April 29, 2011.
All eyes -- some say 1 billion -- were focused on a
wedding. Prince William, the Duke
of Cambridge, was marrying his fan club
lover, Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey.
Three weeks before the wedding, the trashy Daily
Mail ran an article about who made the cut for this
Famous comedians, athletes, exes, and cousins were
mentioned. 1,900 people attended in all.
Meanwhile, six time zones east, no eyes
were focused on another wedding.
No famous personalities or even relatives were
bride- and groom-to-be visited a local marriage registry
office in Hua Hin and signed some papers in the presence of
no one. This
wedding was my own.
The Duke's wedding cost $34m, $32m of
that on security paid for by the British taxpayers.
My wedding, including a week's pre-honeymoon in
Chiang Mai and two nights in a
pool villa outside Hua Hin,
ran $600-700, with no security.
The Duke gave Kate one of his mommy's $1m showpieces
as an engagement ring.
I didn't have any of my late mother's rings on hand;
if I had every single one of them and gave them all to my
fiancé as an engagement ring bonanza, the total price
wouldn't be enough to put a down payment on the down payment
of the Duke's engagement ring.
The Duke's wedding ring cost $11,000.
Our weddings rings haven't been purchased yet.
We'll buy them in Korea in a few weeks for $300-400.
The Queen forked out $600,000 for the Duke's
paid $120 for a romantic candle-lit uniquely designed menu
for two along the beach.
The Duke's bride wore a gown valued at more than
bride's special but elegant purchase for the event cost
$100. The Duke's
daddy bought him and the wife two wedding cakes for $80,000
-- or $134 per slice.
My bride and I ate two pieces of banoffee pie the
following day at a local bakery for $4.
The Duke announced his marriage to the public in
November 2010, five months ahead of the ceremony.
I only told my immediate family two weeks in advance
and was originally going to tell them after I did it.
To show you how much I cared about the
nuptials of Prince William and sweet Kate, I didn't have a clue they were getting
married on April 29 until I remarked to a British neighbor I
was tying the knot and when.
"Oh, you're getting married the same day as the big
bad Duke," he told me.
Actually, I wasn't. The
neighbor was mistaken. We were supposed to get married on
April 28, the same date we became a couple four years ago.
On the appointed date, we motorbiked over to the
registry office behind the police station at 2 PM.
Turns out that day the only official in the office
with the authority to stamp our documents was away at a
We celebrated our wedding dinner that night, officially, as
an unmarried couple and fate pushed our real wedding date
forward by one day, the same day as the high profile Duke
was being televised at the altar.
As if it hasn't been spelled out clearly
by now, our intentions were quite different from the
Buckingham Palace crowd. We didn't want anyone else to
Prince William and his family live in the
spread in People magazine is to be expected.
It was a royal wedding, had to involve a royal amount
of detail, cost a royal amount of cash, and generate a royal
amount of attention.
The public demand it.
And so, I imagine, did the big bad balding Duke's
Let's forget for a moment he's part of the British royal
family with British taxpayers subsidizing his megabucks
Duke's wife comes from a rich family herself.
She and the Duke are both in their late 20's and
neither have ever been married.
Kate must've fantasized for years, like many young
girls do, about her magical expensive wedding day.
Signing a few forms at a civil registry wouldn't
satisfy her kind of appetite.
My wife has been married before.
She's had her traditional wedding ceremony.
Fantasies of hers, if any, had either been fulfilled
or eroded. This
was my first time engaging in a marital union, but I held no
long cherished dreams of some perfect wedding.
Just five years ago I was sure I'd never get married,
and it didn't bother me.
I think the less years you have on you,
the more you're likely to romanticize the marriage process.
You're still lost in that fairy tale mindset.
The Duke and his bride are quite a bit younger than I
am, and at that age, you want to show off to all your family
My wife and I didn't feel we had anything to prove.
We'd been living together in Thailand for almost the
entire extent of our relationship.
If the British taxpayers were willing to up their
wedding subsidies, the Duke's wedding invite list could've
been equal to the population of Luxembourg, guests lining up
to attend for the prestige factor.
As a comparison, there weren't that many people in
Thailand we would've considered inviting or who would've
begged to be.
We could've opened up the invite list to people back
in our homelands.
My wife was keener on this idea than I.
I realized that by inviting family and friends, the
wedding would become more about them.
All these people would fly over
to attend, and the
responsibility would fall on us to organize everything and
insure everyone had a grand old time on their trip overseas.
When my sister got married in 1992, she
did so in the town in which we grew up.
She was no longer living there and flew in
specifically for the wedding.
An official wedding planner handled the event.
The marriage took place on a Saturday night.
On Sunday morning, a brunch was hosted by aunts,
uncles, and grandparents, but by then, she and her husband
were already on a flight to Hawaii for their honeymoon.
I saw the same play repeated when a cousin got
married 7 years later.
The after-wedding brunch isn't thrown for the bride
and groom. It's
thrown for the attending guests.
If we were to have had our guests fly
in from far afield, my wife and I would've had to be there
before the first silverware was laid down for the rehearsal
dinner (which we also would've had to plan) and after the
last crumb and stain were cleaned off the wedding dance
We would've had to host it, and there would be no jaunting
off on our honeymoon while the guests toasted our future
Family would've come this far to see us and some would've
stayed to spend time with us.
Post-wedding, the focus would have still been about
everyone else, not about us.
I'll admit that it was I who pushed for
the civil ceremony at first.
She wanted a small ceremony with some family members
pointed out that you couldn't invite some family and not
others, and five guests or fifty guests -- what was the real
still have to do all the orchestrating for everyone else
for our wedding, not to mention fund all this out of our own
pockets, without British, American, or Korean taxpayer
entire reason I kept the marriage a 'secret' from my father
and siblings wasn't because I was embarrassed about it.
