How Planning a Wedding Can Feel Like Coaching a Football Team

bride and groom standing together

All my life I’ve been told that I’ve been dreaming about my wedding, so when I realized this week that I don’t really know what I want for Eric’s and my wedding, I was kind of taken aback.

What’s weird is that I really thought I knew what I wanted. I didn’t dress up like a bride or have princess fantasies as a little girl, but I’m on Pinterest, aren’t I? I should have been raring to go as soon as Eric and I got engaged. But the thing is, I wasn’t planning our wedding on Pinterest. I was planning my “wedding.”

A “wedding” is what you plan when you have a vision of what a girl who looks vaguely like you and a person who looks vaguely like your partner (or, if you’re single, a still-vague but ridiculously attractive stand-in) would do with an unlimited budget, in between going to work at your dream jobs and hanging out with your family who never, ever pisses you off.

A wedding is what you plan when have a real partner, real future in-laws, a real job, a real budget, and you’ve told everyone you love, “Hey! We’re planning a wedding!”

When it came to my “wedding,” I realized pretty early on that I don’t have any money and my family is not rich, so I probably shouldn’t go dreaming about a lavish affair. As I became more comfortable with this fact about myself and let go of the fantasy that I’d be rich someday, I lost interest in having the fantasy wedding too. I didn’t like what it seemed to represent—pressure on couples, and particularly women, to fit into a certain mold—and I started to see the beauty in doing something that represented who I actually am.

Don’t get me wrong, I could still kill an hour on a Lazy Sunday looking at wedding blogs or wedding boards on Pinterest, but this was mostly rooted in my love of a good theme party. When I tell people this, they raise an eyebrow. Or two. Trying to explain that you only read wedding blogs for the pretty things is like saying you only read Playboy for the articles. But the fact is, I liked looking at wedding blogs for the same reason I get excited about receiving the holiday catalogs from Pottery Barn, West Elm, Anthropologie, and Crate & Barrel: I just like seeing what talented creatives can do with a simple tradition. I’ve always looked at these things like my version of Fantasy Football. They were just for fun; they didn’t really mean anything.

But now I feel like I’ve been told, “Hey, you play Fantasy Football, right? How about you come coach a team in the NFL this season?” And before I can even think what to say next, they’ve added, “Meet Eric, your assistant coach! You two had your own separate Fantasy Football teams, but now it’s time to create an entirely new team and then coach this new team together. Oh and also, your families will be on the coaching staff as well, so make sure you ask them what players they want on the team, what plays they think you should run, and what the uniforms should look like. But always make sure you do what you want to do! Because you know exactly what you want, right?”

And I’m like, “What?! No! You have the wrong girl! I’m a sham! I don’t know anything about football! I don’t even know if I like football! I don’t want to coach this team… I’m sorry I lied!!!”

So as we start the process of planning, Eric and I are beginning to realize that my intimate, inexpensive celebration was still a “wedding” and that he has his own “wedding” in mind too. And as much as we thought we knew what matters—and, perhaps more importantly, doesn’t matter—to each of us, the reality of how little we actually know is hitting us like an entire defensive line.

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