‘Tis the season. Wedding season, that is!
As a newly wed, I’m privy to the trials and tribulations that prelude happily ever after. “I do’s” are but a dream when you’re mapping out rehearsal dinners, signing catering contracts, insuring venues, and scheduling porta potty delivery! Not to mention the sudden presence of your most distant of distant relatives who very suddenly want a piece of the pie (a.k.a wedding cake). The saying “everyone’s a critic” was absolutely coined by someone planning a wedding.
Yes, everyone becomes a critic. Some worse than others. While my Dad had something to say about buying my dress off Etsy, my Mom’s work friends couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to wear a veil! I was even astonished when my venue scoffed that I wasn’t carrying a bouquet down the aisle. The eye rolls were palpable. While I valued certain tradition like cake cutting and wearing something new, old, borrowed, and blue, I also saw the value of modernizing my own wedding ceremony and reception.
Here in lies the internal and external plight of the nontraditional bride. While we so desperately desire to make our wedding our own, we are often met with skepticism throughout the wedding planning process. As a natural people-pleaser, I grew anxious to share my honest wishes for my big day. After all, the number one piece of advice I received was, “Be true to yourself. It’s your day,” followed by all the ways everyone else coulda, shoulda, woulda. So, you can see how I was confused and close to pulling my hair out asking myself, “Should I make it my day? Or should I welcome tradition to make everyone else… comfortable?”
Finally, I came to a simple conclusion. Everyone else’s requests were not worth my energy. Of course, this was easier said than done until I embraced these mindfulness practices.
- Compassionate Listening
I put on my best Buddhist Monk impression and, rather than respond to every comment, I listened with true compassion. Compassionate listening allowed me to hear advice without judgement. I was no longer internalizing all those expectations from the peanut gallery! As everyone spoke their ideas, I listened with all ears and an open heart and compassionately responded saying, “Thank you. I’ll consider it.” Once I recognized people only want to be heard, I could let go of all the pressure I believed they were putting on me.
- Loving Kindness Meditation
Just imagine becoming a big melty ball of meditation – that’s what loving kindness should feel like. When all those stresses crept in, when the deadline to book snuck up, when everything seemed so inevitably soon, I sat with myself for a silent, solitary moment. In my loving kindness meditation, I happily thought about everyone involved in planning my wedding. Especially at times when I felt like my parents’ weren’t “getting it”, when my friends and I weren’t on the same page, or if my fiance wasn’t quite understanding the itinerary, I closed my eyes, smiled, and took a breath before extending only loving kindness to all those around me.
At times I was worried I would have to settle for anything but the fairy tale image in my mind. When the option was to simplify my ideal day or stick it out with stress in tow, I chose something entirely out of left field. I surrendered to the process! After all, our wedding is so much more than the stresses of planning it! In surrendering, I allowed all possibilities to bring me joy. In the end, it’s only you and the one you tell, “I do.”