Lost ships: When election results strike fear in your wedding planning heart

January 4 | Guest post by A.L.

As with any politically-charged post, we request that your keep any dialogue civil. Thanks!

Weddings and politics: When election results strike fear in your wedding planning heart
Wall Art Truth-Politics by Banksy vinyl wall decal

It's safe to say this recent election has brought increased tension to the (often already-dysfunctional) dynamics in many families throughout the nation. As the weeks go on, many of you (especially on the not-winning side of the election results) may now find yourselves feeling lost at sea in turbulent political and emotional waters.

And if your shipmates in this metaphor are the family members with whom you most butt heads, it can feel like there's mutiny afoot. Your Uncle Bob is boring holes in the ship's hull. Grandma is chucking the life jackets overboard, laughing maniacally, and swigging rum straight from the bottle. Your in-laws are prying up the wood planks of the deck and burning them to keep warm.

Oh, and all your seemingly-mutinous shipmates?

They are invited to your upcoming wedding.

They may be blocked from your Facebook account, but they are already very-much-invited to the wedding.

The wedding you began planning BEFORE you were considering aiming your sinking craft toward the snowy shores of Canada, paddling desperately with all the strength you could muster. They may be blocked from your Facebook account, but they are already very-much-invited to the wedding. Even if your invitations have not gone out yet, these relatives know they're invited.

Your ship is sailing not toward Canada, but toward a shadowy realm where you lay awake at night visualizing drunken family members making hurtful toasts, somehow managing to insult all the things that make you different in one fell swoop:

Blah-blah VEGAN blah-blah-blah WEIRDOS, blah-blah WHEN YOU GONNA HAVE SOME BABIES? Blather-blather, TOOK YOU TWO LONG ENOUGH, blah-blah-blah BUT WHY BUY THE COW… AMIRIGHT? Blah-blah HEY, IT'S YOUR LAST CHANCE TO RUN AWAY, BUDDY! Blah-de-blah-blah. Blah-blah CRAZY FEMINIST blah-blah LIBERAL blah-blah-de-blah. Blah-blah NOT A "REAL" WEDDING BECAUSE IT'S NOT IN A CHURCH, blah-blah: BUT-WE-LOVE-YOU-GUYS-ANYWAY-CONGRATULATIONS-MAKE-MARRIAGE-GREAT-AGAIN…

You watch your mind building these scary stories. It's odd: these markers of your "otherness" shouldn't necessarily feel linked to something as large and impersonal as the election.
"But no," you remind yourself, "NO."
The personal is the political, is the personal, is the political, is the…

Suddenly, you're Googling "wedding security guards" and "security guard prices" and "female security guards," because wouldn't that just stick in their craws. You permit yourself a bit of delicious fantasy, imagining the offending family member's words being met with boos and jeers, your hip and heroic friends swarming into a small mob to chuck the drunken toaster out on his ear, like some shabby vagabond who's wandered into an upscale bar with empty pockets and a loud mouth.

You wonderful hopefully if there is any way to pepper in enough liberal buzzwords on your wedding website and invitation wording to somehow scare them off, to draw a line in the sand. To send a clear message:

THESE ARE OUR VALUES
and
THESE VALUES ARE ABOUT MORE THAN "POLITICS"
and
WE RESPECT THE EQUALITY OF ALL PERSONS AS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT AND IF YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND THAT YOU SHOULD PROBABLY NOT COME TO OUR WEDDING.

Googling: "How to reference the Bill of Rights on a wedding invitation."
Wondering: "How best can we invoke the principles of marriage equality and LGBTQ rights and humanitarian outreach and religious freedom throughout all of our ceremony wording?"
Daydreaming: "Just wait until they see that the favors are donation cards reading, 'a gift has been made in your name to Planned Parenthood' (insert diabolical chuckle here).

These thoughts, fears, and fantasies wash over you in waves. Ever since the election, you've been wearing less eye makeup to work, in case you start crying in your car while listening to the news. You are a person who listens to the news in the car now. It's a good way to make the most of your time and stay informed.

