There’s an entire sector of social media dedicated to proposals, engagements, and weddings, and there’s an ongoing collective conversation about a girl’s endeavor to become the most beautiful bride she can be for the big day.
Sure, I’d like having a photography-worthy wedding, but “the big day” isn’t about the decor and centerpieces. Of course I’d love to have pearly-white teeth, impeccably clear skin, and wedding-ready abs (HA). But, to me, being a beautiful bride isn’t about presenting the most gorgeous version of yourself to your groom. It’s about being vulnerable and genuine, offering your love and your true self to him.
In this culture saturated with sensationalized ideas about engagement, weddings, and bridal beauty, it can be hard for a Christian couple to focus on what it’s all really about.
One moment you’re a bride, and the very next moment you’re a wife. Forever. Engagement is about preparing for that forever. The wedding is where you officially commit your forever to your partner. And bridal beauty … well, that’s in the eye of the beholder.
Marriage is a covenant between two people and Christ…it’s a pledge of fidelity and a promise to have unconditional love. To me, it’s really that simple.
Even though it’s that simple, I, in true sinner’s fashion, manage to get overwhelmed by the world’s expectations of what a wedding should be and what is expected of a bride. I’m guilty of not putting Jesus at the center of our wedding plans from the very beginning. Instead, I let stress, worry, frustration, and bitterness take over.
I never dreamed about my wedding when I was little. My thoughts of the future back then were about where I’d go to college, what job I’d have, what city I’d live in, or where I’d get to travel as a grown-up. Even as a college student, when my friends would swoon over pictures of white dresses and chatter about their dream weddings, I would zone out and think about what I was having for dinner.
Now that I’m planning my own wedding, I TRY to stay interested and alert the whole time, but it’s all so exhausting! The decision-making isn’t glamorous. Trying to please everybody isn’t easy. Planning a wedding takes some serious energy and resolve.
In the first couple days of our engagement, we were so happy to share our excitement with our friends and family and to enjoy the spotlight for a just few seconds. Then the endless wedding questions started, and I knew I couldn’t take a whole year of the probing and attention.
“Have you set a date yet?”(Asked by several people just minutes after the proposal.)
“What city will the wedding be in?” (There were some negative reactions to our original answer. Cue the stress.)
“Are you SO excited about going wedding dress shopping? Do you want to look like a princess?” (Do you know me at all? :))
“Have you found THE dress yet?” (Asked just one week after we were engaged.)
“Haven’t you been thinking about your wedding since you were a little girl? This is the one day in your life when you’re supposed to be the center of attention, and you will shine!” -__-
“Am I invited? Can I bring a plus one?”
[And a trillion other wedding-related questions.]
It’s sweet that people care and want to make conversation about the wedding. I’m just the oddball bride who happens to get stressed out by it instead of basking in the bridal glow. I’m so, so, so grateful for all the amazing people who immediately offered their services to us for the big day, and I’ve grown to be much more excited about our celebration as it gets closer (and decisions get made!). There have been some awesome days of wedding planning and some great outings and planning sessions with family and friends! Some wedding planning is legitimately fun.
But I won’t sugarcoat it, y’all! This stuff can be hard! Jonathan and I considered eloping to escape the pressure, the decisions, and the people—just ditching all this expensive party nonsense. (Don’t worry, we’re in too deep now, so we will be having a lovely church wedding with lots of people, and we WILL enjoy it!) But in the beginning, I just had a hard time handling it all when I didn’t have answers to anyone’s questions.
Since it was still socially acceptable to not have my whole wedding planned out in my mind back then, I answered, “I’m not sure yet” with a smile, thankful that I had time to figure it all out. When the same questions kept rolling in from the same people just weeks later, I started to feel suffocated, which snowballed into feeling frazzled, discouraged, and incompetent. My inability to answer the questions matter-of-factly made me feel ridiculous. And frantic. I stumbled my way through awkward conversations about flowers and colors and dates and dresses because I wanted to be polite and charming.
