“Let’s get married, darling!”

Text: Danae Tal

It was a bright day in December when my love fell on his knees and asked me with a quiet courage, “Let’s get married, darling”, and put a small box clumsily in front of my nose.

A ring on the nose was not in fashion yet, so I took his hand gently, and upon opening the box, under the blaze of the solitaire, told him half-jokingly, “But my love, how are we to get married if we don’t have a dime?”. Yes, all this happened before the euro.

If my love were an ad-man he would have written the motto himself, “Nothing is impossible”, so he shook his head left and right to show me that no difficulties could stop him.

Let’s get married, darling!” he repeated with more boldness this time.

I accepted, under one condition, that our marriage would take place on the island. So, with a passionate kiss, the ring on my finger, and my love ready for everything – or so he thought – we started preparing for the most frugal wedding ever.
My love, a child of the city, had no idea what a chapel on an island meant. Me, on the other hand, I spent more than 27 summers on the island and had the best memories. Chapel. Celebrations, festivals, fun, laughter, and musical instruments reminding me of my childhood. How lovely and romantic! We would be married in the chapel in the olive grove, the chapel that old and beloved friends had built next to their house.

I would adorn the church with osiers and green wild flowers and instead of the big candles, I would use candles on ceramic saucers on tripods. I would… “How much money do we have?” a voice spoke inside of me. This voice would sound many times until September, when we finally were wed. Preparing our wedding for ten whole months, I felt a small part like Napoleon. Only the hat was missing when I rode on the 33 horses of my motorbike to find the most elegance at the best price.

The simplest things were astronomically expensive. But with a little imagination, a lot of self-control, patience, and not forgetting the voice in my head, we escaped Waterloo.

Some expenses were impossible to avoid, for instance my big fat Greek family. Our families. The “Ok-word”. This “Ok” I heard for the first time one Sunday in the house of the mother of my love, mother Kiki. “Ok” said my love, and from a dauntless bridegroom he was transformed into “Mr. Ok”. This is what I thought, as the “Oks” were uttered consecutively. In my nightmares I saw myself arriving in another chapel than the one I had chosen, and instead of my love, my mother-in-law was waiting for me with a flower in her hand.

I had to wait for the right occasion, my voice told me. In my case the occasion had the title “The Guest List”.

I remember it like it was yesterday when we compiled the names of our guests, waiting for the boat to Salamina, a sunny Sunday in March. We erased, we wrote, we cut, we pasted, we argued a bit, then we loved each other a bit, then we almost argued again because my love wanted to invite his friend Spyros from the army although he hadn’t seen him in years.

Finally, we managed to compose a list of 100 guests, together with the relatives, all happy. Plus 50 more, from our parents from both sides. A total of 150. I was doing the math with the prices that the restaurant close to the sea had given to us when I heard my love saying on the phone, “Good morning, mummy, I am here with your future daughter-in law. How many guests do you have now?” I turned around and looked at him. At first, he was pale, then he turned red from the right side, and I had no time to see anything else. Then: Bang! Mr. “Ok” exploded. His mummy became simply “mother”. “Mother, I’m calling off the wedding, and YOU will call Mr. George and explain to him why his daughter got engaged but is NOT going to get married!” Bang! Bang! Bang! Consecutive explosions. Me, on the other hand, I didn’t say a word. Such a development without me even raising my little finger? The voice was right.

One of the most beautiful moments of the preparation was of course the dress rehearsal. I wanted to take my measurements and sew it accordingly and I didn’t want it to be white. In the beginning it was a piece of cloth on me and slowly-slowly it took form, it found its details, and later its accessories. When I finally picked it up from the dressmaker’s, with the wedding dress in my arms, I felt like I was going to church right then to marry my love, me and him – my whole world! Since the day I put the ring on my finger until the day I arrived at the crowded church, with my love waiting for me, beautiful and touched, many days, months, seasons had passed. We also passed through hell until we reached the point from “living together” to “being married”. Our parents as well, sometimes the mother, sometimes the father, sometimes the mother-in-law, sometimes the father-in-law, had about 140 strokes and…

We had many worries, but they are in the past, and this is maybe why, along with all the greeting cards I kept this note that I found at home, after I had carried 10 kilos of bonbons on my motorbike. My friend Georgia wrote in her cute handwriting: “Hang in there, it’s just a wedding…
So, it’s now a memory, and all of us, friends, and relatives still remember the fun we had.

Because even if your budget is lower than the thriftiest of weddings, it will be rich if there is plenty of joy!