speak now or forever hold your peace

how often do you go to party city and see a balloon that says “congrats! you are where you are supposed to be!” or “happy decision to not marry the wrong person!” we laugh at the thought of such a silly helium balloon.
– excerpt from my previous blog on singleness

dangit, party city still hasn’t come out with those balloons. i could really have used it this upcoming weekend. originally, i was set to be dancing away the night in temecula celebrating the wedding of my good friend. instead, the bride-to-have-been and i will be celebrating her non-wedding day in san francisco. and i could really, really, really use that balloon in my attempt to make a supposed-to-be-wedding-weekend a little more easy. i guess i will just have to rely on the power of bloody mary’s.

i sit here in my morning lit room, wondering how raw i should write this.
i am a wedding photographer.
my job is dependent on the engagements and the weddings of couples.

for this particular scribble, and because the protagonist is quite dear to my heart, i am going to step outside of upbeat wedding photographer mode. i am going to put on my non-professional bethany cap. the bethany that is relieved when she hears that weddings are called off. the bethany who would rather see the couple make the difficult decision before the wedding day rather than wait for the inevitable decision to end it after the wedding. the bethany that received a phone call back in july from a dear friend in a moment of struggle.

|side-note| i have received the blessing from this specific anonymous friend for writing a blog about this. her response to my journalistic request was “i would love to share my story”. another small example in a lake of reasons why this said person is the coolest.

the phone call didn’t start off nor end with a “bethany, it is over”. no, it wasn’t that simple. it was a long, gradual journey that had started years before this moment. the journey beginning with a doubt. a doubt that gradually over time snowballed down a mountain of intricate warning signs. the types of doubts that are easy to ignore while dating but are too big to turn off once you are engaged. the types of doubts that many brides in this world decide to figure out after the wedding or blame on the pressure of the wedding planning.

calling off the wedding.
with the weight of others’ expectations on your shoulders.
thousands of dollars invested in the day.
the bond between each other’s families stronger than ever.
the immense love you feel for your fiance exists.
but so do the doubts.

that annoying inner voice that lovingly and quietly whispers to you you are making a mistake. the inner voice that tells you i don’t know how you are going to do it, but you need to do it. the inner voice you want to punch in the throat until it goes away. but it doesn’t. in tender love, the voice strengthens inside of you until it is too much to bear. it is time to call it off.

and with the courage that comes from somewhere outside of yourself, you decide to do what the world doesn’t expect you to or want you to do.

why did you even say yes to his proposal if you had doubts?
why did you wait so long?
your family is coming from the east coast. they are spending money to get here.

sometimes there isn’t a simple answer. most people won’t ever know all the reasons why weddings are called off. and there will always be speculation. but the point is that in that moment of courage, you save yourself, your fiance and all those involved the inevitable pain that would come in a dubious marriage. no matter how long it took you in your relationship, you did it before it was too late. before too much [marriage, children, etc] was at stake.

i have had multiple couples, out of the dozens of weddings i have been contracted to shoot, call off their wedding. i always admire them from afar because i knew it was a brave decision. but it wasn’t until i saw my friend face these questions from friends/family along with the impending grief that came from a break-up after dating six years, that i finally realized the amount of courage it took to do what was right. there were so many logical and emotional reasons for her to just go through with the wedding. but it would be at the expense of her well-being.

i do not want to get into the niddy-griddy of what transpired between the two of them over the years. a lot of doubts were not always tangible. some were. what i can say is that if she were to share her doubts with healthy couples who have been married for a period of time, they would tell her to trust those inclinations, don’t ignore those doubts, and to know that it would be a long road ahead if you chose not to. and my friend knew that those signs from over the years [the specifics, i will leave up to your imagination] were too big to ignore and most likely couldn’t be fixed by marriage.

in those moments, it is easy to think of ten reasons why one doubt should not be taken seriously. it is so easy to blame a childhood, a situation, a job, a fight, a moment on a doubt. ask anyone who has been married longer than a couple years and they will tell you to listen to those doubts, to those inclinations, to that inner voice. that is your instinct. that is your conscious. that is your most inner soul speaking. the one part of you unscathed by logic or by emotion. it is your most vulnerable.

there we were in hot july. after the “i am calling off our wedding” conversation took place between her and her fiance. we escaped to the middle of the california valley so she could turn off her phone, breakaway and think about what a life-altering decision she had made. in between series of tears at the cheesecake factory in fresno – by far, the most depressing city in the world – we made three very important and delicate to-do lists:

one) wedding
– cancel venue
– ask vendors for potentially getting money back…please!?!?!?
– pay back mom, pay back dad, pay back self…
– throw away damn pinterest cake topper
– return personalized embroidered robe. or find someone who also is going to be mrs XXXX to buy it off of me.
– etc.

two) fiance
– divide finances
– settle mortgage/furniture
– email his family to tell them you love them and will always care for them
– cry
– drink wine or whiskey, definitely not tequila
– cry some more
– always get out of bed in the morning
– okay, you can have one day in pjs
– etc.

three) immediate and future goals
– downsize from a new house to a studio for her and cat
– write to P!nk to tell her that her funhouse album got you through the break-up
– save money to quit responsible adult job to do the job you really want to do and are made to do
– go somewhere with a friend the would-be wedding weekend [ME! CHOSE ME!]
– don’t date for awhile. be single. and enjoy it.
– etc.

three months later and i am writing this blog the week of her would-have-been-wedding. this is where the readers of this story would want to hear a happy ending. but like most of life, it isn’t that simple. the logistics are still finding themselves resolution [although she has completed almost everything from her lists…get it girl!] there are still tears. there is still unanswered questions that friends have. but there is hope.

the point of this spin-off story is that no matter how many guests have rsvp’d or no matter how much money is invested, if there is doubt, if your inner voice is telling you this isn’t right,then be encouraged that there is always way out. and you do move on. you do heal. and guests, family, friends, they will get over it.

it is the bride and groom that have the power to speak now or forever hold your peace.

the happiest part of this story is that my dear friend spoke up now when so many bride and grooms didn’t have the courage to. and even in the thorny bush of events that engulfed these past three months, she did it even though she didn’t always want to. that takes courage.

and if party city was smart enough, they could create a balloon to recognize the courage in that.

[current music] glitter in the air by p!nk
[current drink] gin n’ tonic, of course
[current stalker] hezzie, my cat
[current time] 6:00 p.m., yes i started this blog hours ago
[current exciting upcoming event] san francisco with the protagonist!