When I met my future husband, I knew enough astrology to know we shared classically good aspects: his Sun was conjunct my Moon; his Moon was conjunct my Ascendant; his Mars was right on my Venus. What more could you ask for? We soon got engaged and moved in together, and planned to be married in about a year. Though I’d studied a lot of birth charts and did solar returns and transits for all of my friends, I hadn’t yet been introduced to the concept of electional astrology – choosing an auspicious date to begin a venture or project. I felt lucky that the caterer in the park we liked had a Saturday available that summer for our wedding and reception. I never imagined that, based on astrological influences, I could have chosen a better date.
The years went by, I became an astrologer, and I hadn’t looked at my wedding chart in a long time. When I did, it shocked me – I noticed Mercury retrograde near the Midheaven and it all came flooding back. The problems, the confusion, the mistakes – not involving the marriage or the relationship, but the wedding itself. A Mercury retrograde marriage, I feel, often reflects a re-affirmation of a couple’s commitment. Since we’d been living together before the wedding, it was appropriate. Prince Charles’ marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles had this placement, as did Liz Taylor’s second-time-around re-marriage to Richard Burton, and these both made perfect sense at a Mercury retrograde time.
Many astrologers rigorously avoid choosing Mercury retrograde for weddings, citing it as “difficult” or “problematic.” Of course, Britney Spears’ January 2004 quickie Las Vegas wedding to Jason Allen Alexander also had Mercury retrograde, and we could argue that they had already been childhood friends. But she had made a very hasty decision to marry and jumped right in at a time when it’s easy to change one’s mind. To begin with, most of us would exercise a little better judgment. And perhaps the retrograde made an annulment easier. I feel that Mercury retrograde is fine for the marriage itself – it simply describes the relationship. In our case (and in Charles and Camilla and Liz and Dick’s) it symbolized a re-commitment of some sort; the original decision had been made much earlier. But for the wedding party, the event, the celebration, Mercury retrograde can create circumstances that are confusing, misleading and yes, even problematic.
We all know what chaos little Mercury retrograde can bring. The lost e-mails, the bad checks, the seemingly endless calls to someone in tech support in India who really doesn’t seem to have a clue about your printer problem. We can’t change it; we can just get through it and try to cope. And it’s not just Mercury retrograde itself that we need to look out for. Mercury slows from its usual quickstep well before it actually stations and turns retrograde. I once had a somewhat paranoid client who swore she felt the effects a full three weeks in advance and three weeks after the true retrograde event. I laughed at this at first, but was ultimately convinced by my own experience that she was more right than wrong.
My wedding planning had been somewhat rough, as anyone who’s gone through it knows. I disagreed with my parents over the music. My mother desperately wanted everything videotaped, and we felt just as strongly about not having a cameraman hovering about us throughout the affair. It took us quite some time to whittle down the guest list to something we could afford. And we visited many, many venues before we could agree on something we all liked.
Lots of things went smoothly, though. My mom was making my gown, so it would be exactly as I imagined. And once we found a catering hall, we were thrilled that the actual ceremony would take place in the beautiful park outside. My fiancé wasn’t picky about much of anything, just very accepting in his placid Taurean style, making everything easier.
But as Mercury slowed its motion and began to station and turn retrograde about a week before the wedding, we visited the park to be sure that everything was going according to plan. We confirmed the number of guests for the party. We had a few “maybes,” so being cautious, we gave the higher number to be sure everyone had a plate and a chair. The banquet manager took us outside to show us the exact place reserved for our ceremony – an exquisite lawn, beautiful trees and singing birds – absolutely perfect! However, she then let slip the fact that there would be another party nearby – with a rock band. A rock band? Near our wedding? She assured us she’d have them take a break as we exchanged vows. This seemed like a fast-talking Mercury retrograde bait and switch to me. All I could imagine was our “I do’s” being drowned out by the overpowering runs of an electronic bass guitar. It did not sit well, though we were assured that in the case of inclement weather there was a chapel room available indoors.
Mercury actually turned retrograde just a few days before the wedding. I think I was too preoccupied with our last-minute preparations to notice at the time, but it soon made itself felt.
The wedding was scheduled for Saturday, and on Friday night, my fiancé and I boarded the train to my parents in the suburbs. We brought my cat, Kira, since my parents had agreed to take care of her while we were on our honeymoon. I’d spend the night there and my mother had arranged that my brother, Don, would host my fiancé that night and bring him to the wedding the following day. We had dinner and relaxed in front of the TV, waiting for Donny to arrive. He was a little late – unusual for his responsible Capricorn Moon – but we assumed he’d been held up in traffic.
Soon, though, there were odd, spongy, rustling noises above us. We listened carefully and could hear them moving across the ceiling. It was rather disturbing – were there rats in the house? Or worse yet – some kind of disembodied spirit? Then there was a loud “mee-yowl!” Kira was in the ceiling! Being lost is certainly a typically mixed-up Mercury retrograde phenomenon. As Barbara Watters says in Horary Astrology, it can be like being led into a “blind alley.” (Of course, Mercury also rules small animals through its association with Virgo). But the big question now loomed – how had Kira gotten in there and how could we possibly get her out?
