Hey LoveTrippers! We’ve decided to change things up a little with this week’s post. It’s time to tell our story so that you can understand that our choices weren’t easy, simple, or always clear. Our goal is to show you some of the inner conflicts we faced when starting our love trip, and how together, we were able to come to decisions that made us feel energized.
The origins of our LoveTrip is a bit of a long story starting in late 2013 and ending in the present, so we’re going to break it up into a three part series.
Let’s get this rolling with part one!
You spend your whole lives being told what the next step should be. You should go to college, get a job, and start looking for a serious relationship. You have to build a good career, make money, get married, buy a house, have kids…. this is what you’re supposed to do. But is it?
For most of our lives, we have met expectations. We got our degrees, got well paying jobs, and have been in a long term relationship, which was obviously heading towards marriage. Okay, so hair colors may have varied and traditions weren’t always followed but if you look at the bigger picture, we were the definition of a conventional couple. That is until this year, when we decided to really look at our future together and finally said “What do we really want in life?” Our answer was “To defy expectations and pursue happiness”.
We got engaged February 14th 2013 and it was a wonderful and exciting feeling. We had been dating for 7 years, all our friends were recently married or already engaged, we were living together, and we had discussed marriage a hundred times so it wasn’t a surprise.
I knew this was supposed to be the next step in our relationship. I excitedly told all my friends and family who all started to ask the usual questions, what date, where, what dress. I was so happy and yet at the same time I started having trouble sleeping at night. You have to understand that I sleep like a rock. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. The day we got engaged, that ability seemed to leave me. My brain started going a mile a minute, thinking about the wedding. The list of things to stress over never seemed to end.
Getting married was never really an event I looked forward to in my life. Not that I didn’t want to get married, but a wedding day just wasn’t very meaningful to me. Therefore I didn’t have a very strong opinion about how or where the event should happen. My only real concern was cost. Spending thousands of dollars, on one single day, just seemed like a waste of money to me.
We started planning our wedding and booked a venue for September 2014. We made a tentative guest list, threw an engagement party, and started planning colors and themes. By November 2013 all the big pieces were organized. We had a moment to breathe and really think about what was happening.
I suffer from some serious winter depression, usually coming into full swing by December. Winters in Montreal, Canada are long and harsh with temperatures getting to -20C with over a foot of snow. Some people enjoy winter, those people are silly. Katie really notices the change in me as well. Despite her best efforts of being bright, warm, and loving towards me, she was too preoccupied with wedding planning to see how much of an effect it was having on me. Worst of all, my winter depression was making me indifferent towards our wedding, putting the full burden of planning on Katie’s shoulders.
I had been so wrapped up in planning our wedding that I hadn’t given much time to my inner thoughts. In fact I don’t think I had given much time to Chris’s thoughts either. I had been so focused on planning a wedding that I lost track of what I really wanted. During this respite in planning I started to freak out a little bit. Could we really afford the wedding? Where would we live after we got married? Were children in our near future? I started to see why I was having so much trouble making decisions about the wedding. I couldn’t commit to anything because none of it was very important to me.
This winter really hit me hard. I was lethargic, sour, negative, and just in a slump. Worst of all I could see my malaise was starting to take a toll on Katie as well. I can bear my own burden, but I couldn’t stand bringing Katie down with me.
Time flew by leading up to the holidays. We were both working our asses off trying to save money and prepare for Christmas, so we had very little time to reflect and talk. On a day right before Christmas we had a heart to heart about what we wanted out of life. We love to travel; in 2009 we decided to spend 7 months travelling around Europe and Australia. Everyone had told us “Do it now because once you get married and have children it won’t be an option!” We still wanted to travel and at this point we were looking forward to our honeymoon more than the wedding. We started excitedly planning a honeymoon and realized why did the next step have to be children? Why couldn’t we continue to travel? Why did we have to buy a house and settle down after we got married? Why were we stuck in jobs that we didn’t love? Our honeymoon plans turned into more of an adventure, and then a lifestyle.
I was 30 years old and getting married in September. It was time for me to decide if I was going to make a drastic change or go through the motions of getting married, buying a house, and having kids. I didn’t want any of that. I shared my feelings with Katie. I wasn’t happy in Montreal, I didn’t want to go through another winter, and I just felt like I was in a rut. I needed to kick start my life. Katie felt that her life as a full-time nurse was leaving her unfulfilled. We were in the same boat, and that boat was stuck on a frozen lake.
On Christmas day I sat on my parents couch knowing that everyone around me had an idea of what my life was going to look like in the next year. They were all wrong. Chris and I had decided. No expensive wedding, no big guest list, no house and no children, at least for a little while.
It was time to leave winter behind! We looked at our options and decided that we wanted to go road tripping in a van again. This time our destination would be the good ole US of A! We were pumped! Hitting the road again on an adventure with no real destination in mind except for sunny weather, made us feel rejuvenated. But to make it happen two critical changes to our wedding needed to occur. We would have to change the date of the wedding from Sept 6th to something much sooner, and we would need a much cheaper wedding. Time to get planning!
On New Year’s we kissed at midnight and celebrated our decision to take control of our futures and do what we wanted to do, not what was expected of us. We were going to take all our savings and travel the world for as long as we could, we were going to be free and be happy.
The Parent Trap
By mid January we had secretly cancelled our wedding venue for September 2014 and found a new smaller venue for April 2014. We decreased our guest list from 150 to 80 and we cut out a whole other pile of expenses from our wedding. The next step was telling everyone what was going on. We were not looking forward to this part. Both our parents are very supportive and laid back people but we knew it was still going to be a shock to them.
I took to reddit to ask other brides advice on how to tell everyone what we were doing. Most of the responses were that if they love us then they will be supportive no matter what. Although I agreed with their sentiment I still felt like I was taking something away from our parents. I told my girlfriends first as a trial run. They of course freaked out a little but were very supportive. Their biggest concerns were how pale they would look for an April wedding and that we had to go bridesmaids dress shopping ASAP. Telling my family was a big step in really making everything we were doing official. My mom had been so excited to help me plan a big wedding. I felt I would be disappointing her and ruining the vision that she had for my wedding.
I was pretty nervous of how my parents would take it. They are Italian, and although pretty liberal for Italian’s, they are still steeped in tradition. This new venue and budget would mean cutting a good 50-60 people from our guest list. Italian’s aren’t big on small weddings. They already weren’t too keen on the idea of not having our ceremony in a church let alone having our friend, not a priest, perform the ceremony. I kept stalling. Katie gave me a pep talk, a chest bump, and reminded me that my parents love me.
Although our parents were not thrilled with the decision, they supported us, just like in everything else we’ve done. We had obviously freaked out for nothing.
I realized I wasn’t scared about how our parents would react so much as it was saying goodbye to the big fairytale wedding. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a big fancy wedding, or that I didn’t want a beautiful home to decorate, I just knew it wasn’t what I wanted right now. That was a hard concept for me to fully understand. Even when our parents were super supportive of our decision, I was unsure that we were making the right choice.
Check back next week for part two where we finally tie the knot! And then…. a lot of uncertainty about where to take our lives.
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