The Valentine’s Day Wedding (That Never Happened)

Weekly Prompt: Valentine’s Day

Last year, Valentine’s Day was a momentous day, in a momentous year. It was the eve of my 40th birthday, in the year that I was to get married.

valentine's day wedding, rings

Ring a ring a roses

It was also the year 2013.

In 2013, I suddenly heard the ticking of time-bombs, whose existence I had never even guessed at. My head had been filled all along with fairy tale cliches, templates for living which I had successfully ignored all of my life – they didn’t fit and couldn’t be superimposed upon the landscape of my modern world. Yet now they were detonating in an explosion of longing; filling the landscape of my mind with a profusion of blood red…roses.

I wanted to get married on Valentine’s Day – the day before I turned 40. It was absolutely vital that my prince rescue me before that clock struck midnight and I became an old hag, and I knew beyond any doubt that the only way I could survive my 40th birthday was by waking up a bride.Β I would carry red roses, their colour splashed against the white, snow covered hills that would surround us. I found the perfect place: a country hotel, with a small room housing an enormous Gothic fire place. I would be married in (fake) fur, lit by the glow of firelight and candles.

Things started to go wrong with this picture as soon as we began to plan it. Firstly, the number of guests – it kept increasing. I suddenly had many more friends than I had could ever remember having had before, and it was going to be an impossibility to fit them all into the small room with the Gothic fireplace. I gave up on that fairly early on in the proceedings, but I cried with the disappointment. We booked a larger room, and now we had to think about entertainment, whether to book a late bar, how to get people home…many things which I hadn’t imagined in my romantic vision. The wedding seemed to have taken on a momentum of its own.

There were more ticking time-bombs. My daughter was entering puberty, and things were detonating around her, too. She had had a father-less childhood,and struggled to get used to her Stepdad-to-be – but now, suddenly, her blood father came blazing out of the shadows, bringing carnage in his wake. Her long-lost father, often no more than a disembodied voice on a phone (when he could be bothered to ring), now there in the flesh and staking his claim: I am the Father, and you shall have no other Father but me. He asserted his visitation rights, and he pulled her into his virtual world.

She talked to a counsellor. The counsellor was concerned enough to call me in to express her concerns about the way my daughter was feeling, and how confused she was.

My romantic Valentine’s Day wedding, 2013, disintegrated in a blizzard of tears. There was snow, and there were rose petals, but there was no wedding. The ill-fated event was cancelled.

I awoke on my 40th birthday, not married. Not a princess. No hearts and flowers; just fear and worry for my daughter, and for our future.

Yet, I was surrounded by family. My daughter was OK. My not-husband was still there, because we wanted him there – my daughter and I – and his son was there, wanting to be part of the family we had tried to make. Our extended families were there, too; instead of the wedding his family came over to my parents’ house, broke bread together and afterwards took a walk in the freezing February air.

‘We would have been getting married about now,’ said my not-husband, as the sun reached its early zenith in the pale sky. We held hands as we walked ‘Still, our families have met. So we don’t actually need to bother with a wedding any more…’

As usual, his irreverence made me laugh, against my will. And we were still together. All of these explosions had not blown us apart, they had brought us closer together. All four of us – our children, and us. Me and my not-husband. And somehow, that was more romantic than any wedding could have been. We did get married later, when things calmed down and when I knew it was the right thing to do, for my daughter as well as for me – but that time, that decision we made to stick together, through doubt and fear – actually meant more than any vows we ever made.

So, tonight as I saw all the worried faces queuing around the card and flower displays – red roses now going cheap – I know that, of course, love and commitment go deeper than that, and red roses are beautiful any time of year…

15 thoughts on “The Valentine’s Day Wedding (That Never Happened)

  1. What a beautiful outlook, Rose! I got chills at that last bit, with how the marriage made by all 4 of you means far more than the one you’d dreamed of. I’m sorry for the disappointment and grief you must’ve felt at that time, though, but so happy it worked out better for all of you in the end. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Melody! It was a strange time. I did grieve at the time, and this anniversary is bringing it all back, but the thing that stands out most in my memory is that even though we didn’t have the wedding, we felt married on that day. So I took away something positive πŸ™‚

  2. Nothing like a wedding to spoil the romance, n’est-ce pas? I think you get married for each other, but the wedding often ends up being for other people. Glad you made it to the altar with your love intact. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚ You are so right, weddings really do ruin the romance; I can understand why people run away to do it!
      I’m glad I didn’t commandeer Valentine’s Day for our wedding anniversary anyway, that would put more pressure on the day than it could possibly bear…Happy Valentine’s Day to you too πŸ™‚

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  7. Happy birthday!!!! Now that that is out of the way, how absolutely beautiful… Sad and horrible, and flecked with SO MUCH heartbreak, but it’s in those things that the truly beautiful things become so much more so, isn’t it?
    Your last few lines were gorgeous!

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚
      ‘Love can never be held captive by man’s holiday and the beauty of the rose lasts all year round’ – that’s such a lovely summing up of what I was saying at the end.

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  9. I can imagine that must have been disappointing, but sometimes you gotta recognise when things just aint gonna happen. Fake fur though..and gothic fireplaces – what a bugger! My man sometimes talks about a pagan ceremony – one of my sisters quipped that probably pagans talked about having exotic church weddings.

    • I know – I wanted to be the Snow Queen for a day! Maybe I could do that anyway somehow without the wedding thing…Ha, I can imagine pagans dreaming of an exotic church wedding! Thanks for visiting πŸ™‚

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