Susan and Roxi careen unsteadily towards their wedding day.
I now know why people get married before they have a baby. I know this because, on the 13th of December, Roxi and I are having a wedding. And Finn will be just over a year old. We struck on this peculiar idea in early January, when Finn was but an infant, and December seemed like a long long way away. We were visiting a friend’s farm in the little Karoo and decided that this was absolutely where we should hold our big day.
Roxi and I had legally married in the magistrate’s court 10 days before Finn’s birth to ensure Roxi was recognised as a legal parent. But now that Finn was here, a celebration of our union seemed liked the next logical step.
‘It’s the perfect time for it,’ I remember enthusing to Roxi. ‘Finn will be walking and eating well and sleep will be bountiful. We’ll be a happy family. We’ll celebrate making it through the first year of parenthood with a flamboyant wedding!’ Before we could stop ourselves Roxi had designed beautiful invitations and we’d emailed 75 of our closest friends. That was in February.
The next time we looked it was October and 65 guests were coming to a wedding held by us. We had no caterer, no flowers, no dresses and no rings. All we had was a venue in the middle of nowhere, dark rings under our shell-shocked eyes, a relationship on the rocks and a small boy who spent his hours playing search and destroy.
What had we been thinking?
Our little throwaway decision was made at a time before we’d gone through the intense trials of feeding Finn solids, middle ear infections, grommet operations and four hours of broken sleep a night for months on end. It was before all our money had disappeared down the nappy bin. It was before our conversations had been reduced to weighing up who was suffering more than the other. ‘But whenever it’s your turn to wake up he sleeps through.’ Or ‘But I have to work office hours.’ Or ‘But I bathed him the last night and cooked supper.’
And our wedding decision was made long before Roxi, who up until this point could be described as a fairly unconventional and funky ‘chick’, turned into a bride-to-be fussing about wedding dresses and diamond rings and how many bridesmaids she should have.
It was before she ‘just had to have a chocolate fountain.’ I barely recognised her. I tried to speak to her about it… once. She’d just fired one of her bridesmaids for not taking the job seriously enough. She was distraught. I was trying to be helpful. ‘But you don’t need bridesmaids! What do you need bridesmaids for?’ I snorted. The ensuing monologue said it all. It ended with the words, ‘Every girl dreams of being a bride!’ Except, it seemed, for me. I had unintentionally turned into the reluctant part of the bridal couple who just wanted to fast forward to that first glass of bubbly.
It’s not that I don’t want to get married. It’s just that planning a wedding during the first year of parenthood is clearly the most ludicrous idea we’ve ever had. I now understand a colleague who, a week before her wedding, when asked how many people were coming, spat, ‘A hundred and twenty fuckers!’
Still, the wedding goes on. And if I’m honest, it wouldn’t be the same without Finn careening down the aisle with us on such a momentous day. After all, he is the perfect best man.Have you planned a wedding during the first year of parenthood? How did it go?