Lara: From Medieval-inspired handfasting to separating, and learning to start over

Updated Oct 12 2015
Lara and her new partner.
Lara and her new partner.

Name and occupation: Lara (Fate) Photographic Editor

My wedding profile: Lara & Mark's fiery medieval-inspired handfast wedding

Wow, where do I start! If anyone had told me, three years ago, that this is how things would end up, I'd never have believed them, but there's only one constant in life and that is change. (Or death and taxes.)

Our wedding was amazing, and I still get comments about it frequently. Whilst I often wondered (during the planning process) what I was going to fill my time with once it was over, I never expected that fact that it WAS over to hit me quite so hard.

Post-wedding depression, folks, is a very real thing. As someone who is determined to remain child-free, the realisation that our last big "rite of passage" was over was quite distressing. Far more so than the last landmark birthday I passed. What ensued was many months of quiet contemplation about the world we live in and the purpose of life for those of us that choose not to procreate.

I suppose I had what you might consider a small, early, mid-life crisis. Not the kind where you buy a Ferrari and shag a secretary, but the kind where you sit back and examine your life and decide whether you can be happy being a consumerist wage slave for the rest of your short life.

Ultimately I started a journey of self-discovery only to soon find, my husband was no longer by my side. My priorities had changed. What I wanted from life had changed. His had not.

It soon became clear that our future vision was no longer in sync and difficult decisions had to be made. It's been a long, hard, painful and difficult year, but I'm glad to say that we've managed to restore our friendship and actually be something of a support to each other as we've both tried to establish and sustain new relationships.

Looking back all these years later, what do you remember most about your wedding?
The most common response I've had from friends and family on hearing of our separation has been "What? Noo! But you had such a BEAUTIFUL wedding!"

IMG_4309-2-2.jpgI'm proud of our wedding and of what we did and what it meant. Even though it didn't work out the way we'd both hoped, the magic and ambience we created that night will live with me forever.

I'm frequently asked whether I would marry again, and my answer is YES! I'm not disillusioned with love, nor the idea of marriage (although I wouldn't be so fussy about making it legal with a piece of paper next time). I believe the pursuit and celebration of love is a noble calling. Love is a wonderful thing. It should be celebrated and it should be magical.

Did you repurpose any wedding decor or attire?
Most of our lanterns have a found a home in my house. Tables and rugs we re-used at my cousin's wedding, and I plan to re-wear my dress to a ball one day — the bonus of not wearing white!

Fairy pod lanterns
Fairy pod lanterns

Plenty of things have come in handy in the few small parties I've had since.

What advice do you have for newlyweds?
Have plans of exciting things you want to do together after the wedding and honeymoon is over.

Try not to take each other for granted and still go out and discover new things together, make new friends, find new hobbies. Try to grow together, not apart.

We know you love these posts — so do we. So let's keep 'em going. Let us know which couples you'd like us to follow up with.

  1. Lara, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We get emails monthly from formerly featured Offbeat Brides who have now separated, asking us to take their wedding profiles down… relationships are difficult, regardless of how offbeat or traditional the wedding might be. I SO appreciate the courage is must have taken to share this with us!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this. I think it's important to show the process of separation/divorce to others, and it's just as important to show that the separation/divorce process can be amicable and the two people in question can stay friends.

    Blessings on a very fulfilled life, even if it is different than you imagined it would be the day you got married.

    • Thank you, I think part of keeping things amicable has been understanding there are many hurt/angry feelings and cruel and unnecessary things can be said.
      Giving each other alot of time and space and (above all) FORGIVENESS is key.
      Mark and I had to cut off all communication for about 6 months whilst we worked through our wounded pride, but it helped avoid things getting nasty.

  3. I am sorry that your marriage did not work out but I admire that fact that you both made the effort to be supportive of each other in the end, that takes a lot of compassion.
    I wish you both the best on your new adventures in life.

  4. Horray a million times for this post! When you started the "where are they now" posts I was really hoping you would include all life paths, not just the ones that kept with happily ever after (together). Lara- you are very brave and 100% amazing for continuing to share your wedding and for letting the world know where your life has ended up. You are an inspiration to all the people who are struggling in their relationships or forming new ones!

