I am one of five women with whom I work who are getting married in less than six months' time. Something in the water, I believe. I am very close to one of them, hang out (read: enjoy happy hour after work) from time to time with two others (but would like to be closer to both), and frankly dislike the fourth. But being practically surrounded by other brides while planning my wedding allowed (as my wedding is about 99% planned, I am using the past tense...ha!) me to get other "in the moment" opinions and ideas. Even though I have several married friends and a married sister on whom I could rely for opinions and ideas, it's not the same retrospectively. Brides often fall into the idea of "me, me, me", and believe me I have, have, have, but comparing (in a good way) my journey with others, helps me maintain a realism I don't think I could have otherwise. I have resisted (mostly) the comparison of "whose is better"(the exception lies in Molly's invitations, which are hand letter-pressed by an artist and hand calligraphed by her MIL...mine were printed at OfficeMax and were handwritten by yours truly, but I digress), and kept, for the majority, the gleaned bits of wisdom and advice of other real women experiencing the same thing in many different ways.
One such very wonderful bit of advice was to read the book The Conscious Bride by Sheryl Paul. The advice became a gift, actually, as Roshelle (happy hour) told me that I was more likely to read it if I had it in my hands instead of just absentmindedly adding it to my reading list. And, it had to be read before I actually got married which was a fast approaching event. (She gave me the book on June 6th; I read it [yes, in its entirety] today, the 18th, so I'm lucky to have gotten it in at all.) The book deals not with planning a wedding, but with the emotional stress and turmoil that lies hidden in every bride; hidden because society teaches us that every aspect of "the big day" must be perfect and blissful. Its seven chapters deal with such things as separation (from families, friends, and single self), the microcosm that is the wedding day, and creating new ideals for "wife" and "marriage". It includes many stories and testimonies of other brides who've been married for years or who are still fiancees. It left me with tears as I realized my own emotions, joy in knowing I was not alone in my feelings, and a sigh of relief that I had read it. Perhaps knowing what I am feeling is "normal" and knowing that I won't experience perfection ("Expectations are the root of all disappointment.") will lead me to a happier, healthier, funner (parallelism over grammar :-)) wedding altogether.
I will continue to reflect on what the book has taught me and will discuss it with Patrick, as a lot of it would be helpful to him (even though it talks about how different it is for a man than a woman). I will also gladly pass it on to any other reader of this blog who might also be a bride (cough, Molly, cough). I highly recommend it.