The Long Engagement

Two hundred and ninety-seven days ago, I said, “Yes!” And in one month, we say, “I do.” And with only a month out from the big day, I’ve been feeling particularly reflective of the past year.10007006_10153255086124644_639067651971086014_n

In some ways, this has been the best year of our lives. In many, many others, the worst. The insane highs and utterly awful lows have made it seem as if we’ve lived an entire lifetime in those nearly 300 days. Hearing that Chris will have to undergo open heart surgery (AGAIN!!!) in January; my nervous breakdown about 6 months ago and the utter and medically unexplainable breakdown of an otherwise healthy body. Work. Family. Life. All of it.

Oh, and did we also mention planning a wedding?

Even though I know that the light at the end of this (aisle) is our forever, it’s a year I’ll be glad not to live again.

So while we’re not yet to that alter, we’ve learned what I think are some really valuable lessons about life, love and family that I never realized I probably needed to learn.  

Despite what they say, your wedding is not about you.

Everyone will tell you to make choices based on what’s most important to you and your fiance. But if a wedding was all about just the couple, then everyone would go to the court house. Or just elope. But it’s not just about you. It’s about everyone who has been part of your story. So your decisions will never be just for you; they’re for everyone.

And…that’s actually ok. One of the most joyful things for me throughout this process has been to see how unbelievably happy this has made our parents. There’s a light in my mom’s eyes that hasn’t been there before; a spring in my dad’s step. As much as I joke about eloping, I would never be able to live with myself if I robbed my parents of those moments they’ve been thinking about since I’ve been born – the first dance, the dress shopping (for my momma AND me).

Though, my dad will semi-jokingly tell you that he’d pick joylessness over being wedding poor. Right, pops?

Your vision on Engagement Day #2 will be no where close to Day #300.

The day after we got engaged, I told everyone how silly I thought it was to spend so much money on a wedding. No, I was going to be the breeziest of the brides. I’d wear a cheap dress, we’d pass around homemade appetizers instead of a sit down dinner and, heck, we could even do it in someone’s barn with just a crap ton of twinkle lights and some daisies from the garden. All so we could invite basically everyone we’ve ever met in the history of ever.

But then you look at your Pinterest board. And people start giving you wedding magazines. And you get added to a kajillion wedding newsletters. And your perfect venue doesn’t fit as many as you’d like.

And suddenly, your vision starts to change. In fact, you can imagine yourself spending “that kind of money” on that designer gown. You do think a sit down dinner is preferable to passed hors-d’oeuvres. Well as a matter of fact, you have always dreamed of having authentic tree slabs on every table. (Job well done, wedding industry).

We’ve certainly found ways to cut costs in order to have as many of our nearest and dearest there beside us on that day, and we’re spending no where NEAR where we could. But if you tell yourself you’re a breezy, DIY bride, chances are that will change. 

This day is not as important to everyone else as it is to you.

Seems intuitive, right? And for the most part, I get it. I do. Our feelings have been hurt and, to be honest, we’ve been surprised at those who’ve hurt them. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that at the end of this journey, some relationships will be different than they were 10 months ago. And that’s sad. But it’s life. 

But then we remember the insane amount of people who’ve treated this day as if it was their own. Our wedding party and parents, who – dear god – have poured a fortune in time and money into making this the most special time of our lives. Even people who we were not able to extend invitations to have showered us with love.

It’s an insult to those who love you if you focus on those who don’t (as much).

You will feel a need to reconnect with every significant relationship you’ve ever had.

Hello? It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet to go over everything.”

It’s strange, but my desire to connect with past loves has been almost overwhelming. And not because there’s a spark to be rekindled, but instead a need to validate this idea of marriage. Like, “Just to be clear, you’re the one who screwed things up. I’ll be a good wife, right?”

Or maybe it’s gratitude. Like, “Thank you for teaching me things about love, myself and loving myself that I needed to learn in order to be the best possible wife to Chris.”

No? Just me? Ok, nevermind.

For every ‘no,’ your heart breaks a little.

You tell yourself that you will – again! – be totally breezy if people aren’t able to come. And – again! – for the most part, that’s true. But there are friends and family who aren’t, for one reason or another, able to share in our day.

And it sucks.

You will consider divorce once or twice.

Ok, this may be a little dramatic (ME?! Noooo….) but planning a wedding is one of the biggest strains on a relationship. Wedding planning is basically one glorified, expensive test to see if you can make it through a marriage together.

In the beginning, we agreed on everything…until we didn’t. Little annoyances and differences started to seep into our conversations. When too many people had too many opinions, we’d get frustrated with each other instead.

Wait, what? Even just today we had to remind ourselves: We’re on the same team here. At the end of the day, it’s you and me, kid. Until the end.

People will tell you that your relationship when you’re engaged will be oh, so, romantic.

It’s not. Some days, it sucks. Most days, it doesn’t. But that’s marriage, right? We’re just getting really good at it ahead of time.

No one can prepare you for the overwhelming amount of love that you will feel during this time.

There have been moments in my life where I have felt that I was loved by no one other than my parents and best friends; I mean, truly loved. It’s an insecurity I’ve battled since I was 10, and it’s completely unfounded. I know, I know, I know.

But the moment you step into your bridal shower or bachelorette party (and soon, our wedding) and see the amount of people who gave of their time and money for no other reason than to celebrate you? I die.

And, through the ups and the downs and the inbetweens, I look at the person with whom I’ve chosen to build my life. His spirit and his smile and his consummate optimism. His ability to make me feel like the most important person in his world. The fact that he’s the most important in mine.

When I think about it, it’s impossible not to collapse into one giant pile of grateful mush.

See you at the end of that aisle, babe.




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