A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Wedding Memories

Weddings are my Achilles heel, my Kryptonite.

Remember that viral YouTube video from two years ago of the wedding party dancing down the aisle? It makes me weep uncontrollably.

I’m talking about The Ugly Cry, people.

And I’ve watched it at least 30 times. Yes, I alone am responsible for at least 30 of that video’s 65 million views. That’s a lot of tissues. And a lot of lying to my children about why Mommy is so sad. “I’m not sad, guys. I’m happy. See how much fun those people are having at their wedding? Isn’t that wonderful?!” (Sob, sniffle, drip, wipe, repeat.)

Watching those people dance down the aisle with such unabashed joy just reminds me of all the family tension, mistrust, and resentments that clouded my special day fourteen years ago.

And the wound is deep. I can’t even hear stories about wedding planning without being instantly transported back to that time and all the things I wish had been different.

So today, after watching Kate and William give each other their troth, I’m feeling a bit melancholy.

But God dammit, I’m tired of feeling so sad about weddings. And I’m sick of reliving all the what-ifs and regrets and anger at the people who behaved so selfishly and sullied my special day. It’s time to move on. Starting today, I’m going to forget about the dysfunctional parts of my wedding and just focus on the good. New mantra: out with the jive, in with the love.

On that note, please allow me to present (my own slightly different approach to) this week’s Listography

Five things I would not change about my wedding:

1. First and foremost, the man I married. I have loved that man from the first moment I laid eyes on him and I would marry him again any where, any time, any way.

2. The gorgeous chapel and grounds at Mills College in Oakland, California.

3. My husband’s family. Particularly my six sisters-in-law who instantly enveloped me with love and friendship that continues to this day. As long as I live I will never forget how they formed a circle around me at my reception and danced and sang “We are family! I got all my sisters with me.”

4. The cake. Not only was it delicious, but it was topped with the antique cake topper that my in-laws used for their wedding in 1952.

5. Our first dance. My husband chose the song, Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison as a wedding gift to me. So sweet and romantic, that man.

Ahhhhh, that’s better. What a difference a little attitude adjustment makes! I have almost totally forgotten the fact that some of my “friends” dropped me from a height of 7 feet onto my back during the traditional Jewish Chair Dance that I did not request at my non-Jewish wedding.

Shit. Now I’m mad again.

Well, congrats Will and Kate. I hope none of the assholes at my wedding were invited to yours.



© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


  1. Julie

    That first photo is stunning!

    Personally, I cannot stand going to weddings, although I do love looking at the photos afterward.

    And…six sisters-in-law? Six. I have to pray daily to deal with the one I have. How do you guys get along?

    • Danielle@sixtasteschef.com/blog

      I know! That photo is great!

      What is it about weddings that brings out either the best or the worst in people!?!?

      • The Bearded Iris

        Amen to that, sister!

        Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Danielle.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Julie. Our wedding photographer is another thing I wouldn’t change… but I was trying to keep the list to 5. And as for the 6 SILs, that’s not even counting the ones who are married to my husband’s brothers! (HUGE family.) We get along great though, as long as we don’t talk about politics.

  2. jenny

    Oh Iris. I am SOOOO happy for you….that you were able to come up with 5 beautiful things you would not change about your wedding. What a giant blessing! Every one of them brought tears to my eyes. These are biggies, do you realize this?!? To have a man you are still madly in love with, to have inlaws you adore and appreciate and who, very obviously, adore and appreciate you. A cake topper with family history is so very cool. Oh my. Yes you are blessed.

    I think we all can list in great detail and at great length the things we would change about our wedding. Good grief, every one of the “professional” photos the “professional” photographer took….. I especially love the fact that hubby does NOT have his arm around me in any of them! Both hands at his sides. What photographer wouldn’t catch that?!??! And my father practically ran me down the aisle. Ah but you don’t need to hear this. And from the sounds of it, these are slight things compared to what you endured. Choose to remember the good and beautiful for that is what brings you joy, you gorgeous bride, you!

    • The Bearded Iris

      WOW Jenny – what a kind and loving comment. Thank you so much. Yes, I do realize those are the biggies, and for that I’m truly grateful.

      If it makes you feel any better, our photographer made us do a bunch of very rigidly posed formal pics up against a white stucco wall and every single one of them turned out horribly. My husband looks like he’s in physical pain in all of those shots and we laugh about them now but at the time, I was bummed. Luckily she redeemed herself with those shots in the eucalyptus grove.

  3. Kate Takes 5

    1. That video is AWESOME!
    2. Holy shit – who knew The Hairy One could look so amazing?
    3. You could have had the most perfect wedding and married an asshole.
    4. Thanks for joining in.
    5. You rock.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Kate! In reply:
      1. I know, right?!
      2. I did. He rocks my world, excessive body hair and all.
      3. True dat. Marrying a nonasshole is much more important than a perfect wedding.
      4. Thanks for having me.
      5. Right back atcha. Love you and your Listographies.

