Wedding Day Reflections: The Bride
We’ve all heard the horror stories that befall some brides on their wedding days: bouts of vomiting with the ballistics of the Chernobyl explosion; bridesmaids so tipsy on mimosas that they collapse in chiffon-and-taffeta heaps halfway down the aisle; popped dress zippers; food poisoning; uninvited wedding guests; the list goes on. The most stressful thing that happened on my wedding day? Amazon’s failed delivery of the cufflinks I ordered for Mike.
For any of those poor souls whom I inundated with anxious texts about wedding gown selection, hair-styles, or name-changing dilemmas, it probably seemed likely that I would be the same tangle of nerves and doomsday predictions on the day of the wedding—but I was the most relaxed I’ve been in six months. In fact, I think my mother suspected me of lacing my morning coffee with Xanax.
I won’t be going through this wedding experience ever again, so I can’t transpose my learnings perfectly, but I think this weekend has taught me some important lessons about happiness. In retrospect, my anxiety during the planning process wasn’t founded on a fear that the wedding would go badly; I know how my mother plans parties and there was little chance of people not having fun. It was an anxiety more subtle and nuanced—more psychological--than concern that the table linens wouldn’t be the precise shade of blue.
Getting married is a big decision--one that I was thrilled to make on January 30th when Mike proposed to me in a hot-air balloon over Napa Valley. Over the course of our engagement, however, I realized that being in love with your future spouse—with no tangible doubts about marrying him or her—does not necessarily preclude a general apprehension about such a significant life change. Tack a fancy, gala-like event onto that decision and it’s no wonder that my cortisol levels were through the roof from February to August. It was the confluence of a large, self-focused event and a significant life step that created an environment sufficiently stressful that I actually pulled my hair out.
Mike offered indispensable support during this time of first-world crisis, putting up with an emotional rollercoaster that was beginning to resemble a six-month-long PMS cycle.
But I wonder, without this build-up—without this prelude of stress—would our wedding weekend have been so incredible? It was as if my subconsciousness, which had heretofore filled me with anxiety and worry, shut off and said, “Go ahead. Take some PTO.” In all honestly, there was nothing for me to be stressed about. I was simply marrying the most important man in my life. Not even our flight--which was delayed for no discernible reason and forced us to miss a dinner reservation at Morimoto—could ruffle my mood. From my first sip of sangria on the rooftop bar at The Continental to my last sip of coffee before boarding our plane back to San Francisco, I was the buoyant tenant of Cloud Nine all weekend.
My advice to other brides-to-be? Don’t berate yourself for being stressed. I was barely enthusiastic about the wedding during the planning process, treating it more like an expensive dental appointment than the amazing celebration it would turn out to be. Continuously I would anguish: “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not excited for my wedding?” Had I known how remarkable that weekend would be, I could have replaced those negative thoughts with something more constructive: “It’s ok to not be excited right now. It’s ok to be stressed. It will all be worth it in the end.”
And worth it, it was-- partly because it was an enchanting gala held in an ethereal setting, but mostly because it marked the beginning of a married voyage with my best friend and fellow explorer.