As I was planning my wedding, I found myself thinking about every decision carefully -- weighing not just what I wanted, but how others would view it. I felt I had something to prove to my fiancé's family, my friends, my frenemies who might see my wedding pictures on Facebook. I wanted them to see how happy I was, what an amazing relationship I had with the man I was marrying. I was so thrilled and in love, and I desperately wanted that to shine through on my Big Day.
I became consumed with how this wedding represented me. It was the culmination of all that I was and all that I was going to be. Did the flowers represent who I was? Did the venue really reflect our style? We ended up choosing a destination wedding -- what did that say about us? What song would I walk down the aisle to? I loved Pachelbel's "Canon in D," but we all know how OVERDONE that song is. I couldn't do something so cliché, could I?
The bridal magazines and websites only added to my fervor. I would see ideas and think, "I have to have it!" only to come down to earth with a thud, realizing it was either a) impractical b) too expensive or c) impractical, too expensive and a little silly. Some of these wedding magazines are designed to sell you a story, sell you an ideal, and in turn you spend money. The fantasy that was being sold was working. I thought I needed it.
With all of the might I could muster, I realized I was going too far. I talked to my fiancé about how I felt. Though my wedding was going to be one of the most important days of my life, he helped me see that it would be special regardless of these details. Sharing our vows with our loved ones, being together for the weekend, those would be the moments that mattered. And I knew that I had to feel secure in myself and to feel good enough without needing anyone else's approval.
I can share with you some of the more helpful ways that I began to think about our wedding:
1. Outward appearances are not a 1:1 correlation with happiness. You don't need to be a psychologist to know that people who appear outwardly "perfect" are probably not. It's just not possible to be perfect. And it would be rather boring if you were. While reality shows and magazines might feature fabulous weddings, a perfect wedding does not necessarily a happy marriage make.
2. I am so lucky to be marrying my fiancé. Whenever I would become stressed or overwhelmed with wedding planning, I would think about my single days before I met my future husband. I remembered how much I had hoped that someday I would find the person whom I was meant to be with. And here it was -- I had it! Thinking about how lucky I was to be with this man made the current stressors feel trivial. I'd go through it all again, so long as I have him at the end.
3. I just want my wedding to be loving and fun. I reminded myself about the actual goal of the wedding: to celebrate being head-over-heels in love, to join our families, and to have a great party together. Period.
4. My wedding is not tied to my self-esteem. My feelings of self-worth don't come from having the wedding of the century. My feelings of confidence come from within. The things that define me -- my love for my family, my passion for work, my quirky personality -- none of those are impacted by how my centerpiece looks or which photographer I choose. My wedding is a part of my life, but it is not all of me.
5. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Once I took the pressure off of myself to have a wedding that represents everything that we are as a couple, I was free to have fun. I realized that I wanted to enjoy planning the wedding while it lasted. I then had such a good time picking out a dress that I loved. I had fun talking to people about the wedding plans. I fell in love with the venue. I picked songs and flowers that I liked. And best of all, I felt the joy of being engaged.
As I separated my sense of self-esteem from my wedding, the anticipation of the wedding became sweet again. I was free to enjoy the unique thrills of being a bride-to-be, genuine self-esteem intact.
Share with us your thoughts in the comments section! Was your self-esteem tied to your wedding? What helped you feel confident about your wedding?