I was never one of those little girls who dreamed of one day being a princess on her wedding day, wearing a white fluffy gown, crying as she said yes to her prince charming, her knight in shining armor. And no, it wasn’t because I came from a broken home; quite the contrary, my mom and dad loved each other deeply, and I grew up in a home that my adult mind now understands was nothing short of a fairytale.
It’s just for some reason, I’ve never longed to be the center of attention of a big pompous wedding (and mind you, I have absolutely no qualms about being the center of attention in all other categories of life). To me, love has always been and will always be a private affair–one between me and my beloved. I told most of my boyfriends in my early 20s that I never wanted to get married (I think I liked the attention this statement got me), and then, when I buried my Dad at the brutally young age of 26, I thought–no way in hell I’m getting married now; I don’t even have a father to walk me down the aisle.
Then, life happened; as it always does.
I met a man with whom I’m able to create my own version of my parents’ fairytale, someone who is simultaneously my biggest critic and my most ardent supporter, even recklessly so. With him, talking about a lifetime together after two months of dating didn’t scare me–it exhilarated me. So when he asked the “big question” (after I helped him pick out the ring), I was all of a sudden confronted with the W word I had spent a lifetime badmouthing.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to marry this man- I was confident I did. It’s that I wasn’t sure I wanted all the pomp and circumstance, the white fluffy dress and having to meet with florists to settle on the right shade of purple for the centerpieces.
But amongst other things, I’m known by my closest friends for being a flip-flopper, so they weren’t the least bit surprised when they received their Save-the-Dates in the mail.
What gives? I didn’t sell out and turn into a bridezilla on Say Yes to the Dress. Instead, I dug deep into what the tradition of marriage actually means, and I got excited at the prospect of molding this tradition into what our relationship is and what I’d like it to become.
Here’s my advice for navigating the prickly waters of the wedding industrial complex and staying sane (and in love!).
It’s all about you, and it’s not at all about you
You’ll hear, “It’s going to be YOUR big day!” and “It’s NOT just about you” often in close succession to one another, so it’s best you get comfortable with this paradox. We’ve found it’s best to be balanced between the two and find a little bit of all-about-us and all-for-them in everything wedding related.
Realize a wedding is like a black-light on your life
In case you haven’t yet realized, no family is perfect, and your wedding will help fast-track this realization for you. Everyone has a crazy vegan aunt who happens to not get along with the Trump-supporting grandpa. It happens. The road we’ve taken? Laugh about it. I used to be worried what would happen when we put all these people in one room (with alcohol). Now I consider it the grand social experiment, and I’m genuinely thrilled for it.
Set clear expectations
If you want to do things a little differently for your wedding, say so! Even better let your actions speak louder than words. I wear a pearl ring as my engagement ring, and that has been key in getting people on the same page as us— right away, they understand that this one will be a little different from the rest. And generally, I have found that people are incredibly ready to get onboard with any of our ideas that are a bit different from the mold; they just need us to lead the way.
Have hard conversations
I brought my entrepreneur-self to the table when the touchy subject of the budget was discussed with our families, and though my Partner squirmed and squirmed, I pushed through till we had a consensus. The result? Smooth sailing since then, because everyone is on the same page with regards to finances.
Realize intentions behind the actions
I like to roll my eyes at suggestions of bachelorette parties in Vegas, wedding shower brunches, and the like–it just feels so forced … and typical. But I’ve now learned to see through what others are suggesting; it’s not that they’re trying to make me feel uncomfortable; it’s that they mean well and don’t realize how I feel about certain traditions.
Continually remind yourself there are no rules
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the traditions that are embedded with weddings and take them at face value, as if they are rules—but keep in mind that traditions are meant to be malleable and ever-evolving. I find it helps to read about the history behind any given tradition and then mold it into what the intention of what that tradition means to you.
We’ve got a few months to go to the wedding itself, so I’ll be sure to check back with more smart-alleky tidbits after we actually tie in the knot. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you about your experiences or thoughts!
Also by Irina: Dispatch: 7 Reasons to Visit the Real Mexico
Related: Planning a Vegan Wedding Menu
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Photo: Nathan Walker via Unsplash