Highlighted by Highlights

Last week I was reading Esquire (a magazine that gives me such a sense of renewed faith in media). And in an article about climbing Kilimanjaro, the author, Peter Martin, said this:

I want my life to be highlighted by highlights, not made up primarily of them. For me, the most gratifying part of finishing Kilimanjaro — of doing anything this challenging, this extreme — is that I know, for sure, that I can do it, that I did do it, and that I never have to do it again.

And I stopped dead. Because that’s it. That’s a wedding, for me. Huge and extreme and intensely wonderful and intensely hard and something I never want to do again.

And to those of you in the middle of climbing your own Kilimanjaros? Cheers.

Photo: Me & my parents, by One Love Photo

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  • exactly. although I would actually love to throw that party again (just, without the wedding part).

    also, funny, I read this and wondered for a sec if one of the archives had accidentally been republished! then I saw your tweet, and was assured.

  • I’m in the middle, almost to the end, of my Kilamanjaro. Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement, Meg!

  • Chelsea

    Haha, when someone asks me how the wedding went, I usually answer “Wonderful! And I’m so glad I never have to do it again.”

    What Meg said is much more eloquent.

  • Zan

    AMEN SISTER! Our wedding isn’t even here yet and I already know I never want to do it again. Oy.

    • I just said tonight that if things get radically changed One. More. Time I am dis-inviting everyone and eloping. Because this? It’s like they keep moving the summit. :)

      • Kristen

        The end of the hike is just around that bend! It’s just over that next crest!

        I feel ya. I just start feeling like, “Woo-hoo! I’m making progress! Kicking a** and taking names!” Then I realize getting this group of things done just opens up a whole new to-do list.

  • Perfect analogy! I think that’s a major part of why I’ve said that I wouldn’t do my wedding over. It was lovely and I enjoyed seeing people – but I wanted the marriage to begin and to leave the wedding behind!

  • Frances

    Meg, your thoughts, wisdom and ideas really make such a big difference in the world* Thank you for always putting yourself out there. Those are three of my favourite posts of yours; i read them again and again in lead up to our wedding :) I can only imagine how amazing your book is going to be!!
    I read a wonderful quote a few weeks ago that ties in with the thought on a life of highlights.. (It was advice from an eighty-eight-year-old grandmother, happily married more than sixty-three years) ‘You always ask couples their message for the younger generation. Here’s mine: Make the most of the small moments. There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, just perfect moments. These moments stacked side by side fill your life. Don’t take them for granted, because boy does life go by fast.’ From ‘The Art of Marriage.’
    Good luck finishing your book, we’re all rooting for you xxx

  • I also think that weddings should be highlighted by highlights, not made up primarily of them! Pick what you want to stand out and make that amazing, every single thing can’t be a highlight!

  • This is such a lovely way to think of life.

  • Love this. We’re at the 8 week mark, and I’m in the middle of a small meltdown of signing our guest shuttles contract, assembling invites (OMG this should have been DONE three weeks ago), and eyeballing the next 8 weeks of crazy. This is a good reminder that no matter what happens, it will be done and set and a part of our lives as we go forward.

  • That’s perfect. We got half way up my mountain and had to stop go back to the bottom and try with a different mountain altogether. But even getting half way up means I know I can do half of it that I couldn’t before. I can’t wait for the I never have to do this again part.


  • Marchelle


    And as for wanting more fabulous parties? Well, what’s stopping us from throwing them?

    • SusieQ

      Yes! As a result of seeing all the fabulous things that are possible for weddings, and not being able to incorporate half of them, I’m throwing myself a kick ass birthday party this year.

  • suzanna

    RAD! Thanks.

  • jenna

    I Love this quote. Thank you for sharing!

  • ka


    Such a lovely philosophy for the wedding and beyond. This has really made me take a moment to appreciate the highlights and absolve myself of the pressure that it will never be just like that again. (Starving artist days? Check!)

    And heading forward it's so freeing to try things once while knowing it doesn't have to become your "thing."

  • Kelly

    This.is.perfect. This is why I love APW. This pretty much sums up how I feel about the big stuff in life, whether it be my wedding or my dissertation (both of which I’m dealing with currently). Marvelous find. Thank you so much for sharing!! I’m printing this out and posting it above my monitor.

  • marbella

    hear hear!

  • Vmed

    Wow this speaks to me. I just (successfully) defended my neuroscience Master’s thesis last week. And as I’m getting used to no longer being a graduate student, and wrapping my head around having Accomplished Something, I’m definitely eager to tackle next few Kilamanjaros (job search, May med school application, October wedding) but I’m also enjoying a small peace in between peaks.

    Something about it just being done makes me so calm and happy.

    • Sylvia

      No way! I’ve just started writing my neuroscience masters thesis, soo reassuring to hear from someone coming out the other side :) Congratulations!

  • MissG

    Wow. This makes so much sense to me today! I often feel like so many people try to make their whole lives fabulous and full of the highs, but when the really good stuff comes along they don’t recognize it. This post says it way better than I ever could so I’ll definitely be committing to memory. Thank you.

  • I’m nearing the top & I can’t wait :)

    Also, completely random thing to thank you for, but THANK YOU for linking all of these old posts. I have no idea how long it takes you to hunt them down, but I love every single one of them. I always end up with 8 tabs open to various APW posts over the last few years.

  • Tori

    It’s so cliched to say, but I want to “Exactly!” the shit out of this post.

    Ladies and gentlemen, no matter what happens, at the end of the day you’ll be married. As the great philosopher Savage once said, “It gets better.”

