“Life is a journey, not a destination”
I do not believe Ralph Waldo Emerson had wedding planning in mind when he spoke those profound words, but I do believe them to be true when it pertains especially to wedding planning.
As I sit and plan methodically for what will be merely 5 hours of my life, I came to realize that it is about the experience of planning a wedding and not the wedding itself. For many brides I know, planning a wedding required weekly sessions on a shrink’s couch, a litany of mood altering prescriptions, a deluge of tears and many new grey hairs.
Strolling up 3rd Avenue and enjoying the unusually warm December weather I noticed the store “Wedding Things”, which, until recently I was have kept on walking past as I would a gardening supply store. Curious to see what items were missing from my war chest of planning tools, I wandered inside. Among the tulle draped tables of knickknacks and cards I noticed a wedding countdown clock. A miniature version of the Time Square clock which counts the hours until the New Year, this digital clock ticked down the seconds, hours, days and months until your upcoming nuptials. It might as well have had a rainbow collection of wires coming out of it, like a bomb ready to explode if the wrong color wire was cut.
“If I brought this home,” I said to the sales clerk who rung me up for a box of cards, “my fiancé would take this ring back.” First he would smash the clock to bits with a fire poker or a cinderblock and then make a projectile of it until it fell in tiny plastic raindrops to the ground where it would then be pounded into the pavement by a cab. While I thought the clock was a kitschy fun gift for a bride to be, for a bride-in-planning it was a stark reminder of the tasks that lay ahead – a new version of a biological (warfare) clock.
At first the planning is a whirlwind of ideas – of pages torn from bridal magazines, web pages of dresses and floral centerpieces downloaded, dreams of gracefully walking down the aisle. It’s all fuzzy and cute, oozing with excitement and naïve wonderment. But soon the ideas need to turn to action, to task lists and budget lines. The perfect white wedding erupts into storm clouds of issues. The flowers you have dreamed of are not in season. The band who you want to book is suddenly stolen from you overnight by a feistier and faster bride. The inevitable grappling over guest list count, who makes the cut and who winds up in the scrap pile – can quickly send you running for a bottle of Advil.
My clock is ticking.
“We will need an answer by tomorrow,” the band leader said to me. “I have a ton of people with your wedding date and I know a lot of proposals are out there.”
“You know you need to order the dress by January,” the pushy bridal gown saleswoman said to me as she yanked up the zipper. “We will need time to alter it. The sooner the better to get your order in. Things get busy. Everyone gets engaged around Christmas. I wouldn’t let it go much longer,” she added sounding more like a doctor suggesting I get a mole removed than someone peddling organza and silk satin.
Back in my apartment with contracts spread across the floor, a calculator next to me and a bottle of Advil in arm’s reach, I decided planning a wedding was no longer fun. While I was never that annoying girl who had her wedding planned from the time she was old enough not to eat the white crayon - the one which had every detail planned except for who the groom is; I did, over the years, develop concepts. More a mental list of ideas than ones wrapped in pink ribbons on scented stationery that was filed away in a hope chest. I wanted kissing fish in bowls on each table. I wanted an outdoor wedding on Nantucket in September. I wanted matching sweater sets and taffeta ballroom skirts for my bridesmaids in plaid pastel colors. I wanted a sunset that bled burning amber shades into the horizon. I wanted a cool breeze, a loud band, lava rocks leading towards the ocean where I would run barefoot towards the surf.
As it turns out, I am doing none of this – save for the kissing fish idea which is still under investigation.
I mark time by the drug store display windows of Duane Reade. When I got engaged, Halloween costumes and bags of Butterfingers graced the display case. Then came the turkey garlands and gourds. Now, Duane Reade is awash in Santa hats, Christmas lights and candy canes. Three window changes since the ring was slipped onto my finger! According the wedding clock on WeddingChannel.com I have a mere 317 days left until that auspicious moment.
I want to enjoy the moments of planning. I want to marvel in the journey, not unravel. A wedding night is but a blip of time, passing so quickly that your memories last no longer than your ice sculpture. But the time in wait, in planning – the months leading up to that grand finale are what should be savored. The wedding itself is the encore. The time with your fiancé in the china department; with your mother in the bridal gown store; with your bridesmaids choosing colors of cheap taffeta gowns; with your families at engagement celebrations – that is the show. That is the journey. The destination, well – it’s a nice place, but it’s the final act. And when that is over….so is the show.
I will be writing a bridal column as well for UpperEast.com. Please be sure to check that out, pass it along to any friends or family who may be planning a wedding as well. The column will encompass all aspects of being a bride, planning a wedding as well add a bit of needed humor along the way. Click here to check it out!