My dad quickly realized that there was only one opening in the ceiling – above an unfinished storage area in the back. We marveled that the cat could have climbed up on all the cabinets, boxes and bags piled ceiling-high. But she was adroit at things like jumping on top of the refrigerator and even opening closet doors. I hoisted myself up and called to her. Miraculously – she was a rebellious Aquarius with stubborn Scorpio rising – she responded and we all cheered that the rescue was handled so quickly and easily.
Settling down after the excitement, we were again puzzled by the non-appearance of my brother. We called him, but he didn’t answer, so we again assumed he was on his way. After a while, the phone rang. It was my future mother-in-law, and she was upset and distressed. She’d taken a plane from North Carolina, a cab to the city and a commuter train to the suburbs only to find that she had gone to Bayside rather than Bayshore, over an hour’s drive away. Mercury retrograde has a way of garbling names, dates and places into an incoherent mess. As the planet was still stationing, its heaviness and lethargy worked against the quick and accurate exchange of information that it was used to. I hastily looked up the numbers of some car services nearby. At the time I didn’t pause to consider the cost – which must have been considerable – and also related to Mercury’s association with business and commerce. Money would change hands, but due to Mercury’s retrograde condition, more would be spent than should have been in order to correct the situation.
And my brother had still not arrived. After several voice messages, he finally called from out of town. Of course he would have been happy to take my fiancé for the night, but since no one had told him of the plan, it was too late to act on it now. I got off the phone and looked at my mother, she of the Neptune conjunct Midheaven. “I thought I asked him about it – I knew it wouldn’t be a problem…” she trailed off. The plan had gotten no further than her own mind! Mercury retrograde, as it so often does, revealed a lack of proper thought or communication in the past. My fiancé would have to stay with us, and I’d have to abandon a long-held bridal superstition – that it would be “bad luck” to see the groom on my wedding day. Well, I suppose a little bit of Mercurial rationality at a time like this was not a bad thing.
I spent a rather sleepless night. I wanted to get married, but there were too many surprises, too much confusion, too many goings on, and my nerves were frayed from the stress. I wished we had eloped, but it was now too late. I got up to get a glass of water at 3:00 a.m. and found a light lit downstairs. What was going on now? Could Kira have gotten into trouble again? Did Donny finally arrive? No. All alone in the den, my mother sat hunched over my wedding gown. I had understood it was all but finished. The bodice had a lot of beading that was built into the original fabric. And, expert seamstress that she was, Mom had struggled with pieces of it falling off when she had originally cut the material, and just didn’t anticipate how long it would take to get it all back together. Her Neptune-Midheaven now clashed with her detail-oriented Mars in Virgo and the perfect image came up against hard reality. Mercury retrograde had revealed her faulty estimate of how long it would take to get the job done.
The next morning dawned brightly and my brother finally did arrive to pick up my fiancé. Everything seemed like it was back on track. The cat was out of the ceiling and all was right with the world. But over the course of the morning, several guests called to express their regrets – they just wouldn’t be able to make it. Some emergency had intervened to alter their plans. We were now overbooked by at least a dozen guests. Thrifty hostess that she was, my mother soon lined up friends of my brother and sister to replace them. I had mercilessly cut my own guest list to the bone and was embarrassed to call friends at the last minute to invite them as second-hand replacements. But, as we all know, Mercury retrograde often makes for reconsideration, replacement and revisions. This one was not such a tough call. In keeping with this theme, we decided to get married indoors instead of outside. The weather was fine, but the thought of the adjoining rock band was too much to consider. And the inside chapel ended up being lovely.
My gown was finished, and, I thought, really beautiful. But in focusing so much on the dress, we had overlooked the veil. My mom had made this, too, but it just didn’t look that great – kind of like a big white headband attached to some gauze. I wore it for the ceremony and then set it aside. Somehow we seem to get a fresh perspective under Mercury retrograde.
My recently-invited sister’s friend and her boyfriend were already enjoying themselves; the boyfriend busying himself with the large video camera he’d brought along. Although we had been more than clear about not wanting a videographer, here he was. My mother said that he “did it on his own” – but I ask you – who would bring a video camera to an event, uninvited? I let him interview me before the ceremony, but made it clear that that would be it. My Neptunian mom, who had experienced most of the high points in our lives through the lens of a home movie camera, must have been disappointed by this change from the plan she seemed to have spontaneously engineered. But it was all in keeping with the reversals that often occur with Mercury retrograde. We ended up with a tape of my snippets and part of the ceremony, which I now treasure, though I certainly never chose to do it!
