The Power of Yes: Lauren

Alyssa again, as we wrap up our APW lovefest!   This next post is from everyone’s favorite intern, Lauren!  Meg told me she was thinking of getting an intern, and almost the next day she emailed me and said, “Hey, this girl volunteered on Twitter.  Crazy, huh?”  So I immediately stalked her blog and realized a few things.  She’s smart, she’s funny and I immediately  wanted to steal like eight things off of her life list and put them on my own.  Having Lauren as the APW intern is like having exactly what you need exactly when you need it, ALL THE TIME.    She works SO hard behind the scenes, and all just for the love of APW.  She lets Meg rest a little and have a real life from time to time, she’s a daily reminder of all the baby brides and your struggles and she thinks my dog is pretty.  Wonderful qualities, all of them.

Here’s Lauren’s views on APW and its awesome support system.

APW is indeed a really great wedding blog that keeps me centered during my own planning process, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  For me, being part of APW is really about being able to contribute to a large group of smart and creative women through writing.  Meg wrote a post a few weeks ago that talked about pushing herself and experiencing a lot of “no” responses and knowing that it meant she was challenging herself and expanding her personal/professional limits. She wrote about knocking on doors, hearing the grim and repeated “no” and continuing until she heard the “yes”.  Meg was my yes.  Meg and the community that is A Practical Wedding has given me the opportunity to stretch, expand, gain experience and challenge myself even more.  And I know that Meg and the amazing APW community has given the same opportunity to many artists within the wedding community as well. And that is an amazing, amazing gift.

I added to my life list last Thursday and one of the things I put on there was “Work to support other women in their personal and professional goals without jealousy”.  It’s surprisingly difficult to help other people succeed, but I think the more women there are owning their own businesses, becoming professionally successful and self sufficient, the more we all succeed.  I want to support and contribute to APW’s growth because it IS so much more than Meg’s website, it’s a place to find support, insight, advice, and encouragement to take the risk of being authentically you.

Now then, about the whole bit with planning a wedding and having this site in existence: Umm yeah. I wanted to have really meaningful wedding that combined Kamel and my families and beliefs, and traditions in a seamless way, but h*ll if I know how to do that!  I’m groping in the dark over here, and if it wasn’t for you all sending in questions to Ask Team Practical, or pointing out amazingly insightful tidbits in graduate posts, I think I would be an overwhelmed mess who also happened to be failing miserably.  Alright, so it may not have been publicly dramatic, but I would be living in my own little private panic room.  It can be incredibly lonely being the bride, but after the APW Book Club meetup, I suddenly have a whole fistful of awesome ladies to bounce ideas off of, to confess to (You missed my sex in Paris story the other weekend), and to learn from.  This place, this website, is not about the fashion of weddings (although, h*lls yes I love me some pretty), it’s about the act of weddings, the celebration of life transitions, and having a giant cheer squad rooting you on through it all.

I don’t think I could have picked a better door to knock on and a better place to finally get the answer “yes”.  Thank you.

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  • This exactly x100,000 “it’s about the act of weddings, the celebration of life transitions, and having a giant cheer squad rooting you on through it all.”

  • Cass

    You are absolutely right! Being a bride can be terribly lonely.
    A wedding is a ton of work and the people around me say “it’s your wedding, you decide what you want.” I long for a DIT celebration. But for some reason, I seem to be doing this all by myself.
    That’s why I value APW “it’s a place to find support, insight, advice, and encouragement to take the risk of being authentically you.”
    I can already feel this, even though I only recently came upon the site.

    Invaluable beyond words.

  • Wsquared

    I read your life list and was grinning from ear to ear.

    …and okay, I admit it: I’m a sucker for baseball.

    I added to my life list last Thursday and one of the things I put on there was “Work to support other women in their personal and professional goals without jealousy”. It’s surprisingly difficult to help other people succeed, but I think the more women there are owning their own businesses, becoming professionally successful and self sufficient, the more we all succeed.

    I like this one. Very much. We should all add it to our life lists.

    And complementary to it, I think we should also all add “finding inner peace.” Because it’s what helps us to see others– indeed other women– without jealousy and to help them with all of our hearts.

    • JEM

      Yes to inner peace. So yes.

      • Wsquared

        Definitely a big “YES” to inner peace.

