There are some things that you can only learn by actually going through the process--relationships, parenting, working as or within a team...and especially planning a wedding! Whether you are personally getting married or working as a event planner to guide a couple through this complex process, here are eight truths that every bridal couple should know. We are fortunate to have our own Boo Radley, in the form of The Awl's hilarious and blunt Melissa Lafsky, to give us an insight to what it's like to walk a mile in a bride's shoes:
The truth about weddings was once something we all figured out for ourselves as we made our way across the glurpy morass of the engagement tar fields. Until now! Here is your look into the things no one ever tells you about weddings (but are nonetheless true).
1. WEDDINGS ARE EMOTIONAL RECKONINGS
Have you dealt with your issues? I’m not talking about a few months in therapy and the occasional Xanax on a bad day—I’m talking about really digging in, sitting under the Bodhi tree, and dealing with all the nasty icky hurts and fears and angers that have burned your face and clamped your guts since you were five. If you have never once taken a hard look at what really triggers you emotionally, and figured out a way to release that trigger, you’re in for a shock. Because ALL of your submerged emotions will rear their Gorgon heads during the process of planning a wedding. Prepare to be confronted.
First, there’s your family. Ahh, family. The one group with perma-instant access to every emotional trigger in your psyche (“Of course your mother knows how to push all your buttons!” a matriarch once told me. ‘She created them!!”). Do you still resent your mom for that “Honey, your thighs don’t need that ice cream!” comment in 8th grade? Clinging to the last vestiges of anger at your dad for never kissing you goodnight or reading your term papers? Secretly seethe at your brother for moving far away and leaving you to deal with the full brunt of your parents’ needs? Lucky you! You’re going to experience all of it again, since each of these people will be intimately involved in your Big Megaspecial Day (whether you invite them or not). If you do not give up any and all familial anger, it will seize you in its talons and tear out your liver at least once a day, Prometheus style. You will find yourself shrieking over the fact that your mom disapproves of your choice of chair covers (“You never liked my clothes in junior high!!! Wail Sob!”) or that your dad suggested “Psychokiller” as a father-daughter dance (“You spent my childhood in the office and now this!!”). Any unresolved issue, annoyance or pin in the side that you’ve had since, well, birth will now be a part of your daily life. And we haven’t even gotten to the fact that you may be asking them for money!
Then there’s the invite list, which is basically a socially condoned form of friendship slaughter. Every minor dig and insult will rise from the depths of your consciousness when it comes time for the guest-list-culling. Who will be invited to the biggest public transition of your life? Are you really going to invite that wench who texted your ex for six months after you broke up? Or that assclown who hasn’t picked up a bar tab since, oh, college? If you’re someone who holds grudges, your invite list will dwindle like an oak tree showered in acid. The girl who said your engagement ring was “cute”? DEATH. The guy who ruined the ending of “Game of Thrones” on purpose just to fuck with you? OFF THE LIST.
Plus you have everyone’s OPINIONS—those are some of the biggest hurdles to navigate. Every friend will have views and needs to lob your way: this one doesn’t like the bachelor party date since it conflicts with his annual fishing trip, that one thinks it’s outrageous that your bridal shower is in another town, and don’t even get them started on the hotel you chose for the bridal party. And then when they attend your actual wedding, it is a fundamental law that they will comment on how they would have done it differently “had it been MY wedding.” Well, yes, asshole, but it is not your wedding, and you have not subsisted on cabbage and rice for months so you could pay for that open bar you’re currently guzzling. (See? There’s that anger again! Damn.)
But before you begin your process of wreaking vengeance, remember just one thing: your wedding is not an opportunity to dole out justice to everyone who’s pissed you off in the last decade. In fact, that’s the furthest thing from its purpose. If you wield your wedding like a samurai sword, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll do the same with other big events in your life. And die alone.
2. THIS EMOTIONAL RECKONING INCLUDES YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER.
Everything you don’t absolutely adore about this magical human you’ve pledged yourself to is going to now manifest itself in wild screechy detail. You will fight about things you didn’t even register during those blissful days of moonlit walks and Sunday afternoon sex. Eventually, you will have to face a stunning reality: The person you are marrying is exactly who she/he is, and will never be anyone else. Not now, and not once you’re married. Whether that’s a beatific thing or a source of night terrors all depends on you. (Note that I didn’t say it depends on your partner. If you don’t like what you’re marrying, then it’s on you to either get over it or call it off. Sorry!!)
All your interactions will be weighed with a new gravity. When you do fight, it’s fighting as a COUPLE THAT WILL BE MARRIED. Those things that were mere annoyances are now albatrosses draping your shoulders for eternity. (Seriously, it’s no coincidence that Coleridge’s Mariner ranted to a wedding guest).
The good news: Your incentive to get over these fights is sky high, since you’ve committed to this person and put down a venue deposit and changed your Facebook status and introduced him/her to your grandmother. So after a while, it can all fade into “Well, it’s all part of the package—and I guess his videogame habit is better than hookers n’ blow!”
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