Third Time’s A Charm

By Kim Mallin

I swore I wasn’t ever going to invite my sister to another one of my weddings. After all, she was the only common factor in all of my weddings. Okay, maybe not the only thing, but most everything else was different. Different months…different nationalities…different zodiac signs…As far as I was concerned, the failure of my previous marriages was her fault, and I had grave concerns about her presence at my third.

My first wedding was, well, I guess you could call it emergently spontaneous. We planned for months to get married on our trip to Greece. Unfortunately, we didn’t look into the rules and requirements of getting married in that particular country (I guess we weren’t very detail-oriented…we were in love, what can I say?) Around 10 in the morning of the day we were to fly out of the country, we went to the local Register of Deeds office to pick up a marriage license. As we were explaining our romantic adventure, the clerk began to look uncomfortable. She finally asked, “Excuse me, what county did you say you were getting married in?”

Was she deaf? It was not another county, it was another country. Patiently we began explaining again, only this time she interrupted, saying, “You can’t do that.”

What did she mean…we couldn’t do it? After all this planning? She then explained that the marriage license was good only in this state. We could get married in another county in North Carolina, but not another country, not with this license. We discovered the process to get married in Greece was complicated. To begin with, it required a passport and certified copies of our birth certificates. That part didn’t sound too bad until she got to the part about the birth certificates needing to be translated into Greek! In addition, an affidavit of marriage was required, signed under oath before a Consular Officer in either Athens or Thessalonica, again in both English and Greek. And that wasn’t all. A wedding notice had to be placed in one of their local newspapers in the Greek language and a copy of the notice brought to the Town Hall before we could even apply for a marriage license.

Last but not least, these documents needed to be endorsed with an official Apostille Stamp (whatever that is…) if we were citizens of a country which was party to the Hague convention. Hell, none of us, the clerk included, even knew what the Hague convention was, but we knew there was no way we could get all of that stuff done before our flight left at 5:45 that day.

We walked out of the clerk’s office stunned. What to do? The clerk suggested we have the Justice of the Peace perform the ceremony. Only we needed to hurry up and make a decision as there were only a few slots left in the Justice’s schedule. These were the days before cell phones, so we went to the local pay phone and made some calls. It was hard to find people available on such short notice in the middle of the day. Several quarters later, we got in touch with his best friend and my sister and they agreed to meet us outside the courthouse at 3 that afternoon. That would be cutting it close to our flight departure, but it was the earliest they could meet us. Fortunately, the Justice still had that time slot open.

And so, my first wedding was at the courthouse. This was not my dream wedding. I did not feel anything like a princess in my aqua blue cotton skirt set and beige aerosole flats. My sister was wearing a jean skirt and t-shirt, having run out of her house dressed just as she was. The best man was in a tank top and running shorts. A serious triathlete, he had been in a major bicycle accident the week before and had road rash all along his left side and couldn’t wear anything else without everything sticking to him and causing severe pain. My husband was in jeans and a t-shirt. At least they were his best jeans. We were quite the stunning wedding party. That was number one.

Number two. This time I was older, smarter, better prepared. My fiancé and I even went through pre-marital counseling. What could possibly go wrong?

Once again, my sister was there. This time as a fancy maid of honor since this was my traditional wedding. Everyone should have at least one. I wore the big poofy white dress complete with lace and beads and pearls. A long train. An adorable little white hat with netting and pearls. My bridesmaids wore lovely cocktail length purple silk dresses with heart-shaped cutout backs draped with pearls just like my dress. My husband was dashing in his black tuxedo and…tennis shoes. How cute. He always was one of a kind.

There was only one scary moment. Throwing a temper tantrum as only a four year-old can, the precious little blonde-haired blue-eyed monster…I mean, ring bearer, decided that he didn’t want to wear the black shoes that came with his tux. He screamed loudly and ran whenever his mother approached him with them. Someone was quickly sent shopping for a pair of tennis shoes. Hey, if they were good enough for the groom, they were good enough for the ring bearer, right? At least the ring bearer’s tennis shoes were black…my husband’s were bright white.

The remainder of that day was a blur. This time I did feel like a princess. It was everything I had always dreamed my wedding day would be. So what went wrong? My sister. That bearer of marital strife. The diva of divorce.

Maybe it’s time to come clean about my sister. To accept that just maybe my marital problems were not really her fault. That she really was not the diva of divorce. Hell, she hadn’t ever even been divorced. By the time I was getting married for the third time she had been in a committed relationship with the same partner for over ten years. A happily committed long-term monogamous relationship. It was beginning to look as if maybe she wasn’t jinxing my marriages. So what could it be?

I needed to figure it out because there I was coming up on number three. Third time is a lucky charm, right?

My husband-to-be and I had both been down this road before. He had been married…gasp…even more times than I had. We both knew some people thought we were fools to be trying it again. Several years older and hopefully a lot wiser since our previous marriages ended, we no longer needed another person to make us happy. Instead, we were already happy, and what we wanted was someone to share our lives. So should we…or shouldn’t we?

Well, of course we did. A lot of brainstorming took place planning this wedding, trying to individualize and make significant an act that we had been through before with results that were not what we had hoped. We wanted this ceremony to be reflective of ourselves and the hope that this relationship had given each of us.

My fiancé went with me to pick out my dress…a flowing off-white sheath that made me feel like a beautiful woman…and notice I said woman. Not a cute girl, or a hot babe, or even a princess…but a grown woman.

The beach had always been a place of healing and peace for both of us, making it an easy choice to get married on the beach down from our house. We asked a close friend, Martha, also a therapist, to become a notary public, so that she could marry us. The three of us had several sessions, exploring not only what kind of wedding we wanted but what kind of relationship we wanted, how we wanted to support and love each other…and ourselves. From these sessions developed our ceremony.

And so, on a hot sunny July morning, we were married. The crowd gathered around a wicker archway decorated with ribbons entwined with flowers as Martha called everyone together. I walked out onto the beach from a more southern beach access while my husband-to-be entered a more northern access and we walked towards each other, meeting in the middle at the archway, a walk symbolic of our coming together from different places, of our willingness to meet in the middle, of our status as equals in this relationship.

And my sister? Of course she was there.

Has the third time been a lucky charm? You bet.

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