The best wedding we’ve ever attended

My husband and I celebrate two wedding anniversaries each year because we were married twice, i.e., in civil (March 21) and at church (June 28). However, because he’s an expat in Singapore while the kids and I are here in the Philippines, we no longer get to be together on either of those dates since he started working abroad. And that’s when the real challenge began.

First of all, our traditional celebration consists of me cooking a pasta dish (because we all love pasta) and buying a chocolate cake. (Depending on the budget and the availability of a babysitter, sometimes hubby and I would go out on a date.) The cake, however, is always a must! It’s the only thing that’s supposed to be a permanent fixture in our celebrations, especially after hubby has gone abroad.

The girls would always sing us a happy anniversary song to the tune of “Happy Birthday” and they would blow the candles on the cake together. As we have fun–though not much fun, really, for obvious reasons–we make sure that we take family photos, i.e., with husband on Skype. Now seriously, can you imagine that? If you ask me, deep inside, it sucks, but we have to try our best to make things normal for our young daughters. So maybe that’s why we always feel that we need a cake – its sweetness somehow tends to neutralize the impact, the irony of the situation.

This time, however, we didn’t have a chocolate cake for our (church) wedding anniversary. For a change, the girls and I were supposed to go out and have dinner somewhere, hubby was also supposed to have dinner somewhere, then we’d all eat at the same time and talk over at dinner via Facetime or Skype. Well, that was the plan. But because our eldest daughter attended a leadership camp the previous day and didn’t come home until the following morning, the three of us here just stayed at home so she could rest. However, since I have really counted on us going out, it was already too late when I realized that I didn’t have ingredients on hand for a special menu this evening.

As dinner approached, our youngest child started to get restless, disappointed with the change in our schedule. And as my eldest woke up in the evening, she insisted that we still go out and have a nice dinner somewhere, or at least buy a chocolate cake. We had to forego the plan, you see, since it could mean coming home late at night, plus hubby, who also seemed disappointed that our original plan did not materialize, has decided to come home to his flat immediately after having dinner by himself at the mall.

I did the best that I could to pacify everyone. I rummaged in my tiny kitchen and eventually found a recipe at the back of an Alaska All-purpose Cream, including all the ingredients for the featured desert called Napoleones. Good thing I always have canned fruits and all-purpose cream, which come in handy on days like this! This sort of no-bake cake was very easy to make. It also tasted good and seemed to wield wonders at pacifying the girls. Even if it wasn’t a chocolate cake.

Peaches and Otap cake

With hubby on Facetime, I flipped through our wedding photos, making sure he saw them as well, and for the first time, I noticed that he was smiling from ear to ear in most of our pictures. And I had to ask him why. Of course, he said he was very happy that day, and asked flatfly if I would rather have him grumpy on our wedding day. Well, I guess I shouldn’t ask such silly questions!

I couldn’t help comparing our wedding with some of the weddings I’ve attended though, where the bride and groom seemed to be very conscious of how they look, smiling only when there’s a photographer nearby. In our case, we just both smiled a lot and talked to as many people as we could, as evident in our photos. And I became convinced that my own wedding was the best wedding I’ve ever attended. Ha!

I must admit that our wedding was a low-budget event and I worried too much that most of our guests, if not all, must be used to attending weddings at expensive venues with expensive menus – something that we couldn’t afford. With that in mind, we were very selective of the people we invited – we only asked our closest friends and immediate family members to come, who would understand our situation, who would be there because of us and not because it’s a wedding.

If you must know, we learned on the evening before our big day that the venue might not be able to provide enough tables (and chairs) for all our 100 guests, plus we didn’t have enough time to really decorate the place (it was a DIY project). I also forgot to wear my lacy gloves which were supposed to match my inexpensive store-bought gown, and my husband and I arrived late at our own wedding! Still, even with all those bloopers and lack of glamour, my husband and I heartily agreed that it was the best wedding we had ever attended.

Everything one would see at our wedding was made out of love. The wedding itself was organized by our church friends (our second moms and friends from the ministries we were serving then). Our own house is also filled with gifts given by our friends and relatives who attended our wedding, that I am always reminded of them everywhere I look – the stove where we cook our food was a gift from my eldest brother, the spoons and forks we use were gifts from a dear Pastor and his wife, some of our plates, cups, and saucers were gifts from three friends who were brothers and sister, etc. Unlike other couples, my husband and I decided to use the gifts we received from our wedding day instead of putting them in a dish cabinet. Not only for practicality, but because we prefer to use things as they are and be reminded of the love and friendship we have with the giver each time we use them. It’s also one way of ensuring that we get to say a prayer for our friends and relatives each day as we remember them through their gifts.

On our 12th anniversary, I think I know now how we would celebrate it: a special dinner at our place for everyone who helped organize our church wedding, for those who had been with us through thick and thin. Hubby had better be home with us then, and yes, I’ll make sure we have a luscious chocolate cake on that day, too.

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How about you? Are you married? How do you celebrate your wedding anniversaries?

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