People say: do exactly what you two want – it’s your wedding day.
Don’t. Compromise instead.
We did exactly what felt right to us. Wholly unpolished. Almost ad hoc. We had a brilliant day. Perfectly imperfect, just how we like it.
So don’t do what we did. Compromise instead.
Our relationship with our Dad is stretched to the point where a year later, we’re on a crag up high and the line is threatening to snap. Like a faulty tendon, we’re all trying to get the circulation going again with blood injections from the heart, but it’s thin and worn and who knows whether it can regain the structural integrity it once had.
But that's not what this is about.
It's about compromise.
We got married in Edinburgh. I’d never been there. We organised it from Melbourne, Australia.
Tuesday 31st May 2016.
On the morning of the wedding, the sun spilled around my husband-to-be (as if one more sign from the universe saying this is the one). We sat laughing over breakfast about how drunk our parents were the night before – at the impromptu drinks that seemed to emerge out of the cobblestones.
His calm infused me; I took it in with my cold freshly squeezed orange juice and hot steaming cup of tea.
Breakfast at seven. Lunch for immediate family, grandparents and best friends at twelve. Ceremony at three. Party at seven. Everything in between was up to you.
It was no frills in the most beautiful way. A registry office – albeit a 19th century historic hall - then our family and friends entertained themselves for a few hours until the party in an underground speak-easy “the caves” where the undesirables of 18th Century Edinburgh used to hang out – prostitutes, wheelers and dealers, shifters of contraband.
Homemade casserole (bit too much potato and not enough beef), bread and butter (too cold and hard to spread), cake, music and dancing. With a unilateral mandate on the music that we like: hip-hop, dance, and garage. My favourite part of the night was an aunty trying out her new salsa moves to DMX.
Bring your own self to every situation. Just like we were doing.
We relied on everyone contributing their whole selves to our day – to get out of it what they wanted. Our conviction: we, above everyone else, would enjoy this day of celebration of our nearly twelve years together. We’d got each other through the toughest times as the toughest team. We were promising each other that day that we would do that for each other, ongoing. Above all else.
Our hope was that everyone enjoyed the day. But they didn’t. We can’t do anything about that now; and we’re dealing with the consequences.
The question we naturally come back to is this: would we have done it differently knowing what we know now?
The answer to both is no. And that’s conviction.
We decided what we wanted – an imperfect and impromptu experience – and we committed to that. There are rarely such days when you get to be wholly selfish, only partially prepared, and without doubt.
On reflection, this is a learning I’ll take through life and encourage others to think about. Because it’s not just about a wedding day; it’s about career decisions, the way you present yourself to your friends and family, your points of view and what you stand for. Set out to please yourself and your values will ensure your conviction comes from a good place. You can’t and shouldn’t try to please everyone.
There will always be those who don’t like it.
Compromise. Some of the time. Most of the time. All day every day. Whatever you think. Whatever feels right for you, for your team, for those you serve.
We always compromise. We do that for each other. But compromise where compromise doesn’t compromise us, our values, and what we want.
© Aimee Coleman 2017