The Travel Diary is a retrospective blog about our 3-month long wedding trip in 2003. We’re sharing stories about our honeymoon across 11 countries, including accommodation details, recipes, travel stories, and the story of how 2 people started a lifelong adventure together.
We were getting married. It was the summer of 2003, and we had been living in a tiny apartment in East Vancouver for the past few years, working in the city while making arrangements for the next phase of our lives.
That statement will make it sound like we were picking out silverware or ordering centrepieces and ice sculptures. One might assume that we were making seating plans, or choosing a DJ. The word “wedding” comes with so many images of social tradition that it’s hard not to think of first dances, throwing bouquets, and tearful speeches into squeaky microphones.
Our wedding was going to be just a bit different.
This “wedding” was a triptych of sorts. Three events taking place over several months, each of their own significance, but all part of the complete picture. Just because we weren’t interested in the idea of a traditional wedding doesn’t mean that we held the act of getting married any less sacred. It was important to us that this wedding held personal significance – after all, the intent behind any action is what infuses it with meaning and energy. The traditional wedding stuff just didn’t hold any joy for us at all, and we spent many nights talking endlessly about what we wanted, what would mean the most, and how we would do it.
We wanted our “wedding” to be the beginning of a journey. And what better way to symbolize that than to put all our belongings in storage, move out of our apartment, and go on a 3-month trip across Europe, from the UK to Turkey and back again.
Phase I was to take care of the legalities at home in Canada. We wanted to hold a private ceremony somewhere along the road (more on that in Phase II of our plan), but didn’t want to fuss with the details of doing that overseas, which can be complicated depending on where you intend to marry. Having a civil ceremony at home would also be a wonderful way to kick off the journey officially – we would marry, enjoy dinner that evening, and leave for Europe the next day.
Our at-home wedding was to be simple, attended by immediate family only. This was a blow to some at first, I’m sure, as the “W” word is pretty heavy for some people, and the idea of not going through with tradition was hard for some to understand. Phase III of our journey will explain more about that. Another reason we decided to keep it small is that my Nana was in the last few weeks of her life after a long battle with breast cancer, and it was important for me to have her there.
So there we were, surrounded by our immediate families (some represented in photo form as they were thousands of miles away and sending their love), marrying in my grandparent’s living room. My wedding dress was made by my mother, as hers was made by my grandmother. We said our vows, but opted to hold back the exchange of our rings until we got to Phase II somewhere along the road. My new husband almost wore a hole in the carpet before the ceremony as I had arrived late, but now that the official stuff was over he was smiling and enjoying a toast with his father, and his new father-in-law. Looking around at our simple fruit plate and newly-signed marriage documents on the dining room table, we were happy. Our families were chatting warmly together, everyone was relaxed, and it was done. The whole thing took about an hour, from vows to fruit plate. It was exactly what we wanted.
The next day, we would leave for Amsterdam.