We had hired a friend of my dad’s to do the photographs. Though we made a point of requesting lots of candid shots of the reception, he spent more time on posed ones. No one was happy when he insisted on pictures of us with both of my husband’s long-divorced parents, but none of us knew what else to do. As the afternoon wore on, the photographer seemed to be going wild. He was drinking too much, careening around and laughing loudly. He even became argumentative when I chose not to be fed the wedding cake. The resulting pictures captured his state of mind, and I thanked goodness he had taken the posed ones! What was Mercury telling us this time? That our original judgment was poor? That we needed to change our ideas? Or just that the course of events wouldn’t be what we had expected? Possibly all three.
The rest of the party went smoothly enough, but there were other mishaps. My dad seemed to be paying the musicians way too much, but I was too preoccupied to intervene. I overheard my new mother-in-law telling our neighbors that we wanted to have children right away; she later announced during a lull in the conversation that, “Now the silence sets in.” Both were wildly inaccurate, and of course very much in keeping with the confusion and misconceptions that can plague Mercury retrograde periods. But the worst was yet to come.
During the reception, my dizzy aunt (Neptune conjunct Ascendant) was alarmed that the card with check she’d gotten for us had disappeared. She had it at her table and then it was gone. I suggested she put a stop on the check so she wouldn’t have to worry about it. My aunt’s misplacement of the check, possible poor judgment in leaving it out on the table, fear it had been stolen and need to reverse herself by putting a stop on it all seemed perfectly in keeping with the retrograde phenomenon. Problem solved. Or so I thought.
In my mother’s post reception tally of the wedding gifts, she soon noticed there were two missing – from Sandra and Lou-Anne, both friends from school who sat at the same table, and not far from my aunt. My mother concluded that the same mystery thief had been at work and could have taken their cards or gifts. She insisted I call them to find out what happened. What a dilemma! How do you ask someone if they have given you a gift, and where is it? I was mortified. I really couldn’t call Sandra, who was a rather up-tight, society-conscious Leo woman who made Emily Post her Bible. It would be a faux pas beyond belief to ask where her gift was. But surely Sandra of all people would never make such an obvious omission herself by coming to a wedding without a gift – more evidence of possible theft.
Lou-Anne, on the other hand, was a different matter. A warm, expressive person with the Sun in Cancer in the eleventh house, her Moon-Neptune aspect made her a little spacey and absent minded. Lou-Anne could easily have forgotten a gift or misplaced a card, and it wouldn’t be too excruciatingly embarrassing to ask her what happened.
To my relief, dismay and chagrin, I learned from Lou-Anne that neither she nor Sandra had brought us gifts. But, Lou-Anne shared, “Emily Post says you have up to a year after the wedding to send them.” Obviously the two were not only unafraid to arrive without gifts, but had even discussed it! Mercury retrograde had delivered another low blow and made me re-examine my preconceived ideas about wedding attendance and gift giving. P.S. – One year later, I still had not received them! Perhaps in the flurry of confusion surrounding Mercury retrograde, they slipped through the proverbial cracks.
Our big day was over, but Mercury retrograde still had three weeks to go. We loved getting away on our honeymoon, but the weather was mostly rainy and gray, we got sunburned at the beach, and my ears became infected by the new platinum earrings I wore. You can’t blame everything on Mercury retrograde, but we were happy to come home again. My parents were meeting us at the airport to drive us home, but someone was missing – Kira the cat!
Kira had behaved herself well during her visit with my parents. But on the day of our return, my dad was doing some work in the front yard and thought he spotted her on the stoop – a surprise as she was strictly a house cat. He called to her, but she darted away. A realistic man, he first went inside to be sure it was actually her. A major search ensued with my mother, father, sister and her boyfriend all scouring the house for Kira. She must have escaped. So they moved outdoors. They caught sight of her in the shrubs, but she eluded their grasp. They chased her to the neighbor’s yard, across the street, and through the backyards of the people living behind them. This skittish cat simply did not want to cooperate. My sister came home, then returned to the front, newly armed with bits of bacon and a can of tuna fish. The cat was tempted, and several times they nearly caught her, but after an hour they gave up the chase. Scratched from crawling through shrubbery, with clothing torn from clamoring over neighborhood fences, they returned defeated to regroup, and trusted that the cat would come home eventually. Besides, my parents soon needed to leave for the airport to pick us up.
We’ve already seen that getting lost is a not uncommon Mercury retrograde matter. So is reconsideration and reversal. When my parents left, my sister went to the bathroom. After a few moments, she was surprised to see the door slowly opened by a furry paw. Kira walked in, as if nothing at all had happened. They had been chasing the wrong cat! Mercury retrograde was truly behind this almost Shakespearean mixed-up identity story.
As the weeks passed, things wound down. We needed to follow-up with the soused photographer to get him to deliver the goods (of course, following-up is always a good Mercury retrograde chore). Some of the photos were askew, some were unfocussed, and a couple even appeared to be of people no one could identify. But he had captured some wonderful moments for us. And as we look at our album today, we reminisce about all the chaos and blunders that presided over our wedding. We can laugh and smile at it now because, really, the marriage has been fine. But if I had it to do over again, I think I’d pick a day without that that aggravating Mercury retrograde!
© 2013 Karen Christino – All Rights Reserved.