You never used to be the kind of the person who listened to the news in your car, or listened to the news very much at all.
You think about that a lot now.
You sit down and you write.

You know that, right now, however jumbled it may seem, this is your truth.

You write about all of it: the election, the wedding, family, the future, your values, your beliefs, your fears. The way they all jostle together into the same crowded corners of your mind, forming unlikely links and threads that run from one seemingly disconnected idea to the next, until you start wishing you had spent the last several years learning to meditate like you always said you wanted to.

You know that, right now, however jumbled it may seem, this is your truth.
These connections resonate for you, and they will resonate for some other people too.

You realize that this is a good time to stop and admit: you don't really know what your goal or purpose is in writing this post. Is this article a question or request for advice? Is it creative non-fiction (and oh, how you WISH it were fiction)? Will Offbeat Bride even publish this? Will the more-divided-than-ever-interwebs respond to your post with kindness or cruelty, identification or negation?

You decide that you like the uncertainty of the whole thing.
That you do know what you're writing, and why.

You read back over your post once more, and then fill out the article submission form.
You send out your tiny signal.

Your flare goes up, and it's seen by another marooned craft floating out on the choppy waters of weddings and family and fears. It's seen by all the other lonely ships, by the captains fighting hopelessness and scurvy, fighting the fear that the mutineers will overtake them in the end.

You wave to the other ships' captains in the darkness.
And while you can't be certain, you think you see them wave back.

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  1. Wow, this is powerful. As someone having a "gay wedding" this year, I frequently think about this. Less about family members who I assume won't come if they disagree with my union, and more about the law. I pay attention to the news too in case I have to rush to the courthouse with my fiancée before our wedding date. Thanks for writing this; my ship needed to see the rest of the fleet. 🙂

    5 agree
  2. We're doing an anniversary dance, but doing it based on how long couples have been together, rather than married. It's important to me because my boss will be there, and he and his husband have been together 25 years, but married only 2. I imagine that as more and more couples are weeded out, some of my guests may be surprised to see one of the longest lasting couples is my awesome boss and wonderful husband. It sends the kind of subtle message I'm looking for.

    5 agree
  3. I wish I had more suggestions or things to contribute, but I just want to say that I'm out there waving back. Your fears and daydreams and questions are my own.

    2 agree
  4. well, thanks. now i'm crying at my desk. good thing i also stopped wearing eye makeup (for the first time in 18 years, might i add).

    but really, thank you. i am waving over here in the dark, and i'll throw up a multi-colored flare every so often so that you'll know you're not alone.

    2 agree
  5. Being British I'm not affected in the same way (though we have our own problems with Brexit bigotry), but I'm waving back across the Atlantic. Good luck!

    1 agrees
  6. Thank you thank you! It is nice to know I am not alone. This has been a cause of great anxiety and uncertainty. The timing couldn't be worse to be getting married almost exactly one month after the inauguration of The Orange One whom nearly all of my side of the family supports and FH's family is against. This has been a big point of contention between me and my family. FH and I have determined to put in our programs something to the effect of "YOU HAVE ENTERED A NO-POLITICS ZONE" followed by something about how much we love our guests from all backgrounds and the one thing we CAN agree on is that we are all here to celebrate the same joyous occasion. My heart goes out to everyone with the same worries.

    2 agree
  7. Waving back from France.
    The US elections result made me so sad and scared of the future.
    We too have presidential elections in a few months, every newspaper is rambling about the "migrant crisis" because of war in Syria and it's getting pretty dark and scary too. I am already married but I am pregnant…

  8. Thank you for putting words to the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head since the US election. I even mentioned that I momentarily considered canceling our wedding (in favor of eloping) to the woman designing my veil and she generously offered a full refund if I went that route. So the outpouring of support, for me, has outweighed the negative stuff I've seen. Thank goodness.

  9. Waving back from Canada, & all I can say is…I wish everyone, everywhere, much luck & much love.

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