    • meg

      Oh! I just got teary. It does get better.

    • Kristen

      Tori, I like your style!

  • Four days away from reaching the “top” and having a particularly rough day logistics-wise. After my self-induced time-out in the bathroom stall, I needed a sanity check and immediately loaded this site. Thank you, thank you. Exactly what I needed to hear today, but what nobody else could figure out how to say.

    • Kristen

      It’s kind of like the last sprint in a race. You can do it. Just keep telling yourself that you can do anything for another five minutes. And, start looking at the things you can start blowing off. Remember in school how some of the VERY BEST times you had were when you were blowing off something you really should be doing? And how things somehow still got done anyways? You’ve come a long way and you deserve a better time-out than a bathroom stall can offer you.

  • Rizubunny

    When I saw the link on facebook, I thought (hoped?) that you were in Highlights magazine. Upon reflection, that makes no sense, but it made me happy :)

  • This is without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It seems like every time I get over an emotion boulder, there is another one right behind it to ascend. Some are smaller, but some are so large I’m not totally sure I’ll make it to the top. But deep down I know I will. It’s just emotionally exhausting. I absolutely will never climb this mountain again.

  • ClayJar

    I’ve long heard told of a Japanese proverb sometimes phrased as: “There are two kinds of fools: those who never climb Mount Fuji and those who climb it twice.” ^_^

    (And now back to my regularly-scheduled read-only mode.)

    • meg


    • Ha! I was thinking about how a marathon is one of those highlights for me, kind of. Having finished a marathon it was something that left me feeling if I could do that I could do anything. But then I did it again, twice again. And I’m not done with them yet.

      However this PhD thing, I’d be a fool to do it again. Once is going to be way more than enough for me.

  • Gillian

    Man, I just got to base camp a week ago, and all I can say is, that is one big friggin mountain!! Though, I have actually climbed a mountain before, so a wedding should be NBD…..right? Right?

    Thanks for this post Meg! I was a lurker while I was “pre-engaged” and this is my first comment, but if I looked at another flippin wedding dress I was going to either vomit or cry at my work desk, neither of which is encouraged in my office. Love the site and the supportive community. I have a feeling I’ll be commenting a lot as I start my hike up this mountain, thanks for being awesome

    • Carreg

      Right now, I’m kind of thinking I’d rather climb a mountain with my other half than plan a wedding with him. I just spent the weekend going over wedding plans with both sides of the family, and feel drained. For no discernible reason — they’re being nice.

      You could dispense with the idea of wearing something sold as a wedding dress, if all of them make you feel ill. Meg had this suggestion of getting hold of a white bridesmaid’s dress. And there are other ideas around.

  • All I have to say to that is AMEN! I never ever want to get married again. I know for sure I picked the right guy and also I don’t ever want to throw that kind of stressful overwhelming and expensive (to us) party again. Heck no!

  • Hi APW Community,

    I am newly engaged and have been a loyal reader for a couple of months. I am starting my climb up the wedding mountain, and this site and those who contribute has already helped me rise to the occasion. I thought I’d finally pop my head out and say “Hi” and “Thank you.”
    We live in San Francisco and are trying to make it all happen in our beloved city with a tight budget and a creative streak, so I imagine we’ll have a helpful Graduate post one day. Until then, thank you for all of your wisdom passed down to us Undergrads! I am grateful.

    • Hi! :)

      From one California bride-to-be to another: Good luck, you can do it!

      I have no idea how planning our wedding is going to pan out, but I just keep reminding myself that come October, we are gonna be MARRIED, come hell or high water!

      And hopefully we won’t have made any enemies and will still have some money left. Those would be a bonus.

  • Ha! Really? Never again? Just minutes after my husband and I rode away on our bikes after the ceremony, he looked at me and said “We should do this again next year!” We both wish that it was socially acceptable to do so! I agree that it was stressful and sometimes painful, but the immense joy I found in the year leading up to the wedding and on the day of is something I’d choose to do over and over again if I could. Of course we’ll throw other parties, have other lovefest-filled days and can look forward to so many great things in our lives. Marriage is amazing, but I still have to say, damn, weddings are fun!

    • meg

      Never ever ever ever again. For a lot of reasons, but mostly, the power of it was in the once-ness of it. I’ll throw another big party, sure. But a wedding? Hell no.

  • Lily

    Thank you so, so much for this. Definitely needed it today.

  • I love this.

    This is what I want too. Gently.

  • I feel this. This past Sunday, a Duley (a hauling truck with 2 sets of rear tires) backed over my wedding decorations.

    And Meg’s mantra of “its about the marriage, not the wedding” came singing into my head, so I was able to breath, tell the driver it wasn’t a big deal, to not feel badly, and that I would just make new ones.

  • Beautiful.

  • SusieQ

    I’m having a do-or-die moment with my PhD right now (soooo close, sooo tempted to quit), and when I read the quote above, that was all I could think of – not our wedding. But it totally applies to both – I’m so glad we did a wedding, and I’m so glad we never have to do it again. And dammit, I’ll be thrilled when I get my degree, and I will never, ever, do this again.

    • I submitted the first of three projects for my PhD to the ethics committee today. It’s my first step towards the light at the end of the tunnel. You can do it!

      • SusieQ

        Congratulations! And thanks. It feels like every step I take towards it is the hardest one. I struggled (deep, long, hard struggles with many tears) past my classes, my quals, my proposal, and now the writing of the damn thing. One day it will be over. And that is comforting.

        You know, my wedding was a lot more fun. :)

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