  5. This gives me the wonderful idea of sitting down with my fiance once more and really talking out our idea of what we want in the next 2, 5, 10, 15 years. We've done it before, but it's been on more of a general sense. I'm the one who wants to have the big career that will take us places. He is totally fine following me. Hearing you describe the post-wedding depression makes me think that we need to hammer out the details. Can we both stick to our promises. We are going to remain childless as well, but we have other things that will take up our time. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing, Lara! I remember you from the tribe πŸ™‚

    I'm also reflecting on what I want out of life and heading toward a very early crisis, too! Life's too short to be stuck sitting at a desk 8-5 Monday-Friday and not experiencing life at all, or doing what I want to be doing. But, money. I'm glad that you found your answer, but very sorry that your husband wasn't there for you. But you look very happy in your photo with your new partner! ^^

    • Thank you, and yes money is the killer.
      I must clarify though, I haven't yet found the answer. I'm still looking!
      I'm working on my spiritual self and the pursuit of joy. Money is a cage I'm unable to escape from just yet, but I'm seeking solace within the confines of the rat race. Learning the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and experimenting with Transcendental Meditation has been helpful, but I'm not on the path to peace just yet! πŸ™‚

      • Eckhart Tolle is amazing! I have gone through something similar to you and have found a part time job I really enjoy and am doing one paper at university whilst I consider my next steps – something I have found is looking for a job with a supportive boss πŸ™‚

  7. This post touched me because of what you said about landmarks and rites of passage. I've found that it's so important for me to set mid-range goals for myself. I'm not a fan of thinking out five or ten years ahead because life always seems to be so very different from what I thought it would be. But having something to push toward or look forward to one or two years out is not just exciting but necessary.

    I planned my Olympics trip for probably 18 months, and both the anticipation and the trip itself were awesome. After I got back and settled back into the day-to-day, I felt empty and depressed. And I realized I needed something else to look forward to.

    Current goal: the 2014 Pikes Peak Ascent — which will require lots and lots of training! And since I have a handful of friends doing it, too, we'll get to bond in our shared pain and exhaustion during that training. πŸ™‚

    Possible future goals: Hike Machu Picchu! Ride a bicycle across the US (or at least part way)! Do intensive study to learn another language! Who knows? But I always want to have something that I'm looking forward to in life.

    • Absolutely YES to that whole first paragraph! I and my interests have evolved so much in just the past couple years that I really don't know what things will look like in 5 years. I have ideas for what I want to be doing and where I want to be living, but by the time I get there I have no idea if they're what I'll actually want, or if they'll live up to the image in my head. In the meantime the best thing to do is get the most enjoyment out of the place and time I'm in now.

      Your goals are awesome! I've been training for a marathon coming up in December, and it's hard, but it's important to stay ambitious to actually get that sense of accomplishment in the end. πŸ™‚

      And Lara, thank you for sharing your story! I'm really glad to hear you both are supportive of each other, even if it's in different capacities than you originally imagined.

  8. If you don't mind sharing, Lara, I am curious to know a little more about what priorities of yours changed/in what ways your viewpoint changed? If you prefer not to share, that's fine too. I am just aching for some more details in your interesting story, but I can live without them. πŸ™‚

