As a young girl, I dreamt of my wedding day many times over. My friends and I had mock weddings in our backyards and on the playground, pretending our dandelions were expensive bouquets and using whatever we could find as makeshift veils. We would practice walking down the aisle, improvising imaginary heartfelt vows that professed undying love. It was thrilling to imagine that one day, when we found our real life prince charming, he would sweep us off our feet and we would get to plan our wedding for real.
I have never planned an actual wedding before. I was married once before but I never did get the fairy tale wedding of my dreams.
My ex-husband and I got married more out of obligation than any deep-seated desire to be wed. After struggling to find his way in life, he stopped in at a recruiting station on the way home from work one day and decided on the spot that he wanted to go into the Air Force. We had a young son together at the time. The Air Force had a steadfast rule against recruiting single parents. Upon learning this fact, he came home from the recruiter’s office that afternoon to explain his dilemma.
It was followed by a simple “..so do you wanna get married or what?”
I was not one to stand in the way of his future or his happiness so I agreed.
Not a very heartfelt proposal followed fairly closely by an equally eloquent wedding a few days later, a simple hand-fasting in his mother’s living room, followed a store bought sheet cake.
I had a wedding gown that I had previously purchased when my ex and I had casually tossed around the idea of possibly getting married one day. I had found it on sale, a virtual steal, already altered for another bride with a similar frame who changed her mind at the last moment. The dress originally retailed for a few thousand but had been marked down to just over a hundred because it sat in the store, unpurchased, for so long. It seemed like kismet to find a gown already tailored to my exact proportions. It was beautiful and elegant, everything a young girl would imagine her wedding dress to be. Yet it sat in the closet on my first wedding day, never even made it out of the box. It seemed silly, bordering on asinine, to even put it on when the rest of the few people in attendance were not dressed up at all. I have since gotten rid of that gown because it stood as a painful reminder of everything my wedding should have been but wasn’t.
This time around, I want to do it right.
By right, I don’t mean some over-the-top fancy gathering where everyone is dressed to the nines and I’m paraded around in a dress that costs nearly as much as a new car. I honestly don’t even need another fancy wedding gown, though I do want to wear something simple yet beautiful to mark the occasion.
I don’t need an expensive bouquet. Nor do I need a fancy big cake with multiple tiers and arches. I’m actually partial to wildflowers. And we both love cheesecake. I’m open to compromises as long as I am not compromised right out of my wedding day altogether. I refuse to ever do that again.
By right, I mean a wedding that’s planned out, on my terms, incorporating things that mean something to both Marty and me. I want to be surrounded by our family and friends. I want to have music we’ll both happily sing along to and food we’ll both enjoy. I want it to be a day full of love, laughter and happy tears. I want it to be a day that I will cherish forever, look back upon years from now and smile. I don’t want some rushed, generic ceremony with no heart done out of obligation. I want a real wedding.
That being said, I have no idea how or where to begin. I have a vague idea of some concepts I would like to incorporate but I have yet to weigh which are realistic and which are not, not to mention what will be affordable.
We don’t have a lot of money to dedicate to the day, but even that is fine by me. We will manage. After all, a marriage is supposed to be a celebration of love, not of wealth. But I don’t want to disregard the day as unimportant, either. It marks an important milestone in our lives and should be treated as such.
I’m thrifty by nature and crafty at heart. I love to save wherever I can, whether by hitting sales or doing things myself. I even find all these bridal giveaways fun in their own “probably never going to happen but it’s nice to dream” sort of way. However, the field ahead of me is largely unexplored and I fear it may be full of landmines I am not expecting.
I fear cutting corners like George Castanza in Seinfeld, opting for cheaper envelopes with toxic glue.
I fear taking on a project that turns out to be more than I can handle, of wasting time, resources and money that would have been better spent somewhere else or done by a professional.
I fear forgetting something critical to the ceremony, or even worse, someone important.
I even fear having everyone object at the ceremony, telling him to run while he still can.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of planning this wedding. I still have over 9 months to go and an entire wedding to plan. Yet in my head I have failed miserably at it many times over in a thousand different ways.
I know deep down that it is just my anxiety and not reality.
My anxiety has a knack for making mountains out of mole hills, of making even the simplest of tasks feel overwhelmingly impossible. My anxiety holds me on the verge of sheer panic, racing through my mind everything and anything that could possibly go wrong. And that is on an average day. Throw a once in a lifetime milestone like marrying the love of my life into the mix and my anxiety goes into permanent overdrive. I only have one shot at this and I cannot let my anxiety get the better of me, pushing me to give up before I have even begun.
I know I am capable of doing this. I’m more than competent at planning and organization, even meticulous when I need to be. I am creative and artistic. I have a good eye. I am overly sentimental, bordering on downright sappiness, so I would never intentionally leave anything or anyone meaningful out. Most importantly, I know Marty as well as I know myself so I know better than anyone else how to create a day that would mean the world to both of us on multiple levels.
Yet my anxiety rages on.
My plan at this point is simple.
I have to take things one step at a time, one task at a time.
Focus on what matters.
I am not striving for perfection. I don’t need everything to be perfect. I just need more than a rushed wedding in a living room with a generic sheet cake so my new spouse can ship off to basic training.
I need a wedding that will mean something to both Marty and to me.
I know I can do this if I set my mind to it, take my time and work it out one piece at a time.
The problem is that I honestly have no idea how to do it quite yet. And not knowing where to even begin is probably the scariest feeling of all.
Except perhaps letting him down.
That scares me even more.
But that’s when I hear his voice, calming me, soothing me. Telling me whatever I do will be perfect. That he will love me no matter what. That all he wants is for me to be happy. That all he wants is to spend the rest of his life with me. He has that miraculous power over me to bring me back from that edge, to lull me back to reality, to give me the peace of mind I so desperately need.
I know in my heart that no matter what happens on our wedding day, what truly matters is that it marks the first day of the rest of our lives together. I know that no matter what happens, it will be perfect because we will be together. Everything else is just details that I will iron out along the way.
I just wish my anxiety would stop trying to convince me otherwise.
This Piece Was Originally Written For The Anxious Bride on 8/11/18.