All throughout our courtship, we’ve joked about updating our relationship status on FaceBook to “It’s Complicated.” You see, our cultural differences made for an interesting scenario on who to tell what – when. (And now I’m debating if I should try to explain it all here…And I’m shrinking from the task! <sigh>)
Well, when Archie and I first got together, I had to ask him not to update his FaceBook profile or change his profile picture to include me in it. It was a challenging request for me to make because I didn’t want him to misunderstand my request as insinuating that I felt our relationship was something to be hidden or ashamed of. Yet I had to ask this of him in order to follow my culture’s protocol for informing my family of the development. As evidenced by the fact that we got married, Archie was very understanding and accommodating!
Our relationship, thus far, has been this continuous journey of navigating the various cultural expectations of us – Frustrating at times…Fun at other times…But always enlightening! The classic illustration of the differences we worked through is physical closeness:
During our courtship, we went to visit Archie’s Uncle and Aunt in St. Louis for a weekend and when we were leaving, they wanted to take some pictures of us, so we stood next to each other. Archie’s Uncle says, “stand closer!” so we did. But I guess we weren’t standing close enough so he repeated his request with the remonstrance that we ought to look like we like each other in the picture!
By contrast, when Archie came to visit my family in Zimbabwe, he was under strict instructions to make no physical contact, whatsoever, with me. Generally speaking, the men and women would sit separately during meals (I didn’t notice this until Archie pointed it out, actually). But Archie would always come and sit next to me – not super close, but it was, still, an anomaly! All through his visit, I felt like I kept pushing him away for the sake of cultural propriety.
Our first engagement was on September 26, last year. It was just the two of us, with his ukelele, at the beach at sunset. It was perfect!
It had to happen then so that we could initiate the Zimbabwean engagement process which ended up happening on December 28th. Well, what happened on the 28th of December was the Lobola proceedings, which meant we were, by Zimbabwean custom, considered married, but we took it as an engagement because we wanted to be married by a Pastor. Oh, and the other engagement date was Christmas Eve with Archie’s entire family and all the wonderful bells and whistles!
If I were to pick one of the engagement dates, I’d probably pick December 24th as our primary one. It came at the most welcome time. And it was special to have Archie’s family there to witness it. While the other two dates are significant, they seemed somewhat incidental.
So we set August 16 as our wedding date – and it just happened! It was an amazing experience to have all these parts of my life converge in one day! Friends from pre-school, all through Pearson and Wellesley, and even my most recent boss was there! Since it was in Zimbabwe, my family was there, but it was extra special to have representatives of Archie’s family there too! The ceremony and reception were a mix of cultural customs and flavors – Yum.
When we got married on May 10th, earlier this year, it was also perfect in its own way. Very small, very intimate, short and sweet in our friends’ backyard.
We went out to eat afterwards then drove a couple hours away for our mini-moon. It was so easy to plan and execute, stress-free and chill – and in that sense, quite dream-like. But none of our families were there – it broke our hearts. And to respect my family’s wishes, FaceBook was off limits in announcing it; so the word had to get around one person at a time.
We have potentially one more wedding to go (I mean a wedding where I’m the bride and Archie’s the groom). It’d be in California, since most of his family wasn’t able to make it out to Zim. An excuse to get the family together, you know, and celebrate! We don’t have a date on that one yet but that’d make 3 engagements and 3 weddings!
Between May 10 and August 16 for a wedding date, it’ll have to be May 10 because we took our vows that day before God and witnesses, and we signed our marriage certificate that day!
But since it was less than perfect, I’m thankful we had the opportunity to celebrate our marriage with friends and family this month! It also initiated me into the world of real wedding planning i.e. working with multiple vendors and competing wishes from various sectors…If only we could have combined the chill aspect of 5/10/15 with the thrilling joy of friends and family of August 16 to make for the absolutely perfect experience.
So 3 engagements and 2 weddings later, I think I’m thoroughly married. It’s no longer complicated!