A brief note from Allison:
I’m excited to launch this new series – Dear Newly Engaged Me, written by brides themselves — about their own experiences of being engaged. These are intimate, personal portraits, and most brides ask to remain anonymous. If you’d like to contribute, email me!
Thanks to Dear Me: A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self for the inspiration. Please check out this wonderful site and book.
This first Dear Newly Engaged Me is written by a 31-year-old bride. We worked together via Skype weekly for four months leading up to her wedding.
Dear Newly Engaged Me:
I’m getting married in eight days. I feel good — great, in fact. Excited. Happy. Certain. And very, very busy with last-minute details.
But it wasn’t always that way for me during this 18 months of being engaged. Not by a long shot.
It’s OK to think he isn’t “The One.
And to then think that in same week, the same day, the same hour, the same minute that he is “The One.” I would tell you that you still love him, and you always have.
You’re just being extra scrutinizing — and that is fine. In fact, it’s wise. In all the little wedding details. They don’t like it when you exclude them.
Your family and friends actually do want to be involved.
Your family and friends are all just as anxious as you are about “you getting married.”
You can’t see that; they aren’t showing you their anxiety in its true form.
They are all busy exhausting their nerves with pointed questions about flowers and venues. It’s as if they care only about colors and cards.
They aren’t doing it intentionally — they don’t even know that “you getting married” has changed their life. Just like it changed yours.
Your getting married is changing their lives, too.
And they don’t know how to handle it. Just like you don’t. They’re feeling the loss of you, as you get closer to your fiance and depend on him more for love and support.
They will hurt you — they won’t mean it. They will say things they can never take back. You will, too. Things you will likely remember forever.
You are better off forgiving them — tell them you forgive them. Forgive yourself.
The wedding industry is awe-inspiring. It is fantasy. It is enormous.
The wedding industry is spectacular. Nope, that isn’t me being sarcastic.
It is a prosperous sub-culture and inside of it, you will find beautiful music, high fashion, fine art and performance.
You will find it … magical.
I would tell you that you are officially inside of the magic. You are part of your own Adventures in Wonderland.
You fell down the engagement hole, and you aren’t coming back up until you’re out.
Warped in your own fairy-tale wedding.
Opening up doors too small to fit through, crawling around tea-parties and getting invitations to beautiful palaces and venues.
Yes, you should re-read Alice in Wonderland.
In case you don’t remember, Alice gets to wake up from her dream… You on the other hand…
Your event planner’s hourly wage is more than you make in one month.
That will wake you up from your dream, Alice.
You will under-budget, over-spend, and have higher than “normal” expectations for this day of yours.
As great as you think you are at handling your finances, you will forget that the more money you spend on major line items (e.g., the venue, the band, the photography) the less you actually have for the other 30+ line items you want to focus on.
You will think “but, the other stuff doesn’t matter because I have the best band ever!”
That would be a lie.
You may indeed have the best band ever. But you will care even about the type of stamp that sticks on your invitation.
Give yourself more room than you would expect for miscellaneous/unknown. No matter what, I would tell you to work it all out with your fiance before, during and after the damage.
Bring out the Excel and go over the budget. And go over it again. And again.
Somewhere, sometime, you will literally flip out.
You and your fiance will have different viewpoints about how and where to spend money — talk it all out. It will hurt more later on if you don’t. Trust me on this. You’ll think you will be different than all of the other engaged brides you knew. You might very well be.
But believe me: You will flip out about something you laugh over if it were someone else. Like going nuts about the type of “Save the Date” card you want to send to everyone. I would tell you that most of the things you are hyper-focused on right now have very little to do with those things.
You’re flipping out about getting married. Plain and simple.
You are really, truly asking yourself if he is right for you.
To make matters worse, you’re thinking that just the mere act of asking that simple question means that he CANNOT BE right for you.
You would be so wrong.
Asking this question is right. After-all, you do intend to spend FOREVER with this person, don’t you?