  4. Megan

    My wedding photographer posed us against a wall with a big stain in the middle of it for all our family and formal pictures. Me, Scott, and the stain between us, starting the new journey of our lives together.

    Whatever- I would elope if I had to do it again.

    • The Bearded Iris

      On the elope thing, me too. Fo’ shizzle.

      And about that stain… girl, that’s just foreshadowing for the rest of your life. Sounds like your photographer was just keepin’ it real, yo.

      • Megan

        That’s a super-upbeat outlook. Thanks for that. Now, I’m going to go “ugly cry” and eat some chocolate.

        • The Bearded Iris

          Oooh, sorry ’bout that. Kinda wishing I’d gone with the dirty joke about the stain now. DOH!

          • Megan


  5. Kristen Kotrlik

    Shit. You were beautiful. (I’m not saying you aren’t beautiful now…) You married well, and seemed to have a wonderful wedding. I have stopped counting the things I would change about my wedding- since I can’t do anything about it, and the outcome would still be the same even if I did change things.
    I loved my cake- specifically the topper- We had bride and groom Pez dispensers. And to piss off my mother in law- we fed each other Pez from the dispensers, instead of cake. She wanted Mike to smash cake on my face. (I’d call her a douche bag, but that’s crass).
    I walked down the aisle to “Dancing Queen”. (The version from Muriel’s Wedding) and we were introduced as Husband and Wife to “The Imperial March”.
    Our wedding was our own, and that was the best part.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh my GOD… I wish I knew you then so we could have gone to each other’s weddings. Your day sounds just like you — so frickin’ fun! And the Pez thing? Come ON! That is brilliant. I will share my awesome MIL with you.

      • Kristen Kotrlik

        Also- the woman that altered my dress, made me a coordinating bib for when we had dinner… we had messy barbecue. She knew me well.

        I would have loved to have had you at my wedding. You can come to my next one.

  6. Bernie Bickers

    #6 – Your college buddy who flew from NYC to your wedding, went straight from the reception back to the airport to take the midnight red-eye to NYC to go to his cousin’s wedding the next afternoon. I don’t remember any chair dropping, but please recall from our college physics: acceleration has to do with mass, and you can’t spell mass without…well, you can guess where I’m going with this…

    Anyhow, as an eye witness, definitely one of the more fun and great energy weddings I ever went to!

    • The Bearded Iris

      You definitely won MVP for your less than 24 hour west coast trip! And not just because you had to stay in the seediest of seedy motels due to my poor delegating skills and the fact that all the good hotels were booked for UC Berkeley’s graduation. So glad you weren’t killed in a knife fight that night.

      Thanks for the fun/great energy comment. That means the world coming from you, particularly since I could say the same about your big day. Wish I had your soul band instead of my shitty DJ who played the Macarena against my explicit wishes and then stole my Saturday Night Fever boxed CD set.

      And dude… the big ass comment? Really? I guess you’re still mad at me that I said your baby looked like a Troll doll. Damn!

  7. Jane

    I had fun! And the dancing was great. I remember dancing so much, the next day I was sore.
    And you were beautiful!!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Aw Janey, thank you! I remember that dance-a-thon too! So glad you were there with me.

  8. Ann Adams

    The photo among the trees is gorgeous!!! Just lovely!

    My first wedding, notice I’m letting you know there was a second, was ok except for the fact that I couldn’t wear my contacts and didn’t want to wear my glasses and realized I was happy that I couldn’t see the FF at the end of the aisle. That should have been an indication of things to come. If that wasn’t enough, his mother howling during the ceremony like Marie Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond should have been my second clue to get the hell out of there! 15 years later I did get the hell out of there!

    3 years later I was marrying the best guy ever! The wedding was small and just right for us with our families. And guess what…by then the ex mother-in-law liked me and my new husband better than her deadbeat son and she was there at the wedding! She even stayed with the kids for over a week so we could go to San Francisco on our honeymoon. SNAP!

    I loved watching the wedding this morning and even set myself up with coffee and scones on china. Made me happy watching them celebrate and think about the wonderful guy I’m married to now who cracks me up every day and like you said Iris, “rocks my world”. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh Ann! That is a great story! I’m so glad your number two is such a number one! (Ha ha)

      I love picturing you with your scones on china this morning! How fun!

  9. Jellyhead

    Holy crap you are freaking beautiful. I knew that then, I know that now…but still those pictures took my breath away. Too bad I fell out of touch and didn’t get myself invited!! Thanks for making me think of my own perfect day — an elopement, a roaring fire in a blizzard and the most genuine, handsome man I’ve ever known standing by my side. Oh, we had some nice flowers too.

    I’m so happy for your happiness, you deserve it. You make good choices.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Holy crap, yourself! I still have the announcement pic of you and your hunka-hunka-burning love on the front page of my phone book, so I see it almost daily and smile thinking of you and what an amazingly cool broad you are. I am so grateful for you, Jellyhead! Thanks for making me laugh and keeping me sane. I do make good choices… especially in husbands and friends.

