1) Trust your gut
This goes for everything. For example, everyone told me that when I tried on the right dress, I would know. I didn't believe it. I looked at it as a dressed up piece of fabric, what is there to know. I tried on dress after dress, getting discouraged that I was feeling pretty uninterested in each one. I wanted to at least feel pretty in my dress, and it wasn't happening-- until I found a little bridal boutique in NJ. It was the first dress I tried on. It was the strangest feeling when I put it on, but my body had an emotional reaction to it-- I got chills and my eyes filled with tears the second I put it on. I didn't even need to think about it, it just happened.
The same thing occurred with our wedding venue. We looked at a lot, each one coming close to what we imagined, but not quite right. When we finally drove onto the property of Shawnee, overlooking the river and nestled in a valley, we both just kind of went.. "yep, this is it."
We've been using our initial emotional reaction to guide us throughout the whole process and its made the planning pretty enjoyable and easy. When you start over thinking and listening to everyone else, you can really lose sight of what you and your partner want. This has been an opportunity for us to practice being mindful, to pay attention to ourselves and each other in order to follow our instinct and be decisive.
2) Everyone has an opinion
Doug and I are fortunate in that we surround ourselves with strong, authentic, and honest family and friends. The downside to this? They all have something to say about every decision we involve them in. They all know the 'right' way to do it and aren't shy in telling us. And they do know the right way, the right way for them, not us.
It has been difficult to keep in mind that all words of wisdom are coming from a place of love. We are learning how to listen politely, take the advice we can use, and simply disregard the stuff that doesn't fit with who we are.
I've found that it is too exhausting to convince everyone that your way is better for you, so just listen,let it go, and keep on trekking.
3) Emotions may surprise you
When I used to picture the day I got engaged, I always expected I would cry. Instead, I laughed. I was giggling uncontrollably and he was smiling and it was raining and I was so in my own head that I didn't even listen to his whole speech.
Doug always tells me that we can't predict our emotions. I like to continuously try and prove him wrong, but time and time again he is right-- we can't.
Two weeks after we got engaged we were lounging around and I asked him to tell me again what he said that day. He recited the whole thing from memory... and I cried. It really was beautiful.
This is a really emotional time and I have found that mine have been surprising me. When I want to cry, I can't, when I don't or wasn't expecting to show any emotion-- it all comes pouring out. I'm learning to just make peace with that and accept whatever feelings come up along the way.
4) There will most likely be an 'oh shit' moment
Doug had his first. He tried talking to me about it but I didn't really get what he was saying until I had mine.
This is the moment when it hits you, you are getting married, you are about to agree to spend your entire life with another human being. For women I think it happens later, we spend the first few months in wedding planning la la land, not really giving deep and focused attention to what a wedding symbolizes.
Then it hit me like a freight train, out of no where, while I was immersed in some mundane task unrelated to the wedding. It was a moment of, 'woaw, every decision I ever make for the rest of my life needs to be agreed upon by another person.' You know this when you set out to get engaged, hopefully. It isn't news to you. But the weight of it changes, it suddenly becomes incredibly clear and real.
I got scared. I held onto it for a couple of days and then I brought it to Doug. It was then that I realized this was the same thing he was trying to tell me three months ago, he was just wording it differently. We both breathed a proverbial sigh of relief that we weren't alone in our feelings-- and that actually made the fear go away.
If one or both of us continued to hold onto it out of guilt or shame, I'm not sure how either of us would have move passed it. But it is normal, it's okay, we don't need to walk around pretending it isn't scary because it is. How often do we intentionally make permanent and life altering decisions? It's cool, just talk about it.
5) You have some big ticket conversations
The one I just mentioned was a real big ticket conversation, but there were more than I can count. We definitely talked about where we wanted to live and how many kids we wanted before we got engaged-- on like our second date, but there is something about being engaged that makes those conversations seem lofty and vague in comparison to the ones you are having when you're legitimately planning a life together.
How many kids do we want becomes, so when do we realistically want to start trying. Where do we want to live becomes house hunting on realtor.com and driving through potential neighborhoods. How will we work out our finances? What would child care look like? Are we saving money for a vacation every year or a down payment?
We really needed to get into the nitty-gritty and sort out our preferences. We needed to learn to find a middle ground if we weren't there already. It can be a real test of whether or not you are actually on the same page-- luckily we were. They are hard conversations, but also pretty crucial.
I am sure there is so much more that I am missing or that Doug and I haven't faced. If you are engaged and have other lessons you would like to share, leave them in the comments below.
BEFORE YOU CAN KNOW WHERE YOU ARE HEADED, YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE + WHO YOU ARE.
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