I was very vocal about the fact that I did not want a wedding. Sometimes I’m still surprised that I chose to get married.

I was a child with fleeting passions. Afternoons spent at the library turned into evenings tearing through books on a range of topics. There was a Elizabethan phase that culminated in me being dubbed a lady by Queen Elizabeth at the Renaissance Faire. There were several entrepreneurship phases. A ballet phase. A poetry phase. And then I discovered the internet. I could binge on a topic for a few hours and be on to the next one by dinner time.

I was a multi-passionate child who grew into a woman that likes to always have options. My major at Vanderbilt was the broadest course of study that I could find. I needed room to change my mind about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I did. I dabbled in marketing, PR, events, and non-profit administration. There were multiple occasions in which I considered moving abroad.

Then I graduated and accepted a position in a Leadership Development Program where I could hone a range of skills to one day apply in my “true” career. Next, I traded the safety of that program for an operations role at a startup where, on any given day, I can be building a website, chatting with a potential client, working on reports, and attending an event.

Outside of work, I fill my time with my own business and creative projects and volunteer work.

I like doing all the things. I’m wired to need options. I thrive when I am expansive.

So why have I been with the same partner for over a quarter of my life? I’m still figuring that one out. It has something to do with Matt’s steadiness. He is the biggest grounding force in my life, but I’ve never felt stuck. Maybe that’s the secret.

Before I went to college, the woman who was like a grandma to me told me, in the most genteel way possible, that I should keep seeing Matt but also play the field at college. So we set the standard that we could hit pause at any time to explore other options.

I credit that mindset with some of the success of our relationship. We never chose to take a break, but we knew we could be honest with each other. Matt and I have talented, intelligent, and attractive friends of the opposite sex. We were free to share our feelings instead of hiding them out of guilt or shame. I won’t say that there was never pain involved in our transparent conversations, but I will say that the transparency is part of what showed me that I could spend the rest of my life with one person.

When I had the first inklings that Matt was going to be around for awhile, I went crazy on Pinterest with my roommate at the time. I thought I wanted a wedding when all I wanted was to be married. And you can get married anywhere. And it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune.

I really wanted to elope. Through conversation, eloping turned into a private ceremony with a casual reception which evolved into a ceremony of less than a hundred people which became a full blown wedding.

I know myself. As a Type 3 on the Enneagram, I care what other people think. A lot. And planning a wedding is a several month period of opening yourself up to a barrage of opinions from loved ones and an industry designed to get you to spend money aimlessly and from that person you met once at your friend’s birthday party. Every one has a point-of-view about your wedding.

My thought was to cut out all of the anxiety and curate a memory that was truly about Matt and me building a life together. Instead, I got a wedding and all of the extreme stress that I tried to avoid.

We decided pretty early on that, if we were going to have a wedding, we were going to do it our way. Every time I started to do political calculus, Matt would lovingly ask me, “Who cares?” The answer was often a shadowy picture of a person or a vague outline of a group of people. They didn’t really exist.

So we ate tacos and donuts and drank sangria on our wedding night. We didn’t splurge on outrageously fancy paper for our invitations. We invested in a kickass and compassionate photographer. We didn’t do a wedding party. We wanted it to feel like the kind of party our parents would host at their houses on a large scale, and it did. The day was ours.

I treasure our wedding day. Though, given the choice, I’m not sure that I would have a wedding again. I didn’t want a wedding celebration. I needed it. I needed to pass through the gauntlet of planning one of sharing one of the biggest days of my life with a large group of people who may have different opinions of what a wedding day should look like.

My wedding disappointed people. I will continue to make life decisions that aren’t aligned with other people’s definitions of success. I’ve let invisible voices dictate my choices for so long. The woman who has to have options was limiting her own options on the off chance that someone might not approve.In saying no over and over again during the wedding process, I learned how to say yes to what made my heart beat a little bit faster. Planning a wedding is what showed me that I can build something amazing, even as I’m disappointing people, real or imagined, left and right.

So I got a life partner and a new outlook on life. Cheers to that.