It is 15 days until my wedding day, and this journey has been an eye opening and rewarding one. It’s also come with its share of heart wrenching emotions and I’ve found myself in tears more than once. You want to know what the best thing I’ve done so far to help me move through each stage of the process has been? It’s been all about taking the time to allow my community to create celebrations (bridal shower, Bachelorette party, engagement party) for me and to enjoy these moments. Here’s where I’m coming from.
When I first got engaged (and actually for most of my life), I’ve known that I wanted to have all the parties I could muster. I wanted the engagement party, the bridal shower, the Bachelorette party, the rehearsal dinner, the impromptu coming together of families that wasn’t a rehearsal dinner, and for me as a thriving bride these parties have also included an Introducing the Surrogate Parents Party. Yes, I did and it was fabulous.
There are some of you that may think all of these events are not necessary or that the most important day is that day when you walk down the aisle. Well, I don’t think so. For me, celebrating each moment has given me two very important gifts: the knowledge that I have a tremendous ability to receive love and support from my family and the rites of passage to prepare me to be “ready” on my wedding day.
First things first. Let’s talk about giving and receiving. Most women (in general) are givers. We have been and continue to be. Just look at the fact that we often choose to give birth, nurture and raise those children and see them grow into full human beings. The men are there too, but we are generally the givers. How many women do you know who know how to receive. I’m not talking about receiving a bottle of perfume on your birthday or flowers on Mother’s Day. I am talking about receiving help with the kids, admitting you can’t do something because you are just so damn tired and simply asking for help when you feel like you are drowning.
Please don’t hesitate to weigh in on this one. I am curious to hear what you think.
So, it may not be a natural inclination for you to be able to receive. And then if you look at those women who come from unstable family situations (like myself), the expectation was often that you gave to others and understood it not only as your role, but as your duty. At least that was the way it went in my family. After recovering from that, I understood that I so needed to give to myself, and to let others give to me. I’ve also noticed that every time I have one of these events (or should I say every time my community supports me by putting on one of these events), I feel like I am slowly going through some unexplainable right of passage. It is like each person is slowly and gently “giving me away” and I find it to be a very rich and exciting experience.
Last week my Bay Area girlfriends had a Bachelorette party for me. They organized it and let me just show up. The women there ranged in age, sexuality, ethnic and cultural background and personal history, but I had known them for so long. Two women were a few of my first college instructors and knew me when I was 17, newly enrolled in a writing program that would change the direction of my life. Another woman was one of the first people to professionally publish my work when I was 20 years old. Another woman was a former student in that same writing program, where I later became an instructor. Another woman organized a benefit on my behalf when I became very sick and all I could do was shout “HELP” really loudly to all and any who would hear me. She heard me! Another woman is a fellow poet and has always been able to see my beauty beyond what’s on the outside and notice it, and acknowledge it.
They may have not known this, but by showing up for me in this way, I ended the night by sitting and reading each and everyone of their cards and crying. We had laughed, cried, talked about how long we had all known each other, and the ways in which we had grown and changed, wrote silly but important MAD LIBS vows and ate delightful chocolate cupcakes. I felt like a young African girl who had just been given one of her many marriage tribal marks that she would receive before her wedding day. Yes, I let them give to me and gave them all the joy I had to offer them at the same time.
Are you unsure if you want to honor some wedding celebration traditions and let go of others. Well, I would encourage you to try each one on and see how it feels. As I kept going from one event to the other, I realized that I was ready for the next one and the next one. And in a week from Sunday I will have my bridal shower with my local community of women who have not known me for as long, but they will be there to give to me and I will be there to receive.
Receiving is simply being open to whatever it is that someone or a group of people have to offer you, knowing that you have the right to say yes or no to every and any gift. But, if you catch yourself saying no, step back and look at what’s happening. Are you nervous to have people support you? Are you unsure that they’ll come through? Do you always prefer to do things yourself? Trust me, no one will question if you are strong. You are a bride who comes to the altar with challenging circumstances and discovers that you are more resourceful and capable than you know.
Sometimes being capable means stepping back and giving someone else permission to love you, to see you, to honor you, to nurture you and to carry you along in this next phase of your life.
I hope you consider honoring these traditions. If you are unsure of how to do so, look for my upcoming post about “Rallying Your Family Support for Your Wedding.” And if you are looking for some inspiration, follow me on Pinterest for some really great Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party ideas.