I was so ready to plan our wedding day. It was the moment I had dreamed about since I was a little girl, and I just couldn’t wait to get started. The moment my beautiful Tiffany ring slipped sparkling onto my finger, I was raring to go, scrapbook and excel spreadsheets at the ready. The proposal was absolutely perfect, and I wanted the fairytale to continue for our special day.
My Pinterest board was already full with fabulous mason jars, princess dresses and dream locations. My girl friends bequeathed their bridal magazines into my eager hands, and we poured over glossy pages with squeals of delight. I even subscribed to an online wedding planning course, because this was my arena and I was determined to rock it. I was in my element.
I’m an obsessive planner you see.
The Business Analyst in me, as any of my clients will attest, longs to bring order to chaos in any situation. I’m pretty damn good at it too. I love that look on my client’s face when I dig down to the nitty gritty detail that everyone has been avoiding, and they realise that I have a plan, and will execute it to perfection.
Combine this then, with my inner writer. The creative soul who loves nothing more than the weaving of all the component parts to portray the perfect story; all of the twists and turns tied up neatly to create a beautifully poetic climax.
‘What a winning combination for wedding planning!’ I hear you cry, ‘what a breeze it must have been!’
I would have agreed with you back then. I was determined to prove to myself that I could pull this off; that my dream wedding would become a wonderful reality, to look back on with pride.
And here’s the thing about expectations…they floor us at any given opportunity. They love to show us that there are some things you just can’t plan for. And others that you pray you never need to.The unthinkable happened to us that year. The phone call late at night. You know- the one you dread. The one that you answer, and are forever shaped by the horror that crawls down the line into your waiting ear. The one that brings you screaming to your knees as the nightmare tears your life apart, over and over again.
When I lost my step dad to a motorbike accident I fell into a deep depression. I couldn’t have given it that label at the time. I didn’t believe I was worthy of the diagnosis. I didn’t want people to think I was being dramatic, and I was ashamed that I wasn’t able to cope. Death permanently took a piece of my heart, and my world was shattered beyond all recognition. Some days I didn’t know if I would make it through the darkness, and that was more terrifying then I ever realised was possible. I wanted the pain to end, to not feel the misery anymore. Grief is a selfish emotion.
We postponed our wedding by a year because my heart simply wasn’t in the choosing of flowers, or colours, or music. All of those things represented life, love, and vibrancy, and my own light had been painfully extinguished. I couldn’t find the joy that had flooded me when I started planning. It was gone and I was afraid it would never come back.
Eventually, with the healing power of time, therapy and the unwavering support of loved ones, the days got easier. My heart grew lighter. The darkness stopped its incessant flood, and instead began to cast more fleeting shadows over my heart.
The pain, when it arrives now, is still frightening in it’s intensity. I don’t think agony that deep ever leaves us entirely. The difference now is my ability to trust that it will pass once again. I embrace the memories, the lesson. I let it make me stronger, then I let it go again, once I am able to.
Suddenly, all of those wedding details I had been stressing over, all the ways that I wanted the day to be ‘Hollywood perfect’, slipped away. They were so inconsequential in the bigger picture of my life. Perfection began to mean something else entirely.
I realised that all that actually mattered was the end result. I would fall asleep that night, a treasured wife in the arms of her husband. I would wake up next to a man who loved me at my darkest, through all of my failings of that terrible year. A man who makes me laugh every day, and makes me feel the safest I have ever felt. I would be married to my best friend at last. Happily ever after is a journey, not a destination, and we would travel it together, side by side.
Ironically, when I let go of the need for perfection, that’s exactly what I got. From the moment I woke on my wedding day, I felt peaceful. I relinquished my attachment to everything going right and it felt wonderful. All I needed to do was show up and tell my man exactly how I felt about him. This I could definitely do.
Even rain showers as I dressed couldn’t faze me. I decided ‘what will be, will be.’ And wouldn’t you know it, five minutes later the sun decided to shine gloriously, and continued to do so throughout the entire outdoor ceremony. We couldn’t have timed it better.
I looked around at the beautiful faces of our guests, and saw their unadulterated joy radiating back at us. My heart was full with the knowledge that these souls we adored were all here purely to celebrate our love with us. They had travelled from all over the world, for us. I felt so overwhelmed with love for them all.
We called it a night reluctantly at 3:00 a.m., and all we could do was grin madly at one another as we climbed the chateau stairs to our room. My husband asked me if I was going to miss having something to plan.
‘Absolutely not,’ I told him laughingly, ‘but then again…there’s always the honeymoon.’