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Did I sell out by getting married and having a wedding on the same date as Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29? My honeymoon was in Hua Hin at a pool villa.

Home / Life  /
Middle Aged Trip Down The Wedding Aisle

What does it take to get a middle-aged bachelor hitched?

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 exclusive do.  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 present.  The 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 fiancĂ© 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 reception.  We 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 $400,000.  My 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 meeting.   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 be there. 

Prince William and his family live in the limelight.  A 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 wife-to-be.  Let's forget for a moment he's part of the British royal family with British taxpayers subsidizing his megabucks wedding.  The 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 and friends.   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 floor.   A hosted brunch?  We would've had to host it, and there would be no jaunting off on our honeymoon while the guests toasted our future good fortune.  What honeymoon?  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 present.  I pointed out that you couldn't invite some family and not others, and five guests or fifty guests -- what was the real difference?  We'd 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 support.  The 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 tolerable.  He denies this, of course.  "No way.  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, remains single.   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 bachelorhood. 

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 comfortable.   The sms was succinct:  "By the way, I'm getting married tomorrow."

Romeo's reaction to the news was somewhat antagonistic.   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 that.  Reading between the lines, the note was a longer way of saying "Thanks for selling out, mate."

I looked up the definition of 'selling out.'   It 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 now.   It 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 great decision.   Between age twenty-five and today, I've been with enough women to know that my wife is someone way beyond the norm.   I don't need ten more years to come to this realization.  The learning curve is steep at first and then it levels off.   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?  No.  Good 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 than that.

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. 

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