Here is a message to all those about to get married, thinking about getting married, and those whose wedding is long past. It is also a message I suppose to anyone looking forward to anything, which I would hope, is everyone who has stumbled upon this blog.
I have often been accused of being a planner. If I’m getting brunch with friends, I will happily dive through Yelp and weigh the pros and cons of every damn eggs benedict/mimosa special in town. I love to research, imagine, and structure how a day is going to go. It gives me comfort. And to some people I’m sure I look like an anxiety-ridden crazy person, which, okay, fair, is not totally off.
But to my defense, I have a side that follows all this crazy planning that many people don’t see. It is the side that loves to throw these plans out and trust that my day will take me somewhere better than I intended. The planning gets me there, and this side allows even better things to happen.
I had a hard time with this whole “throw it out the window” thing come wedding day though, as I’m sure many do with a single day that costs as much as a semester in college. But months later, Ben and I have recently (and pretty spontaneously) made plans to go back to Cape May where we were married. I cannot stop thinking about what it will be like to sit on the porch of the Chalfonte and imagine sitting there months before the wedding, years before for the wedding, and of course the days leading up to it. Here I am, full circle, now in my retrospective glory.
Many things during our wedding turned out very differently than what we planned while sitting on that porch. And yet I am feeling pretty pleased and wonderfully nostalgic about the thought of going back. Because the reality, the day that actually got us married, was way better than any excel spreadsheet, any lace covered jar, or any schedule created. Those plans were the train that got us there, and then reality was out of our hands.
So if you are looking back on something you felt went “wrong”, if are worried about your upcoming day, or if are just down-right terrified of the wedding planning beast, read some of our stories, and grab a drink. All will be better than fine.
Plan: I will be in perfect physical health
Reality: I was a hormonal, exhausted, insomniac that had too much to drink the night before.
A few months before the wedding it hit me that my health and sleeping abilities tend to be pretty undependable when I’m traveling. Usually about three days into any vacation, my body decides to take a break from functioning. At some past family weddings, I’ve actually developed strep throat by the time the wedding arrived. So whaaaat was I going to do if THAT happened? Well, it wasn’t going to. I was going to will myself to be healthy, because being sick wasn’t an option.
Isn’t that just adorable? The three nights before the wedding, I lay awake, even a few glasses of wine and a few tylenol Pm’s in (probably not the healthiest mixture). I was a zombie, and even naps were painful because I would stare at the ceiling thinking about the hours counting down. I read blogs about wedding insomnia, I looked up meditation tactics, I day drank. Everything.
Rehearsal dinner came, and I was tired of pushing. Tired of planning, of calming growing family issues, and by being the one in control. So I broke all my rules, and sat down at the bar post-rehearsal dinner for a cocktail. I was finally having fun, and I finally stopped thinking about my damn schedule.
My friends and cousins very responsibly kept an eye on my hydration and what time I left the bar. But when I returned, I got back to a room full of some of my favorite people from college who, oops!, brought a case of wine from Trader Joe’s (which by the way, should be a new requirement of at least one wedding guest). So as one last horrah before the wedding, we popped open some wine and sat like we did in college, joking and throwing all damn caution to the wind.
Just then it began to downpour and a drunk, very happy and wet Ben came bumbling up the steps to join the party. I felt like we were all exactly where I wanted to be: in a room with my favorite people, drinking two buck chuck.
I slept like a rock that night, and though I woke up a tad hungover, I was not angry at myself at all. Never could I have written down “10pm: meet at Carla and Justin’s room, drink copious amount of wine, reunite dramatically with Ben in hallway.”
Plan: Vows that I had written for months which included quotes and stories about trees
Reality: Vows that came to me while tipsy in the West Village on a pretty Spring night a week before the wedding
We had a tree motif in our wedding. Everything down to my vows were tree related. And they were fine. But I had become so caught up in getting the candles and centerpiece orders, that I hadn’t had a moment of inspiration when it came to my actual ceremony. About a week before the wedding, Helen and I went to our favorite wine bar, Amelie in the West Village. I love these waiters. They are they sweetest bartenders in the world. I told them I was about to get married and they gave us free glasses of champagne and walked us to the door when we left. They gave us both kisses on each cheek (they’re delightfully French) and said they’d see me post wedding. Be still my heart.
Helen and I had plans to end the night there, so I went on my way and almost got on the train. But I knew that if I waited another 20 minutes, I would get to catch Ben after his class. So I wandered around the Village on that beautifully chilly night, on cloud wine, and realized that I actually liked New York City now, even the stressful parts, just as Ben had predicted when we met. Our relationship had transformed a city for me. It transformed many of my fears really. I will not write my vows down here as they cannot be recreated from whatever came out my mouth that day, but this is when they came to me. Goodbye tree motif vows! Hello wine-encouraged teary-eyed walk through the Village vows.
Plan: This wedding will reunite my family
Reality: Something way better than that
My extended family has always been spread apart geographically. I know that all families have difficult times, and those times often bring families closer. But it’s been hard for us to get things rolling again after so many years of lost traditions. Also, my grandmother passed away two months before the wedding and not having her there was very painful for a lot of us. She was on my mind all day and I know deep down she was there with us.
My hope was to get everyone back to the shore and perhaps restart a tradition of traveling together. Understandably, many people were unable to make it because of distance or the hard months we had leading up to May. Work plans even kept my mom from coming down until the day before. What can you do? I started to get discouraged thinking that I had put too much pressure on this idea. A wedding couldn’t fix years of separation.
But you know what? The ways my family reunited were far more poignant than anything I couldn’t have predicted. Since my dad came down sooner than my mom, we day drank on the porch of their rental house and caught up. I saw my parents dancing like silly teenagers for the first time in my life because we played a song they requested. My sister and her boyfriend helped us arrange flowers on the porch the day before. I got to meet my great-uncle and cousins we had just found on ancestry.com. And now we go to their barbecues! I finally reunited with my cousins from NYC, which was long overdue. My aunt, uncle, and cousins even chatted with my sister about coming to Cape May each summer (which yes, was my dream).
But it’s important to remember that family issues do not disappear at a wedding. If anything, it multiplies the elephants in the room. But once I took the pressure of my plans, I accepted that elephants were just going to have to hang around and join the dance. We had been a part for a long time, and now were are here giving it a shot. And I’m hoping that was just a beginning of a new chapter for us.
A little non-wedding story to tie this all together…
Plan: Get out of the house and go be social at a friend’s birthday party. You’ve been moping at home living with your parents, it’s time to accept an invitation somewhere.
Reality: I met the man I was going to marry, and four years later, I would write an emotional blog post about how reality is better than your plans:)
The night I met Ben, my highest hope was to get out of the house and stop feeling sorry for myself. I knew I would possibly see some people that night that made me uncomfortable so I put my regular defenses up and hoped I wouldn’t feel lousy the next morning. Instead, a door was opened to the land of Ben, and it really felt like we had known eachother for years, but were just waiting for some good timing to come along. My “plan” was not to go that night, I thought I was walking into another social situation I wasn’t ready for after a few really lousy months. Planning got me out the door, on the bus, and to the party that night, but the rest was out of my hands. And I’m pretty damn happy about that.
Whatever you are putting together right now: your wedding, your career, your hopes for a relationship, please trust that though plans get you from point A to point B far greater things tend to happen. And I am happy we don’t know about them. Healthy predictable evenings are great, but drunk unexpected nights in a room with friends and Trader Joe’s wine is my idea of a wonderful life. Thank you to all who are a part of it, and all who took the time to read this.
Happy “planning”, all:)