Dear Thriving Bride,
It is 33 days before my wedding, and I want to encourage you to have an “Emotionally Sustainable Wedding.”
From the Thriving Bride Glossary:
Emotionally Sustainable Wedding: Everyone knows it’s better to eat less meat, ride your bike instead of drive all the time and recycle your bottles and cans as well as paper goods. It’s better for the planet–Right? So, we know about Eco Friendly Green Weddings, but what about Emotionally Friendly Weddings. Why not? Our emotional health is just as important as our environmental health. So, go green for your wedding by figuring out how to recycle the challenges into something that can be reused for the good of all. Again, this phrase alone deserves its own post! Do it for the emotional well-being of your community, your family and the planet!
So, this definition and idea is one I came up with after thinking long and hard about what some of the most challenging parts of the wedding planning process can be. But, it does not have to be this way. You cannot make anyone behave differently, but you can make your boundaries very clear.
Everyone says that weddings are a very stressful time in a person’s life, but they don’t have to make you want to pull your hair out or lose your hair before you walk down the aisle. So, the things I’ve learned are related to working with family to create the day that you want, and speaking up when things don’t feel as they should.
You know when you get that knot in your stomach, but you don’t know why and you can’t explain it. I’ve had that a few times during this process, and I’ve spoken up and said something to my partner. Sometimes everything looks great, but it does not feel great. Maybe it’s the artist in me that’s most sensitive to this, but I think first and foremost it’s the truth teller in me. I simply can’t go along with something when it nags at me, and especially when my body feels it as well.
So, do you know what it’s like to have an Ecologically Green Wedding?: use less paper, recycle as much waste as you can, reuse as much as you can, etc. So, let’s switch that thinking over to the emotional side of your wedding. I want this to be clear, and I also do love recycling emotions and experiences for the good of the planet and the people I love.
Let’s just say you’ve figured out the place settings and the flowers and your grandmother does not like them. You have a few choices here. You can tell her to f…..k off, you can ignore her but still feel pretty awful about it, or you can look her in the face, grab her hand, lean over the table and tell her this: Grandma, I really appreciate your perspective, but I also value my happiness. I need to choose the things that me and my fiance want, and right now I need to go with this flower arrangement.
Hopefully, that will take care of things. If you still hear Grandma whispering in the background every time she sees your flower arrangements, you might need to have her engaging in a different activity during this time. Note: The goal is to feel emotionally sound during this time. There will be stress and emotions, but it should not be coming from family. If it is, it is time to put your foot down. I am not joking!
And what if Grandma is your mother-in-law instead. What if your partner’s mother wants to tell you what kind of food you should serve and what kind of food you should not serve. I would take the same approach. I believe in giving people opportunities, but I also believe in setting boundaries when you see that the people you love do not have the capacity to respect your boundaries.
It is important to remember that this is a letting go for most members of your family. You will always be their child, but you are shifting how you identify. You may now have a different last name or a hyphenated last name, and soon there may be children coming along. It is an exciting and emotionally triggering time as well.
So, my advice to you is this: Don’t be afraid of all the emotions. Let them come, and feel free to find a corner and cry when you need to. But if and when the emotions start pouring out from a place of feeling pressured to do what you don’t want to do, it’s time to speak up and talk to the people around you.
Last night as I sat having dinner with my future mother-in-law, we spoke about the process we’ve been through and I felt very grateful that we could talk about what’s come up for each of us throughout this process. We’ve had many discussions from the beginning that has helped us get to this place of laughter and understanding. She reminded me that there will always be challenges with family while planning a wedding, but that the most important thing is to deal with it in a positive way. I understand and value her perspective.
This is the goal and the hope, but trying to be positive and trying to be nice for the sake of not hurting any feelings is not the same thing. You may not want to go to that place of being very frank with your Grandma, but you’ll know when you have to. To my future mother-in-law’s credit, she has been very positive throughout the process, even when we did not agree on everything. There’s not way we could have. I spoke up when something did not feel right to me, and I encouraged her to do the same.
On your special day Dear Bride, I hope you are smiling because you want to and that you are not holding any regrets or resentments. You may not know it now, but speaking up is usually better than hiding your feelings. When you hide, you bury what is true for you and that does not usually do anyone any good. Do you want to have and Emotionally Sustainable Wedding? Then, now is the time to be open, honest, and work towards a wedding with no regrets. At least not the kind that may mean you are not speaking to your mother for some time after the wedding.
More to come on this topic! I could write a book about this alone, but next time I will give you some tips for how to do this.