There are only five months until January 21, and it's time to start making big decisions and big progress. We have a mile long to-do list, a wedding party of almost two dozen, and an entire ceremony to write. Oh, and we still have our regular lives to lead on top of it all. How do I cope? Let me introduce you to my new friend, Split Personality Bride Barbie!
Split Personality Bride Barbie? What's that? Beyond being a pretty sweet band name, it's an incredibly scientific term for what happens when your wedding starts to drive you absolutely insane. It's when a bride starts to succumb to the typical wedding stress that she's been warned about but naively assumed "won't happen to me, because I'm prepared." Even with my best laid plans and coping strategies in place, Split Personality Bride Barbie has started stepping all over my wedding planning with her tacky, cheap little plastic high heeled shoes.
Ohhh Bridal Barbie. So perfect, so refined . . . and so totally unrealistic.
Personality 1: Good Bride Elisa is calm and carefree. She knows what she wants, makes quick and confident decisions, and remembers that getting married is the ultimate goal. She has great plans for making the day unique and completely representative of us as a couple. Good Bride Elisa is excited and giddy about the weddings day, believes that everything will work out for the best, and takes the time to enjoy the process with her fiance, family, and friends.
Personality 2: Bad Bride Elisa is much less fun than Good Bride Elisa. She's easily irritable, a push-over, and lets other people's opinions cloud her good judgement. Sometimes she's snippy and short with people. Bad Bride Elisa just wants the entire ideal to be behind her. Bad Bride Elisa forgets that in the end, this should be a fun and memorable experience. There's the fear that Bad Bride Elisa will start pulling lace, and tulle and something blue from from her skin Black Swan style.
For the first seven months of our engagement I was functioning almost exclusively in Good Bride Elisa mode. Tim and I adopted the slogan, "It's easy if you know what you want," and were incredibly proud of ourselves for our quick decision making and our clear vision for our wedding. We took a no-fuss approach, had meetings with out families to set expectations, and vowed that we would never lose sight of our values and dreams for the day. Unsurprisingly, this was all easier to plan than it has been to execute.
Not too long ago I came home from an afternoon of wedding duties feeling like Bad Bride Elisa. Tim could tell that the stress was finally starting to get to me. I was irritable, and for perhaps the first time since the engagement, didn't feel like discussing our awesome dessert plans or gush about our first dance plans. All of the pressures that we'd been initially escaping were starting to turn on us. I was starting to feel like no one was listening to what the two of us want for our wedding day and the disappointment was showing all over my face.
Recognizing that I was on the verge of tears, Tim put down his Fantasy Football cheat-sheet, took my hands in his and gave me the best pep talk I've had in months. It went a little something like this: "Elisa. I know that as the bride you've been subjected to incredible pressure and responsibility for our wedding. I know that you're overwhelmed and are worried about hurting people feelings and causing conflict. I need you to know that I am so proud of you. Because no matter what's happened, you've stayed true to our vision for our wedding even when it's been difficult. It would be so much easier to give in to other people's opinions. But instead you are committed to making our day truly ours, and I'm so thankful for that."
I'll avoid getting too mushy here, but Tim's pep talked help me reconcile Good Bride Elisa and Bad Bride Elisa. He reminded me that it's okay to get overwhelmed, and that I'm doing a btter job than I thought I was. Finally I feel like I can just be me; no Barbie version needed.
If you feel like you're in the danger zone of starting a round of Bride Wars with yourself, think about what I should have remembered:
1) No matter how well-intentioned, you don't have to take all of the advice that's given to you. Family, friends, co-workers, your hairdresser, and even your dog groomer are all going to have opinions about your wedding day. While these opinions usually come from a well-meaning place, only about 10 percent of them will be helpful or applicable to you. The other 95 percent will be completely not your style, outdated, or sometimes just plain hurtful or offensive. It's okay to listen, nod politely, and then file that advice into a special part of your brain labeled "Thanks, but No Thanks." Because you've already got it covered.
Remember what happened to Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids when she kept blindly listening to her friends? Hilarious . . . unless it's you.
2) Yes, you should stand up for yourself and your wedding visions. It's easy to think that if you have an opinion or a non-negotiable that you're turning into the dreaded Bridezilla. I promise (unless you're throwing temper tantrums in bakeries or selling organs in exchange for Louboutins) that you are not a Bridezilla. You have a legitimate right to making sure your day is what you and your partner dreamt that it would be. Be courteous to your loved ones because they have your best wishes in mind, but stick to your guns. You and your partner will both be glad that you did.
3) You can't please everyone. Deep down, you've known this all along. It's just harder to deal with it once people start making it clear that they're not thrilled. They'll survive, I promise. And you can (and will!) thank them a million times over for being supportive of you and your decisions.
To quote Carrie from the Sex and the City movie . . . "it's just me and you." When it's all said and done that's what's important with your wedding: you and your partner.