I’m about 48 hours away from my wedding. Forty-eight. Listen, hey! Listen. Stop cooing at me. No, no talk about being glowy and happy, and no asking me if I’m OK, or how I’m holding up, or if there’s anything anyone can help me with. Shushy, shushy and listen. I have like, two seconds, and I’m only saying this once.
Wedding Week trumps everything else as far as Pushing The Limits. (It helps nothing that I’m so PMS-y that I’m PRAYING for my period, just so my hormones will pull themselves together, and the little things– like my phone correcting a misspelled word– will stop feeling like personal attacks worthy of total-meltdowns.)
I swore… SWORE… that I would remain calm and cool and collected. I swore this mostly because I’m a control freak, and it was the most convincing way to stop people from forcing help upon me. I swore that The Groom and I would not argue (because we don’t in Real Life, so why would we in Wedding World?). I vowed to stay patient and kind and gracious and, above all else, grateful.
The Groom & I – Under Normal Circumstances.
All images courtesy of Jayd Gardina Photography.
That was Saturday. Sunday I woke up and realized that my Mommy was on her way down to help with Wedding Week and something tweaked inside me, something other than the lady-hormones. But I was forcing myself to keep it together. I was gritting teeth and managing how snappy I got with my father-in-law and The Groom. I didn’t cry when I saw my mom, even though I sort of felt like it might be a good time for a hard sob. But then crying seemed like a lot of work. So I stuck with suppression and denial, because I’m good with those. I can do those in my sleep.
Monday morning, however, I awoke to discover that I had magically transformed into a dragon, and spent most of the day just barely keeping the casualty count low. It was only occasionally and only incidentally that I lit things on fire and sent villagers scattering. But Monday night, I finally hit a wall and had a terse conversation with The Groom about communication disconnects and — and I could really slap myself for this — about My Feelings. If Real Life came with a Takesies-Backsies feature, I’d use it. Even if that was my ONLY take-back from my whole life, I’d let all the other things I regret stick. I’d change the tone of my voice, and the words I chose that night to communicate the problems I had identified and wanted to solve. I was short, and rude, and harsh. I was not being the kind of bride who turned into the sort of wife The Groom deserves. (I can’t stress this enough: As soon as you realize you’ve been wrong, go apologize. Suck it up, swallow your pride, forget the reasons why you thought what you thought. If you hurt Your Groom’s feelings… and you know you were in the wrong… even if he’s still upset with you, even if you know he’ll brush it off, or tell you it’s nothing… go apologize. You’ll be amazed at what that simple practice will do for your marriage in the long-term.)
I realized that, for all their beauty… Weddings can really bring out the ugly in people. Even people who have sworn to keep it calm and carry on. Which brings us to today, 36 hours into my attitude check. Here I am, live from the trenches of wedding week, willing to tell all you rosy-cheeked beauties out there the truth about what it feels like when you’re this close to The Wedding.
First of all, it’s a phenomenon of nature, but all my nails seem to be more brittle than they’ve ever been before, in my life. I’m fairly sure that I’m not much clumsier than normal. And I haven’t taken up any new hobbies that one would expect to be particularly treacherous for my hands, like gymnastics or dog-grooming or salt-mining. And yet, there are my fingernails, jagged and brittle and gasping at the tail end of their death-rattles. They are the first Casualty of war Wedding.
Also, Everything Feels Personal. That could, largely, be due to the raging PMS. But let’s be really honest here, when you’re this close to The Wedding, everything feels personal because everything IS personal. At least for the bride. I know I have only two modes: Collected and Disaster. There is no in-between, and I know as soon as diaper-commercials and country-songs start bringing tears to my eyes that PMS is closing the gap between the two camps. Toss a wedding in there and you’re basically trying to elevate an anvil with a house of cards. I have found only two things effective: 1. Letting it out when I have to, & 2. Talking myself back from the ledge when I can.
I found something to focus on, something that just… sobered me. Something that helped me cut through the fuzz and the fluff and the noise and the static and the frosting (what? Yeah, that’s right, frosting) and acting as a platform for me. A place I could go to to regain perspective. I’d recite the thought to myself, a mantra, if you will, until I could steady my breathing and drop my heart rate and decide on a sane course of action.
But nothing is bullet-proof. So if there were times when I couldn’t get it together, I excused myself to the bathroom and I let myself cry. I did this partially because I’m a crier, and with the PMS, I knew there was no point in fighting it. It just makes me worse and turns me this awful color purple and wastes everyone’s time. I also did it because I know that if I let myself have a small cry, I feel better right away, and can rebound and get back on track faster than I can if I fight it.
Sometimes the best way around is just… through.
When you’re overwhelmed, let yourself have it. Let your body tell you what it needs. Cry if you need to. Call a girlfriend and scream. (Just, yell TO her, not AT her.) Really process what you feel, and why you feel that way. Ask yourself how it could be different or better, and then think about what you can control to bring you to that end. It makes the crying productive, if you can use it to focus on your endgame.
Which brings me to my biggest Wedding Week Truth: My mantra is my most brilliant realization. It hit me sometime in the early hours of Tuesday that there are two things happening for me on Friday.
I am getting married. And I am having a wedding. And those two truths are different.
It’s easy to confuse one into the other, because they look a lot alike. One is normally assumed to be the cause, and one the effect, but not the way you’d think. I think a lot of bridal unhappiness stems from the in-articulation that the wedding is an effect of the marriage.
What I mean is, Getting Married is the end-game; having a wedding is just bonus.
The only thing that really matters about Friday is that I get to stand up with James and pinkie-promise to love and respect him as my best friend and confidant and partner in crime, every day, until happily ever after, the end. Making that promise has absolutely nothing to do with the wedding. Making that promise involves the two of us being ready and willing and resolute and committed to keeping that promise each morning when we wake up and each night when we go to bed. No centerpieces required.
Getting Married is our Because.
Having a Wedding is just the effect. It’s what we’re doing after Getting Married. It’s a lot more work for something that’s, by comparison, a touch superfluous. To love The Groom forever, to be a strong and faithful and supportive wife to him… All I need is to Get Married. Anything else really is just bonus. (Or… an excruciating exercise in pleasing our families. Jury is out.)
It’s the frosting. The Wedding is the frosting.
Realizing that the marriage and the celebration can be looked at as separate things… It brought order back into my world. Birds sang. The sun shone. My mother’s voice stopped sounding like nails on a chalkboard. The question that had been railing me was answered. I knew why I was jumping through hoops and tolerating stress and making all these compromises. Because my marriage to this man is going to be the most amazing thing I ever create.
(And coming from the girl who made hundreds of origami flowers, that’s something.)
That’s the beauty of Wedding Week. You have to sift through the rest of it, and play chicken against the clock… But when you get this close, you can see the beautiful divide between The Marriage and The Wedding. And your priorities sing through, clear as day. And then Your Groom will smile at you, and you’ll realize that it really is all worth it. All the agony and the isolation and the blisters and the broken nails and the nervous twitch you have when someone says “hot glue.”
None of it will endure in the same fashion as your love for one another.
That’s what you see, when you’re forty eight hours away from your wedding. You see your first glimpse of Forever.
And I promise you. Once you make it there, you’ll never look back.