Why I faked my own wedding shoot

Lo wedding holding orchids

I didn’t expect to be single at 40. No, almost all of my family and friends tied the knot long ago and had kids…except me.  I had a lot of questions over the years like, “You’re such a nice girl, why hasn’t some guy snatched you up yet?” Not something I could easily answer; nor was it something I wanted to answer.

I was never someone who had big dreams of walking down the aisle in a large church and a white wedding dress.  I wasn’t opposed; however, to flying to Vegas over a weekend and getting hitched at the little chapel in the Excalibur hotel to my night in shining armor.  I even have a red velvet medieval costume dress I had custom-made and tailored when I was 22 to prove it.

So if I was never starry-eyed to make wedding plans, why the big deal about being unwed at 40?  I’ll let you in on a little secret…a painful little secret.  Four years ago today, on June 2, 2012, my brother got married.  My little brother got married; and something just hit me. Whether it was watching them make a lifelong commitment in front of all of us, or listening to the promises they vowed to each other, or the laughter and tears we shared in that moment, I got it. On that day, I made a wish to be married before I turned 40. It was a secret desire I kept to myself.

I tried the usual stuff to meet someone: online dating, social events, singles events, asking family and friends if they know anyone.  While I met some nice guys (and some not-so-nice guys), I remained single.  When my 40th birthday started to get closer, and I knew that my secret wish would never come true, I was hurt and disappointed.

Well, I turned 40 this year on April 13th, still not married.  And I realized that I had a choice whether to feel sorry for myself or not; being single or married was not a reason for me to be happy or unhappy.  So I decided to give myself a birthday present I’ll never forget: I purchased the most beautiful wedding dress I had ever seen and booked a professional wedding shoot for one.

It was AMAZING!! I had a makeup artist come in and do my hair and makeup like the photos I saw online with hair off to one side and bright red lips. I had five photographers taking photos of me lying across a classic chaise lounge, sitting in a window sill I had to climb up a ladder for, and having the fan blowing in my face like a superstar! It was 6 hours straight, first in my bridal gown, and then in a glamorous gold evening dress.

But the photo taken above is the one that means the most to me: holding delicate orchids gently in my hands.  For those of you that are familiar with my book, Back to Loving Me, you may recall the image on the front cover: a closeup of my hands holding a single orchid. Writing and sharing that book has changed my life for the better.  Taking lessons from my own words, I often have to remind myself to be kind, patient, and loving towards myself. This experience was my way of expressing my deepest commitment to loving me.

I am hopeful that the day would come that I’ll wear an engagement ring on one hand, my grandmother’s ring on the other (blue for good luck), and be on a wedding shoot for two. Until then, I can choose happiness despite my circumstances. And I will have lifelong memories, forever and always, of how fabulous it was to turn 40!

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