The first comment I ever posted on APW was in response to a comment by someone who expressed a sense that feelings were the new mason jars. She said blogs like Moment Junkie were worse for her than The Big Wedding Blogs because they made her feel bad about not having the right feelings.
This is blog envy gone mad! I said to myself.
I empathised because I know what it’s like. As a nerdy shut-in of a kid I knew intellectually that people had all kinds of feelings. Look at Heathcliff and Cathy, I thought. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Heck, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield‘s lives were a 24/7 feelings-fest. Unfortunately because I was so busy reading about them I had no friends, and so real feelings (which usually arise from interaction with other human beings, as opposed to secondhand feelings, which arise when you read Frederick Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot) were a mystery to me.
This was my emotional range at age thirteen:
I didn’t even have any crushes from ages thirteen to eighteen. What kind of freakish teenager doesn’t have crushes? Clearly I was some kind of heartless monster.
But here’s something I’ve realised over time. It doesn’t freaking matter. Heathcliff and Cathy are made-up people! Even Elizabeth and Jessica don’t actually exist! And in real life, ordinary people have inappropriate feelings all the time. They spend hours working themselves up to an intolerable pitch of excitement over a date, and then the date happens and they’re bored the whole time. They worry about the laundry while making love to their partner. They’re consumed by envy when their BFF announces the fabulous new job they’ve got.
Granted, these are all hypothetical situations rather than ones I’ve experienced myself (personally, I avoid thinking about laundry whenever possible). But at my graduation ceremony, f’rex, I didn’t feel proud or satisfied or emotional about the three years I’d spent in the law library. I was bored with all the photo-taking, sweating in the jacket I was wearing on a boiling summer’s day, and cross because my parents had made me put on high heels and my feet hurt.
At the end of the day, I still got my degree. So I’m going to come out and say it: You don’t actually have to enjoy your wedding. It’s fine if for one reason or another—family or financial pressures—you view it as something you just have to get over with. There will be other parties to throw. And you’re going to achieve your ultimate goal—to be married to your partner—whether or not you managed to get enough artichokes to hold your place-cards, and whether or not you get a feeling of transcendence when you pronounce your vows.
I’m not saying both things are equally irrelevant—obviously transcendence is nice if you can get it—but let’s be realistic here. Artichokes you can buy; transcendence you’ve just got to wait for. If you’ve got to worry about something, choose the artichokes every time.
Better yet, don’t worry about it. Probably some of the gorgeous brides you’ve seen glowing at their grooms are secretly thinking: “The asshole forgot to wear the engraved cufflinks I got him! Asshole!” or “When this is over I’ll be able to find a quiet corner and fix this increasingly urgent wedgie issue.” Probably some of the parents weeping photogenically are crying because their kid chose artichokes over peonies for the centrepieces.
You can’t have an ideal wedding. You just have to have one that’s right for you and the people in your life. And what’s right for you might actually mean that you’ll be uncomfortable and harried most of the day. You’re hosting a huge party to mark an epic change in your life—if you have a great time doing it, that’s fab, but it’s also ok not to have a great time. As long as you get where you want to be in the end.
On my wedding days I expect to feel bored with the photo-taking, either cold in the English autumn or uncomfortably sticky in the equatorial heat, resentful about some absurd decision or other I was overridden on by an officious relative (the color of the napkins or something), hungry, and stressed.
It will still be awesome. After all that hullaballoo, I’ll be married to my favourite person. That’s worth some inappropriate feelings, isn’t it?