When I was a young girl, I never really dreamed about having a big church wedding like many girls do. I don't know why. Maybe it was because I was never a real frilly girlie-girl, growing up as the only girl in a household of four lively brothers. I guess I was more of a tom-boy than anything, always trying to keep up with my brothers to prevent them from teasing me too much, although teasing me was part of their daily sustenance, much like breathing, sleeping, and sunshine. All my life, I have always marched to my own drum, and I guess some would say that I have often taken more unconventional paths than most.
I had met my future husband Adnan when we were students at the university (see my previous post called How I Met My Prince), as many couples do. From the start he had been honest with me about how he would return to his native country of Saudi Arabia after he completed his studies, would marry a Saudi girl, raise his family and live out his life there. I had fallen fast and hard for him, but I accepted what he had told me and appreciated his honesty, although deep in the corners of my mind, I secretly hoped that he would eventually realize that he loved me so much that he couldn't possibly live without me. I knew that my happily-ever-after scenario was not likely to happen though, and it was not something that I let myself dwell on or believe. I tried to take it just one day at a time, being thankful for whatever time we did have together. And each one-day-at-a-time ultimately turned into twelve long years. Whether he had intended to or not, Adnan had become a member of my family, was always included in family functions, and our names were always spoken together as one: Susie and Adnan, or Adnan and Susie.
When Adnan finally finished his studies and earned his PhD, it was a bittersweet occasion for me. I was happy for him that he had achieved his goal, but I also knew that our time together - twelve years - was nearing its end. Indeed he left Arizona and returned to Saudi Arabia as he had always said he would. But a strange thing happened. He wasn't able to land a job in his field. Frustrated and disappointed, he returned to the states six months later for a visit, and I picked him up at the airport. As soon as we arrived at my house, Adnan swept me up in his arms and he proposed to me! I was flabbergasted and bursting with joy. I had never really allowed myself to dream or to believe until that moment that we might actually have a future together. He again returned back to Arabia, continued looking for work, and made plans to return to visit me once more in Arizona that December. Adnan arrived one week before Christmas, and we immediately decided to get married right away, with no pre-planning. Since most of my immediate family would be flying in from all over the USA to spend the holidays at my mom's house in my small hometown on the Mexican border in Arizona, we decided to have a surprise wedding.
When I called my mom to tell her of our sudden plans to marry a couple days before Christmas, she was thrilled and sprung into action. After a twelve-year long courtship, Adnan and I gave my wonderful mother just five days to organize and plan a wedding which was to take place at her house two days before Christmas. Plus on top of all that, she had a houseful of out-of-town guests to contend with! My mom was an amazingly good sport about the whole thing and took it all in stride. After all, she had raised my brothers and me all by herself after my dad passed away when I was eleven. She could certainly handle all the details of a last minute wedding right before Christmas. All I really had to do was get my dress and a suit for Adnan.
With only five days to stage an entire wedding in the middle of the winter holiday season, there was, of course no time to send out formal invitations. So, the wedding guests were all invited by word of mouth and phone calls. My mom's home was already decorated for the holidays, so the wedding theme was a logical no brainer. There was no time for me to get upset about any wedding plans that might have gone awry, no time to fret over those little minute details that drive some brides nuts. My mom ordered a beautiful three-tier cake from the local supermarket, as well as party platters of hors d’oeuvres. A family friend was enlisted to take photos of the event, and one of my brothers volunteered to video-tape our wedding and reception. My brothers' wives and my nieces attended to the decorations, elaborately utilizing the colors of red and white for the poinsettias, linens, netting and bows, in keeping with the holiday theme. The entire wedding cost a paltry $500. But in my eyes, it couldn't have turned out any nicer.
Some friends changed their holiday plans and made the two hour drive from Tucson down to my hometown so they could celebrate our special day with us. Several of my childhood friends were also able to come, since they too happened to be home for the holidays. And the congregation from the church I attended since I was a little girl was invited in a special announcement during the church services that morning.
That freezing December day almost two decades ago was one of the coldest days ever. But even the bitter cold couldn't put a damper on the festivities that day when seventy-five of my friends and relatives gathered at my mom’s home, crammed into her warm and cozy living room and were witness to something we all had thought we would never see - my marriage to the love of my life Adnan. And with my mom’s twinkling Christmas tree as the backdrop, we said our vows to each other. I can tell you, there were not many dry eyes in the place. The only things that could have possibly made that day any better than it was would have been if my one brother who was on active duty in Desert Storm could have been there, and also if Adnan could have had some of his family there. Aside from that, it was flawless. It was truly a joyous day. The day was so surreal because I had never really let myself believe for one minute it would ever happen. There was so little time to prepare for it that nothing could have possibly gone wrong - it was totally stress-free. How many brides can say that? Everything went off without a hitch. My wedding day was perfect for me.