        While this is a religious example, I will share it anyway, because it sticks with me when it comes to talking about achieving the inner peace that helps us to best accept and serve others for all of their myriad differences– trying to be the people whom we were meant to be and need to be, and not being what Other People say we should be.

        At Mass, a young Polish priest once spoke to us about the priestly vocation– and “vocation” is a good word. It’s not just a “career”; it’s us being called. When we find work that fulfills us, that nourishes us, we feel called, somehow.

        What he told us was that he had wise parents who told him that if he felt himself being called to a vocation in the priesthood, then he should have the courage to say “yes.”

        Vocations of any sort are very much a part of us and who we were meant to be. Embracing them involves inner peace almost of necessity. So the question is what are our vocations, and how do we respond? How do we have the courage to say “yes” to that inner peace?

        • AMS

          I love the idea of having “find inner peace” on my lifetime to-do list (and how I love to-do lists!). However, I love “have the courage to say ‘yes’ to inner peace” even more. I do believe we all have inner peace somewhere deep down inside, and I hope to someday be strong and courageous enough to find it. I might not be there yet, but I’m working on it!

  • Carbon Girl

    I especially loved this part, “Work to support other women in their personal and professional goals without jealousy”. I am in a graduate program with a lot of wonderfully strong and smart women. Does jealousy ever rear its ugly head? Well yes, unfortunately. But the thing is we are all in this together and we all need each other to bounce ideas off of and to help edit papers and proposals. I try my hardest to be supportive and have recently been reminded that I have others support too and that feels wonderful.

    • Wsquared

      Graduate programs can be notorious for jealousy, in good part because of the insecurity that it can breed. If we let it.

      While we are all in this together, I would also stress that we are not all in this together in the same way. Certainly not among all graduate students, and definitely not among all women. We all approach whatever the discipline is in our own ways. Certainly in history, there are fields and subfields. But we are *all* historians. We are also not just “men” and “women.” The discipline should ideally come first.

      I think we must be mindful about the way we talk to others about their work, and not denigrate it. One surefire way to encourage insecurity is to behave as though someone else’s work has no value, because it is different from ours– that what *we’re* doing is cutting edge, and everybody else’s work sucks, or is “old fashioned.” In the historical discipline, there are so many turf wars, and it’s awful. Because it prevents us from talking to each other.

  • JEM

    I think it is really interesting that you mention being the bride can be lonely.

    At the last DC meet up, I was really shocked to hear one of the women (I’m sorry, I forget exactly who. She was sitting in the middle of the couch and had cute curly hair and she was awesome!) explain just how LONELY she felt on her wedding day. I never considered that possibility and I just couldn’t understand how that could be possible. It absolutely made me take a step back and really think about the support group I have around me on a day-to-day basis and also who will be there on the actual wedding day, realizing it’s much more that posing for photos buttoning up the back of my dress but that I actually *really* might need help buttoning up that damn dress! I mentioned in a post yesterday that I was lucky to have a Mom Squad of awesome mothers around me, but I am also so thankful that I have Team APW to make me even THINK about some of these issues before I get smacked in the eff face with them on Game Day.

    • I think the loneliness – although I do have amazing bridesmaids and an amazing FH – was the most shocking. I expected to be blissed out and excited and surrounded by people carrying reams of card stock and bundles of ribbon, but it’s more like me standing alone at a podium trying to figure out to conduct an orchestra. I think I would rather be in the band.

      • Sarah

        Yep. That pretty much sums it up. Considering our wedding party consisted of my siblings and our very closest friends, I figured I’d be surrounded by love and fun and inclusion all day (and leading up to it, right?). But the stress of pulling this off (the first wedding in 15 years in my family, and the first of my generation) got to me and I withdrew into myself. Combine that with the fact that I NEVER voiced my expectations of people, and no one realized I wanted/needed them to be there for me. The morning of was a disaster in and of itself (a really irritating/funny story now) and I felt utterly and completely alone. Once I had my husband to hold onto, it went from being just me to being just me-and-him … but the overall loneliness was something I had not expected AT ALL.

        • Christina

          I don’t know if you’ve written one already, but I for one would love to read your grad post.

