Monday, July 23, 2012


There's a saying (attributed to the Irish, from my brief stint on Google) that goes, "He doesn't have a pot to piss in, nor a window to throw it out of."

We're not nearly that poor--after all, we have windows and pots, and the business is doing well enough to offset some of the monthly day-to-day expenses.  But a wedding is not one of these expenses.  A wedding, in fact, is one of those expenses, even in the Netherlands. "Those expenses" meaning "huge, confusing, and aggravating to arrange".  And there's nothing like researching wedding costs to make your up-until-now-comfortable-lifestyle feel like a pauper's.

No, we are not married, although people have been sending cards to "Karel and Jules Hyphenated-Last-Names" for a while now, and some of our friends even refer to Karel as my husband and me as his wife.  We've been talking about formally getting hitched for a while--and indeed what is now called our "emergency fund" was at one time a wedding fund (it's still the same amount of money, still stashed in the same account--a rose by any other name, etc).  But that was when we still had the luxury of fantasizing about what a perfect ceremony would be, a mile-long guest list, and no 9-month limit to our time to save up for such an extravagance.

In the Netherlands, it's not a lot of extra paperwork for a man to say "I'm the daddy" if he's not married, but it does make it easier, and it would make my mother feel better, as well as satisfy Karel's (and my own) old-fashioned need to be a "proper" couple before the Little It arrives.  That being said, when your priorities shift from getting married to getting married now ("soon", at the very least), expenses get cut really fast:  the guest list shrinks to the people most likely to come, and when your waist is expanding like a balloon, finding the perfect dress is less of a priority than finding a dress--any dress--that will fit.

Still, getting married isn't a small thing, even if you try to make it one:  the civil ceremony, in the Stadhuis, costs up to €1000 if you want to reserve the building all day (we are not).  Certain rituals are expected afterwards--food and drink and a few hours of socializing and congratulating--at a separate locale, with a certain degree of posh-ness, later that day.  And that's just the basics--I've forgotten the photographer, flipped off the flowers, and dropped the cake.  We're still undecided as to whether we'll even have rings--as a doctor, he couldn't wear one whenever he's working (if people knew what got stuck between a ring and the finger it sits on...ew), and I just find them annoying as bugger-all, and anyway when you've been a couple for 11 years and together for 5, any extra symbolism engendered by shiny bits of expensive metal is rather artificial at this point (not to mention my hands are noticeably swollen and I'd probably have to get it resized).

To be quite honest, though, it is a bit of a relief to not do a "perfect" wedding.  I suspect that most "bridezillas" are that way because they've been starving themselves for six months in order to fit into a size 0 dress, which trust me, I am not doing.  Nobody likes the way wedding cakes taste, which sort of defeats the point of having cake (the point of food, after all, is to be eaten).  Not being able to have the perfect dress also means that there's no baggage attached to renting one rather than buying one; and who remembers the flower arrangements, anyway?  And not having a mile-long guest list means not forgetting who this person is and how she's related to the second cousin of Karel's fourth niece, five times removed.  And I hate the way I look in most pictures, and I can't imagine why that would be any different when I'm wearing white, and am the size of a small planet, to boot.

Maybe it's the pregnancy sapping what energy I have to deal with things like this, or maybe it's the fact that my blood sugar is high enough to remain rational about the relative importance of a wedding day after more than a decade as a couple.  Because at the end of the day, that's really all that matters--being together.  


  1. Unless you want to wear a dress, why even bother with one? The guests are likely only to remember that you looked kinda or a lot pregnant, and not that you had on a nice white dress - and some years down the road they likely won't even remember you got married after getting pregnant (I'm speaking from secondhand experience - my mother got married, some years ago, while she was about 9 months pregnant with me. No one really remembers the dress or the fact she was very pregnant with me. The fact my mother remembers the most is who she borrowed the dress from, and the fact it was hard to find someone to marry them)

  2. I am romantic enough to want a nice dress (and my current favorite is a gray-blue color). Besides, we're buying Karel a badly-needed new suit, so it's only fair that I get a nice dress :-)

    But in all seriousness, I would need something a lot more formal than anything I've got in my closet now. The Dutch aren't very formal, but you can only push traditions so far.

  3. Same anon

    Weirdly enough, my mother bought my dress, even after I told her we could pay for everything. If your mother is not the controlling sort, and has money she (or they) want to contribute, why not suggest this? (SO's parents provided other things, so it wasn't like one side contributed more than the other). Dresses can be altered so many ways, so if you want to use it after the wedding, maybe ask a semstress about what is easier to alter?