy-tales feature geese, cows, and wizards. Many feature lying and deception and trickery. Dragons. Blood. Surprises. Death. There’s a good-against-evil, or a little-vs-big, or a poor-vs-rich struggle. They’re often full of normal people, poor people, who stumble into circumstances well beyond their depth and must use cleverness or goodness to come out on top. In light of most fairy-tales, it is interesting that we use the term “fairy-tale wedding.” Weddings, you see, normally aren’t featured in fairy-tales. In fairy-tales, people have adventures, learn things about themselves, slay giants, fall in love – and then – only then – is a wedding implied. Not by a description of the gown or the cake, but by one tiny phrase: “and they all lived happily ever after.”
They lived. happily.
The ever after part? That’s a choice. That’s a choice I made when I said in front of witnesses, “until death gives us over to God.” That’s a choice I make every day when I follow, love, honor, and respect him.
The happily part? That’s a choice too. “happily” takes a lot of work and a lot of choosing to see good in places that seem dark and sad sometimes. Like when the giant is at the door, when you’re in the belly of the wolf, when your dress is in tatters.
In all honesty, a stereotypical “fairy-tale wedding” – the pristine white cake, bride’s tiara, 10-foot long train, harp music, flowers everywhere, not a hitch or a glitch – looks nothing like a fairy-tale. But the wedding can be the beginning of a fairy-tale, if we let it, I suppose. After all, a marriage is an adventure. A marriage is a perfect example of normalcy shattered by the supernatural. A marriage is a couple of rag-tag adventurers who get whisked into new territory, with every turn challenging who they are and who they THOUGHT they were. Marriage is full of choices to either stand and fight or run and hide. Marriage makes you choose sides and choose teams against bigger foes; marriage makes you realize you can’t do it alone. Marriage is like a beanstalk and a path through the woods and an abandoned cottage, the rose garden of an ancient castle, or a royal ball. It can seem mundane, until you’re forced to make a choice that determines your destiny (and the destiny of others).
[My wedding wasn’t like a fairy-tale, but my marriage might be. Just working every day, little by little, on the choices. On the “happily” and on the “ever after.”]