On Transcendence

Earlier today, I mentioned that something at your wedding would probably feel transcendent, but I had no idea what it would be. Interestingly, a small controversy broke out in the comments:

I think it’s expectations like “best day of your life” and “transcendent” that mess with brides’ minds and create the bridezilla world. Because if it isn’t TRANSCENDENT if you aren’t RADIANT if it isn’t PERFECT than there’s something wrong with you. No wonder people go nuts.

But, I’m sticking to my guns on this one. If I had to pick one word to describe our wedding, most particularly our ceremony, it wouldn’t be happy (though there were lots of grins), it sure as hell wouldn’t be perfect, I’m not sure I’d even use the word joyful (though the day itself was wonderfully joyful), and it wasn’t the best day of my life (though it was a damn good one). I think I’d use a word like ‘huge’ or ‘meaningful’ or ‘overwhelming’ or ‘transcendent.’

I just looked up the definition of transcendent, and I got this, “extending or lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience,” or “being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge.” Which is exactly right. Because as A of Accordions & Lace told me in the week between her wedding and ours:

“No matter how self-reflective you are, no matter how time you’ve spent blogging about the process and preparing yourself for marriage and thinking about the significance of it–NOTHING will prepare you for how it feels. It feels crazy and overwhelming. It’s kind of insane.

Experiencing our wedding ceremony was gritty, it was an exercise in staying in the moment, and there were times when it felt very strange. I felt more like myself in that moment than maybe I have ever felt in my life. We showed up. We were grounded. But something happened during the ceremony that you can’t expect, and that you can’t prepare for. I have no idea what it was, but it was big. And in the end, all I can say is that I felt different walking down the aisle than I felt walking back up.

Is it going to be that way for you? I have no idea. It’s not going to be *exactly* that way for you, that much I know for sure. But I think it is likely that you will have a moment at some point during your wedding that feels bigger than you. You can’t prepare for it, any more than you can prepare to be radiant (it’s not f*cking bronzing powder, it’s joy). But I’m not going to back down. Our wedding had moments of transcendence. Moments when we were all of ourselves and even more. And I think telling you that is a good thing. Because f*ck perfection, f*ck feeling like a princess, f*ck details. This is about something bigger than that.

Because of that, I’ll share a sketch of our ceremony with you tomorrow, but I’m not going to share much. That’s because our ceremony ended up being so important, not because it was not important at all.

***Update: A. of Accordions and Lace just wrote a response to this post that you have to go read. We had very similar wedding experiences in a lot of ways (down to being together for 5 years and living together for 2, pre-wedding.) And honestly, I think she articulates what I’m trying to say better than I ever could. So go read. It’s eloquent. And I don’t just go throwing that word around.***

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