I have been a daughter, an employee, a friend, but the wife role terrified me. My preconceptions of what the wife role entailed crowded my thoughts. What if I can't ever learn to cook well? What if I don't want to submit to my husband? Are these even things that people consider anymore? I have always had a very difficult time with life transitions, and this included wedding planning anxiety. But engagement was something that was always the end goal to dating, wasn't it? I am a huge romantic, and people dream of meeting the love of their life and living happily ever after. But what if it's not the way you envisioned it? Does that mean it's not meant to be?
My husband basically bribed me to marry him. I sat there, knowing he's wanted to propose and gave him some guidelines, hoping it would stall him enough to let me come to terms with the idea of becoming A Wife.
My husband did not propose at a Yankee game on the Jumbotron, or with a flash mob at Disney. He didn't send me on a scavenger hunt that ended with him on one knee and a surprise photographer. He didn't call my parents to ask for my hand or buy the Verragio ring with antique milgrain details and cushion cut 1ct diamond.
My husband proposed to me bedside, after sitting down with me and confessing that he knew I wanted all these things, but he wanted more for me to know that he wanted to spend his life with me and that things wouldn't be as terrible as my anxious mind made it seem. He wouldn't expect me to be any different than I was now, and that he loved me the way I am, forever.
He proposed with a solitaire round diamond ring that was not the 1ct minimum I had convinced myself I needed. I said yes.
I told people where I'd be on the date and time I was supposed to vow to love this guy and never give up on our marriage. If I didn't show, they'd know.
In the moments and months that followed, many things that brought my wedding closer to being a reality caused me to fluster. Telling our parents, telling Facebook. Booking a venue and having an actual wedding date. Buying a dress and figuring out invitations. These were all things I had thought about before, but these items were the ones that would be present for my wedding day memories forever. This is the dress I would wear. These are the people who would be there.
The invitations wreaked havoc because not only were my expectations for my wedding stationery so high, but it was kind of my “no turning back now” moment when we mailed them. I told people where I'd be on the date and time I was supposed to vow to love this guy and never give up on our marriage. If I didn't show, they'd know.
What I can tell you are the things that helped me most through my engagement to soothe my anxiety and realize this WAS meant to be and where I was supposed to be in my life…
Wedding planning anxiety tools of the trade
The Conscious Bride — I found the author of this book after Googling “how do I know he's the one” and “terrified of getting married.” The book focuses on the feelings you experience during your engagement and discusses how if it's not all unicorns and sunshine, that does NOT mean that something is wrong.
Individual and couple's therapy
While we did some premarital counseling through our church, seeing a therapist every week helped me find ways to address the dark voice in my head. Therapy helped bring to light issues I was afraid to talk about with my husband without someone there to tell me these feelings were normal.
Let yourself off the hook
At many different points throughout the planning process, I would get physically sick over wedding costs. I was determined to find the perfect balance of budget to quality in each and every vendor, but I would walk away and feel so much guilt. I am often the person to compromise on my wants to satisfy others. My mother, my friends, and my wedding party all challenged me, but in the end, I did what I wanted and I stopped feeling guilty for it. You deserve for your wedding day to be about you and your partner. Don't second guess that.
Doing a first look
I had always dreamed of my groom crying as I walked down the aisle and he saw me for the first time. But time became an issue as we got married in fall and Daylight Savings meant that if we didn't do a first look, all of our wedding photos would have to be indoors, or at night as our reception went on without us. A first look was probably the single best thing I did for myself on my wedding day (besides actually getting married of course).
You will experience emotions besides joy. If engagement is not what you thought it would be, and you find yourself disillusioned, you're not alone. People say it's “the happiest moment of your life” and once you're engaged, you'll know that's not true.
One last thing I learned and kept me sane was that anxiety is usually a sign you're taking the commitment seriously. If there was no hesitation before you swore your life to something, there would be bigger concerns.
Hang in there, it's worth it. I promise.