After two-and-a-half years of engagement (what we fondly referred to as our “Very Long Engagement”), my fiancé (now-husband!) and I got married on the last Saturday of May. We’ve been living together for nearly-three-and-a-half years, and have already shared three Christmases with our families. As you may expect, during the weeks leading up to our marriage, I felt that not much would change après wedding—we’d have a lovely party and honeymoon then go back to our lives as usual—only this time with a little extra jewelry on our hands.
But pleasantly, I was wrong. Although I didn’t think it was possible, I feel even closer to the man I’ve been partners with for years. Sharing our vows—and the love we’ve been cultivating—with our dearest friends and family members made our bond seem all the more palpable to the both of us.
And there’s more. Our wedding helped me realize an important truth about the people in my life. During our honeymoon in Asheville, NC, I picked up a copy of The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. (Keegan was born the same year as me but met an untimely death shortly after graduating from Yale, leaving behind a collection of haunting yet incisive writing.)
In the collection’s titular essay, the author explains that there isn’t a word for “the opposite of loneliness,” but the concept is certainly real:
“It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four A.M. and no one goes to bed…”
Reading this just a few days after our wedding, I knew exactly what Keegan meant by “an abundance of people.” We had it at our wedding and the days leading up to the big event.
My parents’ usually quiet home became a temporary headquarters for out-of-town relatives who were ever grateful for just a splash of coffee and local friends dropping by to chat for thirty minutes before giving us just one more round of hugs.
My childhood bathroom was at one point occupied by my three bridesmaids all trying to figure out what do with their hair for the rehearsal. In such a small space, one of us had to set up shop on the rim of the bathtub. Later that night, we all piled onto my bed, falling asleep, shoulder to shoulder, before even making it under the covers.
During our wedding reception, my husband and I spent time with yet more loved ones. As we were busy teasing out the details of cherished memories, new memories of the evening were already forming.
Of course, all of this was possible because our friends and family reserved a certain Saturday months in advance and flew or drove hundreds of miles just so we could meet at a certain manor in a small town in North Carolina. This was not an everyday occurrence. Once in a lifetime, probably. Our understanding of this saturated Saturday night and Sunday morning with deep nostalgia. Promises to send updates and snail mail made the goodbyes a little easier, but it’s hard to deny that there’s anything better than having your pen pals in the same physical space–having an abundance of people.
Although it would be impossible to have the same sixty-five people live on the same block or even in the same city, we can do our best to nurture these relationships however possible—whether that’s a weekly text chat or a just-for-fun visit to a friend’s hometown (next stop, NYC!). Meanwhile, I realize more than ever that it’s equally important to foster relationships closer to home, even if they’re new and especially because they’re new. My husband and I have been lucky to meet several kind and intelligent people in our new hometown in Texas. These relationships, too, form our abundance.
For all of the romance of our wedding, for me, the event also served as my unspoken vow to my friends (new and old) and parents and relatives (biological and in-lawed):
You, too, are my safety, my abundance of love, my opposite of loneliness.
Related: My Dream Wedding Under $1000
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Photos: Toni Blay via Flickr, Mary Luttrell