And now, a post that needs no introduction. It’s Assistant APW Editor Lauren’s last wedding undergraduate post… the last post before she walks down the aisle, and joins us over here, on the other side.
It has come to pass that I only have 31 days until our wedding. So this will be my last undergraduate piece. My last engagement check in. I have the dress, the accessories, the paperwork that says we can get married in the eyes of the catholic church (and soon the state of Washington), a deacon on standby, and rsvp cards trickling in.
And I have a lot of respect for this phase, this crazy time that makes me want to rip my hair out and at the same time makes me so sure that Kamel and I are It. With a capital I. And I am so incredibly excited for it to be over. But the biggest thing I’ve learned? It’s all about choices, decisions, and clarifying who you are as your own person, and who you are as a team.
For those of you in the early stages of engagement, you have lots of really difficult, and really rewarding things to go through. Make sure to keep the light at the end of the tunnel in mind. And to make you feel less freaked out by what’s to come, to remind you that it mostly always works out in the end, here are the big choices Kamel and I had to make together.
Names, identity, who are we to the world after this?
I read this post by Brenna a few months ago and it occurred to me: Mail. I would be receiving mail and I wouldn’t be Miss Dupuis anymore, I was going to be something else.
I had originally decided to take Kamel’s last name and we both would take my last name as our middle names. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the majority of people would never know that Kamel’s middle name was the same as mine. They would never know that we shared our identity with our namesakes. And no one would see me as Lauren Dupuis Perez. They would see me as Lauren Perez. I would introduce myself as Lauren Perez. And mail, even stupid junk mail, would arrive in my mail box addressed to Lauren Perez. But who is THAT? That is not me. And reading that piece, made it bright and clear. All kinds of warning bells went off, and I chewed on this idea for a while, until I was absolutely certain that changing my name to his last name was not going to work. So, we talked about it. We talked about it pretty much every day for 2 weeks. We talked about making up our own last name, of taking Kamel’s other last name (He’s Mexican, he has several to choose from in there), and of not changing at all. We talked about it in the morning before work and we lied awake in bed at night talking about it. And then we made a choice that felt super right, after much discussion, for both of us. We will hyphenate. He will be part of me and I will be part of him. Families merging to create a new one. Us.
Drama. It will happen. How do you deal with it?
I thought, that by sheer will alone, I could have a completely drama free engagement. No one would have hurt feelings, and everyone would arrive at our wedding with smiles and tears of (only) joy on their cheeks. No one would be upset about name cards or guest lists because I wasn’t upset about name cards or guests lists. The TV talks about bridezillas, and I sure as hell was not going to be one, therefore everyone would play along.
No. That is not how it works. And now, looking back, I think wow, how silly of me to believe that it was even POSSIBLE, let alone achievable all by myself. People will care about things you don’t care about. Bridesmaids may hurt your feelings because they are more concerned with their own lives than yours (aren’t we all, even at the best of times?), extended family may take this opportunity to act crazy and refuse to come to your wedding as some sort of punishment, your parents may scream at you over the phone because of name cards after all, and you may (possibly) spend several lonely nights crying into a pillow because your future husband doesn’t get it.
But you know what? It works out. You realize how each of you needs to address things apart and together. And coming together is a choice. It’s how we made it through, it’s how I know we are strong. When one of you (or both of you) drops the ball or effs it up, you stay solid. You tell them it’s ok, to do better next time, you pick each other up and you dust off each other’s knees.
You pick your battles and keep remembering that the way people treat you is important, and that little details, in the long run, aren’t. After this wedding comes the rest of your life, comes the rest of my life, and what comes through the cloud of drama is an understanding of who is on our team during great times. Because one of my biggest lessons learned: It’s easy for people to be there for someone when they really need you, it’s much harder for people to be there for you when things are going joyously.
Know when to stick to your guns.
Right now we are building our baby family. We are stepping away from our moms and dads and we’re headed into our own space (with our own last names) and our own traditions. Sometimes you have to insist on something, in the face of people who think you’re doing it wrong. We insisted on saying goodbye to each other after the rehearsal dinner and then not seeing each other again until I’m walking down the aisle. People thought this was dumb and complicated. We thought it was festive and important.
No one had input on how the wedding service will go besides us. This will be our time, our commitment, and we’ve included loved ones into that, but the words we’ve chosen, the people we want close to us during that time, the songs being sung, are all true representations of who we are as a family. We spent a lot of time thinking about and organizing that 40 minutes of our lives, thinking about what we want to say to each other and to our friends and family who have come to witness it. All of that was a choice. It could have gone 100 different ways, and only you will know which way is right for you.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, engagement is a phase in life, it’s like Senior Year, or the year you got boobs. It can be defining, it can be trying, it can even get you laid (like boobs), but it is also one step out of many. Wedding planning is not the end all be all and I think that’s the most important choice to make. Remember it, make the choice to remember it when you feel swallowed up by the world, when you feel like the wedding is a giant wave about to drown you. This is only one part of my life, an important part, but one of many, and I choose to respect it, and use it for all its worth, and then move on.
Photo by: Allison Andres Photography