Tuesday, April 14, 2015

weddings: thoughts from an idealist-turned-realist bride

your wedding isn't about your wedding.


The thing about weddings is: they're perfect. No, everything doesn't go perfectly. My dress was wetted & smashed into a wrinkled mess, less than 12 hours before the wedding. Our cake wasn't the color I initially wanted it to be. My hair didn't come out like it did in the trial. I tell you these things and I will still tell you: our wedding was perfect. Did I experience grief over the loss of my ideals? Yes, yes I did. If I'm honest, there are pieces of my idealism I'm still trying to get over. But, I've learned a few things in the process.

1) No one will notice your dress.
Okay I'm lying. EVERYONE will notice your dress. What they won't notice is the thing you think is wrong with it. Besides, your sisters, if they are as heroic as mine, will stay up all night trying to rectify the dress-mess-situation, and they do. You will still see the differences between what it is now and what it was (only yesterday! the grievous travesty!), in fact you could draw the problems in detail if asked. But, you'll get married in that dress anyway. Because the wedding isn't about your dress. By the time you walk down the aisle, you'll only be thinking about getting to the end of it.

2) Your guest list doesn't matter.
There are politics and people to please, and then some. There are hearts to break and beautiful souls to delight, and people that will come only for the dancing. I'm being silly. Of course it matters, but not really. Though the room is filled with those who've supported and loved you the best, if you're like me, you won't even notice until much later who showed up. I saw only one face when I rounded that corner: his.

3) The dress and the aisle have their own time zone.
Part A: I was very late for our ceremony. I was just upstairs, and we were steadily putting ourselves together, but the second hand on the clock put itself into a time warp, and we were downstairs 30 minutes after we were supposed to be. Of the specific things I said I'd "never do," this was near the top of the list.

Part B: I spent a decade dreaming of walking the aisle to the song I'd picked (yes, silly me, a decade ago), and would you believe it? I walked too fast for the song. Which is funny, because I felt every step of that aisle, every flex of the bend in my dad's arm. I memorized my groom's face and I nearly burst open from joy, and I thought I was taking too long to get there. Time had slowed for me, when really, it was moving as normal.

4) It's all in the way you look at it.
Though I don't think I looked the best I've ever looked, I felt beautiful. I felt that way because of who I was marrying, what this ring means (ah, such relief when his ring arrived on my finger), and all that was and is to come for us. I've received a humbling number of soul-stirring looks from my husband, none quite like the look he gave me as I walked the aisle. Or the one he gave me as he said his vows, or listened to mine, or said I do. The thing about weddings is: they happen, no matter what else is happening. It's best if you let go of your idealism now.

5) Just. Stop.
If you're going to get married, take the best wedding advice I got: slow down. Enjoy the process and more importantly, the day. Be slow about it. Take breaths, pause, look around, notice the good, and be present. Once the day starts, you can't change anything anyway.

6) The way it is.
As it turns out, I liked the cake better with the color swap. We didn't even get a picture of my shoes. Or our rings. I forgot to put my "good side" to the camera, almost all day. But we did get pictures that steal our breath; photos that will stay and heal our hearts for life. The flower girls were charming and delightful, and their sashes wouldn't stay where they were supposed to; they spun wildly around their dresses from the aisle to the dance floor; such is the thing that happens when you are a charming flower girl, delighting in your task. Our flowers, though we scrambled toward the end, came out perfectly: our florist turned out to be ethereally talented. I guess what I'm trying to say, is this: weddings are great, as they are, no matter how they happen, so don't worry.

7) On we go.
Find humor in the missteps; you'll need this skill in the coming days. Say thank-you to the helpers, because there are lots of them, and our journeys are all marked with the need for other people. Hold hands. You'll find so many reasons to cling to that hand, over time, and you'll be thankful for the practice in fine weather.

Embrace the day as is, and your day will be much better. It isn't about the building or who shows up to it; it isn't about the seating chart; it isn't even about the wedding. It's about the marriage.

The day isn't about the day; it's about the rest of your lives.

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