Madeline: Comparisons

Weddings are supposed to be unique and life-changing—and I can now say with experience, they are. But when everyone else you know is getting married, it’s very hard not to start playing comparisons. Watching others plan for your venue or hearing the comment, “We want something low-key, just like your wedding,” leaves me with mixed feelings.

I like offering advice. But our wedding was also, you know, ours. I don’t want to see it reprised and have to sit there as a guest, trying not to calculate how much more the other couple spent on appetizers.

The tiny grown-up section of my brain tells me that making comparisons is not a smart way to live life. But it sometimes gets worn down by the irrational child part, which wants to tug on someone’s jacket sleeve and say “But that was mine.” Or just as damaging, “I want what she’s got.”

Meg linked last week to the “America is Anxious” column in the New York Times and these lines jumped out at me: “Am I happy? Happy enough? As happy as everyone else?” Part of the challenge of the perfect wedding day we are sold by the WIC is the anxiety of being happy on the day. That I’d expected. The part where you have to remind yourself to stay happy—and check any instinct to second guess your own wedding (even after it’s passed) when attending someone else’s nuptials—that was different.

This is one of the reasons why my wedding photographs are so important to me. If I haven’t looked at them in a while, it’s easy to get dragged back into the habit of wondering if I made the right choices, or wishing we could just do that one part again with a different kind of centerpiece I just spotted in a magazine. But one look at the photos reminds me that it’s done, and what’s more, that we did it right. Not right perfect, but right for us. Same way I look at my husband at the end of each day and think, yes! At the end of the day, I could never attend someone else’s wedding and wish for a second that I was anything other than an observer. I’ll never want what another bride has got, in any meaningful way. Because I’ve got my husband.

Photo credit: Joseph Mason Studios

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