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Wedding Undergraduate: Me

Whoa. In going through archived posts last night, I found this one, unpublished. I wrote this two months before our wedding, and I never published it, because it just made me feel to vulnerable. I can tell you now, that during this week, REALLY hard stuff happened. I cried, very hard, a lot. And looking back, yes, it was rock bottom, and yes, it was worth crying about. And yes it got better. But when all this hard stuff was happening, when I told people (or hinted to it on the blog) people would tell me, “Don’t worry, you’ll be married in the end!” And I’d want to scream, “I f*cking know that, but that does not make this moment any less painful.” But I shut up and hunkered down and plowed through. So now that it’s over, now that you know how wonderful it was in the end, I’m going to finally hit publish on this. This is for you, whoever you are, crying yourself to sleep over some part of the wedding. This is my hug, lady, because I needed one then:

I hit what I sincerely hope will be rock bottom of wedding planning last week. I cried myself to sleep at least once, and David and I had a few bouts of yelling at each other. Why am I admitting to this? Well, first of all, I’m feeling much better now so it feels safe to talk about it. But mostly I’m talking about it because I think that wedding planning often isn’t easy, and our desire to speak only about the good parts of it can make you feel isolated and crazy when things get hard.

There are infinite stressors in planning weddings, but as a somewhat-indie-bride, I find that one of the pressures is to act like you’ve got it under control, and like your wedding isn’t really a big deal anyway, so who cares? Well. If only, right? Here is the real truth: weddings involve a lot of really big important things, they involve family, grappling with tradition, relationships with friends, and with an externalization of your values, just to name a few. Weddings have a way of bringing long-standing issues to the surface, of forcing you to deal with things you would rather ignore. So when I say I cried myself to sleep over the wedding, I don’t mean that I cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t find stamps that matched my envelopes precisely. Please. I cried myself to sleep over good friends who were not there when we needed them, over how much work I had to do and how overwhelmed I felt by it, over caring about my wedding when the world was telling me that I shouldn’t care. In short, I cried over big stuff. And when two people are sad about big stuff, sometimes they yell at each other. That’s how it rolls.

Part of what happened this week is that at two months out, the wedding transitioned hard and fast from fantasy to reality. In fantasy wedding-land your wedding is still about your inspiration board, your invitation designs, and what style dress you want (Not like these things can’t be stressful too. Lordy.) In reality wedding-land, your wedding is about scheduling, about hauling, about set-up, about manual labor. In fantasy wedding-land, your wedding is about the ambient joy you will share with your guests on the day that you join your life in partnership with your beloved.* In reality, your wedding is about the fact that some people you care about will not end up coming to your wedding, and that your planned guest count might not match your real guest count. Of course, there will also be people that step up and help in ways you never dreamed of, and people that fly all the way across the country and the world to be with you on your wedding day. While these things are infinitely more important than the disappointments you will face, I’ve found that the fantasy prepares you for the wonderful parts, but never mentions the harder parts.

I’ve planned events for a living, so I’m lucky to not have the stress of having to plan a party for 125 and not having the first clue where to start. However, I had the shocking realization this week that I was planning a party for 125 with a very full time job, and no staff to help out. On Monday, I spent the day off slaving over my spreadsheets scheduling hauling and timing. At one point I looked up at David and said, “Oh God, why is this so much work?” and David reminded me, “Well, we’re trying not spend a lot. That means a lot of work for us.” I think, at least for us, we’ve been caught betwixt and between, again. We can’t afford (and don’t want) a wedding planner, but we no longer live in an age where we have tons of family and friends who live close by and view a wedding as a community event that they throw for the bride and groom. We are lucky to have family and friends who will help us during the week of the wedding, and who are taking on small bits of planning for us now, but the bulk of the responsibility is ours. And that leaves us with spreadsheets, and time tables, and lists.

Being a modern bride or groom often means feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place. Weddings are events. Events are hard work. Weddings are emotional, and not always in a good way. Yet through it all, we are supposed to keep our game face on. Never yelling, never crying, never complaining, always emphasizing how lovely our marriage will be and how in love we are with our colors/details/style. Well, I’m not playing that game. We can be practical sane grounded brides, and still get stressed out by the hard work of planning and by the difficult emotional stuff. That says nothing about our marriages, nothing about our enjoyment of the wedding day, and nothing about our priorities. It just says we’re here, we’re human, we’re paying attention, and sometimes this is hard.

*Having been through it now, I can say there really is so much joy. But there is pain too. It’s a little like being born. Hard in the middle, new, in the end, and wonderful. And worth it.

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