When you get engaged, everyone congratulates you. Other friends that are engaged tell you that they can’t wait for you to join in on the fun of wedding planning. Older couples that have decades of successful marriage under their belt hint that marriage is one heck of a wild (but wonderful) ride. Everyone leaves out one very important piece of advice:
GETTING MARRIED SUCKS!
Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt in my mind that being married to Bradley Lowe will be absolutely amazing. And my southern heart almost bursts at the thought of my sweet daddy walking me down the aisle toward my husband-to-be. Don’t even get me started on how excited I am to have a sister in Kim and to have a set of in-laws that are incredible. This post isn’t about those things. This post is about all of the nonsense that happens until then.
Everyone has an opinion.
People are well meaning. Despite knowing this, it doesn’t change the fact that all of the input is difficult to handle. People even have opinions about what type of cake to have (I don’t want a cake) and what colors are appropriate based on the season of your wedding (we don’t have colors). Friends drop subtle hints about their favorite wedding experiences, and family members suggest every second and third cousin you ought to invite. Take it from a bride-to-be: the only thing we need is support. Support the fact that all couples are unique and have different goals for their weddings. Support the fact that every couple has developed a budget that fits best with their current financial status and with their future endeavors. Support the fact that every bride is struggling with the potential of disappointing the people she cares about in an effort to have a wedding that is true to her own wishes. Be supportive. It is insanely simple.
If you attach “bridal” or “wedding” to the name, it becomes infinitely more expensive.
I had an epiphany while casually looking at bridal gowns during my lunch break on Monday. There isn’t a shocking different between a very nice bridesmaid dress and a wedding dress. Well, that’s not true. The difference is in the price. Beautiful bridesmaid dresses are typically no more than $300. Wedding dresses with the same tulle and A-line features are easily $700-$1,000. Perhaps there are perfectly acceptable reasons as to the price difference. My eyes can’t spot a darn one in the pictures. And as much as you have to pay for a photographer, I should be able to look like a princess in a burlap sack.
Reception venues are full of themselves.
When we were thinking of having a medium sized wedding (spoiler alert: it has gone from medium to “can count on two hands”), I reached out to a few reception venues to get a feel for what we were working with. One of the venues I reached out to was a gorgeous warehouse that has been renovated. (What white girl doesn’t enjoy a repurposed warehouse?!) They wanted a few thousand dollars to reserve it for one evening. Ok. Not terrible. Except for the fact that they didn’t have any restrooms. That’s right – rocking out to a Porta Potty. In a white dress. And they don’t have air conditioning. So I’ll be sweaty, in a white dress, in a Porta Potty. Not an experience I am willing to pay thousands of dollars for. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
All of this complaining deserves some perspective. Everyone should have the exact wedding that they want. If that includes 1,000 people at the Taj Mahal, then go for it. If it includes being sweaty in a Porta Potty, please do it. You should do exactly as your heart desires for an event that is supposed to be entirely about the heart. My frustration isn’t because I have a secret agenda against large weddings (or Porta Pottys). My frustration is because I don’t think the wedding should be more important than the marriage. When Bradley asked me to marry him, I said “Yes!” because of the promise of building and sharing a life together. Not because it meant I get to have a wedding. Being married is something that I take pride in, something that I feel deserves to be nourished and cared for. I want the “being” married to have more value than the “getting” married. As we move forward with the planning, I try to keep this mantra in mind. A dear friend also told me “…don’t sweat the small stuff…it’s all small stuff. Let it go and just love each other.” When the stress starts to pile up, I suggest to Bradley that we play a game of Jenga. And we do. And life becomes simple again. The reason for the wedding and the ceremony makes sense again.
To my brides-to-be, pause. Take a look at your partner and visualize the joys of being married. Getting married is just a stepping stone. It is a brief spot in time. The rest of your life is what you have to look forward to. When I struggle to justify my wants to everyone else, Bradley says a silly joke. Or he offers his handkerchief to me while I’m crying at a movie. Or he dances with the dogs in the kitchen. Or he does one of a million things that remind me why we are lucky to have one another. In those moments, my wants are justified. Our small wedding is justified. My “cheap” wedding dress is justified. In those precious moments, I know:
It will all be perfect because it already is.