I just felt if they knew about it, some might feel
obligated to fly all this way on my account.
And what about the ones who couldn't come or didn't
want to? If, for
instance, my dad and brother said they were happy to fly all
the way over, but my sister felt she couldn't, would she
fear I'd be upset with for her not being present at a major
milestone in my life?
I didn't want to deal with this.
I did tell a few friends of mine in the
United States about the imminent nuptials before I told any
of my family members.
All these friends are already married, don't post
notes on Facebook, and would've felt no obligation to fly
over to Thailand to attend my wedding.
With family, I couldn't tell one long in advance and
expect that person to keep it a secret from all the others.
I have a few friends in Australia, all
my age, and none of them married.
Briefing them of my marriage proved to be more
difficult than telling my family
One, a great guy we'll call Indo, is the older
brother of a girlfriend I was with years and years ago in
Africa. I sense
Indo would get hitched without a second thought if he found
someone not even perfectly compatible but acceptably
denies this, of course.
I'm not getting married.
I love my life, too good being single," he wrote me
in an sms the day before my marriage was to take place.
JB, a friend of Indo's and also a friend of mine,
JB will never marry.
He shows no interest in women he can't pay to enjoy
and then get rid of.
JB's younger brother, Romeo, has been dating the same
girl for over 6 years but conveys an attitude of
Maybe it's an Australian thing to always act like you can
never be tamed by one woman.
Indo thinks Romeo will eventually marry his
girlfriend once certain family issues are sorted out.
You'd never get Romeo to admit that.
Indo was in Thailand in December and
early January just before flying off to India.
I dropped the marriage news to him then.
He was surprised, to be sure, yet still happy for me.
JB was with Indo at that time, but I made Indo
promise not to tell him.
I couldn't be sure how JB would take it.
I told Romeo literally the day before I was getting
married -- by sms.
We'd just had an hour long Skype conversation.
I could've told Romeo then, but didn't feel
The sms was succinct:
"By the way, I'm getting married tomorrow."
Romeo's reaction to the news was
He wrote me an e-mail to the effect that I'd now done
what society had programmed me to do.
Congratulations for that.
Marriage, procreation, a mortgage, working hard to
earn taxes to pay the fat cat politicians.
He was, sardonically, thrilled I'd bought into all of
between the lines, the note was a longer way of saying
"Thanks for selling out, mate."
I looked up the definition of 'selling
refers to the compromising of one's integrity, morality, and
principles in exchange for money, success, or personal gain.
I'll admit I got married for personal gain.
Who the hell doesn't?
No one I've ever met who voluntarily got married did
so for personal loss.
What about money and success?
Well, I don't think it's rocket science to assume
that if you feel happier and more content (which I do in the
company of my wife), you'll probably make more money and be
more successful with every pursuit.
No one ever got married to intentionally make their
life worse and become less successful.
The real question is: did I compromise my integrity,
morality, and principles by signing on the dotted line?
By my mid-thirties, I didn't think I'd
ever get married. I
wasn't anathema to the pure concept of marriage.
Most of the people I knew who were married hadn't
exactly picked out soul mates from the crowds, but I
attributed their average marriages to average expectations
or moves to lock in a mate so they wouldn't age alone.
Luckily, I never had a fear of living or getting
older solo. I
did have trouble reconciling as a younger man that I could
pick out a mate and be with that person for the rest of my
life. In any
other area of our lives, do we ever choose something and
stick with it till the end no matter what?
My father used to drive a Pontiac. He doesn't
anymore. I used
to live in California.
I don't anymore.
My friends of twenty years ago aren't playing major
roles, if any, in my life today.
The job I had out of college isn't what I'm pursuing
seemed odd that males and females in their mid- to
late-twenties (the age most people tie the knot) could make
such an important decision and forego all future and
possibly better opportunities.
I'm still incredulous that anyone that
young could make such a monumental decision and be so sure
about it. As
divorce statistics bear out, many who were "sure" weren't
very sure what they were sure about.
It still wasn't an easy decision for me to make at my
age. My wife
wanted to be married a few years back.
In her culture, a couple don't cohabit at all, much less
for four years.
She wanted some kind of stronger seal that the commitment
meant something, and marriage to her was that commitment.
I wasn't so young anymore to cite the once valid
reason that I didn't yet know enough to make a
Between age twenty-five and today, I've been with
enough women to know that my wife is someone way beyond the
don't need ten more years to come to this realization.
The learning curve is steep at first and then it
I got the big lessons in my past.
If I decided not to marry my present wife, I would've
just been running away from a commitment, not holding out
because I truly felt there was someone more compatible out
there for me. I
know several people around my age, never married, who still
regularly pull this sow-the-wild-oats excuse out of their
aging hats. Do I
envy their lives overall?
reason not to do what they're doing.
Some people can make a sound decision
who to marry whilst still a youngster.
Celebrities striking fame at young ages are exposed
to a wider assortment of easier prospects.
Easy scores must grow old quick, and when these
celebrities meet someone out of the ordinary, they don't
need ten more years to be certain of finding someone better.
Another consideration is what you want out of life.
The simpler you are and the simpler your goals, the wider
the net of people who could meet your criteria.
A former girlfriend was this way.
She was desperate to get married in 1999, and any man
strolling past her gates willing to do the same, with a few
very basic common interests, could've been her husband.
I was looking for someone wanting a helluva lot more
My middle-aged trip down the wedding
aisle, both doing it and the way we did it, was completely
consistent with the way I've always lived my life.
I wasn't extravagant, I wasn't looking to make
headlines, and I wasn't going through the motions for anyone
else. You weren't
looking at me and my wife in Westminster on April 29.
We were too busy minding our own lives beating the
Duke and his wife to the altar.