About a week before the wedding, I was pretty unsuccessfully slicing our ceremony programs with the paper cutter at work. I frantically texted my bridesmaid to ask if I should quickly order a bushel of dried lavender to glue a sprig on each program, and make them look better… because right now they looked pretty busted.
The great friend that she is (who always promised to tell me if I went too far) paused and finally asked, “But why?” And all I could think was, “Because it isn't enough! I haven't done enough!”
It didn't end there, oh no…
After my failure to construct a ribbon curtain for our outdoor ceremony, I stopped on the way to our venue at a garden center for some potted plants. My confused fiancé asked me why we needed them, to which I responded, completely in zombie bride mode, “My ribbon curtain failed. We have no ceremony decorations! You have to have those!” Later, during the ceremony, I remember snorting at myself a bit when seeing the $40 potted plants I fought so hard for, tipping over in the front of the lawn where we got married. The ceremony was outside. Why did I need plants?
Now it wasn't until the end of planning that the stress caught up with me. I was told otherwise I stayed surprisingly low key throughout the process. But now that I look back, I see how the seed was planted: Pinterest, The Knot, and hundreds of articles I sought out that only show the good (and never the ugly) sides of DIY. They were like crack for a budgeting bride, and the lanterns and birdcages were how I got my fix.
When planning a wedding (in regard to my own and while helping friends), there is the inevitable feeling that your list will never end. And it's not only your things-to-do list, but also your shopping list. Personal touches and ways to impress your guests are wonderful, but when do these things start to overshadow the marriage itself? And, once you've bought into the idea that someone else managed to make their wedding “that cute” with little money and “little effort,” a modern-day pressure to craft grows into an obsession with obtaining a blog-worthy wedding. At least this is what happened with me.
There is a Buddhist idea that we are always waiting for the next thing to complete us. We are waiting for the next relationship, the end of the week, the next paycheck, the next cup of coffee. That thing will make us complete. And because of all this waiting, we are missing the fact that the last thing arrived, and it wasn't enough. This was how my wedding planning snowballed for me.
It wasn't until I was spray-painting 150 small hand-stamped tambourines with glitter paint that I asked myself, “What am I doing?” Here I am with the wind blowing glitter paint all over my apartment door (it's still sparkly) two weeks before my wedding. I'm making inside joke wedding favors that most people will not even take home. All because I learned that you are supposed to get personalized favors. I was proving my worthiness through homemade dollar store props. And with each addition of things, I never felt that complete feeling I was searching for. Even after the wedding was over, I still stressed looking through the pictures that maybe I hadn't done enough.
But what actually matters is that I had one of the best days of my life. Everyone was incredibly loving and generous, no one cared when little things went wrong, the food was delicious, the idea to DJ it ourselves worked out, people DANCED, our made-up cocktail was a hit, and my husband Ben and I got married!
This realization continued to help me past the days of hot gluing ribbons to Mason jars. When it comes to my job, my artistic career, decorating the house, and even on our honeymoon, I remind myself a lot that our Pinterest idea of things is not going to bring happiness.
When Pinterest was invented, it was created to share ideas — which is dandy! I still love to use Pinterest for that. But when it comes to things in our lives that we believe we are judged for (money, career, weddings), Pinterest can become a social peacocking site.
But to all those planning now, remember that the personal touches and projects that bring you joy are the ones to keep around. There is no need to go past that. There are plenty of other logistical tasks to throw your energy into, including caring about your relationship and your guests, the whole reason you're planning all this in the first place. The day will be stunning because of the beauty of your relationship, and that is always more than enough.