Was anyone else completely surprised in Bands of Mourning when Wax offhandedly mentions that he and Lessie had been married?
I don't remember any mention of Wax and Lessie being married before that point in the series. Together, yes. But married, not at all.
Did I just miss it? Or did /u/mistborn forget to mention it in earlier books? (Or did he slip in some hand wavy retconning and hope no one noticed)?
This is one of those things that editors kept trying to change back, but which I insisted stay as it's not a contradiction to the earlier book. Wax's thinking of her in this way is a kind of unconscious defense against what his mind perceives as an attempt by society to wipe her out of existence and force him to move on.
I appreciate that the intention here was for Wax's state of mind to feel a little off.
Still, with the concrete way he thinks of the relationship as a marriage, with how he remembers the specifics of a ceremony, it's hard for me to resolve your statement that "Wax and Lessie never had a real ceremony" with the conflicting statements in the text (emphasis mine)—
At the very beginning of chapter 1, Wax and Wayne are talking, Wax casually mentions that it's his second marriage and Wayne doesn't bat an eye:
“You gonna be all right?” Wayne asked.
“Of course I am,” Wax said. “This is my second marriage. I’m an old hand at the practice by now.”
Then, after Wax gets to the church and is getting dressed, he muses further on his previous wedding:
Then, after a moment’s hesitation, he strapped on his gunbelt and slid Vindication into her holster. He’d worn a gun to his last wedding, so why not this one?
And finally, Wax contemplates the actual ceremony as he and Steris are walking "down the aisle":
Wax found himself smiling. This was what Lessie had wanted. They’d joked time and time again about their simple Pathian ceremony, finalized on horseback to escape a mob. She said that someday, she’d make him do it proper.
With all three of these in short succession, Wax clearly establishes that 1. he was married before to Lessie (at least in his head), and 2. there was some kind of wedding ceremony (was this in his head, too?).
So, the following is how I explained it to Peter, I believe, back when he raised these objections during the editing stage. Wax and Lessie had no official marriage, though they did exchange some vows (as Wax notes, on horseback, fleeing a mob.)
Lessie gave him grief, claiming that it didn't count--that she wanted more. She wanted an actual wedding, and a piece of paper to say they were married. Wax figured this was good enough, and resisted wanting to do something more formal. It was his whole, "I am the law" thing he had out in the roughs. Focus on what matters, not what paper-pushers might claim he should do.
Over the years, they talked about getting married for real, and he started to think of the day they would. (Shifting his focus away from thinking of "my wife" but instead of kind of a long-term betrothed/common law wife.) When he lost her, and moved to Elendel, his viewpoint shifted. He wanted more and more to treat what they'd had as a legitimate marriage, for fear that what he and Lessie had would be wiped awaystamped out, by something more grand that society was demanding of him.
So while the event never changed, his perception of it certainly did. I intended for it to be contradictory, but only subtly so, and this is one of those things that I didn't feel like it was right to do in the text. (Much like Wayne's dislike of Steris for stealing Wax away from him and from the memory of Lessie--but this sentiment slowly shifting into a protectiveness of her as she reached the "inside" circle and gained legitimacy by making Wax happy.)
These are things that the characters themselves don't realize, and while I'll occasionally hang a lantern on them, sometimes I just leave it unspoken and subject to interpretation. If every little thing gets spelled out in the text, then I am left feeling that we're being too on the nose.
That said, once in a while, things like this DO annoy Peter. He'd prefer I pin the text down on things that seem to contradict one another.