You did your very best with the information that was available to you at that time. I would tell you to trust that your judgment during those times led you to the right place. You knew what you had, which is why you never gave it up to begin with. And now, not only do you know what you have, you never want a life without him.
It doesn’t really matter what anyone believes, so long as you, deep down inside, keep choosing him again and again.
For the right reasons.
As much as you want to pull your hair out — you continue to choose your relationship.
I would tell you that in times of weakness, retell your love story. Re-live what it was like, back-track and remember where you both met, how things progressed, where you had your first kiss.
I would tell you that a little romance can turn a sour weekend into one you will always remember. A weekend for which, when you look back upon your engagement, you will be glad existed.
Talk to your fiance instead of bottling things up inside.
Talk to your fiance instead of bottling things up inside.
I’ll say it again: Talk to your fiance instead of bottling things up inside.
Focus on how he is doing for a change.
While you go all Alice in Wedding Wonderland, take the time to check-in with him.
Is he “checking out”? Yes?
If “his checking out” means you get to choose all of the items in your wedding — ensuring that you do in fact get the wedding of your dreams — but it will be just that. The wedding of your dreams. Down to the cake topper (that is of your favorite animal).
Yes, you did that.
If you exclude him on most wedding items, it won’t the wedding of OUR dreams. He will be walking into his own surprise party.
He coined that line and uses it as a joke in social situations.
For awhile you thought him referring to his own wedding as a surprise party was funny.
But now, it just reminds you of how disjointed the entire process had been for the two of you. Not just about the actual planning — but also disjointed in understanding each others’ emotions.
It wasn’t even that you didn’t “not agree” on anything: you didn’t even put yourself into a situation to not agree. You weren’t practicing what marriage is supposed to feel like.
Somewhere in the middle, you were able to see that this “engaged-thing” is an actual partnership.
Lucky for you, you decided to begin to check in together.
You shared your real fears — disagreed — felt vulnerable.
You learned to negotiate with each other about all of the things that are important or not important to us.
To debate and hash things out.
To bring up our deepest fears about money, religion, family, and deepest fears about what people might think — all of that.
I would tell you that when you THINK getting that music contract signed, sealed and delivered by tomorrow is more important than hashing things out, you are mistaken.
There are real sacrifices to be made, both financially and emotionally.
There are real trade-offs.
I would tell you that perfect doesn’t mean you get it all.
Perfect is the piece-by-piece of your relationship that you build together.
That makes sense TO YOU. Not to Great Aunt Joanie.
“The man of your dreams” and “the one” and “the person you are meant to be with” come in many different forms.
I was lucky that mine came not in the form of my dream, but in a form better than my dream could ever be.
The feelings of “the one” come in quiet, personal moments.
Moments like the first gift he ever gave to you — that he didn’t think would mean as much as it really did.
They come on mundane Wednesdays, when he helps clean up when you’re exhausted.
They come in the car, when he sings at the top of his lungs and knows that you will, too.
They come in the apartment, when asks for your hand and does his own version of ballroom dancing…
Remember: your parents’ 30+-year relationship didn’t start where they are today.
It took them 30+ years to get where they are.
I would tell you not to compare what you have to what they have.
Look to them as the vision for what you would want. Look to them as a beacon of hope that you can have that one day, because your relationship has similar, loving qualities.
If I had it to do over again, I would still have THIS wedding.
You’ll hear this from everyone: if I had it to do over again, I would have done a destination wedding. If I had it to do over again, I’d put the money toward a house, vacation.
I would tell you that if I had it to do over again, I would still have THIS wedding.
The difference is, I wouldn’t have been afraid to include the one person it mattered most to include. After all, he is the other half involved in this equation.
After having planned a wedding of any little girl’s dreams, here I sit comfortably in an air-chair, less than one week before the big day.
Less than one week before the Big Day, I feel excited – not scared, not nervous. An overall calm. Zen.
I would tell you that, you wouldn’t believe it now, but I would be with this man in a shoe box.
I would get married in a shoe box, and be in that shoe box – with him – for as long as we both shall live.