Fargo woman 'marries' herself in symbolic ceremony
FARGO - Nadine Schweigert says her wedding went so perfectly that it left her in awe.
The bride wore a long, satiny dress in peacock blue and carried a cluster of white roses. Schweigert's best friend stood up for her. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed white wedding cake enrobed in peacock-blue fondant and New Orleans-style king cake.
The affair was missing just one, teensy detail: a groom.
In a purely symbolic ceremony, the 36-year-old "married" herself before a crowd of 45 friends and family members Saturday at Ecce Gallery in Fargo.
During the observance, the Fargo woman read her vows: "I, Nadine, promise to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self." She presented herself with a ring and invited all guests to "blow kisses to the whole world" at the point of the traditional, bride-groom lip-lock.
"I'm very proud of it, and I feel very good about it," says Schweigert, who works at Swanson's Health and teaches yoga. "I'm so glad I did it."
Schweigert views the secular ceremony as a public pronouncement that she has learned to love and accept herself as she is.
That hasn't always been the case. The divorced mother of three says she struggled for years with self-acceptance, attending therapy groups and studying books like Melody Beattie's "Codependent No More."
"I was waiting for someone to come along and make me happy," she says. "At some point, a friend said, 'Why do you need someone to marry you to be happy? Marry yourself.'"
The concept is unconventional, but not unheard of. New Age websites such as Encouraging Priestess share ideas on how to perform secular, self-marriage ceremonies. And "Glee's" own Sue Sylvester famously sported her red tracksuit to marry herself in 2010.
Still, when Schweigert first mentioned the idea a year ago, she was discouraged by several female friends who thought it was weird. Disheartened, she put the idea on hold.
Months passed and Schweigert found herself lamenting the loss of a relationship. Once again, she says, the idea of her own wedding re-surfaced.
"It was just one of those things where you get an idea, and you know you just have to do it," she says.
Schweigert's 11-year-old son also didn't like the idea.
"Initially his response was to put his hand on my shoulder. He said, 'I love you, but I'm embarrassed for you right now and I'm not coming,' " she says.
In time, her son came around and even got involved in wedding plans. He was there for her one-sided nuptials.
The majority of her friends have been more enthusiastic. Two friends baked cakes, another friend officiated and many others presented readings.
"I was discerning about who I shared it with," she says. "Most people were very accepting and cool, because they love me and they know I'm odd by nature."
Schweigert's parents are "very in-the-box" people who live in Enderlin, N.D., she says. But they were "silently supportive" and presented her with a special album of photos for her big day.
Nadine's mom, Charlotte Schweigert, says a self-marriage ceremony fit her daughter perfectly. "She always did her own thing. That was Nadine," she says. "Everything in this younger generation - nothing surprises me anymore."
Charlotte and Darrel Schweigert had never heard of this type of ceremony but attended to support their daughter.
"We just sort of watched and wanted to know what it was all about," Charlotte says. "That's all that counts, as long as she's happy."
Now, with her wedding day behind her, Schweigert did what most newlyweds do: She's honeymooning, having left for New Orleans on Thursday.
"I'm just a unique, awesome person who doesn't fit anyone's mold or ideal, and I hope you're OK with that," she says. "And if you're not, that's OK, too."