  10. Mary

    I’ve eventually come to terms with my wedding – I guess. If I star to think about it too much I get mad as well! What is it about weddings?!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh thank GOD I’m not the only one. How long does it take to come to terms with it? I’m going on 14 years…

  11. Martha (MM)

    The video was amazing!!
    “Marrying a nonasshole is much more important than a perfect wedding.” says it all! I married a nonasshole too, we are two lucky women! My anniversary was April Fool’s Day – I know, that tells a lot about me and hubby!
    Have a great weekend – CHEERS! 🙂

  12. This Mid 30s Life

    Weddings do bring out the worst in people, absolutely, and I will never understand why. As much as I loved ours, it was the first big event since a (yet another) very bitter divorce in the family and that made things extremely hard. I just try to block all that and I’m hoping one day I’ll block it all so well that I’ll have forgotten. Then if I go ahead with repressed memory therapy I’ll be stuffed. Thankfully I’m an Aussie and we don’t do therapy at all. (Don’t talk about your problems – just try to pretend they don’t happen! Simple!)

    Your photos look amazing, all in all looks like a special, happy day. Isn’t that great? xx

    • This Mid 30s Life

      (Later…) think I underplayed that slightly. The photos aren’t just amazing, they’re super-amazing and you look incredible.

      There. That’s better.

      • The Bearded Iris

        You had me at “bitter divorce.” Perhaps we should start an intercontinental online support group?!

        Thanks for the lovely comments! You are such a doll!

  13. Rebekah

    My wedding was a lovely (small) event but honestly, I hardly remember it. It was almost 12 years ago and what I do know is that it was just the beginning of me getting to spend the rest of my life with the best human being on earth. I wouldn’t go back to that day, or any other day, because my love for him is so much deeper and wider than it was then (and I really loved him on that day).

    It saddens me when people place so much emphasis on their wedding needing to be the most perfect day of their lives – if that’s the best day of one’s life, good luck with the next howevermanyyears! Kinds like those people who say that high school was the best time of their lives.

    *This wisdom brought to you by someone who has to reallyreallyreally work hard to BE. HERE. NOW.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Hi Rebekah. Thanks for the sage comment! I agree, the marriage is much more important than the wedding. I don’t think I ever expected it to be perfect or the best day of my life, but there were definitely some very complicated family dynamics that prevented me from being able to design or enjoy the celebration the way I should have. But like you said, hopefully the love keeps growing and we all evolve and mature. Thanks again for BEING. HERE. NOW. 🙂 xoxo

  14. laura

    oh my gosh, that top pic is soooo your “mini-me”!
    nice legs, clearly you’ve always known how to work the camera!! great post!

    • The Bearded Iris

      It’s all about the lighting and the support hose.

  15. Heather

    I concur with all the other comments – that photo is amazing!!! Truly gorgeous.

    Weddings can be so, well, annoying. It’s the whole “My parents want us to invite so-and-so…” and “Well, my grandmother doesn’t eat green beans so we can NOT have them…” crap-o-la. We were lucky enough to make ours our own and, in the process, my husband’s family got a crash course in “Hi, I’m Heather and I’m a bitch. I WILL get my own way so just get the hell over it – 101” It’s worked in my favor ever since and it will be 10 years next summer…

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thanks Heather! Glad you had it your way, like a Whopper. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think you are a bitch, Bitch.

  16. Anneh

    I can’t believe that no one has said it yet…that is one bad-ass dress! Put that on your list too!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh my gosh, thanks Anneh! “Bad-ass dress!” That’s awesome. I remember when I tried that one on… it was so different than any of the dresses I had chosen to try but the shop lady insisted that I try it. They had just gotten it in and nobody had seen it on a bride-to-be yet. It was not at all what I was looking for, but when I put it on I knew it was THE ONE. My mom was there with me and when I opened the curtain she and the shop keeper were both like “OH. MY. GOD.” Makes me smile just thinking about it. Thanks for reminding me about that, Anneh. Good therapy! Should I send you a check?

  17. northernmum

    Fabulous blog, I cant believe I have not read you before!

  18. Cath

    THANK YOU IRIS! I had not seen that wedding video and I needed a good cry. I think I’ll go find that Glee episode, for good measure. I’ll fold some laundry while i watch so it seems productive. Love the list. I may do one for ours…

    • Cath

      Wait, do you get Glee in Georgia? 😉

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh I love that Glee wedding episode too!!

  19. Aubrey Anne

    Wow! These pictures are GORGEOUS!! What an incredible wedding dress, no wonder you’re mad about the “preservation”! And I totally understand the resentment issue… my wedding day wasn’t as joyful for others as it was for me!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you Aubrey Anne!

      It’s YOUR day. I’m glad it was joyful for you. That’s what matters most. If your family can’t put on their big girl/boy pants and help you celebrate in style, it is THEIR loss. Let’s shake it off together. 🙂

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