On finding perspective

Posted on March 27, 2009. Filed under: reality |

[Note: this is from a few weeks ago.  I did not lose my sh!t twice in two days, though I seem to be careening crazily in that direction.]

I had one of those moments today, moments when you step back from yourself in stunned surprise at the path of your thoughts.  I was standing in front of a smorgasboard of makeup options, trying to decide if I needed a ten-palette eyeshadow or if three was enough, thinking that maybe I should just give in and order that “bridal palette” I saw advertised in a magazine.

What is it about a wedding that suckers you into doing (and thinking!) things that are totally out of character?  Don’t get me wrong, I once owned 90% of the eyeshadow colors sold by Aveda.  I like pretty fancy shimmery pretties just as much as the next girl.  But since those days, I’ve found that I’m just as happy with drugstore products when I bother to wear them.  Case in point: I stopped at Walgreens on the way to our engagement photo shoot and grabbed the first dark brown eyeshadow palette that was on sale, and I was quite happy with it.

For me, the sucker factor is that it’s a special day.  Evidently, spending more money confirms this specialness, if only because nobody wants to worry that they “cheaped out” on the one day they’ll be followed around by a photographer.  The entire wedding industry feeds on our fear of regret.

I’m willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a one-day makeup application, but find myself wondering if we really need a tent (um, yes, chairs in the street without a tent are just… sad).  Thing is, my budget consciousness has never really been about being unwilling to spend money; rather, I want us to spend our money in thoughtful ways.  My savings account is healthy, my parents are willing to contribute, and my future hubby’s credit is nearly perfect.  We pay out of pocket for home renovations on two houses, the care and feeding of seven animals, and my weakness for restaurants.  We could choose to spend close to the national average on our wedding, but while the temptation to do so is great, our determination to keep our perspective on our wedding — as a celebration, not an event — is greater.

As my guy sometimes has to remind me, our fun and enjoyment isn’t dependent on the state of our kitchen remodel (or lack thereof) or whether we spend more on appetizers.  We want our people to remember their joy and laughter and to be touched by our love and happiness.  Perfect centerpieces don’t necessarily contribute to that goal, though they do give me something to worry about other than how to handle having everyone’s eyes on us.

My biggest fear, as it turns out, is that I’ll not quite be ready to bask in the glow of the love of our people.  Have you looked at Mrs. Lovebug’s ceremony pictures lately?  Her smile lights up the planet.  Or how ’bout Mrs. Seabreeze?  Now that woman is H.A.P.P.Y. and it’s obvious.  What if instead of feeling happy, I fidget nervously under the weight of people’s eyes?  What if I take comfort in stress and panic rather than remembering to breathe and enjoy?

I found the pictures from my first wedding this morning, and everyone looked so happy.  It’s been nine years and I’ve lost all three of my grandparents since then, so I was struck by how young they looked.  I remembered them dancing, laughing, enjoying themselves. I’d completely forgotten that all the men wore tuxedos, or that I hated my makeup, or that I wore a sparkly veil and tiara (shut it, it was practically still the 90’s, ok?).

So I’m embarking on Operation Perspective, because it seems that I’ve lost mine.  I’m going to wear my own makeup but find someone to do my hair, stop worrying about the invitations, and let my guy decide on the men’s attire.  As much as I’d like to prove that self-catering can be done, I’m going to bring in a good friend who’s also a caterer.  Thoughtful touches like a cutesy drink menu and silly stories about us don’t cost much.  And I’m going to focus on two projects that I’m simultaneously dreading and excited about: a family tree and our ceremony.

First, though, I’m taking a deep breath, sending my guy a sweet text message, and hugging a dog.  Have you lost (and found) your perspective?


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2 Responses to “On finding perspective”

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Due to factors beyond our control, my husband and I had only about two months to plan our wedding — the whole thing! This meant that my dreams — both for a few expensive splurges and for DIY-simple (which can often require more planning/time than the ready-made store-bought things) — all had to bow to The Possible.

What budget-friendly reception venues were still un-booked at this point? I took the first one that offered the time-slot I wanted. What dress under $300 did I fit into without needing alterations? I bought it, although the style wasn’t “perfect”…

This was annoying and upsetting during the planning phase… but ultimately freeing. On the wedding day, I knew I’d done the best I could with the time & money I’d had… and that freed me (usually a such control freak) to let go.

As a result, my personal advice to all my soon-to-be-married friends is: don’t just budget your money… budget the time you let yourself plan. Even if it’s something “cheap” or a “minor detail” giving it too much time will make it expand until it feels like a “big deal.” Save yourself the emotional explosion.


Also, I wanted to address the part about smiling… because, you see, I don’t beam and glow. Ever. In fact, I usually have a deep-in-though expression that others usually interpret as annoyance.

Before the wedding, then, I felt required to practice a nice, glowing smile. It was weird. And it looked phony. And it was depressing. So I finally resolved that my wedding was the one time I would defy the American Smile Standard (which has a three-letter abbreviation to express my feelings about it exactly). Whatever expression happened to be on my face, I would leave it there.

The result? For the first time ever, I saw *me* in a picture! Me with the slightly-serious expression that both my husband and I know is “my look” for peaceful. And thanks to that, anytime I look at a wedding picture I re-capture the feelings I really felt — the happiness, the nervousness, the peace, the stress… all of it — because it’s all still right there on my face.

I treasure my wedding pictures in a way I know I couldn’t if I’d “played the actor” and pasted on a grin.

Sorry so long & hope that helps!

I love this response, thank you so much. The reality is that, hard as I try, my mouth will be open in raucous laughter in all of the candids, my eyes will be closed in most of the posed shots, and up until recently, I cared less about photos, believing that life is to be lived rather than captured (ooh, that should be a blog post, shouldn’t it?).

Originally, I wanted to get married within three months, knowing myself well enough to know that the more time I had, the more stress I’d invite. In terms of actual wedding planning, I haven’t really exceeded that. Hell, in terms of actual wedding planning, I could have done it all in a month. But, I needed the extra time to be ready emotionally, to be ready to do this joyously.

What “joyous” looks like in my world — as you reminded me — is not at all what “joyous” looks like in someone else’s. Serene, collected, glowing I am not. Ecstatic, excited, crazy I am.


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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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