The social pressure to create a Pinterest-perfect wedding mixed with the family pressure to invite every living relative, friend, and teacher on earth was creating ANXIETY for this simple couple seeking a small, sacred ceremony.
Emotional breakdowns ensued. I felt like such a failure at being an enthusiastic, on-the-ball, organized female fiancé. Conversations that should’ve been sweet and fun just felt like a burden, and I stressed about all the unmade decisions, the scheduling, shopping, fittings, planning, buying, decorating, talking (SO MUCH TALKING), and of course, all the trips to and from East Texas that would have to be made over the next few months.
I’ve kind of always thought of myself as the strong, silent type of gal who rolls with the punches, but my breaking point for wedding-related nonsense is at a much lower threshold than my breaking point for all other areas of my life, apparently.
It’s a huge balancing act of pleasing the people who matter and trying not to be bitter when you have to compromise.
I think I’ve gotten through the worst of the emotional storm, but even now I have my moments, and I’m sure they’ll multiply when it gets closer to the big day. When I’m consumed with thoughts of babies crying or kids running around during the ceremony, my mom reassures me that, really, it will all be ok. My sister reminds me that we should do what feels right for us and not worry about everyone else (bless your soul!!!). My best friends calm me down when I fear that a herd of distant relatives will show up and make all the invited guests feel cramped and annoyed.
My precious fiancé comes to the rescue when I start to worry that I’ll break out the week before the wedding or that the dress won’t fit. He catches the brunt of my bridal craziness. He’s proving his love, patience, and devotion to me constantly.
[[[[[ Side note! Early on, when I had an irrational fear that I wouldn’t fit into any wedding dress anywhere in the world :), Jonathan joked that I should just wear a white mumu. The amazing thing is that, even if I did wear a white mumu down the aisle, I know he would still take my hand in front of everyone and proudly promise to love me forever. That’s some unconditional love, friends. The light at the end of the tunnel is knowing that I get to spend my life with him, so that makes it all worth the trouble.]]]]]
If you can’t tell already, I’ll just spell it out for you. Early on in our engagement, as far as wedding planning goes, I wasn’t leaning on God at all. I wasn’t even praying about the wedding. I was just… frozen.
I mean, the idea that I was even going to HAVE a wedding hadn’t really sunk in yet. I was newly engaged! I wasn’t even used to the ring on my finger! I wanted time to just revel in my new relationship status. Honestly, the idea of a wedding wasn’t even exciting to me. It just felt like a giant to-do list that would zap all of the sparkle out of our engagement.
I kept thinking, what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I know what I want? Why can’t I make decisions? Why am I not excited about researching and planning details? I couldn’t gracefully handle all the “You’re supposed to” this and “You’re supposed to” thats.
Can’t I just get married in blue jeans on a boat with just our immediate families and closest friends? Or—better idea—how about everyone wear a big white dress (but make yours look tacky!) and stand around us in a circle on the stage so nobody knows who to stare at the whole time!
Can’t I just be the supportive, care-free, excited bridesmaid already instead of the center-of-attention, decision-making-machine bride? 🙂
All along, I let my focus wander to the wrong place. The aesthetics don’t really matter. In the big scheme of things, the party part of the wedding doesn’t matter. The dress doesn’t matter. The food and the cake and the decorations… none of that REALLY matters. Sure, if I HAVE to have the big wedding, then I want all of those things to be decent, but they are not worth stressing about! (Future Audrey needs to remember past Audrey saying that). Really, it’s the VOWS that matter. It’s two becoming one, the sacred union, that matters. And it’s putting God at the center of it all that matters.
I won’t be a “perfect” bride, and I won’t have a Pinterest-perfect wedding, but all the perfection we need will be in our promises to each other and to God. And I’m SO EXCITED about THAT!
I’m ready to move in with my husband. I’m ready to share my alone time and my personal space (it took me a long time to get to this point!). I’m ready to fight about chores and money and all kinds of crazy things and then work through our problems because we love each other. I’m ready for marriage.
All this wedding stuff is for the birds.