I started this blog writing about my own wedding planning, so as the blog has grown and changed with the community (we occasionally talk about babies and how they affect marriage now!) I’ve missed having more planning voices on the site. So I’m thrilled to welcome Athena, who wrote this before her wedding a few weeks ago. She talks about what she learned during the planning process and why she found the stress to be worth it. And of course, in case you were wondering, she’s now totally mandated to write a wedding graduate post (cough, Athena, cough):
With our wedding a mere ten days away, I find myself reflecting on this last year and the various ups and downs of being two 30-year-old engaged students planning a big wedding. As soon as Craig proposed last summer, a friend told me about APW and I was instantly hooked (think checking-the-site-several-times-daily-for-new posts-and-reading-all-of-the-archives type of hooked). I love how everything makes me an emotional, sentimental mess, and how intelligent all of the discussions are, but even in reading about wedding stress and wedding drama in the planning stages, I still didn’t think those concerns applied to me.
Being an extremely organized, maybe even obsessive, planner, I figured that I could prevent any screw ups, disappointments and drama by planning meticulously. That’s not to say I am super-crazy-detail-obsessed, but rather, a firm believer in planning ahead and getting sh*t done. My plan from the start has been to plan like crazy before the wedding so I can safely say, “F*ck it!” when things go wrong, knowing that I had done my absolute best. So far, I figure I’ve done a decent job of it, but there really was no way to prepare for the heightened emotions of my friends, my family (both origin and married), and especially, myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an emotional creature (as Eve Ensler says in her TED Talk), and I fully expected to remain so throughout this process. Even so, I have been taken aback by the intensity of wedding planning.
It is both strange and remarkable how becoming engaged impacts you emotionally while immediately creating a boatload of expectations. Everyone has a different vision of what one should and should not do, but Craig and I remained firm on the decisions we made together (like forgoing a full sit down meal for our 185 guests and, instead, having a private dinner of 40 and a cocktail reception). Even still, planning the wedding put us in awkward positions and we sometimes felt backed into a corner. Add some hurt feelings and poor communication and we got ourselves a pile of emotional upheaval in the months leading up to the wedding.
However, it has not all been uproar and unrest, we have shared many beautiful and touching moments on the path to marriage. For instance, we went to a wedding with Craig’s family, and they were all so loving and so proud of having me in their family. His dad told everyone how much he adores me; his mom introduced me to everyone and was concerned when Craig left me to socialize; his sister practically doted on me. I’ve also found in my dad a sympathetic and stabling confidante, and I’ve had endless support and generosity from everyone, especially my mom, sisters and friends. But interestingly, even in my calmest state of mind, my body has been showing so many signs of stress: migraines, anxiety, uneasy bowels, jaw and facial tension, and an increased heart rate. And it feels like a total betrayal! In my mind, I am not at all stressed about the wedding—it will be beautiful and I will be present and I can’t wait to be Craig’s wife—but my body is in panic mode. It’s alarming. But, I think now that it’s a visceral response to the gravity and significance of tying myself to Craig forever, and maybe it’s an unconscious reaction to my sensitive emotional state, however calm I may think I feel.
Yesterday I read the post on How A Wedding (Can, Maybe) Shape A Marriage, and it got me thinking that all of the highs and lows were Craig and I learning to navigate our families and our lives as a team. We were learning how to support each other when it comes to our families and how to traverse through the most emotionally stressful times (think both of you owning a home, working your asses off, going to school full time, turning thirty, PLUS planning a wedding). Through all of the unexpected detours and roadblocks of getting to the point we’re at now, we managed to stay on course, to strengthen our partnership, and to really think and talk about our future. Some of the conversations we’ve had are unique to our situation as an almost married couple, and the weight of our destination is palpable, tangible—it envelops us in this hazy glow of love and commitment.
As we get closer to actually marrying one another, we’re both getting a little giddy, and a little heady, at the intensity of the promises we’re making. We both find ourselves grinning in the middle of some inane task at work, just thinking about marrying each other. This is real, it’s really happening, and it’s only 10 days away! And the “Holy sh*t we’re getting married!” moments just keep on coming… but I guess, to sum it all up, the stress, however agonising at times, is worth it (and I say that without the wedding even happening yet!). Have there been times when I wish we’d eloped? Yes. Have there been times when I have wanted to scream at everyone that this is our damn wedding? Yes. Have there been times when I would just cry for no evident reason? Yes. But, seeing the immense love, invaluable generosity and insane kindness of our friends and family, having impassioned (albeit difficult) discussions about our future, and growing into one another as a couple while trusting each other and remaining individuals, have been outcomes completely derived from this journey towards marriage.
And people say getting married is just a legal matter! Pfffftttt….it’s genuinely beyond anything I ever imagined already, so I can only suppose that in 10 days from now it will be utterly transcendent.
Photography by: Jessica Fern Facette