wedding diaries: the real stuff

Love.  "Moments before the ceremony, Matt and I gave each other handwritten letters to read together {between a door}. This was such an intimate moment and I am so glad we decided to do it."-- Can't handle this...
from here

4 days after we got engaged, i went wedding dress shopping with most of the women in my life that mean a whole bunch to me.

i was so excited about the idea of being a bride, and so thankful that Ben had the sense to propose while David's Bridal was having their $99 Gown Sale, so i found the best dress that i could for that price and convinced myself that i was happy in it. it's a beautiful beautiful dress and i, in my thrifty mindset, was beyond pleased that i could find a dress i loved for so cheap. i didn't need to spend hundreds to look perfect for my wedding day, like the Wedding Industry Complex tells every bride she needs to. i stuck it to the man, buying that dress!

but then i got it home and tried it on every few weeks and it wasn't quite what i had thought it was. i started having nightmares about it and wanting to cry every time i thought about wearing that on my wedding day. i went to my first fitting with the intention of making the dress into what i always dreamed it would be and ended up crying out of frustration and making the fitting lady cry a little bit too. they wouldn't take the train off and i didn't want a train, damn it!

my sister asked me that day if i could see myself marrying Ben in this dress, and i struggled with that. i didn't want to be a difficult bride. someone i loved spent their hard earned money on that dress because they thought it was what i wanted and they thought it made me happy. i thought i could make myself happy with that dress. a dress is a dress is a dress, right? my wedding day is just another day, right? well, in my case, not exactly.

with all of those thoughts rolling around in my head, i woke up a few days later, all sweaty from a bad dream that involved that dress, a groom that wasn't ben, and when i looked in the mirror, a bride that wasn't me, and i decided that i just couldn't wear that dress.
i wasn't me in that dress.

so, i decided to shush all of that guilt and i called David's Bridal to tell them not to lay on the finger on that dress. i was going to save it from the evil alterations lady and sell it on Craigslist! i was going to find a new dress that was what i always hoped for! i was going to stay true to myself on a day that, for better or for worse, was one of the most important days of my life so far.

and so far, i have.
i went searching for my dress with my little sister, found two viable options, and went back with our mom the next day to let her see.
and tonight, i’m going back with Ben to show him the dress and order it.
it’s more than I was going to spend on a dress for one day and showing Ben the dress ahead of time was not part of the plan.
i always wanted that whole big reveal when i first walked down the aisle: the movie scene where the groom loses his breath and tears come to his eyes because the bride is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen and yada yada yada.
but Ben knows me sometimes better than i know myself, and he makes me feel like myself.  and to be honest, i’m scared to make another big purchase. i’m scared to buy another dress because i don’t want to regret this one too and be worried about that on my wedding day, when really i should just be focused on getting married, damn it.
but Ben will see me in that dress and he’ll smile and that alone will calm my nerves. we can still have the big reveal on our wedding day. it’ll be different that day. i’ll have my hair done all pretty with flowers in it and he’ll be at the end of the aisle that i'll make my way down with my dad and it’ll be real. it’ll be the day that we’re promising our lives to each other, and it’ll still be that day no matter what I’m wearing. but if i can be wearing something that makes me feel more like Jackie Quigley than The Bride Whose Name is Jackie, why wouldn’t i? 

there are a lot of emotions that come along with getting married.

nevermind the ones about the actual marriage- you guys know how i feel about that. i am so overjoyed that Ben chose me to spend his life with and i'm so thankful that we have the chance to choose each other again and again, every single day. i'm blessed that i get to be his wife and he'll be my husband from now until the end of time.

but that's not what i'm talking about.

i'm talking about the feelings that come with planning a day that involves more than just him and i. 
if we were to run away to an open field without telling anyone, exchange vows in a sundress and khaki shorts, with only the birds for our witnesses, it'd be different. but that's not what we want. we want a ceremony that's in front of all of our family and friends, so that they can see our love and watch our commitment and then hold us accountable and we want a big celebration afterwards, with drinking and dancing and good food.
we want the whole day, with all of the people.

but with people, come opinions, and with opinions, come emotions.
a lot of our planning has been a joyful experience. 
it's been Ben and i searching for parks to party in, it's been date nights where we register for household things to start our life together with, and days that we come together with people we love to make pretty things for the big day.
i'm beyond thankful for the people in our lives that have come forward with no strings attached to just help to make our dream day a reality.
those people get all the hugs in the world.
but it's hard when people question your ideas. 
when you have this perfect day in your head, with certain decorations and certain words, and then people tell you it's not enough. that that's not how it's supposed to be.

most of the time, those people are really just trying to help. they, too, have a vision of what a wedding day is supposed to look like, and they think they know better because they've done it before, or seen it before. so i've tried desperately to accept their suggestions openly and then gracefully inform them that we chose to do it another way, if that's the case. i'm thankful for these people because they really do want us to have the best day possible.

but to be honest, i'm enjoying being young and carefree and maybe a little bit naive about the whole thing. i'm enjoying creating the day that's perfect to Ben and i because at the end of the day, it's going to be our tiny little newborn family that it means the most to. 

our other families are important too; those families of origin will be our support system in the good times and the crappy times, and they've been there through the past 21 years of both of our lives. i'm so thankful for their help that they've offered in every way and i can't wait to celebrate with them on our day.

but right now, i need to let my new family win out. i need to be loyal to myself, and especially, loyal to the man i'm marrying. i need to remember that at the end of the day, our vows to each other are what everyone really comes to see and that our vows to each other are going to be the only thing that's really left in 50 years. we'll have pictures and we'll have memories, but more than anything, we'll have each other. that will forever and always be the most important thing.

p.s. if there are any other brides out there struggling with anything like this, this and this post on A Practical Wedding were lifesavers. thank the Lord for sane wedding websites.


Frankie said...

This seems like a great conclusion to come to. I'm glad you realized that your inexpensive dress wasn't you, and that you had the courage to say that it wasn't exactly what you wanted for your day. I'm sure your day will be wonderful, and I hope you enjoy it.

Elizabeth @ Love Is the Adventure said...

There are like three or four significant life events that everyone somehow feels like it's okay to comment on - buying a car, buying a house, being pregnant, and getting married. I really don't know why that is. Maybe there's SO significant that everyone has strong feelings. You know what, though? It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Yeah, you want to honor your family and friends who are part of your life. But being true to what you and Ben and the brand new family you're creating together...that's honoring to the people that love you. So who cares if they don't like your colors or your vows or your venue? They will totally get over it!

I hope your beautiful day is perfect, not because any day can really be perfect, but because it's yours and Ben's.

Alivia said...

Good Lord, you poor lady! So much stress :( I hope that the dress issue has been resolved in your heart, because that's all that matters. Your heart, and his.
Hope putting it all down in words has helped a bit-- I know writing always seems to help me feel a little lighter in the end.

AndeeC said...

I am SO HAPPY you acknowledged that even though Ben's seen you in the dress, it will STILL be different and special and everything you want it to be on your wedding day. My struggle comes with perhaps the only item that outshines the dress: the engagement ring (fittingly, I just posted regarding this over at my blog!). 46 days into the engagement, and I still wonder if I made the right choice, and then I hate that I wonder that, and hate that the only reason I wonder that is because the WIC has me so brainwashed - has our culture so brainwashed - that it's been instilled in me for 27 and a half years that the only engagement ring is a diamond ring, and the only diamond worth having is one that can feed a third world country. So fear not. I'm totally right there with you.