This morning I drove past a wedding dress boutique and observed a line of brides-to-be, complete with their entourages, awaiting the opening of the store. I could almost smell their blend of anticipation, exhilaration and desperation. I could feel their butterflies in my own stomach, and I could almost hear the echoes of their mothers silently pleading, Dear God, please make her find a dress she loves today so that we can check this off of the list.
I was instantly flooded with a nostalgic and simultaneous blend of anxiety, envy and excitement. I longed to be standing there with those women, yet also felt relief to no longer be in their shoes. It was beautifully bittersweet. If you are currently approaching your wedding day, you will not understand my perspective until it is a piece of your past, however.
As a woman who his approaching her three-year wedding anniversary in a matter of days, I beg of you to treasure this time. Be grateful that someone finds you incomparable enough to commit their life to you. Roll around in that fact. Marinate on it for a moment. Drink it down and allow it to wrap you in feelings of gratitude. Soon you will no longer be a bride; You will be someone’s wife. You are about to cross over. Welcome.
The Pre-Wedding Mindset
The evening prior to my wedding, I could not relax entirely despite my ability to fake it. To everyone else, I seemed to be having nothing but fun. The truth is, I was having fun. However, on the inside, I was an energy ball of overbearing nerves. I was like Bugs Bunny on steroids stuffed into a sock. For one, I was enduring a bit of bridesmaid drama. I just could not make certain people happy. Secondly, I realized I had left my garter and the flower baskets on my bed. Finally, I just wasn’t sure if my hair looked okay. I felt I could have done more to ensure that I looked my prettiest on my wedding day. I wondered if I should have gotten a spray tan as most brides do. I wondered if I should have purchased hair extensions. I wondered if I should have had my teeth professionally whitened. I wondered if I should have not been eating pizza and cake just days prior to squeezing my apple bottom into a dress that fit like a second skin.
Every bride desires to look her most beautiful on this day. You hope your groom will feel like the luckiest man in the universe as you make your entrance. In fact, you are likely more conscious of your appearance today than on any other day. The truth is, heis going to feel that way. He has chosen you. The moment I encountered the mesmerized gaze in my (now) husband’s eyes, I knew all of my episodes of worry were a total waste of time and energy.
So, brides, calm down. Your hair is fine. You have likely done all of the squats you can do and, if you didn’t, so what. All of your anxiety is going to be wiped away the moment you are no longer a bride. Just create the memories. Allow the laughter flow. See the humor through the madness. Taste the food. Listen to the words. Don’t just smile for the pictures, but be alive in them. Don’t just hug your guests with your body; embrace with your heart. There are an innumerable number of girls who would love to be in your shoes. In fact, your former self would likely love to be in your shoes. Be present.
The Magic In The Making Of Memories
One of my bridesmaids told me not long ago, “Lace, you were such a fun, relaxed bride.” I appreciated the compliment, however her perspective could not have been further from accurate.
Instead of resting in a place of peace on the morning of my wedding day, I stressed about the influx of questions I was being bombarded with as my phone buzzed every two minutes. In between latte sips, I worried about the zit on my chin. I worried about whether or not the soy milk would cause me to bloat. I worried about the seating arrangements. I worried about my stupid hair.
Interestingly, the spell of anxiety and stress was broken as one of my bridesmaids and I were driving around a city we were unfamiliar with and, therefore, had found ourselves hopelessly lost. Our laughter erupted through the ridiculousness of my incessant arguing with a stubborn GPS. My chains fell to the ground as I began to relish in the beauty of the reality of what all the fuss was for in the first place. Looking back, it was the highlight of my entire day. I regained my sense of clarity through the madness of being lost.
One day, sooner than you realize, you will ache to find that place in your mind where all of your wedding-related memories reside. You will want to revisit them, just as I am doing now. You will long to feel them wash over you. So, make those memories. But, please; treasure them as you are making them.
As you stand before all who have come to witness your journey from “single woman” to “newlywed wife”, connect with as many faces as you can. Feel gratitude for their presence. If your father is walking you down the aisle, turn your eyes to him. Connect with his expression and commit it to your memory. Capture it. You will soon wish to revisit it. As you approach your husband-to-be, memorize his face. Marvel at it. Bathe in it. Swim in his outpouring of emotion. In the years that follow, you will long to revisit it, I assure you.
Forget about the wrinkle in your dress or the stubborn hairs which refuse to remain in place. Don’t worry about your sweaty palms or the unfortunate stumble as you move down the aisle. Don’t worry about who may or may not be offering their “congratulations” on your Facebook timeline. Just be present. This is your life, and what a blessing it is to be you on such a day.
The “Now I’m Married” Life
For many, the aftermath of being a bride can often feel like coming down from your fluffiest of clouds only to smack face-first into the cold, hard ground. You have likely been transported from a whirlwind of happy distractions to the reality that life moves forward. Your personal circus is over. Once your phone buzzed every two minutes, however, now … crickets.
You couldn’t wait for it to be over but now that it is, you miss the chaos just a little bit. A few weeks ago, you spoke with your bridesmaids multiple times a day, whereas now they have each shifted their focus to other things. Once you were immersed in the exhilaration of creating a fairytale, whereas now you exist in the reality of being a wife. Your prince came, the two of you drove off into the sunset and now you are staring at a mountain of bills to be paid. Your fairytale dream turned into adult reality. You put your wedding dress away and the music stopped playing. Some of your friendships may have even begun to change.
As a woman who now has almost three years of experience being married, I assure you I love being a wife to my husband. He is an absolute blessing, however I also have come to accept that he is human. So am I. The season of preparing for a wedding is often so hectic that when everything suddenly stops, one may crash into a feeling of,So, now what I do? It can be somewhat disheartening at first. You may miss being the center of attention, as well as the feelings of excitement and anticipation which came as a result. You may miss all of the planning and festivities that you once felt you could not wait to file away into your memory bank.
“Sorry, But I Only Mingle With Single People…”
Some of your relationships are going to change. It is inevitable that shifts will take place within your social life once you are married. If you have a great deal of single friends, some of them may not know what to do with you once you have crossed over into the realm of “married life”. Some may feel envy, some may feel abandoned and some may simply feel the two of you no longer have as much in common. There were moments early on when I felt like shouting, “I’m not dead, guys! I did not morph into an alien! I just got married, okay?” My last name changed, my tax filing status changed as did my Facebook relationship status, however I was still the same person.
You have entered a new season, and you must embrace even the losses and uncomfortable transitions. Even if some of your friendships dissolve, try to remain focused on what you have gained. A friend of mine once told me, “There are divine connections in our lives, but there are also divine disconnections. Each are equally important.” I have always held that piece of advice tightly to my heart. Nothing is going to be taken from you without something being given back to you. Some of your relationships will blossom and some will die. All of it is okay.
The Whole Point Was The Marriage, After All…
It was never really about the wedding anyway. The whole point was to becomemarried. Marriage is not the whirlwind and the constant excitement involved with the planning of a wedding. Marriage is two individuals who have decided they love each other so deeply that they desire to become family. It is a different kind of happiness which you may need to adjust to at first. It is not always exhilarating nor stimulating. However, once you adjust, you will come to know what a blessing it truly is. I can attest there is nothing more valuable in my life than my marriage. I look at my husband and feel such love and gratitude for him, I wish I could bottle it up and serve it to him so that he could understand the effect he has on my my heart.
Being a bride means becoming a wife. It means you are responsible for loving, honoring and protecting another human being above all else. Immerse yourself in that. Celebrate it.
I’m just being honest.
©TheDailyDoll.com/Lacey Johnson 2015
A condensed version of this article is now published on The Huffington Post.