Today I’m thrilled to introduce the first post from Rachel Wilkerson as an official member of the 2013 intern program. But Rachel herself needs no introduction to this community. You already know her from all of the smart, funny, totally on point contributions she’s made to APW in the past on topics like “Changing Your Name in the Age of Google,” chores and feminism, and separating out the fantasy from the reality of wedding planning. Today Rachel is back with her signature wit, and she’s here with a cure for what ails us.
So, there’s cold and flu season and there’s engagement season, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they occur at the same time. I’m quickly learning that wedding planning can make even the most practical people sick. Since Eric and I began wedding planning, I’ve definitely found myself feeling a bit sniffly and feverish, but I think I was just experiencing common pre-nuptial ailments. Here are some of the ones Eric and I have come down with thus far.
Symptoms: Strong dislike for something, which is made apparent not through words (ever), but through an unmistakable facial expression wherein the afflicted looks as though he has just simultaneously smelled something awful and seen a homeless puppy foraging for food in a trash can. When you ask what’s wrong, he will always answer, “Nothing. It’s just…nothing. I don’t know…no, it’s nothing.” And then make the starving-puppy-stink-face again.
A case study:
I suspected Eric had inarticulitis even at the earliest stages of our wedding planning. I had told him before we were engaged that I didn’t have any interest in a traditional wedding, nor did I have the funds to pay for said traditional wedding, so I just wanted to go to city hall with close family and friends. He said that he was totally on board with that, but…well, there was always some kind of a “but” during these conversations. He told me repeatedly that he didn’t care about the details of our wedding, that I was free to do whatever I wanted…and yet, time and again, I’d casually mention my thoughts on something (usually something practical in favor of something WIC-sanctioned) and he’d make the face, somehow managing to look both devastated and disgusted at the same time. But when I’d ask him to tell me what was on his mind, he couldn’t tell me what he wanted or why he wanted it…he wouldn’t even admit to having an opinion.
Eric and I both have suffered from bouts of inarticulitis throughout our wedding conversations, mainly because our culture makes weddings the pinnacle of our social, romantic, and adult lives…and then openly mocks anyone who has a strong opinion on said wedding or who goes to battle over the details. It can be really hard to own that you care.
I knew for certain he was suffering from inarticulitis the day I suggested we have pie instead of cake if a cake was going to cost more than the $500 we had budgeted for it. That day, instead of the face I got a loud, snippy, “Well, jeez, Rachel, I’m not sure by the end of this weekend if people are even going to know we had a wedding.” I was so taken aback by his strong feelings (and slightly outrageous assertion) that I actually laughed; I mean, it’s hard to deny you care about your wedding when you’re losing your shit over pastries. The fever had broken! (Until the topic of whether or not to have a DJ came up, anyway.)
Diagnosis: Irritable Budget Syndrome.
A case study:
Sticking to a budget when you’re planning a wedding doesn’t just magically happen, so some level of IBS seems normal. But my Irritable Budget Syndrome escalated when it became clear that we couldn’t plan the wedding Eric was now sort of admitting he really wanted at the (totally wonderful and really quite affordable so I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED) venue we’d already booked in northern Michigan without us contributing a lot more than we’d agreed to to make it happen…and even then, we were going to have to be pretty aggressive with both saving and sticking to our budget. Plus I was also staring down the barrel of hot glue gun as I realized how much decorating we’d be doing ourselves, something we have neither the time nor the talent for. The whole thing was quite literally making me feel sick.
I knew there were some “traditional” wedding things that were really important to him, and by most standards, he didn’t want anything that lavish. So I decided to suck it up and find ways to save extra money for our wedding. I mean, yeah, every time I looked at our budget spreadsheet, I felt nauseous. And yes, my excitement over the wedding was nonexistent because all I could see was that spreadsheet, as well as my own looming bills. And sure, I was about to save more than I had ever been able to save in my life and spend it on something that wasn’t even that important to me. But I kept telling myself that it was important to him and I’d get over it eventually. And honestly, I was too embarrassed by the problem—how much we were going to spend, how little money I could comfortably contribute to our wedding—to talk to anyone about it. So I would just ignore it…until the next IBS flare-up would hit and my resentment would start seeping out of me.
Diagnosis: Acute Venue Reflux.
Symptoms: Daydreaming about canceling your fancy wedding plans and running off to city hall when planning gets tough. In serious cases, saying, “FUCK THIS, LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF!” And then actually doing it.
A case study: After one particularly, uh, explosive IBS incident, it became apparent how incredibly not fine I was with our budget. When I couldn’t hide this fact any more, Eric told me once again that we could just go to city hall. And for the first time…I actually considered taking him up on that offer. The next day, a friend happened to send me a link to a historic courthouse in Austin. It had enough of a bureaucratic vibe that we could skip out on most of the wedding pageantry if we wanted to (and I did), but it was beautiful, intimate, and flexible enough that we wouldn’t feel like pledging our love to each other was as mundane an act as renewing our drivers’ licenses. There were tons of cool restaurants in the area where we could have a kick-ass brunch party (um, my dream wedding reception!) and still have some kind of DJ or band for entertainment (which Eric really feels is necessary and isn’t budging on). It wasn’t close to either of our hometowns, where I think we both initially wanted to be married, but it was really close to the city where we’d decided to buy our house. We’d still need to do quite a bit of planning, but the thought of said planning actually sounded fun and exciting to both of us for the first time since we’d gotten engaged
Long-term Treatment for Your Pre-nuptial Ailments
All of these conditions can be super uncomfortable, and it’s easy to turn a common problem into a terminal illness in your head. Catching them early and not being too embarrassed to talk to someone about them really is the best cure.
But in our case, essentially starting over was the perfect prescription. So one year from now, we’re running off to the courthouse…where we also will have a cake and a DJ (and mimosas and French toast!), and where, in front of quite a few family members and friends, we will be married.
Photo by Vivian Chen Photography (APW Sponsor)