If there is one lie I have consistently told over the past few months, it’s when I’ve smiled and answered in the affirmative when asked this question: “Aren’t you so excited about the wedding?”
I didn’t even realize I was lying at first. Without REALLY analyzing what I was being asked, I thought I WAS excited about my upcoming October wedding. But I am confessing what doesn’t seem all that socially acceptable to say: I’m not excited about my wedding day. At least not yet.
Am I excited about being married to someone I have had a crush on from afar for more than 15 years? Absolutely. Am I excited to see friends and family I don’t get to see all that often in one room? Yes, I am. Am I excited about the gigantic cake with an inch-thick layer of frosting? I plan on eating four pieces. Am I excited about our European honeymoon that will come a few days afterward? I’ve already bought clothes for it. But am I excited about the actual ceremony itself? No. I’m too busy stressing about it. And yes, for me, excitement and stress are mutually exclusive emotions. I can’t seem to be able to feel both at once.
The stress began about a month after we got engaged (before which I was quite excited, for the record), when a woman with a venue in the Chattanooga area returned my inquiring phone call about wedding possibilities and prices with a quote that was about a third of my yearly salary. I was torn between laughing in her ear and bursting into tears, and I ended up just telling her that was out of my price range but thanks anyway. This phone call was my first inkling that things were going to be pricier than I naively expected when I first said yes. Enter stress.
Anyone who works with me or knows me on a personal level will tell you I’m quite the control freak. I have a hard time delegating responsibility and an even harder time forcing myself to quit stressing about the things I can’t control, like what the weather will be like, whether we’ll be able to get an early check-in at the hotel we’re all getting dressed at or whether some child will have a meltdown during the ceremony and scream like a banshee while my fiancé and I try to exchange vows.
And there are plenty of things well within my control, or at least closer to being in my control, that I could still stress about even if I did manage to get the other stuff off of my mind: What if I didn’t buy enough candles? What if my decorations don’t look as great in the venue as they do in my mind? What if I’m so busy focusing on smiling as I walk down the aisle because everyone is looking at me that I trip over my dress or turn my ankle because of my shoes?
Seriously, folks, the questions rolling through my mind are both nonstop and ridiculous, adding to my stress level: What if my dad cries and then makes me cry? What if the fire trucks at the station across from the venue go off in the middle of the prayer? What if the music won’t play when it’s time for people to dance? What if we run out of punch? Should we offer soda, too? What if I get a huge zit? What if the baker drops the cake? Everything short of “What if aliens land during the reception?” has crossed my mind at some point during this engagement.
There’s also the pressure of having to keep up with the Joneses. Now, to be clear, the rational side of me knows that these crazy Pinterest boards of $3,000 dresses and china place settings and personalized favors for everyone to take home and photo booths and valet parking are crazy. I mean, absolutely insane-why, why, why would I spend on my wedding day what could be a down payment on a new home? But the less rational part of me knows that I’m in my late 20s and that most of my friends that I grew up with have already gotten married … and so the bar has been set. I certainly am not saying I am trying to outdo every wedding I have ever been to, but the crazy part of me does feel a certain pressure to make sure our wedding is as enjoyable an experience for our guests as some of the others I’ve been to over the years have been.
Before someone emails me to remind me of it, I do realize that my seeming inability to feel excitement about what should be an exciting day is my own problem. Not everyone feels the need to control every detail like I do (and those people are lucky ducks, by the way), and other people are also intelligent enough to hire a planner to slough these little details off on (something I was too cheap and, again, too control-freakish to do). I hope that as the day inches closer and I check more things off of my to-do list that I begin to feel the excitement that I haven’t felt since about the fourth week of our engagement. Obviously, I know that this should be an exciting time-one of the most exciting of my life-and I don’t want to solely blame society’s expectations of weddings for my own inability to focus on the ceremony itself and drown out the stress leading up to it (although I admit that I feel an obligation to have something more lavish than I really would have wanted because of what everyone else is doing/has done).
But now that the truth is out there, sound off, brides and brides-to-be: Can you empathize with my lack of excitement or at least offer me the comfort of knowing that it will come back eventually?