    • Hi there, I'm not sure if you are still interested 7 years later, but today would have been my 9 year wedding anniversary and I happened to stumble across this whilst looking for my wedding video to show to a friend.
      I started wanting more from life, up until that point I had been doing what was expected of me (albeit in my own way) – school, uni, job, buy a house, get married, settle down etc without really questioning it. Once I achieved all of those goals and found myself still feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, I wondered what I was supposed to do next. I realised that I found our life very boring. I wanted to buy a property and build a house that I designed from scratch. I wanted to find a way to work from anywhere and travel the world, I wanted us to try new things and go on adventures together. Mark at the time, preferred to stay within his comfort zone. He did not want to travel, and he refused to entertain the idea of us building a house together, we almost never went out anywhere or tried anything new – except perhaps a new Chinese restaurant.
      I think eventually he changed his views on that after I left too as I have heard that he travels frequently now. He's now remarried, we have not been in contact much since he got serious with his now wife, which is fine, we've both moved on with our lives.
      I'm still working on a lot of my goals, but I've certainly moved in leaps and bounds since then. I discovered a love for sailing and spent several years living on a boat – which was amazing! I've travelled a fair bit too, and started a new career, I'm still yet to build that house, but it's still on the bucket list, along with moving to Bali and spending a year travelling round in a van.
      I've also had some great relationships since then, and learnt SO much more about myself and also about what I want from a relationship. 9 years today since our wedding day and I have no regrets, except that I wish I'd realised sooner that is ok to want things out of life and relationships and it's ok to pursue that. I wasted a lot of time trying to fit into others lives without taking up space and advocating for myself.

  9. Thanks for sharing. My husband and I also split after a super badass offbeat wedding. Friends and relatives still say that ours was the best wedding they've ever been to. Which is a point of pride, for sure. I still think it was one of the best days of my life. It just didn't work out. And I'm totally with you on the whole celebrating love thing. I don't think I'll ever get married again, but I'm in a wonderful committed relationship, and I'm as happy as I've ever been. Who needs the paperwork?

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I'm glad to hear you're still happy with the wedding you had, whatever came after, and that you've been able to find your way to where you want and need to be. It's so true that we never know what the future will bring, but it is important to make the effort to stay with our partners on that path lest we find we are on different paths. And if we do find we're on different paths, that's okay too.

  11. I'm so happy to read follow up stories that really show the variety of life experiences that people have after their wedding! Thanks for sharing! I think it's a really important lesson to be true to yourself and keep re-evaluating priorities and expectations to make sure that staying together is really where you should be!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this, and for being so positive about your wedding. I hear many women turn their wedding into a "Sham" or call it false after they've divorced their partner. I love that you acknowledged the beauty and wonder of the moment for what it was! Amazing!

    • Yes it's sad when people become so cynical after a bad break-up, although I can understand it and there's certainly been times when I've felt discouraged.
      I was lucky enough to find someone special that re-ignited my hope in love.
      Now it's just a matter of re-learning how to be in a new relationship after so many years with the same person. πŸ™‚

  13. Post-wedding depression hit me hard, too, so I wanted to comment in solidarity. <3 You had a beautiful event, and you are a wonderful, strong person.

  14. Thank you for sharing another glimpse of such an important time in your life with the Offbeat community.

    You told your story with maturity, compassion, and love. It's clear that whoever your partner is, that they are a fortunate person. Best wishes to you for a future of fulfillment!

  15. Thank you so much for this honest and sensitive peace.

    I've always said our marriage is more important than a wedding day and this is a great reminder. As we plan our wedding it's so easy to get wrapped up in decisions and details.

    We're both getting married in our mid 30s and have done a lot of growing individually that lead us to be ready for this relationship but that doesn't mean more growth isn't ahead.

    It's important to recognize when your marriage helps and when it hinders and I think it's a brave soul who knows when it's hindering so much that you need to be apart .

  16. Thank you so much for sharing! My ex and I got together at 19, married in our early twenties, and now I'm 27 and getting divorced. Which is a bummer, but what made us fall in love as teenagers wasn't enough to keep us together, not when we both hit our later twenties and didn't want the same lives anymore. (It was actually much uglier and brutal than that sounds, lol, but whatevs. :D)

    Also: I agree entirely about your thoughts on remarriage! <3 I don't regret my marriage, and I hope someday I can be that in love again. It was great.

  17. Thanks so much for sharing, Lara! It's lovely to hear a hopeful story of separation/divorce where you and your ex where able to give each other some emotional support at the end.

    We go into marriage with such unrealistic expectations – til death do us part?! That's a lot of pressure for two people who probably still have a lot of emotion growing to do. And then we feel like failures if we start growing apart. I'd like to see marriage redefined in our society and be more about living in the now and learning to support the couple and the individuals.

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