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Hope


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

Hope | A Practical WeddingIt’s been a difficult week here at Chez Practical. The clouds are beginning to lift a bit now, and we are both just fine, but things around here have been tough and emotional. All of this difficult personal stuff just happened to fall during the same week we had a lot of wedding errands to do. We would put on the happy face and run to the caterer for a tasting, to the flower mart for flowers, to the venue for a once over. It was hard, and it kept making me wonder what the point of a wedding was. It seemed frivolous.

And then two things happened:

  • I saw this picture of my dear blog friends wedding, and I felt like my heart had been lifted right up to the sky.
  • I read this passage by Elie Wiesel: “In our tradition, celebration of life is more important than mourning over the dead. When a wedding procession encounters a funeral procession in the street, the mourners must halt so as to allow the wedding party to proceed. Surely you know what respect we show our dead, but a wedding, a symbol of life and renewal, a symbol of promise too, takes precedence.”

And then it hit me. I love weddings and write about weddings, because weddings are about hope. Weddings are hope for the future, hope for a new generation, hope that love and family can win out over everything else. Weddings are not more important then life, and they don’t stand apart from life, but they represent something bigger then us, and undoubtedly bigger then the dress we wear or the flowers we carry.

All of this is why I’ve always loved this description of the breaking of the glass after a Jewish ceremony, “The breaking of the glass now has many interpretations, one of which says that even in the moment of our greatest joy, we should remember that there is still pain and suffering in the world, and that we have a responsibility to help relieve that pain and suffering.” And of course, the breaking of the glass also signals the start of a really great party.

Have any of you worked to balance sorrow and joy, real life and hope as you plan your wedding?

Photo by the super talented Jude Mooney

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • kelley

    My fiance and I are in a similar situation. We have a family member who may not make it to the wedding because of very poor health, and another who deteriorates by the day. Ultimately, whether they’re there or not, I know how important this is to our families. And I have to remind myself constantly that my being happy isn’t selfish, because it’s what people want for me.
    It’s really hard to allow yourself to be happy, but you can. I promise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13781314774264492284 blind irish pirate

    Even though we are on different phases of planning, you and I seem to be aligned on some emotional level, I guess, because you always write about that which I need to hear most.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12815223685274258891 Jessica @ budgetsavvybride

    That’s a great quote…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11371172824707301749 Cate Subrosa

    I love that quote. I have a habit of not acknowledging properly the importance of the wedding (you know, the whole ‘what difference does it make when we’ve been living together so long anyway?’ thing) but this made me think about it differently. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07377831013971667963 Shannon

    Thank you for the inspirational uplift. Your blog is incredible.

    http://www.calligraphybyshannon.blogspot.com

  • http://www.promtoaltar.net/blog Nicole

    This summer we lost two grandmothers. One (his) was cancer– a diagnosis in April, a two month battle (with making it to our wedding her main motivation for going through treatment), and in June we lost her.
    The other (mine) was sudden, a month after the first- a week in the hospital (one week after she attended my wedding shower, 6 weeks before the wedding), a call from my parents to rush home, and our arrival at the hospital one hour too late. It was the week we sent out our wedding invitations– I delivered hers to her casket.We helped in making the arrangements for both funerals, we held each other up all the way. Oh how we wanted those ladies at our wedding…

    Those losses have put the wedding in perspective– it won’t be the most unique affair of the century, but it will be a celebration– and both our families desperately need a celebration.

    Thank you for reminding me of this passage– I blogged about it today. It was just the thing I needed right now.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18209533406055486161 Rachel

    While I haven’t lost any loved ones recently, and Chris’ 87 year old grandmother is still alive and kickin’, we’ve been going through some hard times too that I haven’t really shared about. Some having to do with Chris being gone during the week for 2 months, some having to do with our finances – which has been the hardest of all, and totally makes planning a wedding feel frivolous!! It’s been really hard at times, but we see the light at the end of the tunnel finally.
    Thanks for posting about this, I like your perspective. I don’t really have much advice other than the fact that with life, you just have to keep going.

  • http://wemetinabar.com Heather from the bar

    See, now you are making me cry at work, and I have been trying so hard not to do that. We lost my grandfather 4 months ago to cancer, and 2 days before he passed we learned that my grandmother, his wife, also had cancer. She passed away about 3 weeks ago. It has been so hard for my mother (it was her parents) to go on, and to go over our guest list and see their names, and the other day when I was editing the list I deleted their names and I just broke down.
    Sometimes it is hard to think about the celebration we are planning in light of the devastation my family has felt in these past 4 months, but I know that they are here in spirit, and they wanted nothing more than for me, their first grandchild, to be married to Bryan. Ugh, ok, I need to go wipe my eyes :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Hi All-
    Just for the record we are not dealing with a death… which makes me want to say “We’re fine, we’re fine” but as I type that I realize it’s not totally true. There are lots of different stressors and tragedies that can make the wedding planning process difficult. Anyway, thank you all for your stories. I think the less alone we all feel going through this, the stronger it makes us.

