Thursday, January 13, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Today, I celebrate 21 whole days of being engaged. I've made lots of decisions: locked down a venue, a date, my side of the bridal party, and we're closing in on a color theme. I have my wedding binder perfectly constructed and filled with lots of inspiration for the reception and outfits. There are eight tabs in there, each with their own purpose: vendor contracts, bridal style, groomsmen & bridesmaids, budget, food, etc.

I realize now that I should probably start a new tab in the binder. I'll call it "What to expect," and write down all the, er, "lovely" trinkets of advice for the brides that will come after me. Because every time someone notices a little sparkler on your finger, they are ready not only to congratulate you, but to give you their two cents. Here are some of my favorites to date:

1. "Oh, that's so...cute!"
2. "September of THIS year? Wow--that's so fast!"
3. "How old are you?"
4. "His name is Carl, right? Ellen and Carl--that sounds lovely."

I'm sure the comments will continue to stack up as time moves along. Honestly, I can take them, but I've just been a little bit taken aback by how many people find nine months to be an insignificant amount of time to be engaged. I try to explain: "Well, Kyle and I want to get married in the fall, but we didn't want to wait two years, so we settled on this fall," only to be met with a furrowed brow and reluctant nod. Thanks for inspiring confidence, there.

I have a lot of opinions about marriage. During college, as a tool for survival, I essentially blocked any possible dream about getting married before 30, let alone even finding a stable boyfriend. Ideals of accomplishments, travel, independence--that's what I clung to. When it came to others, I'll be frank: I was judgmental. Getting married before 25? You must be straight outta your mind. Why not go out and learn more about yourself first? Experience what you won't be able to experience after you're married! I saw marriage as some sort of giant door--one that, once closed, locked out a slew of possibilities.

So imagine my surprise now. To find someone who is not only exceptionally normal, but shares in my goals--the same ones I thought impossible after that proverbial door closed. I think the cosmos wanted me to realize how unnecessary my judgment was by placing me precisely in the shoes of those I judged. And that's what I needed: to be forced to face my own judgments and realize that they are based in nothing but stubbornness; in a tool I needed at one time but is no longer necessary to keep in my toolbox.

It's not a clean and dry process. There are days when I wonder if the people who are so concerned about a September wedding date are right--maybe it is too soon. And when I read about other people's weddings in magazines, I can't help but notice that the majority of the couples are in their late 20s or early 30s. But what are we waiting for? Maybe it's a little bit of a leap of faith, but I think that's good for me. Being grounded is important, but I don't want to be so grounded that I get stuck.

Did I go all mushy on you there? Sorry.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What A Difference 9 Months Makes

No, no babies. Just a lot of change. The hair is shorter, the weather is colder, and I suddenly find myself on the early morning horizon of two years post-college. Wow.

And while that certainly takes up much of my mental energy, what with all the "where do we go from heres" floating around, I now have something to direct all of my energy toward: a wedding.

That's right! I'm engaged. I always loved the term. "Engaged to be married." Sorry, fellas, I have another "engagement." Better luck next time! But honestly, it is a beautiful thing. Christmas Eve Day and photo booths will forever have an even more sacred place in my heart than they already did. And I now take the first few (somewhat reluctant) steps down the wedding planning path, opening pages of magazines and scouring hundreds of images to find the perfect everything. I remember Kyle once asking me how much there could possibly be to plan a wedding, and not being able to come up with a very robust retort. If he asked me that question now, I think I would scare him away. There is a ton! No wonder people stay engaged for over a year: they need that time to find the right flowers and invitations and chair covers and dozens of other minute details that will undoubtedly drive me crazy. But we have instead decided to brave the wedding planning madness in a mere 8 and a half months. already alerted me to the some 30 things I needed to check off my "to do" list that were already greatly overdue. Thanks! That'll settle the nerves.

Kyle reminded me tonight that a wedding isn't about a wedding; it's about being married. The day will come and it will go, but whether or not the flowers die or the reds don't match or I fall into the cake, the next morning we'll wake up and be married. And that's pretty exciting. That's what matters most.