Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wedding Planning in the Real World

When Reality Steps In
(aka “Wedding Planning in the Real World”)

By Jessica O’Brien, Managing Editor
with Martin O’Brien, Hubby

I have mentioned bits and pieces about my husband Martin in some of my articles this year, but when I found out that we were putting together an entire issue about weddings, I knew that we could take the opportunity to tell a bit more about our story.

My wonderful husband and I actually "met" through www.match.com, when I first emailed him 10 years ago on 10/18/99. We met in person on 4/1/00, and have been together ever since that moment! We fell madly in love, and were engaged by that July.

We had a large ceremony planned at a local country club. Traditional all the way, with cute customized wedding favors and a fabulous DJ who I had gone to high school with! I started planning immediately after we were engaged and kept a large binder with magazine tear outs, brochures and samples. It became similar to a part time job. I was never really “that” girl who had her wedding planned in her mind since she was six, but instantly, I was consumed with all of the aspects of planning our wedding.

We were engaged in July 2000, and had just less than two years to finalize our plans. Besides the dress that we had already purchased and the church decided on, all our plans basically went out the window in July of 2001, when Martin became critically ill. Starting in April of that year, we came within hours from Martin dying twice over a 3 month period; first from a massive pulmonary embolism; second from a blood infection in July that Doctors told us SHOULD have put him in a coma. We came very close to having the hospital chaplain come and marry us, because we were honestly      scared that he would not survive this illness and we would never be able to get married. On top of the stress of struggling to get Martin’s health stabilized, we were hit with another blow; Martin’s experimental chemotherapy pills were running us over $800 per week starting that July. We essentially were taking money out of our wedding fund (lovingly supplied by my parents) and using that to purchase the medication. We were very lucky to get our insurance at the time to finally start covering the drug, and they refunded us the amount spent, but that shock to the wallet sparked our desire to significantly downsize our wedding plans. Slowly, the priorities in life began to show themselves! Having both of us alive and healthy was far more important than the Franklin Country Club.

About a month after Martin was released from the hospital, Martin and I decided (with the guidance of my parents) to push up our wedding to October 20, 2001; for fear that Martin might not make it to our original wedding date of 6/22/02. We planned everything in less than nine weeks, and scaled back the country club gala down to punch and cake in church’s fellowship hall, followed by a small, casual dinner at my parents’ home with close family and friends. No photographer, no DJ, no bar, not even a wedding party. It would only have been siblings anyhow, so we agreed that their presence on our day would be enough. We created our own invitations with some small help from Kinko’s. It was very therapeutic for Martin to have something constructive to do while he was recovering.

When our fall wedding day arrived, Martin was still very ill, and very weak. During the year and a half after his near death experience, he was on an IV feeding, so he actually wasn't even able to eat; even the small 1/4t of frosting I put on his lips made him nauseated. He had a stomach tube placed after his April ’01 surgery. He took the tube off for a while, but he had to reattach it right after our ceremony.  There are some photos with him in his tux and the tube sticking out from under his jacket. At that point, we were all at the point still where we were just happy that he was alive and able to make it through the day with his low level of energy.

We joyously celebrated our 8th anniversary this past October. We may have only been married 8 years, but what we have endured as a couple rivals that of a couple celebrating 50 years together! Our love grows stronger every day. We have learned that even though we did not get our fairy tale wedding day, we have still been lucky enough to have that happy ending. Some couples spend their entire marriages bickering about insignificant crap, sometimes starting with an argument over the seating arrangement at their wedding reception. Yes, we went through horrifying days when we thought Martin was not going to make it through the night, but in an odd way, we are the lucky ones because of it. We enjoy each and every day together, and just cherish the fact that on our wedding day we were able to celebrate *us* with those we loved.

Our vows during the ceremony were no bull. By the time we were married, we had already gone through richer/poorer/sickness/health/etc… enough for a couple celebrating 80 years together! Martin and I wish that you all are smart enough to treasure your time with your spouse, partner, etc… like we do. Do not take a second for granted, treat each other well, and know that the end of the wedding reception is *just the beginning*.


JessieO, Managing Editor, xoxo skorch said...

Fabulous photo of us taken by the talented Mr. Jason Zwiker of Charleston, SC (zwiker.com! This is Jason's second time shooting for xoxo skorch; he shot Fashion Editor Arlene Lagos for my interview with her about her non-profit Back on Track Charleston (www.backontrackcharleston.org)!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story. Thank you for reminding us all of what is important. When you see ridiculous shows where women are competing for extreme makeovers before their wedding day, and Bridezillas, it validates why there are so many marriages ending in divorce. It would be nice to see more people approaching marriage like the two of you. Thanks again!

blog design by suckmylolly.com | Distributed by Deluxe Templates