Last year, we ran a post from Lynn, about what it was like to be a Motherless Bride. It was about how, even though her mother was never her best friend, planning a wedding without her mother was one of the hardest things she’d ever done. So today I’m honored to share Lynn’s wedding graduate story, in two parts. This first part of the story is about the emotional realities of the wedding—that it wasn’t the best day of her life, though it clearly was a great party. Getting married is such an emotionally complicated infinitely surprising process, that I love when women dive into the complexity of that—which Lynn does with such grace.
Even with all my awareness and practicality, I lost myself somewhere and became some weird caricature of myself; like not my REAL self, but the one I portray on Facebook. Case in point: Me: “But I want to wear the pretty shoes.” MOH: Stunned silence I had tons of roles to play; the beautiful bride, the adoring teary daughter, the grateful friend, the gracious host…I just wanted to be Lynn, I kept saying to myself all day “Am I doing this right?”
It all started quite innocently when Justin and I finally decided to have a family celebration to honor what we had already been living for the past five years… that we were committed, through triumph and challenge. In all honesty, our real “marriage ceremony” was a 2500 mile move across country with vows of “I’m unemployed in the worst economy,” and, “I’ll leave a job I love for you,” and, “I’ll pack up the whole house (cats included) without you,” and, “I’ll make decisions on where we live without consulting you.” Followed by a lack-luster “reception” of trying to establish new roots in a community culture we didn’t understand and sobbing nights of doubt on whether we should use the last bit of our savings to move back “home.” What I am trying to say is… Justin and I were already married, but I wanted a party. A super great party filled with all the uniqueness I could possibly fit into a converted barn.
Still reeling from the death of my mom, I was very clear with myself and Justin that we needed this celebration to mark forward momentum in life and to move through grief. So, from the very beginning this thing was a loaded gun.
I think planning and participating in your own wedding is like creating a little microcosm of what I can only imagine married life may actually be like in the long run. I think back my excitement and tears, confusion and hurt, unexpected wonders, and tough decisions and I realized almost every possible scenario that life has to offer is played out during the wedding planning process. It also suddenly puts every relationship you have ever had under a microscope, and for better or worst, the planning process highlights everything you love and everything you abhor about the people in your life.
People will not all of a sudden grow new personalities because of your wedding. Take for instance my Dad. We have a very complicated relationship (or very simple depending on how you interpret it). He has never been a real presence in my life. Sure, he was there but he wasn’t really THERE. So, when it came to assigning this “Father of the Bride” role, things just didn’t quite fit and I remember looking up about half way through the reception and realizing he was gone. Just gone. So typical. If your bridesmaid is self-focused, or your groom is an introvert, the truth is you are going to be managing your reaction to these personality quirks throughout the planning process all the way through to your wedding.
I admit, I had terribly high and unrealistic expectations, but what’s worse is when events, like my wedding, inevitably fall short of my expectations I start to punish myself on two levels; first, on not meeting the expectations, and second, on setting the expectations too high in the first place. And to add insult to injury, I am disappointed that I feel disappointed. I mean, shouldn’t I be able to “snap out of it” and recognize what a fantastic event it really was? As coined by the mental health professionals this is a perfect example of a “destructive thought cycle.”
I expected a lot from my wedding. And, like most things, nothing turned out as expected, well, except for the rain. I didn’t feel peaceful and relaxed…I felt dizzy mostly. I never got to finish my cup of coffee or even taste the hot-coco or cider. Justin was by my side all day, we held hands, we danced, we cried together…but in all honesty we have been more “connected” as a couple at other people’s weddings. Nothing made sense, it was quite the opposite; everything seemed staged and far removed from reality. About 4 hours in, I ran out of energy and started to cry because I was “so done” with the wedding. I have the exact same mental challenges with my often overwhelming depression today as I did before…only NOW without the awesome distraction of wedding project coordination. And with the exception of a few (very, very few) close friends, nobody really brought the wedding up to talk about “how great it was.” It reminded me of what happened after Mom died, how the whole world just kinda moves on.
This graduate post has been a difficult and confusing thing for me for one reason, the very tangible difference between what I know about my wedding and what I feel about my wedding. Please see the very “type A personality” comparison list below.
Things I KNOW about my wedding (because there is photographic proof):
- The details from the center pieces to the wall décor were amazing.
- Everybody was smiling and laughing.
- Lots of love was being showered on Justin and me.
- Justin and I were side by side the whole day.
Things I FEEL about my wedding:
- I never really talked to Justin.
- I was exhausted.
- Was I smiling and laughing enough? (I don’t know.)
I was hyper conscious of how I looked (and not in a positive “aren’t I pretty” way…but in a “god, this is going to be on film” way).
You may be saying to yourself “But this wedding looks so AWESOME.” I say the exact same thing when I look at the pictures. Over the past few months I have been trying to shift my paradigm about the wedding. But the reality is that it is a constant struggle often filled with self shame over why I can’t seem to fully embrace the love that is so evident.
I wish I could resolve this post for you. I too would like to be able to sum up my feelings with a great one-liner, but I think it all goes back to my idea that the wedding is kinda like married life, it often comes with unresolved feelings.
Photos By: Anne Nunn Photography