October 2, 2014 by Julia
My sister Lisa got married this past Sunday. As we like to say to each other, No Big Deal. No biggie.
Her love story with the groom is convoluted and spans separate hemispheres and career paths and inconvenient time differences. When I last wrote about Lisa and Thomas in April 2013, she had just left for Australia with plans to marry Thomas in a civil ceremony soon after her arrival. She wanted to obtain a work visa while he finished his post there, and they were prepared to live in Australia indefinitely, moving back to the States as soon as Thomas’ job would allow. When she left that Spring we had no idea how long it would be before we’d see Lisa again.
But she (and the sparkling images of their wedding that she sent) told us that she was happy. It was inspiring, really, to watch someone follow her heart so fully.
We as a family were thrilled that Lisa had found a soul mate, but of course their first ceremony was bittersweet, too – the whole “we are thousands of miles away while they make this commitment to each other” being the “bitter” part, in case that wasn’t obvious. Mom probably took it the hardest.
Lisa reassured us, though, that they would have a celebratory ceremony with friends and family the following year, back in the States. And she was doing well, considering that she’d left her job, family and friends to move across the world to a small town AND Lisa has never liked change OR being away from family OR boredom! (She couldn’t work until she got her visa.) That’s The Power of Love!
But then…her visa fell through. And between April and October, she had to leave the country twice, due to pesky rules about travel. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you get married to someone who lives there? I guess because Thomas isn’t an Australian citizen, either? I don’t know. Things were so up in the air. In October she came back to Maryland to stay with our parents. We’d made a huge deal about her departure in April…and then she was back a few months later. And understandably, she was not happy about living apart from her new husband.
Honestly, I can’t even remember how many times she went back and forth between our parents’ home on the east coast of the United States and Australia, but I do know it was expensive and exhausting to make that trip, not to mention the fact that she and Thomas did not know exactly what the future held for their careers, or where they would live in the world, or even how long it might be before they could live together again.
Meanwhile, Lisa was planning their wedding here in the States, and got a good job offer here, near family and our hometown, which she took in hopes that Thomas could also get transferred back to the area.
Turns out he did get transferred back here (hurrah!) – and was able to finish up in Australia literally days before their ceremony here with friends and family. In a few months, things will settle down for both of them, and they can FINALLY begin to set up a more permanent home and life together.
So this ceremony was a celebration of that, as well as a celebration of their already existing marriage.
There is something special about a sister getting married. Of course I had my usual anxiety about being part of the wedding and about Fiona being a flower girl – although this was her third time, and she was pretty excited now that she knows the deal! But to Lisa’s credit, she kept things pretty low-key and stress-free, for a bride.
I appreciated her attitude, now that I’m older and wiser and think that a lot of the expensive crap that goes into weddings just gets in the way of the actual celebration of marriage. (I mean, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the details that you forget to keep any of it in perspective.) Plus, I am a thirty-five-year-old mother of two young kids (in case you forgot; I know I never bring this up as an excuse for anything) and ain’t nobody got time for that, once you reach a certain phase of life. Not that I wouldn’t have made the time, for my sister…but let the record show that she never asked me to hand paint the ribbons for the backs of the chairs, or whatever. (I totally asked my own bridesmaids to do that kind of thing.)
So, despite my irrational anxiety about…things going okay, I guess? whatever that means…the weeks leading up to the wedding were fun.
The bridal shower:
I also survived and enjoyed the bachelorette party the following weekend, which was not insane, because, oh yeah – my sister is in her thirties, too. I don’t know what I was expecting – an all-nighter, bouncing from club to club? Limos and strippers and vomit? I think I temporarily forgot that my sister is related to me, and only two years younger than me.
The wildest thing I had to do was go into a Spencer’s in the mall and drop $28.00 on a crappy bridal veil for Lisa to wear, a “BRIDE” and “BRIDE’S CREW” pin set, and a small tin of penis-shaped mints called “Peckermints,” which showcased impressive detail. I feel the need to point out that this was the most classy penis paraphernalia I could find, and also that Spencer’s now sells full-on sex toys (at the mall!), and that each of the items I purchased were similar to something I could buy at the dollar store, which is the only reason I mentioned the $28.00.
The evening turned out to be a fairly intimate dinner at a lovely Turkish restaurant downtown with sweet and smart ladies whom I already knew – and I found parking right in front! (I was a little too excited about that.)
And then we walked to a dance club, did our thing there, and I was home in my own bed by 1:30 a.m. Still got it!! (It = the ability to go OUT out on a Friday night.)
And then the weekend after that was the wedding, on a Sunday!
On the wharf, the weather was what weather is supposed to be: breezy, clear, and just warm enough. Fiona handled her flower girl duties with thoughtful consideration, making sure to scatter the fall leaves (rather than flowers) evenly along the bridal path. Dennis even got to sit in the back row and watch the ceremony, taming our wild man Jack with the iPad on mute.
Lisa and Thomas read their own heartfelt vows, a friend recited a poem by Maya Angelou, and the mothers of the couple attempted to light the candles for the unity candle in the wind coming off the water…which proved difficult, but they finally succeeded, against all odds! (What a lovely metaphor for the travel-tested relationship of Thomas and Lisa.) It was a simple, touching ceremony.
You can see how happy they were. I just love these photos.
The rest of us were feeling pretty good about the situation, too:
Hanging out during the photo session afterwards:
Back at the reception, it was gradually dawning on me that as the maid of honor I was supposed to give a a speech.
I literally did not even think of it until the day of the wedding, somehow. It was freak out time, obviously. I had to go be alone and scribble random thoughts down for a while. When I got up with the microphone, I was a little scattered, talking about sisterly impromptu dance performances with Lisa when we were kids and the secret language we made up for our family dog (The Toby Language). The mention of our dog Toby’s seven middle names went over well, though. His full name was Toby Clementi Vice-Versa Milk Carton “Sweet Little Headache” Carnation Blueberry Pie Braveheart Thurston. When I blanked out halfway through, Lisa supplied the rest of the names, which prompted people to jokingly ask later if that part was staged, HA.
Anyway, once I got around to saying something relevant to the occasion, I said that Lisa has always cared about tradition and details, and Thomas gets how important those things are to her, and it’s just one of the ways I know he loves her well, and I couldn’t be happier for both of them…and then we hugged and I got a little choked up which doesn’t work so well after someone has put sixteen layers of eye makeup on you.
Anyway. We had a dance party, and it was all good.
Welp, my two brothers and one sister are all married now, so I can FINALLY relax and stop taking care of them all the time!! UGH, big sister responsibilities, am I RIGHT, Aunt Sharon?!?
Just kidding, I’m pretty neglectful, except on holidays and weddings.
Love and hope and peace to Lisa and Thomas. I am so happy that you found each other.