    • kt

      when i was a bride i felt a little lonely too.

      the two moments i remember most clearly were:
      1) a couple of my friends said they would help make bouquets and then didn’t come (the day before the wedding).
      2) on the actual wedding day itself, right after dinner when my lovely husband had people coming up and talking to him in a constant stream, and my bridesmaids were mingling, and i was just sitting there. kind of bored.

      but both times (after a couple minutes of feeling weird and lonely and a little sorry for myself), i was kind of like eh, f this.
      so i took my little sister (17) out of school to help me make bouquets the day before (such a good idea)
      and i just left the head table. because it was my wedding. and i wanted to talk to people, not just sit at the front waiting for people to come to me.

      some of my favorite moments came from just leaving the ‘spot’ where i was supposed to be a bride, and doing what i wanted, like sitting down and catching up with the people i wanted to talk to.

      so i guess that part of the loneliness, for me, came from the misaligned expectations of what was supposed to happen (but my friends are always going to be able to circumvent all circumstances and spend the morning flower arranging with me) (but i have to sit here in front because this is where the bride sits) and doing what was important to me. also, realizing that even when something works out badly, their is usually an opportunity to make it work out freaking amazingly.

      which probably most of the awesome ladies at APW knows already, but it is taking me a while to learn!

    • Christina

      The planning can be so lonely. Especially when you’re friends are all not married yet.

      And for me, the wedding day itself was also lonely.

      I felt like the epicenter of a storm. On the wedding day, everything was buzzing and humming around me but I was alone and untouched by it. It was lonely. When I saw my group of friends laughing at a table, I went over and joined them, only to have the conversation stop, everyone look at me, and then say “Wow your dress is beautiful! That ceremony was great!” Then silence. I couldn’t just be a PART of it, and I hated it. Not to mention, people all felt like they didn’t want to ‘bother’ me on the wedding day. WHAT? Like, “Hey, Christina, I won’t take up too much of your time I just wanted to tell you really quick…..” Um, I invited you so I could hang out with you! I was too much in a whirlwind at the time to really understand how I felt…. but I understand it now.

      It is lonely, and try as I might to be a part of the day, I was singled out. I can honestly say I probably won’t write a grad post because I didn’t so much like my wedding day– for more reasons than just that. Love being married. Didn’t like getting married.

    • Trisha

      The wedding planning part had a lot of lonely moments for me.

      None of my best friends are married, so there seemed to be a lot of distance in that way. No one really knew, or understood when I tried (poorly) to verbalize it, the things I was feeling. I didn’t really have anyone to bounce things off who could say “Yeah, this is normal.” Until I found APW anyway, and that was mere weeks before the wedding.

      I think the main force of the loneliness though was my having difficulty asking for help with things, or voicing my expectations. In hindsight, I’m sure that if I had told people what I was expecting (and hoping) from them emotionally as well as physically, it would have helped immensely.

  • Kinzie Kangaroo

    I’m sorry but I’m being totally rude and superficial but I just need to say that, yes, I agree with you on everything here and APW is great and this community is great but …

    … sex in Paris story? Wow!

  • Intern Lauren rocks. And helping other women succeed should really be added to all of our lists.

    • True. And I like this new code name of yours :)

  • ddayporter

    Lauren! I just read your life list and I realized you could probably mark a bunch o things off that list just by visiting DC. (breast cancer walk happens here, we have 2 baseball stadiums not Terribly far apart, there’s bound to be a feminist rally around here at any given time, plus I mean we have tattoo parlors hello).

    also I just want to say that I love the “without jealousy” part of that item on your list. it’s very key. I’m with WSquared in thinking we could all put that one on our lists.

    • I really really really do need to visit. Maybe I can start my own rally… do they frown on women who’ve been drinking running down the street yelling “Equal PAY! EQUAL PAY!….A**Holes!” —-> since ya know, it was voted out of the senate a few days ago.

      • ddayporter

        umm yes a rally is definitely in order. and I think that would definitely fly, as long as we had the proper permits. ;)

      • Sarah

        UM, HELLO … we already discussed this, ladies! It needs to happen, um, asap. ::nods::

      • I’ll fly wherever for THAT.

  • I completely agree on the loneliness aspect – I did feel completely isolated, like even the people who were trying to understand what I was feeling just couldn’t quite reach me. And then I found APW. I would go on and on about how this community saved my sanity and turned wedding planning back into something I enjoyed, but I have to save something for the graduate post :)

    It is also one of the reasons I love the book club meet-ups so much – one step further out of the loneliness into a physical community of people who understand exactly what your talking about.

