Planning a Marriage

"When's the date?"
"Where is it?"
"What are your colors?"
"Who's in your wedding party?"
"What kind of dress do you want?"
"What's your theme?"
"Who's going to photograph?"
"Are you excited?!"
 I’ve only been engaged a few weeks, and I already feel like a broken record.  I know they’re just thrilled on my behalf, but family, friends, and strangers keep asking questions about the wedding–the details, the aesthetic, and whether or not I’m excited.

Of course I’m excited–I’ve been daydreaming about my wedding since I was a little girl.  But since the day of the proposal, the whole idea of planning the wedding made me uneasy, and I couldn’t quite nail down why.  After some reflection, I figured it out: I don’t want a wedding, I want a marriage.

Prince Charming…the fictional ideal of Disney princess lore.  Charming (of course), charismatic, handsome, smooth moves, and that HAIR.  I love classic Disney movies as much as the next person, but I experienced a major negative side affect: until I met Nate, the guy next to me at the altar in my wedding daydreams was just a faceless Prince Charming.  It was more about the dress, the flowers, and the decorations, than the fact that I wanted to get married.

But meeting the right person changes that–suddenly, you have a face smiling back at you when you picture your big day.  The other details fall away, and all that matters is the words you plan to say to one another and the commitment you want to make.  I realized that to balance my wedding planning, I needed to incorporate elements of planning for our marriage into the process so I felt that emphasis.  I’ve heard of couples getting caught up in the small battles over invitation wording and seating charts, but I think people who do this “fail to see the forest for the trees,” if you will. What’s more important is how you plan on communicating, handling disagreements, and making major life decisions together, and even who’s going to take out the trash. The everyday “stuff” that goes into making a marriage. I don’t believe that weddings are inherently about marriage, at least not these days. Relationships take work, and if we focus too much on the petty details, we lose sight of the importance of the event.

© Nathaniel Knobel

I also need to give myself permission to be enthusiastic about wedding planning. I can answer excitedly and discuss colors, centerpieces and dresses all I want, and focus equally as much on celebrating the relationship I have with Nate and the intricacies of a lifelong commitment to love and support one another.  I think we get out of something what we put into it–and the work Nate and I are putting into preparing for marriage will carry over to our wedding’s atmosphere so the day is not just a ball of stress.

I’m looking forward to our pre-marital counseling as much as I am to trying on dresses!  Cheers to weddings AND to marriage.

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P.S. “I said yes to the dress.” And it was amazing, but–it’s just a dress. 🙂 What matters most is it’s what I’ll be wearing when our next chapter begins.

What I’m reading now: A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene (check out the site if you’re planning too); The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm; and Fall In Love for Life: Inspiration from a 73-Year Marriage by Barbara “Cutie” Cooper.

January's Bookshelf

January’s Bookshelf

What books did you read/are on your list to read to plan your marriage?


Reflecting and Renewing

Happy Holidays!  

After completing a November of appreciative “thankfuls” (once-a-day Facebook statuses detailing something you are thankful for that day), it seems December is the month for reflecting and refreshing, as we gauge how the year has gone and look forward to a new one.  This is certainly the case for me.  It’s been a big year!

This semester, I lost track for a short while.  Within one month of being in Kansas (still adjusting to the new apartment and city), I learned that two of my supervisors were leaving for new positions, and the program with which I hold my assistantship is ending in May 2013.  Cue the downward spiral and sad trombone sound effect.  For someone who invests a lot of energy in constant improvement, the news presented a unique challenge: once an event was over, there was no reason to reflect on what we could do better next year. I found myself feeling depressed and pointless some days.

Sometime during the semester, in the throes of challenging coursework, a centipede-ridden apartment, long-distance struggles, and pinching pennies for groceries, I decided that I needed to make the most of the disruption.  On one hand, I could seek out a new position that included as many elements of my current one as possible, thereby ensuring I had a full two-year experience of what I had signed on for.  But that wouldn’t really be my style.  So I started pursuing opportunities that are way out of my comfort zone, in the hope that cramming as much learning and growing into my graduate school experience as possible will make me a well-rounded practitioner.  In January, I will apply to new offices and ideally, one of them will offer me a position and I will finally have next year’s plans nailed down.  Who knows what I’ll end up doing?

But this whole semester has been a waiting game–and as a planner, I have struggled.  Some nights I go to sleep praying that just one thing could finally go the way it’s supposed to, finally work out the way it does in my head.  Looking around, it seems like everyone else’s lives are stable–they are keeping their jobs, their programs still exist, their bosses aren’t going anywhere.  But so much of my character has been formed by the challenges I’ve faced, so I’m not sure why graduate school would be any different.  I have my ups and downs, but generally, I’m thankful I wake up each day a stronger person because of what I faced yesterday.

At the NASPA Region IV-W conference in South Dakota this year, I attended a session all about “mindfulness” in student affairs practice.  This field is full of such dedicated people that we often put our students before ourselves.  The session emphasized that being “mindful” (constantly present and engaged in our surroundings) can help us to focus on our own health and well-being, making us better practitioners.

January is a big month: hearing back from assistantships and internships, applying for scholarships, making permanent plans for next year.  Regardless of how it all works out, I know I’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I finally have some kind of plan.  Then, I’ll make it my goal for the new year to be more mindful: relaxing and engaging in each day in a new way, trusting that in the process the future will work out.  I promise to share all my news with you here.  Until then, I’ll be spending my time reflecting on where I’ve been this year, where I want to go, and how its all helped me grow as a person.

How about you? How have you grown in 2012?  What will you do to be more mindful in 2013?

Peace, joy, blessings, and love this wonderful season-