I feel terrible admitting this, but when people used to complain to me about how stressed they were with wedding planning I would secretly judge them for complaining about planning a big party for themselves.
As soon as I got engaged I knew what an ass I was for making these judgments and that the stress can come from so much more than party planning. Early on, I tried to make the process as stress-free as possible. I hired a wedding planner telling myself it was worth the cost if it would help my sanity (a lot of expenses are excused with this reasoning). I promised I would not try to DIY anything and that I would keep true to myself of not caring about details and focusing only on the big picture things.
Well 10 months into wedding planning and with my wedding 2 months away I have not been able to successfully avoid the stress. Wedding planning is just not my ideal activity.
I like fashion, reading wedding magazines, and have always found it fun to talk about weddings. However, I used to think that when people said they had been planning their wedding since they were 5 years old they were kidding, but I actually think this might be something other people actually did. While I was busy imagining my 7-year-old self as a character on Beverly Hills 90210 (blame my older siblings) they were experimenting with different types of bouquets they would hold walking down the aisle.
My lack of preparedness for being a “bride” became clear early on in the process. Shaun kept commenting on the fact that I was pretty chill about everything so I thought maybe this would work out for the best. Who knew I could be “chill” about this? Instead I ended up overheating in a bridesmaid dress store hung-over shopping for my bridesmaids’ dresses. The saleswoman started with, “What color are you thinking?” I had an answer for this! “What length?” I had an answer for this! However, the questions got harder and harder. “Do you want everyone in the same color? Style?” “What kind of shoes will they be wearing?” “What are your colors?” With each question I swear my hangover was getting worse and worse. I slumped on a couch while my bridesmaids and the ladies in the store looked to for me for answers. With each, “I don’t care,” I realized that people expected me to have an opinion. I laughed this experience off and we ended up with great bridesmaid dresses.
The next bride fail was when I had to go to my wedding dress fittings. I resented the fact that these fittings were taking up so much of my time. I will have had 4 different fittings over the course of a few months. Each one requires a trip to CT and a schedule rebalancing because the tailor is only available Wednesdays and Thursdays during business hours. Luckily, I am a student, but still it seemed excessive. The saleslady helped me put on MY dress for the very first time and I felt a relief that I still loved it. A few minutes in I wanted it off of me. This was the most expensive item of clothing I would ever wear and I was sweating in it before the big day. I walked out of the dressing room and it’s quite hard to blend in when you are in a beautiful fancy white dress. Not only that, but they put you up on a stage with bright lighting and the whole store stares at you. Then came more questions and decisions. “What kind of belt did I want to wear with it?” “What about jewelry?” I gave my mom a pained face with each question as I mumbled an unsure answer and sighed loudly. I declared that I was not going to wear a veil and the saleslady almost keeled over. “When else are you going to wear a veil?” She admonished as if this was something I had dreamed of. After skirting around the issue I finally stood firm and said, “I am a feminist and do not need to embrace this tradition!” I now enjoy bragging about how untraditional I am even though it is a pretty small detail, but it still helps give me some edge.
The icing on the unimagined wedding cake came last weekend when we went to our wedding location to meet with several different vendors. I even had the best intention of preparing for these meetings knowing I would need to have opinions about these minor details, but my life got in the way so I went into them unprepared (as a diligent student I hate admitting this, but come on they are wedding meetings). I did have some pinterest boards so thought that might count.
The first meeting was with the cake lady and as the ultimate dessert lover one would think this meeting would be the one I excelled at. Instead, I was expected to just pull out ideas from thin air and my mind went black. We went in circles for a bit. The cake lady asked, “What are you thinking for a cake?” I responded, “Well what are my options?” She responded, “I can do anything! What are you envisioning?” With each question posed at me everyone else turned to look at me expectantly. Finally, we got some options out of her and my groom chimed in (a fellow dessert fan). Every detail was like a quiz question you feel like you should know, but cannot remember the answer.
Next came the meeting with the caterer. This one was going smoothly because we had options and several other people voicing opinions. I even began to get excited thinking about eating our favorite foods with friends and family. As we planned for a breakfast the next day I casually suggested having hash browns. The caterer’s main chef kindly asked me, “What is your vision for hash browns?” Which I guess in some ways was a reasonable question because hash browns can be a lot of different things. However, I just could not pretend to take this seriously any longer. My reply was, “My vision for hash browns is whatever your vision for hash browns is.” He laughed and said he liked that answer. I realized that his question stemmed from experiences in which crazy brides would honestly care about a type of hash brown. He explained he did not want anyone to be disappointed and I guaranteed that there was no scenario in which hash browns could disappoint me.
At 5pm once the meetings had ended and it was just Shaun and me we laughed (over cocktails of course) about the expectations of us and our lack of opinions and vision. But still after the whole experience I couldn’t get shake feeling like an unprepared visionless bride.
Since the marathon wedding planning day I have joked about this with several people, some already married, some engaged like me, and some single. I have seen the variety of reactions such as, “Wedding planning sounds so fun!” “Who has a vision for hash browns?” “Isn’t tasty a vision for cake?” and the others who recount their fond memories of picking out table settings.
I have realized now that what really matters is that my groom and me are both equally visionless and find humor in discussing the possibility of having opinions at these minute details. We have the same vision for the wedding (or lack thereof) and value the same types of things. Over Thanksgiving my mom was going through my bridal magazine (although she now loves having an excuse to buy them too) and saw an article asking the bride and groom to describe their wedding in five words. I quickly responded with something along the lines of, “Rustic, warm, fun, sunny, and loving.” Shaun sat there anxiously and responded with, “Casual…(a long pause)….laid-back…fun…casual.” We got the subtle impression he really wants it to feel casual so now our standard for wedding planning is whether it is casual enough.
We were told by a couple that has been married for decades that our wedding should be deemed a success if we: get married, talk with each other, and talk to our families. It sounds like a pretty low bar that does not involve a vision, pinterest board, or any floral arrangements, so I think it sounds about right to me (although it does not include the details I do care about: fun music and dancing, lots of food, being a beautiful bride – my shallow side is still there, and love and laughter). But even if all the wishes on my list do not get fulfilled and the disasters I am prepared for do happen, then to put it in the scheme of things, this is hopefully just one day in a lifetime together. Just a drop in the rustic bucket.