    Plus I am with DDay – come to DC! We are having drinks next Tuesday, you know you wanna… :)

    • ddayporter

      yes. I forgot to talk about the loneliness. it was a big surprise for me too! I did have family who could and would talk with me about stuff, but with a couple exceptions, most people would always make a “gee-I-dunno” look and just tell me it was my wedding and I should do what I thought was best. I felt weird asking people to come try on dresses, and then to my dress fittings. the bmaid dress hunt was way not as fun as I thought it would be. nobody understands the guest list drama. I could go on! but you all get it. APW fills a gap. <3

      • That’s just it – its not that people were/are negative, its more that no one seems to have an opinion when I could really use a group vote.

        Tell me about the bridesmaid dress thing – I had a tiny breakdown yesterday because I am worried, and trying to bend over backwards to make this painless. I want this to be a positive experience! Why would shopping with my four best girlfriends not be a positive experience?

        • Sarah

          From my experience .. .it’s never going to be completely painless. BUT! Pain augmented with a good dose of laughter and joy? (And margaritas, if needed!) No one is going to remember the irritation.

          This is totally what we get for loving people with strong opinions. ::winks::

        • KA

          “That’s just it – its not that people were/are negative, its more that no one seems to have an opinion when I could really use a group vote.”

          Omg, yes, yes, yes. And at times this includes my fiance. We were trying to decide between a destination or a local wedding, and even in an anonymous survey people remained shockingly free of opinions. At this stage of the game, I’m envious of those that have bridesmaids, because without them I feel even weirder asking people to come try on dresses or well, help do anything! But I know things always look easier on the other side of the fence.

    • I’ve felt very lonely in this planning process. Combining parental issues with the fact that it seems that half my friends are getting married, it seems like no one wants to talk about my wedding and my issues. I know that sounds kind of selfish, and that’s the reason I never bring it up to my friends. It’s like I constantly have the same problems and I didn’t want to bore my friends with them (although writing it out, I realize if they are good friends they wouldn’t be bored). Joining the APW community and starting my own blog allowed me to talk openly about my issues with other women who would be fully supportive of me.

  • Sarah Om

    Aaand I just made a donation.

  • I seriously felt the ‘giant cheer squad’ boosting me up today as I marched my way into an interview. Five months of banging on that door and hearing “no, no, no” and today I finally got my “YES.” Now if I can just get the same response from the manager, I might actually be able to afford to celebrate. You all rock.

    • KA

      YES!! Congratulations!

    • Chantelle

      So happy for you!

    • ddayporter

      aaahhh!! so exciting! good luck!

    • Caitlin! Yes! What we have been waiting for!

  • mariela

    This was perfect & maybe exactly what I needed to hear.
    Thanks Lauren, you’ve been a gem these past few weeks. Women & friends of APW, I’m grateful to have you!

  • Aww, Lauren, we loves you!

  • KA

    Haha, just saw this on Twitter, and found it fitting to today’s discussion of bridal isolation:

    Preston Bailey may kinda scream WIC to me, but I appreciate the sentiment.

  • I love this part, “She wrote about knocking on doors, hearing the grim and repeated “no” and continuing until she heard the ‘yes.'” I’m in the throes of a lot of no’s right now and this is a great reminder to keep on going. :) Thanks! Also, I’m wedding planning too! :D

  • Soraya

    Hello.. longtime lurker here. APW has really, truly changed my life for the better. Reading APW makes me feel empowered and so much less alone b/c I read about people who feel the way I do and that’s really hard to find lately, it seems. It’s made such a difference in how I feel that I’ve decided to step out from behind the curtain.

    In regards to bride loneliness, do you guys think the bridal party can make it worse? I’ve been a bridesmaid several times, and often times, it seemed like we were intruding when we were trying to help, so we kinda end up sticking together – it was almost cliquish. And the experiences were enough to make me NOT want bridesmaids when I get married. Bridesmaids would be complaining about their hair or makeup or the dress or “why do we have to wear our hair up”… just the kinds of things that, if I was getting ready to get married – I would probably not want to hear. Just cause it’s rude, to me.

    Anyone else opt out of bridesmaids? Or have a similar cliquish experience?

    • Christina

      I opted out of bridesmaids because I was scared of that happening. For me, everyone having opinions about you and your wedding is actually what makes it feel so lonely and isolating. I went dress shopping alone and stuff like that and it was AWESOME. But, that’s my style. That wasn’t what made me feel lonely as a bride.

  • ohhh… life lists…
    I had one of those written down somewhere once.
    Really should get it started again :)