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On Wedding Anxiety, Or How The Cake Was Actually Easy

After taking a break from reading wedding media, one of the most distinct things I noticed when I started reading wedding blogs and magazines again was a spike in my anxiety levels. Big time. I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on what was going on, but I read a few posts, and browsed through few articles, and then start calling David and emailing my mom, freaking out.

I emailed my mom, pretty much in all caps, about how, “MAKING THE WEDDING DRESS WAS PROBABLY A MISTAKE. And people have EMERGENCIES when they make dresses. WHAT WERE WE THINKING. And it’s never going to be DONE IN TIME. And then I was going to have to find something CUTE and CHIC at the last minute, and it’s going to be a DISASTER!”

Meltdown.

Then I called David, “I’ve been reading some stuff.”
“What stuff?” he said with understandable suspicion about my vagueness.
“Wedding stuff. Anyway. I think we are REALLY BEHIND. I think there are lots of things we need to get done that we haven’t even thought about!”
“Ohdearjesus.” Said poor David, “What kind of stuff?”
“Ummmm…. I can’t even remember. Um, rings! We need wedding rings! It’s apparently very complicated! And we need…. ummm…. to taste cake! And layout the wedding reception. And bond with our wedding party or whatever, in a complicated way. And, I’m not sure but we need to make a lot of decisions. And we’re only FOUR MONTHS AWAY.”

My friend Emily calls this the wedding blackout stage.

I’m not really sure how we get here, but I am sure that somehow, whether it is knowingly or unknowingly, the wedding industry sells us on anxiety. I think part of where this comes from is the un-stated assumption that we all need to be doing certain things. The same things. The things on those dreaded wedding “lists.” If you are not doing these things, or worse, it’s never occurred to you to do these things, you might start freaking out wondering what you are doing wrong. Or perhaps you are made of stronger stuff then me.

It is assumed, for example, that we all need to taste cake. In fact, it’s assumed you need to have cake tastings. Plural. False. First of all, we don’t need to have cake. It seems obvious, when you say it out loud, but somehow amidst the unspoken assumptions, it gets lost. Second, even if you are having cake (we are) you don’t need to taste it (we didn’t). And you certainly don’t need to go to more than one tasting (what?)

After my blackout-anxiety moment, David and I trotted down to the local bakery this weekend, to nail down the details of the cake. It was literally a 10 minute conversation: we picked a size that seemed not too big yet formidable enough to cut with my grandfathers marine corps saber, we told her we wanted it to be chocolate and chocolate but nothing too fancy. Then, the darling baker offered to decorate it with flowers for free, so we decided on blackberries and dahlias for the decoration. Then we ordered four blackberry cobblers, on the theory that wedding cake is actually kind of boring. She added up the bill, we didn’t pass out but actually smiled because it wasn’t that bad, and then the baker thanked us for supporting a small local business, twice. We walked out in to the parking lot, and I did a crazy happy dance, and squealed “Blackberries and dahlias blackberries and dahlias blackberries and dahlias!”

And then we crossed a task off our “list,” anxiety free. And it only took ten minutes. Thanks, WIC, for making that seem like it was going to be hard.

Now, I’m throwing this to you, as you are a smart-smart-smart group of readers. What is it about the wedding industry/ our cultural assumptions that feeds our bridal anxiety? What makes you go into the blackout stage?

(Tomorrow, we’ll talk about those crazy making lists.)

Picture: I’m a study in contradictions. Martha Stewart provided our not-to-fussy cake inspiration. And I kind of love it.

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