Yesterday I met a friend for coffee who is weeks away from marrying the love of her life and having the wedding she has always dreamed of.
She asked me if I had any advice to give. I laughed and asked, “Other than the archives on the blog?” (You know I love sharing advice!) After a few moments considering the best advice for a bride at the end of the wedding planning process and quickly approaching the day she says I do, this is what came to mind.
As simple as that may sound, showing up as a wholly present person is a challenge. Many women spend countless hours of their lives growing up thinking about this day. According to the statistics, most of us spend fourteen months planning a wedding (which is entirely too long if you ask me). Combine a lifetime of daydreaming about the wedding day with a year or so of intense planning, and that can set you up for a serious case of perfectionism and even possible Bridezilla-like fits to make sure it lives up to your vision.
In the nine months leading up to my wedding, I heard too many women telling me, “Oh the day just flies by like a whirlwind. By the time it’s all over, you won’t remember anything.” The largest obstacle I knew I was likely to face was the desire to micro-manage things on the day of, therefore giving into the anxiety of needing everything to be “perfect.” If those things came to be reality, it would be my worst nightmare. So I delegated the details to my right-hand attendants, family members, and the on-site coordinator. I promised myself that once wedding day arrived, I would enjoy the day and not stress about anything that went wrong.
I knew it could truly be one of the happiest days of my life and I wanted to somehow immortalize every emotion and detail possible. I wanted to drink in every moment and file it away in my memory in Technicolor. The night before I walked down the aisle, after the sweetest rehearsal dinner surrounded by my closest friends and family in an old farmhouse in Amish Country, I penned these words:
Life right now is the height of surreal. I am going to force this out-of-body experience to become one of flesh and bone and salty tears. I am determined to live in the present and relish every moment possible. I am in awe of how blessed I am to be so loved.
I am a bride who actually achieved it.
So how did I do it? The key was promising myself beforehand that I would. I made sure I stopped to savor every conversation, every hug, every stage possible. I forced my eyes wide open and made myself drink it all in. I took mental (as well as physical) pictures of each part of the day, and identified and filed away each emotion as it washed over me. I met my husband’s eyes and danced in his arms, and loved him with every available fiber of my being by being completely available to the moment.
The day went as fast as everyone said it would from getting ready, to our first look, waiting to walk down the aisle, and dancing the night away. But even over three and a half years later, I am able to play parts of it back to myself in slow-motion through my memory. I made sure to journal about it the night before the wedding, and on our honeymoon – what I felt, what it looked like – so I have those memories forever.
My dear bride-to-be, make yourself the promise to show up, with your whole being, now. Before the wedding day arrives, put the systems in place that will you allow you to relax and greet the bliss of it all with a calm mind. Delegate to those you trust the most to take care of the details. Come morning light, you can welcome the day with joy and peace. You will never regret it, and you will recall your day fondly, as one of the sweetest gifts life has ever given you.