*Lesley & Jason*
I remember when I was wedding planning, so many of the blogs I read warned about the depression that might settle in after the day is over. They suggested that I would miss the party planning, the looking forward to something big, or the feeling like the center of attention. So while I was prepared for any one of these emotions to hit me after the wedding, what I didn’t expect was that going back to work the next week (y’all, don’t be like me. Take a honeymoon. I don’t care if it’s in your own living room) would leave me with a much deeper sense of longing. Our wedding was such a joyful experience that when it was over, all I could do was pine for a life that resembled even a fraction of the joy we felt surrounded by our friends and family on the day itself. And it bummed me out for a long time before I figured out what was going on. Which is why Lesley & Jason’s grad post hit me so hard when I first read it. Because it’s all of those feelings I experienced at the time, called out by name, and then set to action. And it’s damned inspiring.
I got married on the last day of September. At that moment, I was two days shy of living with my partner for seven years. We owned a home. We cared for a dog and three cats. One of these cats was diagnosed with kidney disease while we were planning our wedding. We struggled to change his food and give him subcutaneous fluids. I started working for my family business during our engagement, which was difficult. My husband got promoted and moved to a new location at his job during our engagement. It was a time of great upheaval and change.
Despite all of the chaos, we planned a wedding and it came together like a work of art. I loved it. It was, cliché as it sounds, the best day of my life thus far. There were many surprising moments. We were prepared to feel different about each other. I didn’t know how we might feel different, but I was excited for the change. Even if it felt worse at first, I was excited because I was going to feel different! I had explored many of the ways we might feel different. We talked about the possibility of feeling different endlessly. Weird family of origin dynamics could come into play! We could have ideas about being or having a husband or wife we buried so deep we weren’t even aware of having such ideas! We might feel closer and more connected! Anything could happen!
Except, nothing of that sort happened.
I felt exactly the same. A friend at the wedding noted that we were just having a party to celebrate our relationship because we had already made our commitment long ago. When he said this, I knew it was true. I had set out to plan a meaningful ceremony. People were gonna cry and I was gonna sob. I knew it! I ended up with a thoughtful but humorous ceremony. I did not cry, despite being a person who cries almost daily at some point while listening to NPR. Some people told me later they teared up a little during some of the readings, but it wasn’t the no dry eye in the house scenario I imagined.
Part of me was annoyed. I had that commitment moment that people speak of happening on their wedding day earlier in my relationship and I missed it. How did I possibly miss such a profound moment? I had no idea when this moment could have occurred. I literally did not even know where to start in terms of looking for this moment, and even though it was probably a series of moments, I felt that a least one of those moments should stand out.
There was a seed of change planted the day of our wedding. Here’s the rub, the change wasn’t about my relationship to my husband; it was about my relationship to myself.
Planning a wedding had been work. I had been expecting planning a wedding to be work, so this was in no way surprising to me. In fact, in my easily driven to catastrophize everything mind, I was prepared for wedding planning to be a long arduous drudge followed by a wedding I might have conflicted, at best, feelings about.
Wedding planning had transcendent moments scattered through the work parts. It wasn’t straight drudge. The result of all the work was what surprised me the most. Just as I had been prepared for my relationship to change after the wedding, I was prepared for the wedding to be full of issues, drama, and stress. I had a rain plan, a prepared statement for any family members who got out of hand, and I was okay with the fact that if the cops had to come, the cops had to come.
The worst thing that happened was that one of the bartenders didn’t tap the good keg of beer.
The weather was gorgeous, everyone was on their best behavior, and I had never, ever, felt so loved.
But this isn’t a story about my wedding; this is a story about what comes next. After I realized that I had managed to pull together not only an average wedding (my initial goal), but an exciting dynamic event, I started thinking about other things I might be able to do. I don’t expect to have many days feel as magical as my wedding day did, but I decided I could definitely do a lot to improve my chances of having more magical days. So I quit working for my family because it had been making me miserable. I got myself back into school and will be going into a completely new field and in completely new direction. I had hemmed and hawed about going back to school forever, and I haven’t been a full-time student since the year 2001. I am terrified to return to college. But if I want a job that is anything more than marginally satisfactory I need better skills and a degree. The process of putting together a wedding made me realize it is time to put my other ducks in a row and get my degree already. I helped put together a wedding that was a reflection of my husband and my truest selves, and I want the other pieces of my life to shine out from that same mirror.
The Info—Photography: Zak Kelley of Paper Photographs / Venue: Camp Mary Orton / Lesley’s Dress: Wai Ching / Officiant: Obie Ford III of Hitched by Obie / Flowers: Eco-Flora / Food: Lavash Cafe / Day of Coordinator: Emilie Duncan