I’m always beyond delighted when we get a wedding graduate post from a groom, and Than’s post is no exception (you can read Chi-Ling’s Part I here). He talks about Occam’s razor. He discusses the fact that sometimes before the wedding your partner becomes “unrecognizably irrational” (um, yes). And through it all, his words glow with clear love for his partner and the day that they created.
I imagine most men’s concerns and obligations regarding weddings are fairly minimal. In general, the fairer sex seems to have put much more thought into what their ideal wedding involves, sometimes even before the other partner enters the picture. While the husband-to-be can have nothing but the best of intentions, it seems that sometimes men tend to just get in the way. As for Chi and I, it is perhaps some parts different, but largely the same.
Chi is a beautiful soul. Her wit, charm, and beauty continue to captivate me. I knew almost immediately that I wanted her in the canvas of my life. That said, I was perfectly aware that she did not feel the same way. Chi had a habit of telling me she did not believe in marriage, and she was not convinced that lifelong love was achievable. I bring this up to illustrate that Chi is not the typical woman. She had no grand plan for her wedding day because she had not planned to marry. Shortly after we became engaged, she asked me if it was okay if we could be wed in four months in a field of flowers, just me and her. I resisted bursting out with an enthusiastic “YES,” and instead coolly state, “Yeah, if that’s what you want, that would be fine.”
After some discussion, we decided to have friends and family celebrate with us. We stuck to the truncated timeline and decided it would be more practical to host our wedding locally. Looking back, having five months to plan was actually quite a blessing in disguise. A short engagement meant that we could not procrastinate.
Perhaps more advantageously, it allowed us to employ an almost Occam’s razor approach to wedding planning. Anything we could do, we would do. Anything we could not, we scratched off the list. There was no great buffer of time where we could investigate alternatives. The biggest advantage to this short engagement was that the end goal was in plain sight. The stress had an ever-nearing end date.
After we decided to have the reception at a restaurant three blocks from our home, the other big pieces fell into place. We rented the community room attached to the city’s public library where we happened to end our first date. We asked our friends the Blaines to photograph, our friend Pam to play the piano, and my father to officiate the ceremony. Our struggle laid not in the big picture, but from the small details.
Chi designed the invitations and later hand assembled them with lots of assistance. In hopes of marrying in a field of flowers, almost two hundred crepe paper flowers were handmade and arranged in planters. Chi had originally planned to handle every detail herself. All who know her agree, Chi can be a perfectionist to the highest degree. Needless to say, she became overwhelmed. She had all hours of every day scheduled weeks in advance. I frequently tried to help, but frequently my help turned into more work for Chi as she had to undo what I did, and do it over again. Her annoyance was quickly and sharply conveyed in these instances. The stress was contagious. We became a feedback loop of frustration. Both of us began resenting the other and the entire wedding planning task.
Our saviors turned out to be our friends and family. Chi’s wonderful sister-in-law volunteered to help with the invitations. Together they quickly became a two person invitation making machine. Once I identified the most menial task, the one I was least likely to screw up, I joined the fun. Perhaps because of this success, Chi let her guard down a bit.Shortly thereafter, a close friend insisted on taking over the fields of flowers project. Chi reluctantly relinquished the project. In reality, the construction of hundreds of flowers was enough to keep any person occupied until well past the wedding day. In an effort to finish, an assembly line of Chi’s friends congregated a few nights in the weeks before the wedding to cut and crinkle paper petals, and assemble the pieces into flowers.
In the end, these handmade details made our wedding much more scenic. The objects themselves were beautiful, but knowing all of the love and effort that had been painstakingly contributed made everything that much more special. My hope is that by sharing this story, future brides will learn to let go. Doing so will allow for greater enjoyment of the entire process. For any future husbands reading, I wish to convince you that the perception of effort often counts much more than the reality of it all. Know that in the middle of this very stressful time, when your partner-to-be is unbearably irritable and unrecognizably irrational, that this too shall pass.