Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Bad Dreams & Wedding Worries

Well, it's Wedding Wednesday once again here in the Shaffer-Lilly household, and it's finally happened. I had my first wedding-related nightmare.

Okay, not so much of a nightmare as a bad dream, really. But still. Waking up, heart-pounding, at 4:30 AM and being unable to fall back asleep as wedding plans stampede back and forth across the backs of your eyelids… not a pleasant way to start the day.

The dream wasn't even all that bad.

There we were, hanging out at some relative's house with a bunch of family members, when my mother and one of my aunts start putting their heads together and conspiring — I know! they declare suddenly, Let's just have the wedding right here, right now! And up they get, clearing a space in the living room, moving couches and other bits of furniture aside, elbowing folks out of the way. At first, I'm all for it. Getting to skip ahead to the fun part of actually getting married to the person I love, without having to stumble through the next four months (and one week and five days) of stress and planning? Sure!

But then… people start coming up to me saying things like, "There wasn't much notice, you know," and "We weren't really prepared for all this"… A small bit anxiety starts to rise in me. I explain to them, "Well, we were going to wait, we were going to have a lovely wedding down at the beach in September, it was going to be beautiful…" That phrase repeats over and over in my mind as I try to keep up with the bustling rearrangements of my mother and her helpers. When I try to slow them down, to say maybe we don't need to rush and wouldn't it be nice to just stick to the original plan, she hurriedly shuffles me aside, reassuring me, "Oh, but we'll save so much time and money this way!" I object, "But, I don't want it to feel rushed. I mean, it's an important day, I want it to feel important to everyone else, too." But she smiles brightly and shakes her head. "Oh no, no — you were just going to do some weird Pagan thing anyway, and you hardly invited anyone. What's the difference between that and just getting it done with now?"

"But… it was going to be lovely, it was going to be beautiful…" I murmur helplessly as the rushing continues on around me. "But it was going to be…" Until the anxiety in my chest has become an intense mute protest of panic in my throat, choking off my words, and I can't find Jeff anywhere, they've rushed him off because it's unlucky for him to see the bride before the wedding, and I'm feeling overwhelmed and helpless and I try to cry out, but….

Then I wake up. And I still have four months (and one week and five days) to go.

The winter here seems to be lasting forever. Today's high is 54º F, nearly twenty degrees below the average high for this time of year, with a chilly rain set to fall all day. The trees have barely leafed out, though by this time most years they're full-to-bursting with new green. We're already into the first week of May, and when it comes to wedding planning, we only really have four months to go (by this time in September, we'll be packing and preparing for our drive down to the Outer Banks the following week).

Part of me feels like that's no time at all — probably the same part of me that works seven days a week without a day off for months at a time, trying to squeeze in wedding planning whenever I can. Another part of me says, don't panic, stick to the original plan, September gives you plenty of time and the wedding will be beautiful.

And still another part of me worries, just a little, that if I don't spend more time obsessing over details and getting everything perfect, then people won't think of it as a "real wedding." When the pressure's on, I can make decisions like a… um… efficient decision-making machine of some kind. I can cut through complicated issues with a machete — tuna or flounder? tuna, swipe! candles or flowers for the table centerpieces? candles, chop! turquoise or purple ink for the invitations? purple, hiyah! But on the other hand, obsessing over little details imbues these choices with a certain amount of power and significance, and part of me worries that my efficiency will rub off and translate into nonchalance. I mean, I'm already having a "weird Pagan wedding" on the beach, instead of a normal ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance of huge poofy dresses and veils and expensive shoes and identical bridesmaids and everything. What if no one takes it seriously?

So this is a glimpse into Ali's current wedding anxiety. The planning is going smoothly — we've found another officiant and we're back on track with the ceremony planning. Invitations are in the works. All the little details are starting to fall into place, and we're right on schedule. All we really have to do now is stick to the original plan, and keep things in perspective, and maybe pray for a bit of warmth and sunshine around here before, you know, July would be nice.

And I bet some chamomile tea before bed should clear those bad dreams right up! Which is excellent, because Jeff and I recruited the kids to help us start our very own Eco-Victory garden in the backyard this spring, and the chamomile will be sprouting any day now…

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