The Modern Wedding: On knowing yourself

Editor’s note: All images are courtesy of the incredibly talented Jessica and Sarah at Cocoa Blue. They are amazing, they’re based in Montana but travel the world and they come highly recommended by me.

As we looked into the mirror the morning of the wedding, my hairstylist — the one who had done my hair for multiple proms and guided my tresses through multiple perms and countless cuts — asked if I was going to be wearing my glasses that day. ‘I don’t know, I haven’t been able to decide,’ I said. ‘Do you wear your glasses every day?’ she asked.

The answer, of course, is yes, I wear my glasses every day. I’ve worn dark-rimmed glasses for more than a decade now. My eyes and contacts disagree after a couple of hour together, so I don’t even bother with them unless I’m working out or desperately need to wear sunglasses. My glasses are so much a part of me that I feel completely naked without them, not to mention many people don’t even recognize me. I don’t really even like how I look without them, which is another issue in and of itself. But my Mom had already urged me once to go without my glasses for the wedding, and to be honest, who wears glasses on their wedding day anyway? Right? Right?

Except I just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea that I would both be without this accessory that is as much a part of me as the color of my hair and at the mercy of contacts for a 12-15 hour period. And my hairstylist, the one who’s known me for more than half my life, knew where she was going with her question. She’d already planted the seed in my head when we were doing the hairstyle test run a month before the wedding. ‘I like for people to look like themselves on their wedding day, she said as she wrapped my hair up into a loose, messy twist that day.

‘I’m going to wear my glasses,’ I finally declared the morning of the big event.

‘Good,’ she said.

What she didn’t know is that decision was one of the final chapters in my own personal copy of the book of Knowing Thyself in the Face of Thine Wedding.

My 20s have been a time of completely deconstructing myself to know exactly who I am, and I felt pretty good about how much I’d accomplished in that arena by the time the Modern Love Machine asked me to marry him. As we started planning our wedding, we very easily made several decisions because we were well-familiar with what was important to us when it came to throwing a large celebration: good barbecue was a perfectly acceptable wedding meal, ’80s music had to be played and there was no use having a wedding cake for a bride and groom who care very little about cake. I knew I wanted my bridal brigade to wear their own dresses for the wedding because I cringe when women wear dresses that don’t suit their style. I also knew that I absolutely, positively would not throw my bouquet at anyone because I resented how the bouquet toss made my single ass feel for years.**

also, I badly wanted to take public transportation to get to the reception because I love public transportation

But even though the MLM and I both carry healthy doses of stubbornness and are pretty good at doing what we want for ourselves in regular, everyday life, there is still something utterly challenging about going against the grain of What Is Popular Or Expected in planning a wedding. You don’t have to look far in this world to find images of Perfect Weddings: blogs, magazines, Etsy, Pinterest (which thank God hadn’t really caught on while I was in the throes of planning).

My cousin got married a month before the MLM and I did, and it was one of those perfectly styled, heavy on the rustic and handmade, looks-effortless-but-was-anything-but outdoor weddings. There was a food truck! And a barn! And the bride and maids put on cowboy boots to take photos! I had quit reading most wedding blogs months before because of how inadequate they made me feel, but as I witnessed the wedding — which honestly was a good fit for my adorable and sweet cousin — I found it hard to not regret that our wedding would not be so beautiful and trendy.

Because even as I’d made plenty of public declarations that our wedding would be us and that we would not do anything that didn’t make sense for us, I still managed to fight or flat-out ignore my own will. I went with a dress that I only felt lukewarm about because the dress style I deep down secretly wanted — tea length, ’50s flare — did not exist in any bridal salon and seemed so avant garde compared to anything any bride I’d personally known had worn. It took me until about a week before the wedding to convince myself to wear the peacock blue string of beads that I’d pined after for months. They were so bold a color that they did not seem appropriate to me, even though boldly colored accessories and accents are trademarks of my personal style. And my choice of earrings was a legit game-time decision. For a month leading up to the wedding I tried to force myself into committing to some sort of sparkly or pearly pair of earrings. When it came down to it, I ended up sticking a pair of simple bronze hoops in my earlobes as I was doing my makeup the day of because they were part of my regular earring rotation and they complemented my glasses and peacock blue necklace, and with my hairdresser’s voice in my head it felt like the right thing to do.

There are few regrets I have about the wedding, but one of the biggest was not trusting my gut during our rehearsal. I knew deep down as we rehearsed on Friday night that we were doing a piss-poor job of it, and no one — officiating deacon included — really knew what was going on. And that turned out to be true (more on that later).

Nevertheless, we mostly stuck to our guns and made a wedding that was very much us. Several of my friends approached me at the wedding to tell me they had been wondering if I would wear them and that they were glad that I did. ‘It wouldn’t be you without your glasses. And that blue necklace is so you,’ one told me.

And as I look at our photos a year later, I’m happy to see me smiling back at me.*** I like to think of it as Bridal Me challenging Future Me to not forget just how amazing it feels to know and be true to yourself.

**Please do not take any of these sentences as a knock on your own wedding. They are my personal feelings only, and I do not expect them to be everyone else’s beliefs. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to have varied opinions because otherwise we’d all have the exact same wedding, and that’s just boring.
***And we want to be big stars, but we don’t know why and we don’t know how.

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7 Responses to The Modern Wedding: On knowing yourself

  1. Nicole says:

    I could have written this same post about my own November 2010 wedding. As a person with a strong sense of self, I was surprised how difficult it was to feel like I was making “my” decisions in wedding planning. But, while there are things I would do differently if I had to do it over, the hard edges of the thing have mellowed, and I can look back at my wedding now with contentment.

  2. katelin says:

    so glad you made the decisions for yourself and that your wedding was very much you two. it’s so easy to get lost in wedding planning and in your wedding yourself so it always makes me happy to see couples that stick to their guns and show their own uniqueness! hurrah weddingness!

  3. Meredith says:

    I’m not really a “wedding person” (I can’t really imagine having one myself), but I love that you worked so hard to stay true to yourself when planning your wedding. I think this really comes through in the pictures (and those blue beads are stunning).

  4. Jessica says:

    I have to say, I really loved the blue necklace in your photos. That’s such a great personal touch and it’s perfect. Love that photo of you too!

  5. Pattie says:

    Ah, there are definitely some things about our wedding I would change. But overall it was pretty great. And even though that was 12(!) years ago, I still say whoever thinks planning a wedding is fun is crazy. It certainly wasn’t fun for us.

    Thanks for sharing details about your big day. And I love the blue pearls. You look beautiful in that picture. 🙂

  6. courtney says:

    You looked gorgeous, lady! You rock those glasses on the regular; why should your wedding day have been any different?

  7. I love your glasses! It wouldn’t have been an MG wedding without them.

    P.S. I’m in Knoxville this weekend. You around?

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