At 19 years old on our 3 year anniversary I married my high school sweetheart and true love. We held the ceremony in his mother's backyard among our closest friends and family. Just before the ceremony started I was still getting ready because we'd spent the whole day setting up and cooking ourselves and it was raining outside. It was still slightly drizzling by the time things were ready to start so my bridesmaids carried umbrellas instead of bouquets and caused a double rainbow to appear in the sky right after he dip-kissed the bride. Getting married in college has been a difficult journey. It's turned me into a commuter and a wife simultaneously and even though I'm working while others are attending back to school events and late nights getting back home requires even more work for my assignments, I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.
First off getting married in college for me meant coming back from Thanksgiving break and telling the proposal story to my roommate and my suitemates in our common room. It also meant hearing a lot of: "Did he ask your dad??" and me thinking "Well no...he asked me". I get the tradition of course, but it's outdated. It was a little jarring to get so much of that. If you weren't aware that it's definitely an outdated tradition, it really is. Don't ask your engaged friends this. Luckily my parents considered him my life partner before our engagement and he's friends with my dad, but either way. Thinking of this harkens back to the song "Rude" by Magic!. My husband doesn't understand my bias against the song, but to me it should be obvious why the premise is stupid (and I thought he just liked the reggae tone). The guy in the song goes to the father's house and harasses him after already being told no. It's not as carefree as it comes off if you really think about it and the bride to be is barely mentioned. Her say is what counts. She doesn't belong to her father, some people don't care for their fathers, some people don't have fathers. This is way outdated.
Getting married in college is peculiar because I had so many of my friends at school happy for me that couldn't attend the wedding because they lived in another city and/or state. Engagement entails getting overwhelmed with congratulations and so does the marriage itself. Before we were married a lot of people could tell we were together because he would visit me on my small campus and our friends could see the connection we had. We were told once when we visited that we were just like each other. Being in such a perfect relationship when he was boyfriend, then fiancé, and now husband makes the regular college dating scene pretty striking. It was sad to hear my friends and roommates be in that state with guys where they have no idea what's going on. It's familiar to me because I've had ex-boyfriends that made me feel that way. Being married now makes me realize what my friends female and otherwise should seek out of any relationship especially one as full of commitment as marriage. Don't settle. If anyone remembers that one episode of "How I Met Your Mother" when they talked about the concept of a "reacher" and a "settler" in relationships and it was determined that with Marshall and Lily's relationship she was the settler? That's false. In true love you aren't reaching or settling. You're with your best friend. When we first got together I felt like the reacher. I felt so lucky that someone like him wanted to be with me because all my experience before then involved not being seen as..."mainstream" pretty and interesting and such. He was hot and cool, and still is. Now I feel like I pretty much am too, but I had an ideal in my mind of what I wanted in a relationship when I was bad ex-boyfriends and I didn't think I'd get it. I got my ideal. When it's real you'll get your ideal and you'll be deserving of it. That doesn't mean you should be shallow or too picky or anything, just don't stay in a bad situation. Don't settle. They're out there. You don't even need someone, but soul mates are real and true love isn't some happy person conspiracy.
Having a wedding while being a first generation student who goes to school full-time and works part-time meant that we had to put things together pretty much on our own. Don't get me wrong-our families and close friends helped so much and we can't possibly thank them enough for it. But we self-catered and we got the decorations and our outfits. The important thing is that it was all what we wanted. The big weddings you see as the popular narrative when it comes to heteronormative marriage are so, so unnecessary. The most exciting thing about it should be celebrating your love! Not spending thousands of dollars. It's good to remember for when you're planning your wedding and thinking of your future that it's about your love. It's not "the brides' day". It's about you both. Things won't go "wrong" (I mean hopefully). They'll just be different. We had 600 black, white, and red fake rose petals we forgot to go out because it was raining right before the ceremony. We also made too much food. Everything was perfect, though. We didn't have a professional photographer, but luckily it's the digital age and the close friends and family we had in attendance were armed with their phone cameras. People will tell you that your life together won't be ideal, but you don't need to adhere to someone else's idea of what's perfect. For me at least, ideal means us. I tell my husband that homeless would be heaven if we have each other. Be responsible, but no matter how trying things may get don't lose what's important--the love.
Being engaged and then married while being 19 years old meant that we got a sort of pseudo support from our families. They've been great but at the same time, people who didn't understand us nearly as well as we comprehend each other told us over and over how difficult it'd be. We got asked about our plans months after we figured everything out. We were told the week before the ceremony that no one thought we would be able to do it, and no one seemed to get why that was incredibly insulting to say. Of course we know that it is a difficult task to have a wedding, be married, and permanently move to a new city. It's like we were presented a false narrative at times and to me, hearing people say that they never thought we'd make it this far is empowering, but also makes me wonder what they thought of us. Did our families think that we were moving too fast? Did people find us irresponsible? Probably. My mother told people after my engagement that it'd be a year when she knew that I told her it'd be in August. We got engaged the night before Thanksgiving. At the same time we got really helpful wedding gifts and we got transportation to the places we needed to get our things. We had family to tell our woes when things were stressful and we had lots that helped us on the day of. My mother-in-law took me when we were still engaged to get my engagement ring re-sized so it'd actually fit. (When it was purchased it was perfect aesthetically but it was a size 7 on my narrow AF size 3 ring finger so I'd rigged it with ribbon and tape for months so it'd fit. It was sweet actually since I had to extra careful and it worked, but I've been so thankful to really wear it).
Being married still feels so cool. It feels like it was an early birthday present and I've said a lot since then: "It's sooo cool we get to do this". I feel grateful to the universe for giving me my soulmate and giving us the means to be able to declare our love and live together. We couldn't survive another year apart. I was legitimately depressed and instead of seeking any sort of counseling I cried in my dorm room and fell asleep on the phone with him. It was having to be away from him, being all by myself in a whole new place, feeling at times like I had no friends, stress from school and work, and the pressure of being low-income on a private college campus (more on that in a future article). Luckily, it hasn't been impossible because it's not meant to be. Don't get married straight of high school just for the heck of it. Live your life's purpose. I'm so incredibly lucky to be able to keep studying what I love. I get to write and analyze literature. I get to make smoothies for people including my classmates and come home to dinner and a loving embrace. If being married this young seems strange, irresponsible, stupid, or any other negative adjective--good thing this is my story. This is our narrative. Live your life's purpose.