Ten years. Wow.
Today, our marriage hit double digits. And it has been a full ten years. One house, two kids, three pregnancies, four new cars, five job changes, six new appliances, seven major stresses, eight rooms of furniture, nine anniversaries celebrated, ten years of marriage.
I'm thinking ten years back, to our wedding day. When you are a bride, planning your wedding, you feel like the wedding is - and will forever be - the most important day of your life. Even if you know the "right" thing to say and what you should be saying, and you tell everyone that what really matters is the commitment and you don't care about any of the fuss, and this wedding is only one day, most likely, you're still pretty focused on that one day.
One of the shows I used to watch during naptime, when I was still getting a quality two hour block in the middle of the day to write and clean, was Four Weddings on TLC. It's fluff - typical TLC - but it was mindless enough where I could have it on in the background of my daily chores. I won't describe it in detail, but basically it follows four girls through their wedding days. Each has her wedding featured with the other three girls as guests, and the girls score and rank the weddings, ending with one winner of a free honeymoon.
Most of the girls are very sweet, but this show is the epitome of "this wedding has to be the best day of your life". The girls are careful to give their wedding an identifiable "theme" and focus on making sure that every single detail is both meticulously planned and fits right into that theme. Everything has to be just perfect. The guest brides play into this, of course, in their critiques. DIY decor is often patronizingly pronounced as "cute...but kind of Dollar Store". And the food is constantly sniffed at with "eh, it was wedding food".
Well new brides, and excited fiancees out there, let me tell you. I'm now ten years out. What do I remember about the "most special day of my life"?
I remember Adam and I behaving like two kids giggling at the teacher at our rehearsal, when the minister was giving a long speech about expectations that was somehow also about a bird. All of our family and wedding party were dutifully watching and politely nodding, while Adam and I snickered with bowed heads and whispered jokes about how the minister was going to see our behavior and refuse to marry us on principle, since we weren't serious enough about the bird story.
I remember waking up in my parent's house, and looking at the wedding dress hanging on the back of the closet, thinking how surreal it was that I would actually be wearing that dress.
I remember the limo pulling up to the church and the wedding coordinator of the church telling me very seriously "Adam is here". I said "ok" equally as seriously, and as my bridesmaids and I waiting in the limo for the guests to enter, cracking up at the delivery of that news.
I remember standing at the altar with sweat running down my legs, since the gorgeous church we were married in didn't have air conditioning and it was the hottest day of the summer.
I remember Adam being incredibly jealous that my bridesmaids were airing out my dress and bringing me cold drinks during pictures, while the groomsmen, in full morning suits, just stood around and complained about the heat.
I remember gathering the guests on the steps of the church for a group picture. As the photographer balanced precariously on a stool in the middle of a city street, my mother-in-law jokingly called out "hey, make you have film in that camera!" Everyone laughed, the photographer checked...and he didn't.
I remember realizing, about halfway through the pictures, that I really should have researched and hired a much, much better photographer.
I remember my dad giving a toast that had me tearing up.
I remember dancing the anniversary dance with all four of my grandparents, which - I think - was the last time all four of them were in the same room.
I remember that Adam and I changed upstairs, since we were leaving directly for the airport. I had my bridesmaids help me take the actual dress off, and I was in our upstairs room in the full petticoat and full torso strapless bra, and Adam asked me when I was planning to take the dress off.
I remember trying to sleep with a head full of bobby pins on the plane.
You know what I don't (easily) remember? What the flowers looked like. What flavor we decided on for the cake and how it tasted. What entrees we ate and how they tasted. What the reception room looked like. What the place setting looked like. All those fussy details...they're faded.
Now I can look back at my pictures, and I can really focus, and I can remember more details. But what stuck with me, ten years later, were those moments that I couldn't plan. Giggling with my husband and girlfriends. Being close to my family.
Because the thing is, most events that have this kind of build up will always turn out to be less than you thought. Did I have a beautiful wedding and a day filled with happiness? Of course I did. Was it the best day of my life? I don't know. There have been some pretty average days that have turned into pretty awesome ones.
So my advice to new fiancees and brides-to-be is to chill out about the details. Plan your day, but keep your perspective. Sure, you want to serve a great meal. But it doesn't have to be the best meal you will ever eat. Sure, you want to look beautiful, but if you marry the right guy, he'll think you're pretty darn beautiful when you're tired and sweaty after birthing your first child. Sure, pretty flowers are great. But the flowers you get on your tenth anniversary are pretty awesome too. Ten years later, I couldn't tell you about the food, because the food wasn't the highlight of the day. I couldn't tell you if everything fit my theme...because there wasn't a theme.
Ten years later, I remember the important stuff. When you plan your "dream day", remember what that important stuff is.
And definitely spend the money on a good photographer.