  • Anonymous

    here, here. weddings are absolutely about hope, even when you feel hopeless.

    my father decided at the very last minute to not come to our wedding. it was really difficult to deal with, but, such is life. you just have to find joy. seek it out. even when things aren’t so good.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having a hard time, huge hugs to you.

    There were moments in our planning when horrible things happened and the wedding felt utterly frivolous and ridiculous. It was hard to keep going with planning it and we just had to give ourselves time off from weddings to deal with the other things. In time we started to feel like planning a celebration of joy and love again and the wedding didn’t feel so silly after all.

    I also tried to remember that it was just one day, that spending a day celebrating didn’t mean that we didn’t care about all the sad and difficult things too.

    I’m so glad that our wedding picture helped. There are more today, if that would help too?!

    Lots of love to you and I’m so pleased that things are starting to pick up for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10567306554165246459 Rebecca Green

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Our wedding is in a month.

    Two months ago, my extended family endured what we thought would be the biggest tragedy of our lives when my sister’s daughter was born with serious complications and we did not think that she would live to one week. We were wrong: she is off of life support and is now two months old (today!) and home from the NICU. The rollercoaster of her tenuous health, though, keeps forging ahead; she has continuing complications and still needs constant care. She may need surgery the week of my wedding, which would not only deprive me of having my sister by my side as I was at her wedding, but certainly drape some guilt over our celebration while my sister and her new family struggle through seeing their daughter hooked up to machines she worked so hard to unhook herself from only a month before.

    I can’t say that I’ve developed much perspective on the situation that I can share, though. Just that — like with my niece — we all have to nurse some grief about losing our concept of how we hoped things would be and making the most of how things will have to be.

    The thought of not having my sister at my wedding makes me appreciate a little more that I’m wearing her dress. All the doubts about that are GONE!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12291233186222706297 lovelymorning

    We’re going through a similar situation right now with my grandpa who, up until a few weeks ago, seemed the picture of health for an 85 year old. Sadly we’ve just learned that he has cancer that has already spread and that while they are going to start treatment, we’re not sure how long he will make it. Our wedding is less than 2 months away, which makes timing pretty unfortunate (though i suppose timing is never good for these sorts of things). I feel sad for my mom, who lost her mom and his wife a year ago to the same cancer and now has to go through it all again. My good friend pointed out that maybe the timing isn’t as bad as it seems. My mom (and all of us) will have something wonderful and happy to look forward to as well, even when things seems pretty sad.

    But you know, it puts so much in perspective. All the little things i’m stressing about don’t really matter. What matters is that we love each other and we’re going to be married for the rest of our lives.

    Amazing quote to remind us all that life moves on, and that is a beautiful thing too. And it feels comforting to know that there are others out there going through the same thing…

  • Anonymous

    Wow. I clicked here from today's post, and I really needed to read this right now. My grandfather's been in the hospital, barely hanging on, since August. We're struggling with my FMIL's undiagnosed and untreated (but very, very evident) mental illness and all of the legal and interpersonal problems that is causing (there's basically nobody to deal with it except my FH and myself).

    Two weeks ago something came to light about my FH that should have ended two years ago, and the discovery has been devastating for both of us. He's working 55 hours a week and coaching football 20 hours on top of that, all at the time of year when I'm busiest at work, myself. I've been an exhausted, emotional wreck.

    But two days ago I went to the craft store to buy ribbons to decorate our wedding cake. Part of me felt like I was insane for doing that in the midst of all of this, but at the same time, it felt vitally important to carry on with the wedding process, simply BECAUSE we're in the middle of all of this. I need to keep forging ahead BECAUSE things seem bleak. Hope and faith are about staying the course, no matter how the weather changes. If you stop moving forward, you'll never get through the dark patches.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01739533284860045738 Nicole

    I remember reading this when you posted it back In august, but remember it not hitting me anywhere, it was just another post to read.

    And now my partner and I have come to where we are. We are not dealing with a death or illness, but we are dealing with multiple things (tragedies? problems?) that have brought us to say, "let's just call this off. We could use the money, and it's not that big of a deal. It's not worth the pain we've been through."

    But your post puts it differently.

    And thank you.

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