Monday, August 20, 2012

Wedding Planning and Life Skills Acquisition

Cotillion Events Hexagon Wedding Cake 2
**Case in point: Hexagonal Wedding Cake. Also, must one wear shoes at one's own wedding?

Confession: I hate wedding planning. 

After the last few weeks, I can confidently say that weddings are not my cup of tea. This came as a little bit of a surprise, though it probably should have been expected. After all, event planning has never been something I particularly enjoyed. But given my creative bent and love of DIY projects, I thought I would have much more fun with wedding-related details than I am currently having. I've instead realized that I would much more enjoy planning someone else's wedding- a situation in which I could happily do my creative projects without worrying about everything else* that goes along with planning one's own wedding. The creative projects (like designing invitations) are fun. It's the everything else that gets me. 

*What the Everything Else includes:*
1. Being the center of attention.
For some reason, my introverted self didn't realize that having a wedding meant becoming the center of lots of attention until she got engaged. Then she panicked. 
2. Having opinion on all sorts of things one normally never considers in the course of one's life.
Are hexagonal cakes preferable to circular cakes?** Is white or off-white a more flattering shade? Do you like green-teal dresses, blue-teal dresses, dark-teal dresses, lighter teal-dresses, stormy ocean-teal dresses, pleasant weather ocean-teal dresses, muted-teal dresses, or hey-everybody-look-over-here-i'm-bright-teal dresses? (I swear there are actually this many different shades of teal.) 
3. Spending lots of money. Lots of money. On one day.
I know it's an important day, and we aren't spending extravagant amounts of money, especially in the realm of weddings. But this is going to do be the most expensive day of my life so far, except for perhaps the day I was born (babies are expensive- thanks Mom and Dad!). And while our families are incredibly generous and pitching in lots, it's still hard for me to accept spending this much money, no matter whose it is.  
4. Talking to strangers.
I was a very shy child, and I never outgrew my fear of talking to strangers on the phone. Or even emailing them. It's still slightly terrifying. (And so I procrastinate until Nate finally makes me get over it and email people. I know it's good for me, but still...not fun.) 
5. Talking about wedding details. All the time.
This really threw me off right after we got engaged. All of a sudden all sorts of people wanted to see my hand and talk about dates and locations and colors and other wedding-related things. I was a bit miffed ("I'm doing research! I'm going to Texas! I'm writing a thesis! I have a life besides getting married!"). After a little while, I got accustomed to it and began to realize that people were aware that my wedding was not my life. Rather, weddings are big, happy occasions that people like to celebrate and talk about. They're just happy for me- not trying to ignore everything else going on. But there are still days when the last thing I want to do is talk about the merits of one-shouldered vs. halter dresses or anything else wedding-related.
(On the other hand, I'm terrified that on certain days I might become that girl-who-won't-shut-up-about-her-wedding. Please don't let me do that) 
6. The Unknown.
Believe it or not, I've never planned a wedding before. And so much of this whole process feels like: "I think we need to do this now. Okay, how do we do this? Maybe like this? I don't know what I'm doing..."And weddings come with expectations (I think)- expectations of traditions and activities and invitations and other things. The last thing I want to do is hurt anyone, especially those many people we love and care about. So it's been tricky to figure out what things are really important and what things we can let go, how to be considerate of all our loved ones while doing what works for us, and when to ask for help and when to do things alone... Basically, it's a learning process.   
7. Life doesn't stop.
Weddings, unfortunately, don't come with a "pause life" button. There's still coursework to do, entrance exams to take, graduate schools to apply to, and a thesis to write. Bills still need to be paid, grocery shopping done, and dishes washed. And having pressing deadlines for applications and thesis components while keeping track of all the time-sensitive wedding-things can be a wee bit stressful.
Really, in all of this though, I can't complain because our community has been amazing in pitching in. Nate's mom, my future mother-in-law, is a wedding planning wizard and has been figuring out so many of the details for our wedding and reception in Hawaii, which has been a giant blessing. (And she's wonderfully creative too!) Many, many friends and family members are contributing little pieces of what we need. Nate has taken on certain aspects as his "stuff" and we're doing a lot of this together. (I really don't understand why it seems that the girl is expected to manage everything with minimal help from the guy. Things are so much easier when you work as a team.) And  Hannah is willing to put up with my (hopefully infrequent) wedding-related ranting.

And weddings, as frustrating as they might seem, are important. No, it's not going to be the "best day of my life." (I sure hope not- that means everything is downhill from here.) It's not really even "my day." Rather, having a wedding gives Nate and I the chance to make our commitment in front of our community who loves and supports us and to celebrate with them. Our wedding is not a show and hopefully we won't entirely be the center of attention. And all those things I hate about wedding planning? Well, maybe they'll help me learn something:
1. You can't be a wallflower all the time.
Some things require being in the spotlight, at least just a little bit. And it's important to learn how to manage those situations with grace. 
2. Figure out what's really important.
Some things really do matter. Other things are just the icing on the (hexagonal/circular/dodecagonal) cake. And it's more than okay to delegate. But learning to be decisive is an important skill. This is a good chance to practice. 
3. You can't save all the money all the time.
Saving money is important. And we're going to try our best to do this in a cost-efficient manner. But some things are important and require spending some money, possibly even more money than your very-practical-and-useful car is worth. Weddings are probably one of them. And that's okay. 
4. Overcoming fear.
Lots of things in life require talking to strangers, so you need to get over this fear. This is your opportunity.
5. Let people celebrate with you. And set boundaries.
People like to talk about happy, pretty things, and it's fun to indulge them. But at the same time, it's more than okay (and probably healthy) to declare some days wedding-free zones.  
6. Life is unknown.
Better get used to it. 
7. Life never stops.
See #6. But never hesitate to ask for help.
So maybe planning a wedding teaches important life skills-- I'll get back to you on that. In the meantime, I need to start writing some emails to strangers. Wish me luck.

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