The traffic downtown is crawling this morning. The car in front of me is apparently being operated by someone very old, very stoned, or both. By the time I get to the caterer’s office, my jaw is locked tight as a vice, and I’m digging my nails into the meat of my palm. I wish the Perrier she offers me were spiked with vodka, and I hardly even drink. And it’s only 10 a.m.
What’s my problem, you ask? I’m planning my wedding.
I never thought it would come to this. As a girl, my dream was to become a dancer, a painter, and a baker; boys simply didn’t factor in. If you’d asked me about marriage in my late teens, I would have pronounced that love affairs were fine, but I wanted nothing to do with an archaic tradition that subjugated women and treated them like chattel (little chance of that at the time; I didn’t even shave my legs).
Anyway, I got older. I had love affairs, some of which became relationships. One by one, they ended. And then, rather unexpectedly, I met someone whose company I thought I’d like to keep for the rest of my life.
That’s when the crazy started.
“I’m not going to wear a white dress,” I insisted. “I don’t want a tiered wedding cake. Definitely no bridesmaids or groomsmen.” As long as I resisted the trappings of a traditional wedding, I reasoned, I could sidestep the stress. No way was I going to be suckered into a lavish ordeal that cost more than my entire graduate-school education. Above all, I would not become one of those unfortunate women who, in her determination to pull off a fabulous party for all her friends that simultaneously expresses her utterly unique personality and partnership, becomes a screeching banshee who fires her caterer and throws a tantrum over the unavailability of wild orchids in December in Wisconsin.
I scoffed at the idea of formal floral arrangements. I sneered at the suggestion that I might hire a wedding coordinator. The stronger my resistance grew to all things wedding, the clearer it became: I was throwing my own kind of tantrum. I hadn’t avoided Bridezilla at all — I’d just found a variation on a theme. Moët & Chandon or mineral water, heirloom roses or wildflowers in a jam jar; it was really all the same. The details of the wedding were just an elaborate distraction from the enormity of marriage.
I sympathize with poor Bridezilla. Marriage is a big commitment. It’s scary. It’s much easier to control a single party than the rest of one’s life. And no one seems to want to hear from the bride-to-be that right alongside the joy and excitement and romantic visions of growing old together sit feelings of loss, disorientation, and grief.
I’m delighted to be committing myself to a partner who shouts “Yay!” every time I walk in the door — but that also means I’m giving up my membership in the single-ladies club. I’m looking forward to a lifetime of shared adventures, but I’m also saying good-bye to the adventures of the past. I’ve finally figured it out: The true source of my joy and my panic has little to do with the wedding and everything to do with the marriage.
So, I’m dropping my Bridezilla routine. We won’t have a tiered cake, but I will wear a white dress. There won’t be a ring bearer or a flower girl, but there will be a deejay.
It’s going to be a great party. I promise not to bite off any heads.