Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reflections on Wedding Planning

I've been thinking about what I wanted to say to you when I got to the "other side."  For some reason, during the planning process, I couldn't bring myself to write it because I didn't want to disappoint certain people or to come across as ungrateful.  I talked it over with some fellow bees.  I mulled it over while reliving some wedding memories as we reminisced on our belated honeymoon (we just got back and it was delightful - more later).  And then I read this today as I caught up at Meg's blog.  Now is the time to let a few things hang out and to keep it real.

You've seen the joy on my face that is captured by photographs on my wedding day.  I will always treasure that day in our lives.  I did not capture for you the many frowns, the foot stomping and the flat out melt downs (my Dad calls it O.B.E - overcome by events) that led up to that day.   Here, I blogged about details, crafting, funnies, etc. because the blog world was my refuge from what I found to be an all together stressful and frustrating planning process.  Much of the stress was self-inflicted as I took all criticism personally, tried to please everyone, and contorted myself to fill the various expectations that I perceived people had of me.  However, some of the stress originated from truly stressful situations of navigating family emotions or the growing pains of bringing two lives together.

While I've shared most of the work that I did for the wedding in terms of crafting, this post is about the real work that it took to plan the wedding and prepare for a marriage.  This work was intangible and decidedly  not fun.  My stumbles during this part of the process left me almost empty. It's ok to feel sad or overwhelmed.  It's ok to cry about these big life changing things that are about to happen.  

In the week before the wedding, my family and I shared high lights and low lights, a New Year's tradition that we've been keeping for over a decade now.  My high light was our engagement.  My low light was planning the wedding.   There were some points when I was gravely concerned that the wedding would permanently alter my relationships with people (which was true - sometimes positively and sometimes negatively).  At other times, I was sure that I would break and end up in a mental institution (which was untrue, although I did realize that I needed to slow down and I sought professional counseling in the weeks before the wedding).

For me, several factors exacerbated the situation.  My mom got really sick in the months leading up to my wedding and Mr. Palindrome was being worked through the ringer in the MBA recruiting process.  I really missed their support system while they needed to focus their energy on getting well and adjusting to grad school respectively.  A month before the wedding, my grandmother fell and required surgery.  She did not come to my wedding and there were many tears shed for her absence (rightfully so). 

Even lovely weddings that are full of joy and really represent the beginning of a marriage, take effort to plan.  That planning process is not always enjoyable.  Even if you write a wedding blog, you may not have loved planning a wedding and that's ok.  The difficult part of the journey makes the rejoicing that much sweeter on the day of the wedding.  This doesn't negate the pain felt on the journey, it doesn't mean that thinking about being married should heal the pain in the moment either. 

I was really scared that with how awfully the wedding planning went (the fights between Mr. Palindrome and me, the family issues, the vendor issues, etc.), that I would regret having a big wedding and that I would resent it the rest of my life. On the other side, I can't tell you that the one day was worth it, but I can say that I felt very happy on my wedding day and my cup overran with beauty and laughter.   Very dear and sincere friends were there to tell me the truth and love me.  They helped me carry my burdens during the difficult times and were there to celebrate the fruits of our labor as we danced with sheer joy.


Shannon said...

I just wanted to say that this post is probably my favorite. Planning our wedding has been one incredibly stressful experience and I've tried to avoid discussing the negative parts of it, too. Thank you for your honesty. It's nice to know that someone else has felt this way.

(BTW, you were a beautiful bride!)

Christine said...

Right on the money...towards the end for me, I felt like I was on the verge of a real nervous breakdown. I basically planned our wedding with meddlesome in-laws (in town, of course!) and my parents a couple thousand miles away across the pond, totally solo. I can't tell you how many afternoons I was on the phone w/ a friend in tears or just trying to bite my lip as I went to work or to another volunteer event, taking more time away from my sanity and random wedding things to do. I was amazed at how some friends and family were amazingly supportive and others just seemed to fade into the background with lack luster support/engagement. I learned a lot about relationships...for the good and the bad. But like Meg said, you came out married...to the man of your dreams and had a fabulous celebration w/ your nearest and dearest! In the end, for me, I don't think about our wedding that much...mostly because it was so challenging for me on the whole...I have boxed up all my cardstock, ribbon and wedding-related paraphanalia, save our photos and cards, for a while...at least until my conscious forgets about the pain that that time sometimes brought!

Patience said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Planning a wedding has been so stressful. I know everything will be worth it in the end, but right now I hate everything about it.

melinda said...

Thanks for the feedback you all! @Shannon and Patience: Hang in their ladies! Enjoy your upcoming wedding days :)
@Christine: we should start a club! The recovering wedding planners anon. :)