If you’re reading this, chances are very good that you’ve been called a bride for months and months. But here is a newsflash: you’re not a bride. Not yet, anyway.
For most of us, the liminal state of bride-dom lasts for about ten hours. It’s long enough to put on the dress, say the vows, transform yourself from a single person to part of a brand new family, and then party like it’s going out of style. And then it’s over, and that’s a good thing. So the question is, how do we take those ten hours and experience them to their fullest? How do we get what we need out of this liminal state, and move forward with minimal regrets and a lifetime of memories?
In short: you need to really show up emotionally, let go of all the planning you worked so hard on, and embrace imperfection.
That sounds gauzy and hippy-zen and impossible, right? Well, it’s really none of those things. So, without further ado, here are the things you should know about your wedding day that no one will ever tell you. (Except, um, I’m telling you, so you win.)
Your wedding day might not feel like you expect it to feel.
After reading tons of wedding magazines and zillions of wedding blogs, it’s hard not to have an idea of how your wedding day is going to feel. The thing is, that idea might be dead wrong.
First, I think we all hope our wedding day is going to feel pretty and chic. The one problem with this plan is that you can’t feel pretty, because pretty isn’t an emotion. Trouble! As my husband warned me before the wedding, it’s really important to differentiate between how wedding pictures look and how your wedding day will feel. Our wedding pictures look dreamy and beautiful, and for that I’m grateful. Our wedding ceremony, on the other hand, felt really gritty and raw. And that was okay. There was plenty of time for joy at the party, and in the weeks of bliss to come.
So on the day itself, do everything you can to resist classifying your wedding day emotions as right or wrong. Maybe, like me, your life will change hard and fast, in a moment of intensity. Maybe you’ll ride a wave of joy, but just feel like you threw an awesome party, nothing life changing. Maybe you’ll be so overwhelmed that you’ll weep for hours. Maybe it will be something totally different. Whatever you feel, let yourself feel it. It may not be at all what you expected, and that may be a blessing.
Your family is crazy, and that’s okay.
I know, right? You’re sitting here reading this, thinking, “My family isn’t crazy, my family is lovely! And besides, it’s my wedding day so they’ll be on their best behavior.” Well, sort of. Your family probably is lovely (mine is), but you know how everyone acts in high stress situations? You know how your mom freaks out on Christmas Day about having the table set just right, and you have the brother who’s super delightful but slightly socially awkward in large groups, and you have the two uncles that don’t really get along that well after the four whiskies they always insist on having? Yeah. That stuff is going to happen on your wedding day, because weddings are stressful. But here is the thing: it doesn’t have to matter.
Being a bride has certain perks, and one of those perks is being given a free pass to not give a sh*t. If your mom starts freaking out while you’re getting ready, have a sister or a best friend who’s tasked with pulling her aside and telling her to breathe. If your uncles start fighting with each other after their fourth glass of whisky, you have permission to just turn and walk away.
You’re not going to be able to make everyone happy, and that’s fine. For ten hours of your life, your job is to protect your own experience. Your job is to refuse to get emotionally involved when people get stressed, and to just walk away and let it go. It’s tricky, but it only lasts for a few short hours. Tomorrow you can get totally pissed at your mom when she’s acting a fool, but for today, it’s not your problem.
What happens next is so much richer.
Because planning a wedding is a giddy mix of beautiful things, mixed with a serious dose of pain in the ass, it’s easy to get focused on This One Day We Spent So Much Time And Money Planning. But that day is not the point. Your marriage is the point. So as your wedding day approaches, remember that this too shall pass. And what you’ll be left with is your marriage, which is infinitely more beautiful than the most stunning wedding dress in the world.
My wedding day? It was one of the great joys of my life. But the happiest day of my life? That was probably a lazy honeymoon day with my husband, drinking whiskey and looking at castles. Or maybe it was just any old lazy Sunday, reading The New York Times, lounging around the house… and oh yeah, not planning a wedding.
So congratulations. Not on this beautiful wedding you planned, but on making it to the other side. Welcome.