One of my blogging compatriots, Delia Lloyd, writes about Finding Yourself in Adulthood. An American writer living with her family in London, she recently posted Five Ways Weddings Make You Feel Young. I can’t argue with her choices – dancing, drinking, socializing, traveling and cake – but I chided her for being so passive.
If you want to have a wedding, honey, throw one. That’s what I do. I’m currently planning my fourth, which will take place on the Big Island of Hawaii next spring. Just to clarify: all four of these weddings have been to the same woman.
The tradition was inspired by my parents’ best friends, the late Bill and Anne Johnston, who – over the course of a multi-decade marriage – would periodically renew their wedding vows. When Monica and I first wed, we discussed this idea, but went the Johnstons one better. We came up with a simple mathematical plan: assuming we would want to renew our vows on our 50th anniversary, we determined that the closest square root of 50 was 7 (7×7=49) and decided to renew our vows every seven years, and then again on our 50th. (You now know the extent of my mathematical capabilities.)
There are so many logical reasons to do this, ranging from the practical to the romantic. First, you actually stop to think whether you want to renew your spouse’s contract for another seven years, rather than just going through the motions of marriage. (Let me see – is that one of the practical reasons or one of the romantic reasons? I’m not sure.)
Second, you get to throw a party for your closest friends. As our lives progress, our friends change. We lose contact with some, especially those associated with work, make new relationships, and – if we’re lucky – rekindle really old ones. Your new and renewed friends get to see you get married, even if they missed it the first time.
Third, there’s the honeymoon. Every wedding has to have a honeymoon. It’s the law.
In addition to the seven-year wedding tradition, we have an associated honeymoon tradition. On our first honeymoon, we spent a week on Grand Cayman, an island I’d visited as a travel writer years before and loved (we also spent a week in San Juan, Puerto Rico). When it came time to plan the second wedding, I asked my staid wife if she wanted to get married in Las Vegas, and to my eternal surprise, she said yes. The logical honeymoon destination, then, was the Grand Canyon.
For our third wedding, we decided to break tradition and get married in a church, since I actually belonged to one at the time. The honeymoon topped them all: we headed off to the Hotel Monaco on Venice’s Grand Canal.
For our next “Grand C” destination, we’re heading off to Kauai’s Waimea Canyon, the so-called Grand Canyon of the Pacific. After that, there’s always the possibility of Australia’s Grand Canyon, the Capertee Valley. I’m sure Monica would love to see Australia. She’s less excited about the other possibilities: Montana’s Grand Coulee Dam; Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel; and New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.
Fourth, and almost as important as the honeymoon, is the fact that it’s so much easier to throw a subsequent wedding than a first one. You’re much more relaxed. There’s little chance that one of you is going to get cold feet and call it off. You don’t have to get blood tests and licenses, unless you really want to. And of course, as you age, you not only don’t need a huge splash of a wedding, but you can still afford to throw a nice bash. (Note to our relatives: we are not providing travel expenses to Hawaii.)
Finally, and most important, you get to look into the eyes of the person who’s lived with you for better or worse, richer or poorer, for so many years, and confirm that you would indeed marry them again if you had it to do over. And that’s the best part.
Middle Age Cranky at 100: Fine Whines & Muddled Memories, a compilation of the first 100 columns, is now available as an e-book at Smashwords and other digital bookstores.